Today we decided to drive to the south of Kauai to see if we could find somewhere to snorkel. We went totally prepared with our bathing suits and towels. Before setting off we feasted on fresh papaya, apples and yoghurt. The sun was rising as we left which caused problems for us. As we drove east for the first part, there were times when the sun was shining directly into our eyes. Tom had to slow right down just to make sure we stayed on the road. Leaving at that time as well, we had forgotten to take rush hour into account. All was well until we approached Lihue. Suddenly cones appeared turning our direction into two lanes. Before long we were crawling along and it took about three quarters of an hour to drive around Lihue and through a major road construction.
(Click on the photos for larger versions.)
Finally we were on Highway 50 and heading west. We were hoping that the weather would be better in the south but it was overcast. We had come this far so we persevered. We took Highway 520 south towards Poipu. The road was lined with tall trees with twisty bark. I found out later that it is call The Avenue of Trees.
We stopped in the small town of Kolea because it looked interesting and we wanted to stretch our legs. There were some historic buildings which had been converted into small boutique shops. Even though it was only 9:30 some of then were open. Tom wanted to buy some new sandals. He brought leather ones with him but they had got soaked yesterday and he was on the lookout for something more waterproof. We found the perfect pair. In another shop I spotted a book on Hawaiian birds and just had to have it. Maybe now I would be able to find out the names of some of the birds I had already seen. On our way back to the car we saw part of a ruined brick building across the way. Tom thought it was a chimney so we went to investigate. Tom was absolutely correct as the building used to be a sugar mill and the chimney is pretty much all that remains. Nearby there was a monument to the fact that Kolea is the first location to be commercially successful in sugar cane production. The monument contained a number of bronze plaques describing the history and a brass sculpture by Jan Gordon Fisher. The sculpture contains six full sized figures depicting the different cultures which represent the people who worked on the plantation. One of the bronze plaques has a description of the figures but also mentions, “In the background, riding upon a horse, is a Caucasian, representing the North American and European entrepreneurs who started and developed the industry.” Search as hard as I could I could see no sign of anybody on a horse. Has the Hawaiian weather worn it away or maybe it has been deliberately erased by human hand? Pondering this mystery, we returned to the car to continue our journey.
Before long we arrived at the beach and found somewhere to park. As soon as we got out of the car we remarked on how windy. The wind got worse as we reached the beach. It was a warm wind but it got stronger and stronger. While Tom took a few photos, I sat at the top of the beach in a slightly secluded spot. There were people trying to walk along the beach but they all had difficulty with the wind. Some of them were bent nearly double. When Tom joined me he pointed out to sea at an ominous dark cloud. We immediately decided to head back to the car. It turned out to be a wise decision as we felt the first drops of rain on the way and made it back to the car just in time. The heavens opened and for ten minutes we sat in the car and watched the almost horizontal rain drench the area. Rivers appeared across the car park. Was this a tropical storm? It certainly looked and felt like it.
Snorkeling was definitely out so we called it a day and drove back towards Princeville. In Wailua on the eastern coast we passed a derelict resort building. Tom wondered whether the building had been destroyed by the hurricane in the early 1990′s. Later that evening we did some research and once again he was right. The building was the Coco Palms Resort which was opened in 1953 and became known worldwide when the last twenty minutes of ‘Blue Hawaii’ starring Elvis Presley was filmed there. When Hurricane Iniki struck in September of 1992, the Coco Palms Resort was damaged beyond repair and has slowly been decaying ever since.
Not far past Coco Palms, as we were passing the Coconut Marketplace, we spotted a small farmers market in the car park. We had planned to visit a farmers market in Hanalei this afternoon but thought we might as well check this one out as well as the rain had stopped. There were half a dozen stalls selling an exotic array of tropical fruits and vegetables, some of which we’d never seen before. At one stall the ladies were extremely friendly and helpful. When We asked them what the strange, small, red, hairy fruit were, they told us rambutan. They went so far as to peel one and let us try it. Inside was a white translucent fruit which looked and tasted like a lychee. We were curious about a largish, green, spiky fruit as well, which was called soursop, and once again they cut one open and let us try it. Inside it was white and gooey and tasted both sweet and sour. Neither of those appealed to us at all but we did buy three papaya and a bunch of apple bananas. As we were walking away, we noticed some coconuts in a cooler chest, so we bought one. To complete the deal they made a hole in the top and put a straw in. Lovely, fresh coconut milk. At another stall a very animated smallholder persuaded us to buy a starfruit, which Tom ate right away. By the time we got back to the car, juice was running down his arm. This is the life!
Driving through Kilauea we decided on the spur of the moment to visit the lighthouse on Kilauea Point. Just before we reached the lighthouse we stopped at an observation platform and took a couple of photos. Then we felt raindrops and once again made a mad dash back to the car before the heavy rain descended. We sat in the car and ate our sandwich lunch hoping the weather would improve so we could visit the lighthouse but it wasn’t to be.
As we wanted to visit the farmers market on the other side of Hanalei, we drove past the entrance to our hotel and onto to Hanalei. We had half an hour to spare before the market opened so we stopped off for a drink at the Hanalei Gourmet Bar. It was still raining but nobody seemed too concerned about it. People were walking about in shorts and t-shirts and ignoring the rain altogether. We were the only ones with an umbrella. We cogitated whether the farmers market would be operating but decided that we would check it out and if it were open, regardless of the weather, we would stop and investigate.
Armed with our umbrella, we drove about a mile outside Hanalei to the farmers market. Even though it was just after two, there were already a number of cars parked in the field next to the market. By now the rain was coming down heavily but it was not cold at all. There were a couple of other people sporting umbrellas so we didn’t feel so odd. Once again, stall holders were cheerful and very helpful. We hade decided to cook an omelet tonight and were able to buy most of the ingredients there at the farmers market – half a dozen eggs, bell pepper and goat cheese. We couldn’t decide which greens to serve with the omelet as the choice was overwhelming. A very friendly stall holder explained the different varieties of greens she had on sale and we chose something that looked like nettles. At another stall we bought two small pineapples. Another customer buying them told us to snap them up as they would go fast. She explained that they are the sweetest pineapples around and that they were so good, you can even eat the core. We also bought some lemons and the stall holder threw in two limes for free.
By this time, the umbrella was almost superfluous as we were both extremely wet. To make matters worse, somebody had managed with their umbrella to dislodge a large amount of water from a tent roof over a stall, which then cascaded down my neck. On the way back to the car, we stamped in all the puddles just to show we didn’t mind how wet we were as we were having such a good time. This vacation is certainly turning out to be a wet one.
Back to the hotel we changed out of our wet clothes and relaxed with a nice glass of wine on our patio. The zebra doves (now I have a bird book, I can identify some of the birds) came to investigate. They were very tame and come to within six inches of our feet. Then a mother hen and eight chicks came and milled around in anticipation. Tom went to get some bread out of the fridge and we scattered crumbs about. A rooster also appeared on the scene but couldn’t get a look in for awhile. The mother hen made sure that all the chicks were eating before she had anything for herself. We thought the little chicks were aggressive because they would jump up and try to snatch the crumbs out of the hen’s beak, but that was nothing. Tom stood up to scatter more crumbs and the mother hen flew up to his chest to snatch the bread out of his hand. We then decided they were ferocious and it was probably not a good idea to feed them. Lesson learnt.
That evening we had a gorgeous meal – goat cheese omelet with tasty greens followed by fresh pineapple and ice cream. This is the life. We retired for another blissful night’s sleep.