We are off on an adventure to Kaua’i, the Garden Isle (not to be confused with the Garden State), a tropical paradise in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and are staying at a VRBO on Kahuna Rd in Kapaa, Kaua’i.  Rather than staying near the beach, we decided to stay inland to enjoy the tropical forests.  We do not regret that decision. 😀

The entrance to our house in the tropical forest is tropical.

The entrance to our house in the tropical forest is tropical.

In Kaua’i, no one waters their lawn.  Rather, it is an ongoing job to trim vegetation; many folks have a small fire pit to burn the biomass, and it’s too extensive to compost.

The interior of the house is decorated with traditional themes.

The interior of the house is decorated with traditional themes.

The house is beautifully decorated with shells, flowers, and island scents.  It’s perfect for a romantic vacation.

We have a private patio to enjoy.

We have a private patio to enjoy.

You might notice that there’s a bit of moisture on the furniture and deck.  Yup, tropical forests are also called rain forests.

My husband said, "Let's have some bubbly."  I misunderstood.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

My husband said, “Let’s have some bubbly.” I misunderstood. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

No house is complete without an outdoor bathtub, and our romantic getaway in Kaua’i is no exception.  The only issue we discover is that we must rescue critters each morning who crawl in the tub and are unable to crawl out.

The household recycling center.

The household recycling center.

This lovely lady was raised by the owners from a piglet and now serves as the recycling center and compost accelerator.  She is behind a fence for a reason.  One day our landlady knocks excitedly on our door and tells us that a boar has come a-courting and is rather aggressive about having his way with Miss Piggy (name changed to protect her virtue).  We are instructed to stay indoors until the professional pig catcher arrives to capture and relocated the amorous male.  Our landlady apologizes, but we reassure her:  It’s quite an adventure to be hiding from the dangers of an aggressive male pig, and it is a memory we cherish.  How many people get to have this kind of an experience?  We do!

The Ol’ Swimmin’ Hole

We walk to the end of the landlady’s property, through a passage in an overgrown hedge, and down a short path, and we find a private waterfall and swimming hole, the perfect place to cool off on a hot summer’s day.

Relaxing in the cool island waters of Kaua'i.

Relaxing in the cool island waters of Kaua’i.

See that little figure under the overhang?  That’s me!

The waterfall calls to us: come play with me.

The waterfall calls to us: come play with me.

Of course, the inner child takes over as soon as we are in the water, and we swim to the waterfall to see what kind of adventures we might find.

Getting ready to dive in.

Getting ready to dive in.

There are convenient ledges on both sides of the waterfall allowing us to have solid footing before taking the plunge.

Wheeeeeeeeee!

Wheeeeeeeeee!

We try to jump directly into the falls, but this is a close as we can get.  Still, it’s a lot of fun.

The falls, close up and personal.

The falls, close up and personal.

You can see that the waterfall is robust.  It may look small, but it’s a lot of water pouring down on us.

Relaxing in the shallows is fun, too.

Relaxing in the shallows is fun, too.

The pond below the falls is the perfect place to cool off and relax.  The current is gentle and the water is refreshing.

Stormy weather changes our swimmin' hole.

Stormy weather changes our swimmin’ hole.

Towards the end of our trip, a tropical storm approached Kaua’i and dumped a lot of rain on us.  You can see the difference in the waterfall before and after.  But, it doesn’t matter to us; it’s just part of the adventure.

Kaua’i Coffee

Kaua’i has its own coffee, conveniently called Kaua’i Coffee.  The coffee is free (makes you wonder why Starbucks coffee is so expensive, right?), and they have a self-guided tour to learn about coffee.  Here’s the scoop.

Kaua’i Coffee: Good to the last drop.

Kaua’i Coffee: Good to the last drop.

First, they grow the coffee on a bush. The berry is called a cherry. When the cherry is ripe, they pick it.  They peel off the nutritious fleshy fruit and discard it, leaving only the seed as residue. This seed – the flower’s reproductive part – is dried mechanically, killing it. This remnant of a once-proud berry is then cooked to change the flavor. The cooked seed, now called a “bean”, is chopped into small pieces, and hot water is poured over it. The chopped bean, despite having nutrient value, is discarded, and the liquid residue is allowed to cool slightly before being consumed.

