Monday, July 2, 2018

Hawaii Kauai

We just love Kauai so much and are so lucky to take vacations there. One week a year is not enough to fill our Hawaii loving souls but it will do. We took an early flight from LA to get the most of our time on the island. The girls love to fly. Taking the plane ride is a big highlight of the trip.
We landed and headed straight into town for some lunch. We got right into the Aloha spirit.
Feelin' the island vibes already.
Of course straight after lunch it was off to Wailua shave ice. Lava flow for Lily.
Wailua sunrise for Gemma.
Then it was time to run to the grocery store to stock up and check in to our room. We raced to get our stuff put away and into the pool.  This mermaid got right back on her perch.
As always the first few days we wake up super early from the time difference. It never really bothers us though since we make the most of it by going out to the rocks to look in the tide pools and see the Honu.

We walked over to the Hyatt to check out the fancy life and swing.
We picked as many beautiful plumerias as our hands could hold.
The pink and yellow blend are my favorite but I adore the yellow as well.
This trip was exceptionally fun because we had friends from school that were vacationing at our time share too. The Justice Family had already been on the island a few days and we met up for a day of fun. We started out at the blow hole.
Then we went straight to Poipu beach. It's like coming home. 
 Our friends joined us and everyone spent hours snorkeling in the sea.  Lily and Sabina spent forever looking at the fish until they saw what they thought was a rock fish, which is apparently poisonous. This chart hangs on the wall by the bathrooms confirms their suspicions.
 Lily, Sabina, Gemma and Ravelle. Lily and Sabina were best friends in Kindergarten and Gemma and Ravelle are only 1 month apart in age although Ravelle is in a grade up from Gemma at school. It was so fun to have friends to play with at the beach.
 We picked plumeria from the tree and I showed the girls how to wear them behind their ear. Then I explained if you wore it behind your left ear it meant you had a boyfriend. That sent them all into giggles and panics and deciding which ear to wear it in. Gemma was firmly in boyfriend camp.
 After a long hot day at the beach we needed to cool off with some shave ice.
 The Justice's had been on the island 5 days already and had not tried shave ice!!
 We took them to Fresh shave our favorite spot.
 While waiting for our shave ice we saw this crazy guy on the wall above us.
 It really is the best way to cool off, everyone agreed, and looked good in their mustaches too.

I went for "The handlebar" pineapple & coconut and Alex had the "Whiskers" sweet mint & lime.
We wanted to catch the Hula show at the shopping center. This weird band of kids wanted to pose like the wild chickens of Kauai.
 The free Hula show is the same every time we go but it is always fun.
 Especially the part where they get all the kids up on stage and get them to hula.
 I think we could take a few more lessons.

Tired out from a hot day in the sun we headed back to the condo for dinner. We love to eat out on the lanai and had a great view of the ocean. We got some "local" brews called Mucho Aloha which upon further investigation were found to be brewed in Wisconsin, so much for local. 

Tuesday we had booked for everyone to do a kayak & hike activity. We had thought about doing this a few times before and since it seemed like something both families could enjoy we decided to go for it.
We all got outfitted in double or triple kayaks and life jackets for the kiddies. We had a tour guide and started off paddling up the Wailua river. 
We were a big group. They warned us that the winds would be okay heading up the river but that would make it harder on the way back paddling against the wind and currents.  They also warned us about the hike being muddy and having to cross the stream several times and perhaps even carrying our children. We were beginning to worry about what we had gotten ourselves into!!!
We made the kayak up the river pretty well without any catastrophes. Now came the muddy hike and river crossings. The first river crossing was pretty intimidating. They had some heavy heavy rains this winter and the river level is pretty high. There is a guide rope you hold onto and shuffle through a very fast moving river while holding on to your child in their life jacket. We were up to our thighs in water so the kids were pretty deep.
Luckily no flash flood! Nothing like hiking in soaked shoes though. That's the way it goes.
We were getting worried we were lost in the forest forever until we found a very subtle trail marker.
The guide had all kinds of interesting facts and tidbits. He picked some Awapuhi plants and told us how they are used as fancy hair products. We slathered them on.
Gemma was especially interested in the free beauty treatment.

