Hawaii: I ? Kaua’i

February 12th, 2012 · Lisa · Travel · Comments
Embrace the detours. ~ Scott Cameron

On a long trip, as in life, it is impossible to plan every second. Along the way, opportunities arise and detours are discovered. Kaua’i, Hawaii’s garden island, was outside of my original itinerary, but with five days at the end of my trip available for exploring I jumped at the chance to plan an inter-island excursion.

Thirty minutes after taking off in Honolulu I landed on the lush shores of Lihue. I had booked a deal on a rental car and studio apartment on the island’s north coast. I turned on the local radio station and cruised along the island’s main two-lane highway, through Kapa’a and on into Princeville.

There at the end of my street (for the week) I breathed in the sea air and reflected on the journey that brought me to these shores.

The next morning, I started the day by watching the waves crash on the coast. As I sat cross-legged on a hill overlooking the ocean I thought about my cubicle at home. If only I could set up my computer outside in the sun with the calming sound of the water in the background, I would feel far more excited about my return to that routine.

Even though my days in Kaua’i were mostly spent resting and relaxing, I did enjoy a few food adventures including a tasting tour of Steelgrass Farms. We tasted 1. limes 2. star fruit (which tastes sweet and floral – nothing like the watery ones at home) 3. passionfruit (a.k.a. lilikoi) 4. egg fruit (which would be an amazing sweet potato or pumpkin substitute in baked dishes) 5. mountain apple 6. watermelon radish and 7.rambutan. I didn’t capture pictures of the logan, sugar cane, oranges or apricots that we also enjoyed.

After the diverse array of local produce we moved on to an eleven course chocolate tasting, while sitting in a little tent next to fields growing an ample supply of cacao. That’s right, eleven courses of chocolate! If you don’t have Valentine’s Day plans…this would be an excellent option (buy some bars and gather some friends).

The blind tasting allowed us to savour each sample and attempt to identify the subtle flavour notes in each bite. It was quite amazing to taste the difference between the bars, even though they all had the same four ingredients. Processing, percentages and soil make a world of difference in the final product. I left the farm feeling high on life and in love with Hawai’i.

With the extra endorphins delighting my brain I took in the beautiful sights along my route home. Waterfalls, rolling hills and the Waimea river create the definitive tropical atmosphere of Kaua’i.

As much as I like to look at lush green trees, I’m even more fond of eating what they produce. Kaua’i has a local farmers market somewhere on the island everyday of the week. You know I couldn’t turn up a chance to stand around with the locals, picking out prize produce. So, during a rain storm I packed a few bags full of mangoes, stair fruit, apple bananas and rambutans. It was awesome!!!

Other than the markets, the vegan food scene in Kaua’i has a few great options. I didn’t get to try them all, but next time I will make sure to visit Rainbow Living Foods and the Mermaid Cafe in Kapa’a. On this trip I had hummus and salad at the Postcards Cafe in Hanalei, vegan baked goods at Harvest Market and Java Kai, vegan tacos at Verde in Kapa’a and stocked up on staples at the Papaya Natural Food market.

My favourite meal of the trip was at the home of my friend’s parents, who treated me to a big plate of papaya, avocado, purple potatoes, quinoa, and macadamia nuts. They also packed up some ginger macadamia cookies for my long flight home. I will be visiting them again 🙂

During my stay I had to put all that fresh fuel to work. I tried to catch a glimpse of the Waimea canyon but a storm washed out the roads. The next day, during a window of sunshine I was determined to explore the Na Pali Coast’sfamous trek.

I was expecting a treacherous trail but the first two miles of the route were actually quite easy and enjoyable. I didn’t pack supplies since I had not anticipated having a chance to climb the four mile trail to the waterfall – the day before 5 couples were airlifted off the coast because they were trapped by high water levels – so when I reached the beach I knew I had to turn back.

I was so grateful for a day with a little sunshine. Hiking the Na Pali Coast had been high on my to-do list and to be able to stand there at the end of my trip, taking in the breath-taking views was a blessing.

I ended up hiking for two hours with a rancher who talked about the important role guns play in his life. We chatted about life philosophy, the importance of living your passions and staying active. It was interesting to get a glimpse into a whole different world than the one in which I live. Below the surface, we all have so much in common, such similar desires and dreams. One of the benefits of travel is changing your perspective; replacing speculation and stereotypes with experiences and reality.

So, sitting on a rock, squinting in the sunshine, I marked off the last to-do on my list.
The next day…I arrived at the first of four airports on my way home.

Tonight, I will step back into my apartment and tomorrow morning I’ll be back at work.

Thank you all of for joining me along the way. It has been a great adventure because I was able to share it with all of you.

I may be home…but I’m not finished exploring.


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