An urge to travel to faraway places has never called me like other endeavors have. In fact, I’m sure Angie could quickly count the number of out-of-state vacations we have taken together–obviously not enough in her opinion. So, when my sister presented the opportunity to spend over a week in Kauai with her family, I knew this was a chance that may never come up again. Since Danielle had been to Kauai three times before, I really allowed her to plan the week’s events. I couldn’t believe how refreshing it was to not have to think about exactly what we were going to do each day—thanks Danielle. Overall it was an amazing week and one that the entire family will remember forever.
Day One: Saturday, April 4, 2015
We knew this would be a long travel day when we booked our trip. Since our flight left at 7:20 am, we needed to wake up around 3:45 am to get out the door, get to the park-and-ride, and arrive to the airport to get checked-in. The anticipation of the trip had finally set-in when we rolled out of the garage at the crack of dawn.
It was a completely seamless travel day until we arrived at Phoenix for our connecting flight to Kauai. The relaxing 60+ minutes we thought we would have to connect to our next flight turned into 5 mad-dashing minutes when our pilot couldn’t find an open gate to disembark. Koen will remember this moment of the trip as the only time mom and dad “expressed frustration” with one another.
We finally arrived at the Kapa’a Shores Condos in Kapa’a after the six hour flight from Phoenix. A quick dip in the pool was exactly what we needed after 12+ hours of travel time. However, we still had time to hit a beach before the sun went down. As Angie and Danielle made a quick trip to the grocery store, Ron and I took the kids to the nearby Moloa’a Bay Beach. Danielle informed us this was the beach where the opening scene of Gilligan’s Island was shot. It was such a fun way to get introduced to the island and area. I think Koen picked up boogie boarding faster than most 9 year olds from Minnesota.
Day Two: Sunday, April 5, 2015
Day Two was all about getting a little more settled and heading to a beach. So, after another quick run to the grocery store, we headed up the east side of the island to Hideaways Beach (Pali Ke Kua) for some snorkeling, swimming, and relaxing. As I approached the beach and began to walk down the steep set of stairs, I was completely taken back by the view. This area is straight out of the movies and one of the most stunning landscapes I have ever seen.
Even though it was Easter Sunday, there were only a few other families on the beach. The weather and water could not have been any more perfect. Koen and Cooper started out snorkeling, but then moved quickly to making “sand fortresses” on the beach. Even though I had been snorkeling a few times before, the technique finally clicked at this beach. The fish and coral were beautiful and it was a joy to float along with them. The only thing I would have changed about the day was to reapply sunblock a few more times.
We ended the day at Bamboo Sushi for some well-deserved rolls and cocktails.
Day Three: Monday, April 6, 2015
In need of four-wheel drive. Both families’ rental cars were not equipped for off-road adventures. This became very apparent when we attempted to drive down a poorly maintained dirt road in search of our first beach of the day. After the Escene’s Chrysler 400 bottomed-out for the 10th time, we had to turn around and find a slightly more accessible beach.
After we both inspected any damage to the cars, we arrived at Shipwrech Beach. Since its proximity to some major hotels, this was definitely the most public beach of the entire trip. This beaches latest claim-to-fame is the cliff that Harrison Ford and Anne Heche jumped off in Six Days and Seven Nights. However, more recently Justin Bieber attempted to imitate this scene and got into some trouble. After some sandcastle creating, swimming, and a little lunch, we headed to the next beach.
Brennecke Beach was crowded and rocky, but created some pretty epic Boogie Boarding opportunities. If only I had the skills to take advantage of this. . . The only thing I managed to accomplish here was losing my water shoe in the ocean and amazingly getting it back.
Po’ipu Beach was also more crowded than I preferred, but still very beautiful. Angie and I walked to the point and the kids snorkeled around some amazing sea turtles. However, I think the overexposure to the sun and jetlag was catching up to me because I was admittedly feeling like a grump at this beach.
However, my grumpiness turned around quickly as we stopped from gelato on the way back to the resort. I can still remember sitting at this picnic table and thinking about how thankful I was to be in Kauai with such amazing family. Maybe that was just the caffeine from this amazing desert drink talking? After getting back to the resort, Ron grilled up some amazing steaks for dinner.
Day Four: Tuesday, April 7, 2015
This is the day of our trip that I talk about the most and also provides the most motivation to return to Kauai. Our hike up the Kalalan Trail was simply amazing. The Kalalan Trail travels 11 miles up the eastern coast of Kauai and provides some of the most breathtaking views you could ever imagine. We only hiked the two miles up to Hanakapi’ Beach, but I would love to return and hike the rest. Of course the instant we arrived at the beach it began to rain, but no one really seemed to care. One of the most memorable moments of the hike was Angie falling into the Hanakapi’ stream up to her waist after slipping on a wet rock. Of course this would happen to Ang ; )
After the rain-soaked hike back out, we stopped in Haunali for lunch. Another movie claim-to-fame is the Tahiti Nui restaurant that was featured in the George Clooney movie The Descendants. The food was average and the service was horrible, but we can now all say that we have eaten at Tahiti Nui in Haunali.
We stopped back to Moloa’a Bay for the second time on the way back because it just has the most conducive Boogie Board conditions for rookies like us. Angie even looked like a rockstar surfing riding these waves to shore. However, I did learn quickly about the power of the ocean as it didn’t think twice about driving my head straight into the ground after miss timing a wave that I had no right attempting to surf.
We ate out again for dinner, but kept it close to the resort. The kids were so tired that they were nearly sleeping in their food at the Eastside Café in Kapa’a.
Day Five: Wednesday, April 8, 2015
This was our big day. We all woke up early and drove up to Pt. Allen to board the Holo Holo Catamaran for a five hour tour up the NaPali Coast. What an amazing day trip up the coast. Cruising with dolphins, spotting whales, and snorkeling with exotic fish while being pampered by some amazing tour guides. This boat tour was a gift from my father-in-law and one trip I will never forget. The trip beyond the point was pretty rough and the ride back to port was crazy windy, but none of us seemed to mind.
On the way back to the condo we made a quick stop into Kauai’s coffee plantation. We were flying high for the next hour or so as the tasting room did not disappoint.
Thursday, April 9, 2015
It was a lazy morning as the Prenzlow’s needed a slow start to the day after several hard-charging vacation days. I completely forget the name of the beach we ended up on this day, but it is famous for it’s tiny shells and course sand. The kids all completed a scavenger hunt for the coolest objects on the beach.
We ended the day at Moloa’a Bay. We watched as a helicopter helped remove a boat that had run ashore.
Friday, April 10, 2015
We finally ended up at Tunnels Beach. The day involved great snorkeling, football on the beach, and some amazing kite boarders. Angie finally got her Puka Dog. The only thing I could compare it to would be if a hot dog and jelly doughnut had a baby.
It started raining while we made the decent to Secrets Beach. We made the most of the variable conditions and ran around on the beautiful beach. The kids attempted to boogie board, but the waves were a little too dangerous. Koen actually got wacked in the head by two waves converging on him.
We ended the evening with pictures on the shore and a casual dinner at Shrimp XX.
Saturday, April 11, 2015
Angie and I both woke up early today to catch our last sunrise in Kauai. There is no one else I would rather share this with.
We spent our last afternoon packing and renting some bikes to ride up the coast.
Sunday, April 12, 2015
Back in Minneapolis. As I said at the beginning of this post, I have not been a huge fan of vacationing in the past. However, after a trip like this I might be changing my tune. Kauai is a complete treasure.