The hike was challenging enough but not too hard that we struggled.
More river crossings but what does it matter when your shoes and body are already soaked?
Finally we made it to the destination. Secret Falls, also known as not so secret since every tour group comes here falls.
It really was pretty and of course we wasted no time getting in and swimming in the water.
Andy was brave enough to bring the kids close to the falls. No one actually went all the way into the falls since the water was pretty strong and it would hurt.
We got plenty of family photos although I'm not sure they will be gracing the Christmas card.
Our whole group; Ravelle, Sabina, Sara, Alex, Gemma, Lily, Graham, Melanie and Andy.
Another small falls on the hike back. So green and lush. If only the random hiker wasn't going off the trail and into our picture in the back.
The scene was like out of Jurassic park. We all kept waiting for dinosaurs to leap out of the tree tops. Maybe they need to add that as an attraction.
Crossing the gushing river on the way back didn't seem as life threatening. Maybe we are old pros by now.
The kayak on the way back was definitely a bit more challenging. Alex and I switched partners upon the girls request so I came back down with Gemma and he had Lily this time. It sure felt good to cross the finish line!! What a success!!
At the kayak tour headquarters after our trip the kids discovered a frog in one of the "shoe graveyard" boots. The poor guy did not seem to enjoy his petting session but the kids were obsessed and named him "shoe".
We stopped off on the way back for a much deserved shave ice treat and introduced our friends to Wailua shave ice so they could have a point of comparison. Then it was back to the resort for a quick dip in the pool before dinner date night. Having friends on a trip turned out to be the greatest addition to our vacation. Not only did it mean instant friends to play with at all times but also swapping kids for a nice dinner out. We went the first night to plantation gardens and then the next night we had all the kids while they went out. Plus the kids had the best nights ever because they got pizza and mac and cheese plus movies with friends. 
Wednesday morning everyone voted to stay close to "home" and go to the pool. Alex ran to town and got us an icy coffee and we found some shade. All the kids just played in and out of the pool for hours. They even did a craft at the activity center. Last year they painted wooden signs. This year all the kids painted ceramics and they even glazed them for us overnight. 
The youngest Justice, Graham, developed a bit of a crush on Gemma so we all enjoyed watching him follow her about and try to get her attention. We all agree on the match so hopefully it stands the test of time. It was our friends last day on the island and we were all sad to see them go. We really enjoyed their company and it made for such an extra enjoyable holiday.
It was rainy the next morning so we took our time getting up and out of the condo. We did some shopping in town and by 10:30 or so the rain had cleared so we went to the beach. 
We found a new-to-us little beach called baby beach. It is down a tiny path between homes and is a protected little cove. We were the only ones there for a good while.

The next day, Friday, was a big day!! Lily's 10th birthday!! She had been so excited to spend her birthday in Kauai. Gemma got to spend her day before her birthday here last September and Lily wanted to have her special turn. She woke up to balloons, streamers, cards, and a gift.
 She got a card promising a trip to get her ears pierced and a few pairs of earrings and a cat shaped earring holder. She had been thinking about wanting her ears pierced for her 10th birthday and she was so excited!
Play time with the balloons while mom fixed a birthday breakfast.
As per tradition we had pancakes with M&M's and bacon.
The birthday girl got to choose our activity for the day. She wanted to go to one of our favorite beaches, Salt Pond Beach, and then out to Keoki's for dinner. 
On the way to the beach we stopped at the Kauai coffee plantation which we had seen a million times but never visited. It was really fun (for me anyway) and informative. Plus it was all you can drink free coffee samples. 
We took the 20 minute walking tour to learn how they grow and harvest the coffee. This is the coffee we buy and drink often so it was fun to see how it all works.

Fields and fields of coffee.
The highlight for Lily was the feral cat she could sit in the shade and pet.
Love me a corny photo.
Finally we made it to the beach. It is also a coved beach so it's pretty safe and you won't get sucked out to sea in a current. This beach also has enough little waves to body surf and roll around in.

New swimsuits they got just for the trip. I think we have already mostly wrecked them with a summer of sun, salt and sunscreen.

 There was a body surfing chain going on. I'm not sure it's the best technique but the girls sure had fun.

 Even if Alex almost drown every time.

 They managed to goggle up and do some body surfing on their own too.
Although doing it with floatie rings made it more fun and full of giggles.

You can say it was a pretty successful day at the beach.
One sleeps in the car and one reads in the car.
We managed to get back to the condo and shower off to rally for our dinner reservation. They sure know how to spoil you on your tenth birthday at Keoki's.
She ordered a fancy drink off the kids menu which ended up being a virgin lava flow.
They had live music and a hula dancer, the same crew from last fall when we came for Gemma's birthday.

Such beautiful wahine, living their best life.

Dinner was really good too, fresh fish for Alex and I, fish and chips for Lily and burger for Gemma. The highlight is always dessert. The giant mint chip hula pie!!!
Lily was so kind and generous to share with us all.
The next day was our last full day on the island and the children refused to go anywhere outside the Poipu/Koloa vicinity. They did not want to be driving all over and stuck in the car. Fair enough. They could not decide between beach and pool so we decided to do half and half. 
We started on Poipu beach doing some coconut collecting. We got there early before all the crowds.
Then they borrowed some buckets from a little boy and tried to catch some of the fish in the sea. That proved a difficult task. 
 They humored me by posing by the rocks but getting them to open their eyes or smile is another story.

 There are a million of these creepy black crabs on the rocks.
 Alex and Lily did one last snorkel trip even though the scary rock fish was still out there.

We walked across the street to Nukumoi surf shop for a little look.

Then we spent some time doing a favorite "tween" activity, selfies.

Even Alex is a big fan of the selfie. Our camera has a flip up screen specific for taking selfies so we had to do it.
Then it was officially time to head back to the resort for some pool time. We needed some cocktails and snacks from the pool side grill. Thanks to Melanie for introducing us to the bacon cheese fries at the pool! Yikes!
We managed to shower off and head out for some dinner and last minute souvenir shopping. Then we wanted to catch the sunset at the beach.
Our favorite photo op. Of course there are always seals on the beach and I always get excited to see them but the kids have officially gotten over it. They pretend to be interested so I can take a picture.
We waited for a gorgeous sunset with all the pink colors but we settled for a regular old pretty sunset in the end.
There were lots of cartwheels and splashing while we waited.

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