If the bean is chopped too finely, the residue will taste bitter; if too coarsely, the residue will taste weak.

If the flavor of the hot bean juice is still not appealing, the ground stem of a grass may be added as a sweetener. If it still tastes unappealing, modified sweat glands of a cow can be stimulated to discharge a fatty fluid that can then be added.

Mmmmmmm, coffeeeeeeeeeeeee.

Kilohana

Today we are visiting Kilohana plantation.  “Translated from Hawai’ian, the name Kilohana literally means ‘not to be surpassed’. This was certainly the case in 1935, when sugar baron Gaylord Wilcox built his legendary 16,000 square foot plantation estate. In its heyday, Kilohana was the site of many extravagant parties and ceremonies. It remains a Historic Landmark and one of the finest examples of plantation era architecture in Hawai’i.”

Since it’s 10:00am, it’s high time we went rum tasting!

Kōloa Rum Company

We have always thought of rum as being native to the Caribbean, and we have always been wrong.  Kaua’i has its own rum, and it is sweet and smooth.

“A drink is not just a drink when it reflects the history and flavor of a place”.

“A drink is not just a drink when it reflects the history and flavor of a place”.

We are here when the doors open, ready to imbibe the sugary fermented sweetness.  According to their website: “The legacy of the sugar and rum in Hawai’i lives on today through Kōloa Rum. Our award-winning rums are distilled in a vintage copper-pot still, using only the finest local ingredients. Hawai’ian cane sugar, pure mountain rainwater and much Aloha come together to produce single-batch rums with remarkably rich flavors and smoothness that capture the essence of the Garden Isle. Kōloa Rum Company was founded to create world-class Hawai’ian Rum. We are the first and only licensed distillery on the island of Kaua’i, where sugarcane production has been a traditional way of life. Our first batch of Premium Hawai’ian Rum was distilled and bottled in September 2009, which coincided with the opening of our Tasting Room and Company Store at Kilohana Plantation in Lihue. Come, taste the history and Aloha spirit of Kōloa Rum today!”

A rum for every occasion.

A rum for every occasion.

They have five types of pure rum, plus rum punch and mai tai.  But we are here to drink rum, so we forego the diluted offerings and stick to the real deal.

My kind of bartender.

My kind of bartender.

The bartender (or is it rumtender?) knows what she’s doing, and we are soon tasting Kaua’i’s finest.  We first breath in the flavor through our nose, enjoying the sweetness, then slurp a small amount in to our mouth, rolling it around and inhaling, letting the flavor engulf us.  It is delicious.

Dark rum is an easy winner in the taste test.

Dark rum is an easy winner in the taste test.

We both agree that the dark rum is the sweetest and most flavorful and easiest to sip.  This is certainly not a rum to spoil by mixing it.  (Note: we have offered Kōloa dark rum to guests who state, “I don’t drink rum,” and we say, “Just smell it.”  It is common for them to have a change of heart after that initial sensation.  😛 )

We walk around the grounds for a while to let the small amount of alcohol leave our system, then explore more of the island.  In the evening, we change clothes and head back to the plantation for their fabulous lu’au.

Lu’au Kalamaku

We want to experience a real lu’au, but of course, only locals have those.  Instead, we attend the Lu’au Kalamaku, an extravaganza sure to titillate and fascinate.

Gaylord's, an island tradition since 1986.

Gaylord’s, an island tradition since 1986.

The Lu’au includes a buffet, but that’s not our style.  Instead, we reserve a table at Gaylord’s so we can have a romantic evening together.  😎 

I wonder if there is a Hawai'ian version of "True Scotsman".

I wonder if there is a Hawai’ian version of “True Scotsman”.

But first, let’s pose with the cute Hawai’ian boys.  Nothing like tan, lithe, muscular bodies to whet an appetite, amirite ladies?

You can never have enough wahines, know what I mean?

You can never have enough wahines, know what I mean?

We ask a couple of pretty girls to pose with us because, pretty girls.  😛 

The guy on the left has only one pose.

The guy on the left has only one pose.

Everyone do something silly!  Okay, well, you two girls, do something silly!

