The sighs started coming in the night before from Lulu and Renee who were already sad that the trip was coming to an end. The final morning we woke up and took our last walk on the beach. We went back to our Airbnb to shower and final pack before making our way to downtown Kapa’a for breakfast.
We ate at Hemingway Art Cafe – french inspired cuisine. It’s hard to miss being a blue building. It’s a quaint little spot. I ordered The sun also rises. We walked the strip a bit to check out the surf shops for stickers decals to decorate their bottles with. Back in the car, we went to check out the plaza that was around our airbnb before we went to our last stop – Walmart.
Once again, Walmart has all the goodies one would want in terms of souvenirs for Hawaii – macadamia nuts, chocolate, candy, snacks, souvenirs etc. We picked up our last bit of souvenirs and on the way out, we spotted a sign that said ukulele sale – Scotty’s. Lulu was able to pick up a ukulele that was half made in China and half made in Hawaii.
We had a stopover in Los Angeles overnight from 1-8AM. We were thinking of taking an Uber around but with the price of $130USD for a single ride, we thought hey, maybe it’s cheaper to rent a car – which it was. Luckily at LAX, Enterprise is 24 hours however, you do need reservations. We did not have reservations but Renee turned on her data and we were able to book one and off we went in a car for the next few hours.
Our goal was to find some late night Korean BBQ but by the time we got the car rental and drove to the downtown area, it was nearing 2AM and the KBBQ places were closing. We ate at Sun Nong Dan and ordered the huge beef brisket soup dish – $35USD. Free wifi – yay.
It was around 3-330AM by the time we arrived at LACMA to see the Urban Lights. There wasn’t many people around (2-3 + 1-2 security guards). We pretty much had the Urban lights all to ourselves really. Lulu pulled out her ukulele and had a jam session for a bit. We hopped back in the car and went to California Donuts, which is also 24 hours, and I picked up a matcha old fashion and a blueberry old fashion with a Thai iced tea.
We didn’t quite know what to do at 4AM in LA, so we continued to drive around areas that would rather be busy during the day such as Hollywood Blvd and Rodeo Drive. We drove through Beverly Hills area as well but at one point, we just pulled over and tried to sleep a bit in the car – didn’t last long. Slowly drove back to the car rental place as the sun started to rise over LA. Back onto a plane for another 4.5 hours back home to Toronto.
To start our day right, we stopped by Ha Coffee Bar for breakfast. I got the Hacienda Acai bowl and picked up locally roasted coffee beans.
After breakfast, we drove to the west shore to take in the wonders of Waimea Canyon State Park. We made it to all the lookout points and past many trails that would be ideal if we had more time. We also drove through Koke’e Statepark which is attached to Waimea Canyon State Park. You can camp in these areas with loads of trails to take. Waimea Canynon State Park brings you up to an elevation of 3600FT.
Many hikes that I would have liked to do in Waimea/Koke’e Park:
We finished our drive up and unfortunately the last 2 lookouts were for the most part covered in cloud coverage so we couldn’t see the Na Pali Coast from there but we were able to see into the canyon.
We drove about 30 minutes back to Kekaha to catch our Na Pali Coast boat tour with Na Pali Experience. We booked the 2-7PM sunset boat tour of the Na Pali Coast for $179USD. We had Captain John lead us plus a family of 3 on this 5-hour adventure down the coast. For those who aren’t the best with motion on waters, bring medication for it. I did not and apparently couldn’t handle the motion. To be fair, we came from a 3600FT elevation and the pressure from the elevation change was already messing with my head.
Take everything that they recommend you take including a long sleeve or something to keep you warm during the ride in and out. When you are on the boat, it takes about 45 minutes from where you board at the Kikia’ola draft boat harbour past the military base before appearing around the right corner of the Na Pali coast. The cloud coverage was pretty much over our ride. We saw the spots where Mary J Blige and many others have filmed music videos and movies.
The skies might’ve been dark but the waters gave us appearances of dolphins and turtles. Our sea captain also navigated us into some caves like a pro. We had a little bit of time to also snorkel in the waters. Being in the water was my safe haven for this 5 hour tour – bobbing in the water with a life jacket felt like bliss for me and my body that was suffering motion sickness. We hopped back on the boat after about 30 minutes in the water to a nice treat of freshly cut fruit and other little snacks before heading back to land. The ride back was bumpy and cold – a dry long sleeve or wrapping a towel is a good choice.
