On our last full day on Kauai, we drove to the West Shore to see Waimea Canyon, “the Grand Canyon of Hawaii.” We had planned for this to be a full day trip because we knew that the drive to the Canyon could take a while. There is basically one main road that circles almost the entire island of Kauai, except for a short bit connecting the north and west shores. Which means to get from our hotel (on the north) to the canyon (west) we had to go all the way around the east and south parts of the island first. Normally we hate driving, but there are really worse ways to spend a morning than lazily driving through the amazing landscape of Kauai.
Once you get to the base of the canyon, there is a long, windy, and poorly paved road that will take you about an hour up to the crest (is that the right word?) of the canyon. Words cannot describe.
The best part was that because we had a small car, we could continue all the way up to the top look-out. (Note: If you go to Kauai– rent a SMALL car. The roads are really narrow and you can’t go on a lot of them if you are on a tour bus or in a bigger car).
So incredibly beautiful. We made our way back down through the canyon and began our drive back around the island. First, we stopped for some famous Hawaiian Shave Ice. I’d not heard of it before we got there, but it is everyyyywhere. It is kind of like a snow cone, except a hundred times better. The ice is super fine, and there are endless combinations of flavors. They also usually start each cup with a scoop of either vanilla or macadamia ice cream, and top the ice with flavored cream. B got something tropical (I think it was orange and strawberry on top of macadamia ice cream), mine was blueberry and raspberry on top of vanilla. So ridiculously good.
The beaches on the South Shore were completely different than those on the North Shore. Way more crowded (probably because the water is a lot less choppy!) and commercialized. Lots of beach shops and places to walk around, whereas the resorts on the North Shore were much more isolated and self-contained. Both pretty awesome, but in very different ways.
On the way back to the hotel, we got to drive through the amazing Tree Tunnel. One of the most incredible things about Kauai is the variety of beauty. It isn’t just beaches, just mountains, just forests, it’s everything beautiful all in one place.
On our last morning, we woke up, checked out, and headed to Kalihiwai Beach. We’d actually found it the day we went horseback riding when we missed our turn and had to find somewhere to turn around. The really cool thing about this beach was that it was completely isolated both days we were there. There aren’t even any signs, we only knew its name because we looked it up on the map– and there was not a single soul there. It just seemed like the perfect place to say goodbye to Kauai’s beaches, all alone.
When we were done at the beach, we went to explore the East Shore (completing our goal of seeing all four sides of the island!). The East Shore is all about the waterfalls. ‘Opaeka’a Falls and Wailua Falls
After the falls, we still had a little time to kill before we had to return the car and get to the airport. We headed to a beach close to the airport, Kalapaki Beach, and got to watch a bunch of people…. paddle boarding? We never did figure out exactly what this was called.