My first thought upon waking on Monday was, “Nooooo! We can’t be leaving tomorrow!” But I resisted the urge to pout and committed to seizing the day – 24 hours and counting to work on my golden glow! After coffee and coconut pastries, we headed east to check out Wailua Falls, which were rip-roaring and gorgeous. We regretted the fact that access doesn’t exist to the bottom of the falls. Someday, I’ll swim under a Hawaiian waterfall. Someday.
From Wailua, we hit the road to the North Shore, stopping briefly at ‘Opaeka’a Falls.
And then I was ready to hit the water! I had read that Queen’s Bath, near Princeville, is a beautiful natural pool and major swimming destination. I was picturing a quiet little cove, maybe with a sandy spot for us to spread out our beach towels and catch some rays. So I was surprised when our 10-minute downhill trek landed us at a field of black rock.
And gushing, foamy water.
But dang, it was pretty. And that water was so blue! As long as you weren’t trying to climb into the pool as waves were crashing over its rocky edges, it seemed to be safe(ish). And there were other swimmers there (Shane managed to crop them all out of his shots), so we went for it. I found a rock to perch on and watched the fish swim around my feet while the tide gently pulled and pushed at us. In retrospect, after hearing that afternoon from a gentleman at the hotel that people frequently die at Queen’s Bath, perhaps we should have skipped this place and opted for one of the nearby sandy beaches. Perhaps.
Having unknowingly cheated death, we dried off, grabbed our things and headed back toward Poipou , detouring for pineapple frosties at Banana Joe’s and a quick gander at the Kilauea Lighthouse.
And then we were “home” again, settling into our lounge chairs for one last laze-fest at the pool. We hit the water slide a couple more times, bobbed around the saltwater lagoon, and put the finishing touches on our tropical tans. As much I loved our daily adventures to the far reaches of the island, these care-free afternoons at the pool were the highlight of our trip.
One final evening meant one final sunset – we drove over to Salt Pond Beach Park and stretched out in the sand just in time for the golden hour. It was no Polihale, to be sure, but it was still pretty great to lay my head on Shane’s shoulder and be fully present to enjoy such warmth and beauty. “In-the-moment” living doesn’t come easily to me, as I’m usually caught up in thinking about the next place to go or task to be done. And yet, for those few days, that sense of constant distraction completely melted away.
We had our best meal of the week that evening on the terrace of Plantation Gardens. Super-fresh fish, passion fruit cheesecake, and real-deal margaritas (yes, I only got a sip or two of Shane’s margarita, but he only got a bite or two of my dessert, so it all evened out). We had set out that morning to seize the day and patted ourselves on the back that night for job well done.
We got up early on Tuesday for a walk to the Maha’ulepu Cliffs – these sandstone cliffs were just beyond our hotel’s beach and I’d been meaning to check them out all week (but had always gotten sucked into pool before I could make it any further).
It’s like this island was constantly standing by to surprise us with something amazing around every corner. And I like the idea that baby Schnell was along for the ride – even though he or she doesn’t know a Hawaiian beach from our own backyard at this point, I want to believe that we’re already bequeathing a spirit of adventure to our child. Get ready, little one – we’ve got some pretty incredible stuff to show you when you get older.
We walked back to our room and packed up our things, sniffling a little as we said good-bye to the ocean, to our beloved pool, to that sexy car…
Mahalo, Kauai! This trip was all we’d hoped it would be, plus so much more. I would have been thrilled with simple shave ice, but then that delicious scoop of macadamia nut ice cream appeared at the bottom of my cup and I was left reeling from the splendor of it all. We’ll be embarking on a brand new journey this Fall where pot-holed roads and helicopter rides will be struck from the itinerary, but I think I’m ok with that – this island gave us one heck of a send-off.