We learned that Kauai is slowly deteriorating. The whole island is actually a pancake but because it is so lush and tropical and tons of water falls, the water needs to find or make ways to drain back into the ocean. With that being said, all the ridges that are seen on this island are places where water flows out.
It felt so great to be back on land. We started our drive back from Kekaha to Kapa’a with Gypsy Guide on. It led us to try the most famous Saimin spot on the island – Hamura Saimin. You seat yourself around the W shaped counter or the big table. I got the small saimin and a chicken skewer. They are also known for their Lilikoi Chiffon Pie.
I really wish I went through with booking the helicopter tour over the island but I guess I will have to come back and do it. These were the helicopter companies I looked into and are highly rated. Helicopter tour gives you a new perspective of the island that many miss and wouldn’t be able to see from the ground or waters especially a view of Waialeale – Weeping Walls. Kauai also has the 2nd wettest place in the world called Waialeale – The Weeping Walls. The wettest place in the world is in India.
On facebook Market – You can post that you are interested in doing the Waialeale – Weeping Walls hike and hopefully a local will respond to take you OR you can look for a guy named Mark Woogie Kracht on Facebook – apparently he is a local who has done that hike multiple times and offers to take people.
Princeville – Hanalei
We had breakfast at Java Kai. The bright teal just draws you in. I ordered The Beetnik $9USD (toasty bagel with cream cheese, housemade pesto, local beets, & sprouts) and a Golden Sunrise shake (turmeric, dates, coconut milk). The food and drink were incredibly delicious. The coffee shop is also attached to a cute boutique called Shipwreck Kauai.
Our first stop after breakfast was Kīlauea Lighthouse – $5 – It’s just a lighthouse really but the money goes towards a good cause. If you don’t care to help a good cause of preserving land and refuge for wildlife – SKIP THIS IF YOU DON’T CARE TO HELP OUT. There is a little information house on the property to the left side of the lighthouse. Before we continued our trip to the North shore, we stopped by a fruit stand. There are a bunch of fruit stands around the islands which are not manned with a person but its an honest system where you take what you want and put money into the box that you think is fair.
We made our way to Hanalei Bay Beach and found the beach courts. We asked the lifeguard to borrow their ball. We peppered for a few hours. We got food in Hanalei and took in the quaint little town. I grabbed a chicken katsu mini from L&L.
We tried to make our way to Queens Bath but there are only 8 parking spots in a very posh neighbourhood where you cannot park on the side of the road and only in the designated spots. It is recommended to get to Queen’s Bath really early to claim a parking spot because the closest legal parking is quite a walk away.
Defeated from not finding parking to see the Queen’s Bath, we drove from Hanalei/Princeville to Koloa/Poipu. It was such a beautiful drive through the tall tree tunnel to Koloa. Koloa is a small town that is only a few blocks but is where the workers for the plantations use to reside.
We continued on to the Spouting Horn to watch the power of water currents apply pressure into the caverns and have water burst out of the blowholes.
We continued down the coast heading east to Shipwreck Beach & jumping cliff. The waves at Shipwreck beach are strong and great to catch a quick wave. To the left of the main beach area, you will see the cliffs and possibly someone brave enough to jump off the rocks. We decided to climb up and explore that area. When you get to the top, there is a lot of space and different layers of rock formations. Many people fish from up there. We were only able to witness 1 person jump from the rock but it took him much courage and talking up to jump.
To Poipu Beach – the beach is very populated by tourists. The view was nice with a large parking lot but nothing special.
The sun started setting so we decided to head back towards home and find dinner. We settled with Coconuts – Fish Cafe where I ordered the Local Style Seared Ahi Plate. Walked across the parking lot to Tropical Dream Ice Cream for some Thai Tea Ice Cream.
After all the hiking we had done the previous days, our clothes and shoes weren’t looking the best so we decided to head to Kapa’a Laundromat – open 24/7 to do laundry before we started our travels back home. We met a traveller from Montreal and met some locals who told us the history of Kauai during our laundry adventure. This one gentleman in particular told us how Kauai was never conquered by King Kamehameha so they are their own island before USA. His family owned land on Kauai so he has a different passport to show his is a true native of Kauai. His best suggestion for us was to just meet a nice Hawaiian man and move to the island. Those are fine words or wisdom to live by.
My friends had wanted to attempt the illegal way up to Stairway to Heaven with the people we met the previous day at Moanalua Valley Trail but ended up not going. The only person from the previous day on the trail still wanted to go had never been and we wanted the friend who was a local to take us. It also rained overnight and was raining in the morning when we awoke. In true Herbie fashion, we took it easy. We started off our morning at Liliha Bakery which is famous for their cream puffs. I ordered the lilikoi malasadas & coco cream puff.