The beautiful grounds of the Kilohana Plantation.

The beautiful grounds of the Kilohana Plantation.

We walk around the grounds, enjoying the warm Hawai’ian evening.  We are in paradise.

It’s the perfect place for a few tropical cheesecake photographs, and we indulge ourselves.  Hmmmmmm, cheesecake….

Here's to being in Hawai'i.

Here’s to being in Hawai’i.

Like most of our meals, we eat fresh fruits and vegetables and a bit of sea food.  We sip white wine and occasionally, like tonight, enjoy a glass of champagne because, why not?

Now, on to the lu’au!

The lu’au tells the story of the original Tahitian voyage to the Hawai’ian Islands (carefully neglecting the part about conquering the original inhabitants   ¯\_(ツ)_/¯  ).  But it’s a good story, enthusiastically performed, and we are caught up in the excitement.

The cast poses for the audience.

The cast poses for the audience.

After the performance, the cast is all smiles and poses for us.  I’m sure the male performers pose, too, but I can’t find any photographs of them.  Hmmmmmm.

Sorry, ma'am, I'm spoken for.

Sorry, ma’am, I’m spoken for.

This young lady displays a passionate romantic interest in me, but, sadly, I have to refuse her amorous advances.  (Hey, work with me here, people!  Let an old guy have his fantasies.  Thank you!!)  Yeah, she is heartbroken when she finds out I am not available.  Yup, heartbroken.

Fly Kaua’i

Kaua’i is home to a number of aircraft touring companies including Fly Kaua’i with its Tropical Biplanes.

If it's good enough for Snoopy, it's good enough for us.

If it’s good enough for Snoopy, it’s good enough for us.

We don’t know what a “tropical” biplane is, but it doesn’t seem to be different than a regular biplane, so we’re not worried.  Now, if we can just find the receptionist….

Bald guys rule.

Bald guys rule.

Not to worry.  Our pilot finds us, we sign the paperwork, and it’s time to pose with the plane.

Why does she get a helmet and I don't?  Oh, yeah: hair.

Why does she get a helmet and I don’t? Oh, yeah: hair.

To get in the plane, we have to climb on the wing and crawl into that little opening under the top wing.  It has a small door, but I’ve got a lot of leg to be cramming into such a small place.  Note to self: next time, wear pants.

And we're off!

And we’re off!

We taxi down the runway and are soon aloft.  The beautiful Kaua’i landscape falls away beneath us.

Biplane selfie time!

Biplane selfie time!

We communicate with the pilot via these headsets.  They are voice-activated, so we must say, “Uh,” to turn on the microphone, or else the first word of our sentence will drop off.

Enjoy these photographs of our trip!

Safely back on solid ground.

Safely back on solid ground.

After about an hour in the air, we are back on the landing strip (giggity), and we hand our camera to an assistant to take our post-flight photograph with our pilot.  We are happy.

Beer: is there anything it can't do?

Beer: is there anything it can’t do?

In fact, we got a little airsick on the flight, especially because the pilot displayed a few fancy maneuvers at the end of the flight.  (Don’t worry; he didn’t do an Immelmann.)  And, as you know, beer is a base and thus can be used to settle a rough stomach.  So a post-flight beer is exactly what we enjoy!

The Sacred Forest

We visit the famous Sacred Rudraksha Forest, the only Rudraksha grove in the Western world.

The Sacred Forest, where you can meditate for only 12 hours each day.

The Sacred Forest, where you can meditate for only 12 hours each day.

We don’t know why the forest is sacred, what caused the sacredness, or to whom the sacredness applies, but it’s a nice, quiet place, and we simply enjoy the solitude, as the sign directs.

The God Ganesha watches over the forest.

The God Ganesha watches over the forest.

A carving of Ganesha, part of the Hindu pantheon, decorated with flowers, berries, and moss, watches us solemnly.  We are careful not to disturb his apparent slumber.

In the shade of the ol' Elaeocarpus ganitrus tree...

In the shade of the ol’ Elaeocarpus ganitrus tree…

The forest is indeed peaceful with few other visitors.  However, the roots of the Elaeocarpus ganitrus protrude from the ground and we find we must look down as we walk to avoid tripping.

