As yesterday’s trip involved a lot of driving, we decided to stay close to base today. We couldn’t decide whether to go kayaking or snorkeling. During breakfast we discussed our options and in the end plumped to go snorkeling. We drove into Hanalei to find some place where they rented snorkeling equipment. Before we left though, I decided to try the poi again. Well, it definitely tasted different as it was more acidic but still not a lot of taste. Decided that my experiment was over and ditched the rest of the poi.
The day was overcast and I wasn’t too enthusiastic about snorkeling. We pulled into Kayak Kauai, which is the first place we saw as we drove into Hanalei, where snorkeling equipment could be rented. The place was right behind Hanalei Taro and Juice where I bought the poi earlier in the week. Outside Kayak Kauai there lots of kayaks so we were able to kill two birds with one stone. The guy behind the counter told us that snorkeling is still not advisable due to the high surf but he gave us all the information and prices. For just $8 each we could get both the mask and fins. I asked if they also rented floatation gear because I’m not a good swimmer and hate going out of my depth. He showed us the floatation belts they rented so I was a bit happier about giving snorkeling a try here. Maybe tomorrow we will be able to snorkel.
We then asked about kayak rental. Once again the prices seemed very reasonable at $29 each. We decided to get a double instead of two separate kayaks. Included in the price was a waterproof pack for our belongings. Before we signed up though we had to go back to the hotel to change. I was wearing jeans and that is definitely not a good idea in a kayak. We were back and rarin’ to go within thirty minutes, complete with a sandwich lunch.
Before we could be introduced to our kayak, we had to don life jackets and select a paddle each. Then we made our way to the kayaks where a very cheerful guy met us and set us up with our bright yellow kayak. He showed us where to store the waterproof bag and led us to the ramp, all the while chatting away. I noticed he had some fingers missing and, as we were talking about sharks, I asked if a shark had attacked him. He said a shark had taken a little bite obviously didn’t like the taste as he only took a few fingers. I asked if it happened while he was surfing and he said yes but it hadn’t stopped him surfing. He went on to say that he doesn’t blame the shark as he was intruding in the shark’s territory so he was the interloper.
Getting into the kayak was a little awkward but we managed it without embarrassing ourselves too much. We were directed to turn left and head to the main river where we could either turn left again to head to the mouth of the river where it empties into Hanalei Bay or we could turn right to go upstream. As we had been to the beach a few days before we turned right and set off inland. The Hanalei River is only 15 miles long and is by no means the longest river in Hawaii but it discharges the second highest amount of water. It starts on the slopes of Mount Wai’ale’ale, which is the second highest point in Kauai. As mentioned in the previous post, Mount Wai’ale’ale is one of the wettest places on earth, due to the amount of rain that falls there. You would think that the Hanalei River, with all that water cascading down the mountain over a relatively short distance, would be a difficult river to negotiate but it is not so. The lower section is flat and very calm and a real pleasure to kayak.
It is a busy river but not crowded. We passed a dozen or so other kayakers plus a few folks on paddle boards (I wonder where they put their lunch). Two outriggers flew past us and there were amazing to watch. Each outrigger had a float on one side to keep it stable and half a dozen rowers on board. Outriggers are often seen in Hawaii but this was the first time I had been that close.
The first part of our journey took us alongside the main road. It took half an hour to reach the bridge, which is the first one lane bridge we crossed on our drive from Princeville into Hanalei. I learnt today that the bridge, along with the the whole of Highway 560, is on the National Register of Historic Places in Hawaii. Seeing the bridge from underneath was an experience and, due to the wooden floor, cars traveling over it made a rumbling noise.
I must say it was a delightful trip. Huge trees, many covered with bright colored flowers, crowded to the bank on our left. After the bridge, there were a few open spaces but nowhere to pull in and investigate. On our right, we paddled alongside the road through the Halalei National Wildlife Refuge we investigated on Day 1. The sun shone brightly overhead and there was a slight breeze. As we were paddling against the current and a little out of practice, our arms were getting tired but we could not stop because the banks were too steep. We did pull in under some trees to take a rest and I took the opportunity to apply a little sun block while Tom held on tightly to some overhanging branches. It was also time to drink some water. Sitting there in the shade, looking over the taro fields, was so quiet and peaceful.
Off we set again, passing a couple of banana trees with bunches of green bananas hanging from the branches. We also spotted an egret on the left bank. It didn’t appear to be hunting so I wandered whether it was guarding it’s nest. I know egrets sometimes build their nests on the ground. After another half and hour of paddling we were ready for our second break. We really wanted to pull in somewhere and have our lunch but we saw no likely places. That is, until I espied a sand bank off to the right. We navigated to the sand bank and I jumped out to secure the boat while Tom climbed out. Although it was a convenient place to take a rest, it was not at all suitable to sit down and eat our sanwiches as the sand was wet and our feet sunk some way into it. It did enable us to have another drink of water.
The river became narrower on the last leg of our journey upstream. We had to negotiate around protruding logs and overhanging trees and the water got shallower. We did pass quite a few snapping turtles sunbathing and I managed to take a photo of them though it was a perilious endeavour. Then it was time to turn round, not because we were getting bored – far from it – but we were hungry and I didn’t fancy eating in the kayak.
The trip back was a breeze. The current flowing downstream enabled us to take it easier and sometimes we just drifted along. We did seriously consider carrying on down to the beach and then mooring up on the sand while we ate our sandwiches. In fact we carried on past the creek to the launching ramp expecting to see the open ocean from around the next bend but the bend went on and on. Our arms were really complaining by then so we turned around once again and headed back to base.
Then it was off to find somewhere to eat our lunch. We drove to Hanalei beach and found a nice little park at the back of the beach with some handy picnic benches. Almost as soon as we sat down and started to unpack our lunch, a large black retriever appeared in front of us. He plopped himself down at our feet and looked at us pleadingly. We didn’t know who he belonged to and, as he looked extremely well fed, we tried to ignore him. It was extremely difficult to sit there enjoying our sandwiches and apple bananas with those baleful eyes and lolling tongue right in front of our noses but we resisted. Thank goodness a family arrived at another table and off he went to see if he could scrounge from them.
On our way home we stopped at the Foodland Market to see what they had on offer for our dinner that evening. We fancied steak and found what we were looking for. Tom cooked it later and, boy, it was good and went very well with a bottle of wine we also bought today. It rounded off another perfect day.