There is a castle called the The Kaniakapupu Ruins off the side of the highway but apparently has been closed due to deterioration and vandalism – I am sure people still visit this site. We continued on to Nu’uanu Pali Lookout for a quick look. It was incredibly windy and the visit here did not last long. It is paid parking but Tiffany just stayed in the car as we took a peek and came back. On a dry and less windy day, this place technically has a few paths you can hike.
After turning around a few times, we found ourselves mall ratting for the day to get last minute souvenirs and we were on a mission to find the Hydroflask’s that have exclusive designs you can only get in Hawaii. We stayed at Ala Moana Mall for majority of the day after the lookout point. It is a half indoor half outdoor mall which also does performances on certain days. Similar to Yorkdale Mall back in Toronto, they have certain wings that carry high end brands and also lower end brands. The special feature with Ala Moana Mall is the food courts and the special hidden food court that is downstairs called Shirokiya Japan Village Walk. $1 beers all day everyday and loads of food options (mainly Japanese). They also have performances on weekends. It takes you to Japan in essence.
From the mall, we slowly made our way to the airport. It was bittersweet because although we were heading over to Kauai next, Tiffany was leaving us and heading to Calgary for work. Hawaiian Airlines flight was easy going but we were still worried about making the car rental hours once again. We did land a little earlier but I ended up just rushing and taking the shuttle over to Enterprise first and picking up the rental. A blue Elantra. We had booked an Airbnb at a vacation rental in Kapaa area. We checked in and went to bed as it was already midnight by the time we got in.
After a late night coming in, we slept in a bit and decided to take out 1 beach visit from our itinerary. Our plan was to travel to the North shore for beaches and food. We drove to the very top to Ted’s Bakery for breakfast and their famous Haupia Pie. I ordered the Loco Moco mini $8.87USD which was still large for my standards.
Our first beach that we went to was Sunset beach. Parking spots are on the side of the road. We hung out in the water and on the beach for awhile until the rain came down. The rain kept going in and out that day.
After the rain fall became too steady at Sunset Beach, we hopped back in the car and went back down the road a bit to Foodland to grab food and luckily the Coffee Bean had my favourite – Bubbies – Ice Cream Mochi. Across the road was Pūpūkea Beach Park – Shark’s Cove. We didn’t end up staying in this area but it is a mention worthy view to see.
I had visited Waimea Beach in my previous visit to Oahu but we decided to skip it as there were droves of people there and parking looked full. Waimea is known for their jump rock which you can view on the drive to and from North shore and south to Waikiki. Our next stop was Laniakea Beach. Laniakea Beach is the beach in which you need to park on the inner side of the road and cross traffic to get to the beach. It is also known for turtles. We saw one. The traffic was incredibly built up around this area and finding parking was difficult. Also, be warned that the spots also lower from the main road and there is a good chance you will scratch the bottom of your rental car depending on the spot. It also started to rain again as we made this pitstop so our stay wasn’t long. Our drive to Haleiwa gave us views of full rainbows.
Haleiwa is such a cute little town that has everything you need but I mainly know it for the food spots. In Hawaiian culture, w’s are pronounced as v’s so Haleiwa is pronounced ha-leh-ee-vah. Our first stop was to the famous shrimp truck called Giovanni’s Shrimp truck. NOTE: This is the second location – the Northeast shore location is much better and less crowded. There is a parking lot but it does get crowded. Giovanni’s is only opened to a certain time so we made sure that would be our first stop. Renee & Lulu ordered and we waited for about 20-30 minutes. There are plenty of picnic tables to eat at but we took it to go and onward to our next feat – the line for Matsumoto’s Shaved Ice. This is the same location as previous but they have done a big remodel. The line was long but well worth it as I ordered a small for $3USD (3 flavours) lilikoi, pineapple and yuzu with the addition of mochi for $1. The yuzu was my favourite.
We had passed the Dole Plantation on our drive up to the North shore and thought maybe we had time to stop by the gift shop on the way back to get pineapple soft serve however they close at 530PM and we were in line at Giovanni’s around that time. We drove back to Waikiki and walked over to the International Centre and went to the Marketplace – Mitsuwaya to grab some food. I ordered from MODO – mochi donuts. I picked up 3 flavours and they are little balls of mochi really that attach to one another and easy to pull apart to eat. Rather light in doughiness and not too intense flavouring. Strawberry and the Earl Grey were my favourites. We ended up going downstairs to The Street Food Hall for dinner. I ordered the Kailua Sunrise bowl (Baby kale, Quinoa, sunflower butter, roasted purple sweet potato, pomegranate dressing) $14.99USD from Indie Girl and I have to say I was defeated by a bowl of greens and salted sweet potato.