Holy cow!

Holy cow!

In the field adjacent to the Sacred Forest, a seemingly-female cow seeks a romantic relationship with a fellow bovine.  There is a lot I don’t understand about cows, I guess.

Not again!

Not again!

Wait a minute!  Someone else is joining in the fun?  Shouldn’t there be a boy-cow somewhere in the mix?

Enough!

Enough!

Okay, I don’t even know what’s going on right now.  Let’s return to the Sacred Forest.  😳 

Blue balls.

Blue balls.

The seeds from the tree are covered by a blue outer shell.  They are associated with the God Shiva and are commonly worn for protection and for chanting montras such as Om Namah Shivaya. However, we see them simply as pretty blue balls.

Peaceful sacredness.

Peaceful sacredness.

We remain in the forest for a while, enjoying the cool air and serenity, carefully ignoring the bovine debauchery just out of sight.

River Trip

There is more to Kaua’i than just coffee, rum, lu’aus, swimming, flying, and sacred blue balls: there are river trips!

Krazy about kayaking in Kaua'i.

Krazy about kayaking in Kaua’i.

We rent a double-seater kayak from Kayak Kaua’i, purchase a disposable waterproof camera, and begin our journey.  Some of the river is a bit difficult, but most of it is just a lazy river.

This is some of the difficult part.

This is some of the difficult part.

Actually, this is near the end of the trip (when we have to turn around).  Still, we do our best to paddle up, knowing that the ride back will be a great adventure.

If all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you do it, too?

If all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you do it, too?

Yes, the river is deep and the cliff is not too high, and it beckons me with its Siren call.  I can not resist.

Wheeeeeeeeee!

Wheeeeeeeeee!

There is something about jumping into rivers that appeals to me, I guess.  😆 

Critters of Kaua’i

Kaua’i is home to both native and invasive species.  Let’s take a look at a few.

A green anole extends his dewlap.

A green anole extends his dewlap.

The green (or Carolina) anole is an invasive species native to the American southeast.  We find them everywhere in Kaua’i; they can be pretty entertaining to watch interact with each other.

This chicken seems unaffected by skewering.

This chicken seems unaffected by skewering.

Feral chickens are found all over Kaua’i, and there appear to be a domestic, native, and cross-bred variety.  These particular birds are very near the ocean, eating crumbs of food.

The coqui frog is an unwanted guest on the island.

The coqui frog is an unwanted guest on the island.

The little coqui frog is another invasive species and is the subject of an aggressive campaign to eliminate it from Kaua’i.  They are particularly noisy, but we can’t distinguish them from all the other noises of the tropical forest.

Geckos are a regular visitor in the evening, dining on the island's insects.

Geckos are a regular visitor in the evening, dining on the island’s insects.

Geckos were probably brought to Kaua’i by early Polynesian settlers and are no longer considered invasive.  Every evening, they decorate our windows on the outside.

These goats live safely on a farm...I'm not kidding.

These goats live safely on a farm…I’m not kidding.

Goats are cute but, like many other animals introduced by humans, some have gone feral; these feral goats are destructive enough that the Kaua’i government has a hunting season on them.  Baaaaaaad goats!

To bee, or not to bee.

To bee, or not to bee.

Bees are big business in Hawai’i, and pollinate crops of avocado, citrus, coffee, cabbages, macadamia nut, squashes, and passion fruit.  Kaua’i’s bees are free of varroa mites, and importation of new bees is forbidden by law.   (What do you call a bee that scares you on Halloween?  A boo bee!)

No r'egrets for this fellow!

No r’egrets for this fellow!

According to the internet:  The Hawai’i Board of Agriculture and Forestry, with the support of cattle ranchers and the Hui Manu Society, imported young Cattle Egrets from southern Florida in 1959 to assist “in the battle to control house flies, horn flies, and other flies that damage hides and cause lower weight gains in cattle”.  Of course, now they are considered a pest as they are nest predators of Hawai’ian Stilts and Hawai’ian Coots.

There are no feral horses on Kaua’i.

The red-crested cardinal is pretty easy to identify.

The red-crested cardinal is pretty easy to identify.

The red-crested cardinal is originally from Brazil.  Surprisingly, it is not currently considered a pest, but just a pretty bird.

