Top 5 Hawaii Favorites
Aloha! Sorry for the radio silence, but I've been busy soaking up sunshine on the shores of Hawaii. It was a tough job, but somebody had to do it. :) We had the BEST time. As an Indiana-native, I never would have believed 80 degrees and sunshine existed nearly 365 days a year, but I have officially been proven wrong. It's a lonnnngggg way to Hawaii from the Midwest, but I would highly recommend a visit at least once in your life if you can swing it.
We visited the islands of Kauai and Oahu - Kauai at the recommendation of my sisters and its reputation for being very relaxed and "island-like", and Oahu because my Dad was stationed there nearly 50 years ago. I'm glad we visited both islands to gain a bit of perspective, but I'll be honest and say that Kauai was far and away my favorite. I wouldn't recommend Oahu unless you love to sit in traffic. Seriously. On the bright side, at least you're sitting in sunny, 80 degree traffic!
We had the opportunity to experience a number of amazing sights and adventures during our visit, but I thought it might be helpful to all of you to share a few of my favorites. Here are my top 5 recommendations.
- Polihale Beach, Kauai
CAUTION: 4 wheel drive vehicles only. No, really. Most rental contracts state that any damage that occurs on the road to get to Polihale will not be covered. As luck would have it, my sisters rented a Jeep 4x4, so we all piled in the back and made the treck! It was AWESOME. Absolutely my favorite thing we did on vacation. Oh, and the BEACH. It's no wonder Travel + Leasure ranked this as the #1 best beach on Earth. It’s the westernmost public beach on Kauai, accessible only via sugarcane farm roads that date back to the early 1900s. I can't even put the beauty into words. I only hope I get to visit again one day!
2. Waimea Canyon, Kauai
Waimea Canyon is often referred to as the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific", and it does not disappoint. Waterfalls, red rock, river gorges, it can all be seen for miles and miles from the many overlooks along Hawaii state road 550. There are several hiking trails in the area that take you down to the river basin, but we just took in the sights from above. If I were to venture back, I would definitely think about hiking in this area.
3. Kalalau Trail, Kauai
The Kalalau Trail runs along the northern coast of Kauai known as the Napali Coast. The only way to view this coast line is by air, sea, or to simply get out there and hike it yourself. The views are AMAZING. I've never seen water so blue or vegetation so green. Tyler was wearing a neon green hat the day we hiked this trail, and I swear to you his hat was the same color as some of the plants. We weren't prepared to do any major hiking on this trip, so we only ventured out to the first stop - Hanakapai'ai Beach. This was the 2-mile mark, but the trail actually extends 11 miles in total. The north side of Kauai can be quite wet, so be prepared for some slippery conditions!
4. Shave Ice
Yep, that's right. SHAVE ice. Not Shaved. This was our lunch more than once, and I'm already craving it again. My favorite was "Hawaiian" style - rainbow flavored with a scoop of macadamia nut ice cream on the bottom. DELICIOUS. Now this is no snow cone that you find here on the mainland - this thing is pure joy in a cup. It's literally made by shaving a giant block of ice. You just have to try it.
5. Yokohama Beach, Oahu
Yokohama Beach (actually called Keawaula Beach) is the northernmost beach on Oahu's west shore. It is located a short distance just before the road ends and the trail to Ka'ena Point, the island's northwestern tip, begins. This beach is one of the most remote on the entire island - exactly the way I like it. The day we arrived, there were only a few handful of people that showed up for hours. Since this beach is near the north side of the island, it is well known for high waves in the winter months and strong currents throughout the year. Our visit was no exception. Even better, a few local surfers showed up and provided plenty of entertainment for the afternoon. Tyler even braved the water for a short time but quickly ended up with a mouth, eye, and shorts full of sand. :)
The Hawaiian islands are like nothing I've ever seen before. You get a little bit of everything! Tyler and I hope to visit again one day but in the meantime, I'll just dream of the sun on my face, the ocean breeze in my hair, sand between my toes, and rainbow shave ice in my belly!