My leg had been in pain and swollen (no resting really) and seemed to have gotten worse as the trip went on. Renee who is a chiro had been working on my leg during the trip and in the span of the first 3-4 days, I had developed jumpers knee and possibly meniscus irritation. I had to drop by Longs Drugs to pick up a patella band and athletic tape as well as a ice pack. (NOTE: When I returned to Toronto, my Chiro gave me a full diagnosis and the knee pain I was experiencing was from overcompensation from over pronation trying to avoid pain as a walked. What this really meant was my alignment was way off causing my knee to have pains from not walking properly with my knee rotated inwards as I walked to avoid pain and messing up my alignment.
For those Terrace House fans, i stopped by 88tees in hopes I would see Avian from Terrace House. I first started at the 88tees on Kuhio but her swimwear line ILA swim was at the other location on the main strip that you have to go up the stairwell to get to. Alas, she wasn’t there. After checking social media, I found out that majority of the people from Terrace House Aloha State were together in Japan. Not meant to be. I also loosely was trying to see if I could spot some Terrace House people when I was in Japan but they were vice versa and in Hawaii during the time I was in Japan.
Travel day. This was probably not the best time to go on vacation as school had just finished and it was long weekend – Canada Day long weekend. The airport was rather full and our plane ride to Hawaii (10 hours in total) was also quite full as families were going on vacation. We flew Westjet to LAX for a stopover then with Delta to our final destination – Maui. We got our car rental from Enterprise – an Elantra that we named Frankie. The car rental is off the airport property and requires a bus shuttle to take you to it.
First stop before making it to our accommodation – Foodland. Foodland is one of the grocery chains with one big specialty – Poke. I grabbed wasabi poke & a chicken musubi for dinner. Time change wasn’t hitting too hard and timing wise, my friends – Herbie & Elvia were in Maui as well in nearby rental down the block so we went to meet up with them.
Road to Hana
The infamous Road to Hana drive is something one should attempt while on Maui. We decided to start our trip in reverse. We drove all the way through the Road to Hana past the town of Hana as this is probably the most time consuming and requires so much focus and light to drive. It is a 1-lane in each direction with tons of turns with occasional 1 car only bridges. The speed limit isn’t very high as you have turn after turn. Sometimes, it makes it easier to pull over to the side to let the locals pass if you happen to have people tailing you. Tiffany was our driver for this epic drive. Not going to lie, there were points during the drive I got a little dizzy but it passes. Our first stop at the very end past Hana was Pipiwai Trail which is apart of Haleakala National Park. Good thing Lulu was able to grab her brothers annual USA state parks pass as we save money for park entry fees. It would have been $25USD.
We did the Pipipwai Trail (which features a Bamboo forest) to Waimoku Falls then finished off at Seven Sacred Pools at Ohe’o before hitting the road again. It was highly recommended to download the Gypsy Guide and purchase the Road to Hana tour guide as they tell you about the history of Hawaii plus they tell you about places you should check out. After our hike through Pipiwai Trail, we followed the route back and with the helpful tip from the Gypsy Guide app, we found ourselves at Koki and Hamoa Beach before making our way to find lunch.
I had originally read that Braddah Hutts was a great place to eat but it unfortunately wasn’t open so we ended up going down the road to the food trucks – Da Fish Shack, Troys and a unnamed truck. I went with the unnamed truck and got the Coconut crusted Ono with garlic shrimp, mac salad and corn $16USD. The girls grabbed fresh fruit from the fruit stand which was cut up for them to eat on the go.
After lunch we went to Waianapanapa State Park. It’s free parking. We walked down to the Black sand beach. Once you get down the stairs, just to the right of the stairs, you will find the entrance to the cave (it’s not very large but it’s a interesting view from inside. If you continue down the beach, you can walk up and see the blowhole (try not to walk onto the wet rocks – indication of where the blowhole well blows). Tiffany was following the crabs and ended up a little too close for comfort by the blowhole. You can continue walking along the path to see the lava rocks. We ventured for a bit but we weren’t quite sure where it was leading to and it was getting really hot so we turned around and situated ourselves on the black sand beach.