Feral pigs are NOT your friends.

Feral pigs are NOT your friends.

Feral pigs in Kaua’i, no matter how cute they look, are dangerous and destructive.  You would do well to keep a sturdy fence between yourself and these critters.

Plants of Kaua’i

Kaua’i is called the Garden Isle for a reason: it has a lot of plants.  😀 

Almost the state flower, but not quite.

Almost the state flower, but not quite.

Hawai’ian hibiscus are native to Hawai’i (you can tell by their name) and are common throughout the state.  Hawai’ian hibiscus shrubs bear blooms almost every day, but the blossoms last only for a day, even when on the bush.

Be careful when you order "lobster claws".

Be careful when you order “lobster claws”.

Heliconia are another introduced species that is very popular in Kaua’i because the large, unusual inflorescences make long lasting cut flowers in tropical flower arrangements.

Please enjoy this gallery of other plants of Kaua’i!

Things to Do in Kaua’i

What else is there to do in Kaua’i?

Bring your raincoat because your umbrella won't cut it.

Bring your raincoat because your umbrella won’t cut it.

You can drive to Mount Wai’ale’ale, the second wettest spot on earth (not counting oceans, seas, rivers, lakes, bathtubs, etc.).  It is windy and it is wet, so bring a raincoat and perhaps a towel in the car.

Salty girls, my favorite!

Salty girls, my favorite!

Salty Wahine is the perfect place to stock up on gourmet Hawai’ian sea salts.  Plus, according to their website, “their Hawai’ian rubs are amazing!”

Baked with Aloha!

Baked with Aloha!

Kaua’i Kookie is your cookie goto place in Kaua’i.  They also have salad dressing!  Yum!

Kaua'i Canoe Clubs, Kaua'i Canoe Clubs, Kaua'i Canoe Clubs.

Kaua’i Canoe Clubs, Kaua’i Canoe Clubs, Kaua’i Canoe Clubs.

Kaua’i Canoe Clubs offer a fun and healthy way to take part in Hawai’i’s heritage and history. In 1986, outrigger canoe paddling became the official team sport of the State of Hawai’i. There are numerous canoe clubs around the island that offer a healthy way to experience part of Hawai’i’s heritage, history and the legacy of the Polynesian seafaring people.

The cycle of life on the island.

The cycle of life on the island.

Bicycling is a healthy and fun way to see Kaua’i.  There are many flat paths and trails along the coast and, with the island’s humidity, it’s easy to work up a good sweat.

We won't bamboozle you; this is a lot of fun.

We won’t bamboozle you; this is a lot of fun.

Kaua’i is home to thick bamboo forests.  You can hike the Makaleha Falls trail, but there are also many places away from the maddening crowds that are just as beautiful.

Thar she blows!

Thar she blows!

If you travel along the coast, you will eventually run into a blowhole (not to be confused with a blowhole), where the water is funneled through a vertical shaft.  If you get close, you will get wet.

Spelunker pin-up girl.

Spelunker pin-up girl.

Kaua’i has a few small caves, some of which are accessible by boat.  If you like the underground, they are worth exploring.

The manly art of girl lifting.

The manly art of girl lifting.

No visit to Kaua’i is complete without lifting a girl over your head.  I really don’t know why this isn’t an Olympic sport.

Scenery

But, of course, Kaua’i is also scenery.  Scenery, scenery everywhere!

Water, mountain, and sky: Kaua'i!

Water, mountain, and sky: Kaua’i!

If you aren’t careful, you will have thousands of photographs of scenery when you visit Kaua’i.  We know we do.

Take a moment to enjoy Kauai’s beauty.

Aloha from Kaua'i.

Aloha from Kaua’i.

The Garden Isle is a magical place, and just a short trip from the mainland.  Avail yourself of its beauty and pleasures.  🙂   You will be happy you did.

awa Travels Tip: Kauai is not for everyone, not for those who seek bustling entertainment. There are no nightclubs and no big-name performers on this island. Instead, you’ll find green mountain peaks, hidden waterfalls, pristine beaches, gentle flowing waters.  Turn off your computer, your phone, and your television, and exist for a while in this paradise.