NAWILIWILI, KAUAI – This may be my favourite island. Our tour guide/driver, Jack the surfer, came to Hawaii 30 years ago for a friend’s wedding. He kept coming back every year and staying with them until finally, after many children, they told him they were running out of room and he would have to find a place for himself. So he got married, stayed and settled down, but is still a surfer dude. He was very knowledgable about the weather and the island. Where the best waves would be because of the winds and currents and what to look for in the skies for storms and weather. Also since it is a round island, he said you can always find good waves.
We started off our day with a river cruise up the Wailua River, one of the few navigable waterways in Hawaii, to the Fern Grotto. The grotto was created by a lava tube and a high water fall tumbles over the lava where there are hundreds of ferns and other plants growing. We are serenaded by musicians playng traditional Hawaiin tunes. From here we visited the Kilauea Natonal Wildlife Refuge with a beautiful lighthouse and bird sanctuary.
Kauai is known as the coconut coast of Hawaii. They lose more people here from falling coconuts than they do from shark attacks. The volcano has been extinct for 1000 years, so there are no volcanic issues here. The island is dead centre in the middle of the Pacific Ocean – equal distance from Asia or from North America.
Kauai is small and round and is known as the “Garden Island” because of the tropical rainforest that covers most of it. The dramatic cliffs and pinnacles created by past volcanoes are spectacular to see and it is the oldest island in the Hawaiian archipelago. It is approximately 26×24 miles and has a population of about 65K. The golden beaches are inviting and there is a large variety of water, from good surfing waves to small warm tidal pools where children can play safely. It’s also not that easy to get to. A vote was taken to see if the residents wanted to start ferry service from other islands, and it was voted down. The people who live here like it the way it is, and thought the ferry service might bring crime. It’s safe here and no one locks their doors.
However, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook fame, has just purchased a huge track of land that includes a long swath of beachfront and has proceeded to build a rather high wall around it. I think our guide said it cost him around 400 million? I guess he liked the charm and quiet of the island as well. Residents were not happy about the wall. It is blocking the tradewinds that cool their homes. One out of four homes is solar and the state itself wants to become 100% green by 2030. Most homes already have solar water heating. We had a picnic lunch at the Anini Beach with a view of the beautiful crescent-shaped Hanalei Bay before heading back to our ship.