Winter in the Black Hills provides us with some fantastic outdoor experiences. However, sometimes a break from the cold and snow is good therapy for me. My wife and I recently had the opportunity to spend a week in Kauai and the mental benefits of a tropical environment were amazing. It is also nice to go somewhere tropical with out having to deal with language barriers, changse in currency, or driving on a different side of the road that I am used to.
With that said, if you get a chance to go, here are a some of my favorite things about this fantastic Hawaiian Island, in no particular order.
1. Fresh Farmer’s Market – Everyday, except Sunday, the farmer’s market was available at a different location on the island. We had a kitchen in our condo and we were able to take advantages of fresh island produce. Some of our favorites included avocados the size of grapefruits, sugarloaf pineapple, and juicy mangos.
2. Whale Watching – Apparently the whale watching “season” is December to about March. Our expectation is that we would have to pay a charter to go out and see the whales. Boy, we were wrong. Typically, 20 minutes at any location with a view of the ocean resulted in a sighting. We saw so many we couldn’t believe it. We did take a charter and were able to get closer to the whales, but it wouldn’t be necessary. We also saw several sea turtles from the shore and both bottle nose dolphins and spinner dolphins from our charter.
3. The Hiking – We hiked the Kalalau trail to Hanakapiai Falls, about eight miles round trip. This was a technical trail. It was muddy and slippery, had a lot of elevation change, and required four or five stream crossings. However, the scenery was fantastic. We were lucky and had a perfect day for it. We also hit a couple of hikes in Waimea Canyon. Once again, the scenery did not disappoint. These hikes weren’t as technical, but the elevation change was more challenging the Kalalau trail. One of the hikes in the Canyon descended about 2,500 feet over 2.5 miles. Since this was an out and back hike we got to “enjoy” the climb on the way back. There were many more hikes in the Canyon that we simply did not have time to do. Gives us an excuse to go back!
4. The Food – Although there are many expensive places to eat, we had our best experiences with local, inexpensive food. The North Shore General Store food truck at Anini Beach had amazing fish tacos and chili pepper chicken. We bought some deliciously fresh bread from Midnight Bear Breads at a Farmer’s market. We had a filling and locally flavored breakfast at the Tip Top Motel Café and Bakery. And finally, we had many great espresso and lattes at Little Fish Coffee Poipu. Trip Advisor helped us on some of our choices, but we also had a fair amount of luck by just stopping at places and checking them out.
5. The People – We felt that in general the people were great. Friendly, pleasant and helpful. Regardless of where we were at, if you had questions, needed directions, or just wanted to make small talk, everyone was more than happy to take the time and indulge us.
It was a nice break from winter and is worth checking out for yourself. Oddly enough, summer is their busy time and we were there in the “off-season”. So, if you just can’t take the cold anymore or you're looking to add a little adventure into your schedule, there is no time like the present. Make it happen!
By Pat Wiederhold