We stayed at black sand beach for a little before deciding to head back on the road back towards Paia. The Road to Hana app was very resourceful on the drive back but we tried not to stop so we could make it to Hookipia Lookout to spot turtles. Herbie had mentioned that he arrived at Hookipia Beach around 230PM and there was a few dozen of turtles laying on the beach. When we arrived in the late afternoon, we had only spotted maybe 3 turtles.
The best view of the turtles on the beach was actually from above nearby the carpark. We went past the fenced area and onto the tall grassy area – be careful as this area is a cliff and make sure you are stepping onto solid ground. After watching the turtles lay on the beach and some surfing in the distance, we drove through Paia to find food. We wanted to eat at Paia Fish Market but it was way too busy. We walked across the street to Ululani Shave Ice for shaved ice. I got the Ulu (medium) with azuki red bean base with 3 flavours (Melona, Li HIng Mui & Guava) $5.50USD.
Since we were in that area of town, we decided to have dinner at Poi by the Pound for more traditional Hawaiian cuisine. I order the Lau Lau Plate $12.95USD (pork, wrappers in taro leaves, lightly flavoured with Hawaiian soft and slow steamed to perfection served with rice, poi, lomi salmon & salad). Poi is a unusual food to eat if you aren’t use to it. Poi is this purple paste. It is a Hawaiian dish made from the fermented root of the taro, which has been baked and pounded to a paste. It is usually served cold and you mix a little bit with meat to give you an interesting texture and flavour. Tiffany had the most unusual dish of poi with poke that is served separately then you mix them together – unusual but not bad.
I’m usually not one to travel in the summer due to the fact that for a short period in time, Toronto has great weather and also because I dedicate my summer travels to volleyball (9-Man). It also is prime time for work opportunities. I made an exception this time around as it all started with my friend Lulu trying to convince me to join her and Renee back in Feb/March to goto Hawaii with them. With this being said, it led to us booking a one-way ticket to Maui. With the one-way ticket purchased, it left me to planning a trip that we could do in a 2 weeks span and also island hopping. Once my itinerary was made, I was able to convince (not very hard to) my friend Tiffany to join us making us a group of 4. I have previously been to Hawaii back in 2014 to photograph my high school friends wedding and staying in Oahu for 13 days – it was amazing and I was mistaken for a Kama’aina surfer girl (a local).
Looking at my last few trips, you can probably tell that I am a very ambitious person and my itineraries are jam-packed. This one was no different. For 2 weeks, we made it so we would island hop – Maui to Oahu to Kauai. This itinerary was made 1.5 months before the trip was to happen and a month before, I injured my leg – side note: sprained my hamstring a month before and didn’t let it rest enough – knee irritation during trip.
For good quality poke anytime, anywhere – goto Foodland.
Download the Gypsy Guide – for your most in-depth car ride. It is an off line audio guide that tracks where you are and will tell you where to stop off to get the most of the islands. It is also very informative and fills you in with all the history that makes Hawaii what it is. We downloaded it for Maui especially for the Road to Hana and also for Kauai.
And of course, last bit of advice: Check airport car rental hours before booking your flights to ensure the offices are open when you land. Late late night flights are no good if you can’t actually leave the airport.
Some facts about Hawaii:
Hawaii is one of the only places in the world that I cannot really tell ethnicity apart. That is because it is a mishmash of many ethnicities and of course tanned complexions. The reason for such mix of ethnicities comes from back in the day when the concept for having an owner and workers started. Before that, people believed they could just survive off the land and live well that way. There was a shortage of workers to work plantations once they adopted the owner and workers system. Since there was a shortage, Hawaii took in workers from different parts of the world such as China, Japan, Philippines, Korea, Puerto Ricans, and Portuguese etc.
After each ethnic group started to immigrate to Hawaii for a better life, the locals started to feel like they were taking all the jobs and started to xenophobia them over and over as a new group came in. Sugar cane plantations were a huge source of income however in 1990, 150 years of plantation ended as the introduction of high fructose sugars started being put into food and the demand for real sugar dropped.
100% Kona Coffee is one of the highest qualities however the price that comes with it isn’t always ideal.
Hawaii has also banned non-coral friendly sunscreens.
Now onto my itinerary. To make the most of our time, I tried to align each day to explore certain areas of each island and tried to alternate hiking days with beach days. I think the biggest thing I am happy to have done was reversing the Road to Hana route – Drive all the way to the end of Road to Hana and explore in reverse for optimal time at Pipiwai Trails and less tourists.