The "Last" Day in Hawaii
Our last day in Hawaii was going to be like most of our other days--full of activities-- but with an airplane flight at the end of the day.
We started the day driving a half hour to Lydgate Beach Park for sunrise. Like many other mornings, there were clouds in the sky near the horizon, and like other mornings it limited how nice the sunrise would be. We stayed for a little while after the time sunrise happened and the clouds were lit up by the sun and provided some color in the sky.
Our next item on the day’s itinerary was a hike up the Nounou Mountain (Sleeping Giant) Trail. The Sleeping Giant hike is so named because the shape of the mountain is a giant’s profile lying down. The hike is a 4-mile round trip hike and takes you across the chest of the Sleeping Giant. We had seen online where hikers needed to be careful because there were some false turns on the trail that looked like the trail continued one way when it actually went another way. Unfortunately, we failed to make a turn on the trail and wound up following one of those false trails. I mentioned how the trail had gotten steep and it seemed like it couldn’t really be the trail. But, we kept going for a while longer until the trail got really steep with dense, low-hanging foliage that prevented us from walking upright. We decided to backtrack until we found where we went wrong. We came across a couple of other hikers going the way we had gone. We told them we didn’t think that was the right way to go, but they went ahead anyway while we kept backtracking. We found where we went wrong and continued up the trail the correct way. A couple of spots along the trail provided great views to the coast and ahead to the peak of the mountain. We did not go all the way to the top because we had read the trail got rockier, steeper, and narrower, and we had many more things we wanted to do that day.
The first of the two waterfalls we went to see was Opaeka’a Falls, which is located in Wailua, the land of the kings. Opaeka’a Falls is part of the north branch of the Wailua River. This was an easy falls to see and no hiking was involved. The 151-foot falls span 40 feet wide and are easily observed from a small lookout. The falls flow throughout the year, but they didn’t look that robust when we were there. The name Opaeka’a means “rolling shrimp,” which were once abundant in the stream.
Probably Dan’s favorite waterfalls seen in Hawaii was the last one we visited–Wailua Falls. Wailua Falls is one of the most popular and most famous falls in Hawaii, primarily because it was featured in the opening sequence of the 1970’s TV show Fantasy Island. This 85-foot high double waterfall was also easy to view as it was right next to the parking lot. We got there at just the right time as the sunlight created a nice rainbow in the mist from the falls.
After viewing the falls, we drove to the southern part of Kauai to see one of the most popular beaches on the island: Poipu Beach Park. Poipu Beach was named America’s Best Beach by The Travel Channel. The beach is a series of golden sand crescents, strung together where beach-goers will find snorkeling, swimming, a natural ocean wading pool, boogie-boarding, surfing and, on this day, a photography nut. We walked around the beach and found some sunbathers (also known as Hawaiian monk seals) looking rather comfortable in their own roped-off area.
The final place we visited on Kauai was Spouting Horn, which is the most popular blowhole on the island. Because people have gotten injured or killed by getting too close to the blowhole, there is a fence at the lookout. Like all blowholes, the waterspout occurs whenever waves are forced under the lava shelf and up through an opening in the rocky coast. Depending on the tide and ocean conditions, the water may spout as far as 50 feet into the air. We had read where Spouting Horn was overrated and not that great, but conditions must have been perfect the day we were there because it was spouting like crazy.
After dropping off the rental car, we moseyed our way to the gate. We were there way before we needed to be, but we were ready to go. After picking out seats in the gate area near an electrical outlet, we ate a couple of sandwiches. Eventually, we boarded the plane, found our seats, and prepared for the long flight to Denver and then back home. The flight left Lihue, Kauai as scheduled (around 8 PM); however, shortly after taking off, the sound of the plane changed and the plane seemed to level off prior to reaching cruising altitude. We looked at each other with an “aww, crap” look on our faces. A while later, a voice came over the speakers, “Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the captain.” Just what we wanted to hear. He explained that they had gotten a warning light indicating they had a problem. He and the co-pilot thought there wasn’t really anything wrong with the plane and it was just a bad light, but they were going to call maintenance to see if they could get it fixed. If not, we would have to land in Honolulu to get it fixed. Two hours later, after flying around Honolulu to burn fuel, the plane was light enough to land. After another hour, they officially cancelled the flight and we could get vouchers for transportation, hotel, and meals.
We got a cab ride with some of the other passengers and the cab took us into Honolulu and a large hotel complex on the beach. As we were driving, it started raining. By the time we got to the hotel, it felt like we were in the middle of a typhoon. The wind was blowing at least 30 MPH and the rain was pouring down. Inside the hotel, the wind was blowing the curtains, and vases and lamps were crashing onto the floor (there were no windows in this tropical hotel lobby). The people behind the desk were as calm as could be. We got our room keys and meal vouchers and were instructed our room was in another building and we’d have to walk outside to get there. In a typhoon. Without an umbrella. Eventually, the rain started to let up so we made a dash for it. We got up to our room and caught our breaths and took off our wet coats. We decided we better call United and get rescheduled for the next day before all the available seats were gone. We managed to get new flights (this time through Chicago instead of Denver) that would get us back to Raleigh early the next day. Mission acccomplished, and we could finally get to bed. It was 3:30 AM.
Keywords: blowholes, Lydgate beach, monk seals, Sleeping Giant Trail, Spouting Horn, sunrise, waterfalls
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