The Kauai Bike Path is a multi-year project designed to follow an ancient Hawaiian path entirely up the east coast of Kauai. It currently connects Lydgate Park in Wailua with Donkeys Beach north of Kapaa. The paved path ends well before Anahola but one can follow a dirt path up to the point just before Anahola Bay. Many people say it will never be completed, yet the 7 miles currently paved make for a nice and beautiful stroll or ride.
Since mid-February, Emily and I have been living in a small 100 sq. ft. (10x10) cottage. We sleep in the loft above. There is no plumbing and just an extension cord coming in so we can charge our phones at night. When we first saw it, the place was filthy, covered in gecko poop and mold, as if no one had lived there in ages. There are no windows - just screens - meaning we're exposed to the ocean breezes as well as any rain! We walk about 20 yards to an outdoor shower. There is a separate indoor sink and toilet for us to share with other small cabins on the property. We also have access to the main large community building with a large living room and kitchen and dining area. There are four apartments, most filled with families, that connect to the main area.
In sum, it's a lot like camping, with a bit of a community feel, although most people do their own thing and there's little-to-no sense of common purpose.
I went with some friends - Jon, Sam and Paul - on an adventurous hike today on the Makaleha "trail." Trail is in quotes because the path we attempted to follow is not maintained, crisscrossing the river several times before finally disappearing into the river, leaving the hiker to now rock hop... not that we complained!
To get there we drove to the end of Kaiwahau Road in Kapahi, up from Kealia Beach north of Kapa'a. We parked in a dirt lot next to the water tower and were the only car there (this isn't a popular hike due to the lack of trail maintenance/ownership). I thought I had locked the doors...
The trail begins as a dirt road but quickly gets confusing at an old dam. We eventually crossed the river and then made our way through a really cool bamboo forest. I thought a picture really wouldn't do it justice, so check out the video below the picture.
After hiking up into the bamboo forest, along a ridge and then back down, you come across a freakin' awesome rock, perfect for bouldering!
Makaleha in Hawaiian means "eyes that glance upward" and refers to the towering, amphitheater- like ridge that was all around us as we hiked. Winding our way through little bits and pieces of trail around and through the river, we eventually arrived to an open area with spectacular views of two or three tributaries all coming together.
Per the guidebook's suggestion (I don't suggest going without one, by the way, or someone who knows the way well), we ventured up the fork furthest to the right. The valley became a narrow, almost slot canyon, until we reached an incredible, three tiered waterfall. Check out the pictures below!
We had fun rock-hopping our way back, only trying to pick up the trail when it became too cumbersome to rock hop!
We also came across some cool remnants of when the valley was used for sugar cane production, including what looked like canals and other irrigation-like ditches.
As we were getting back to the car, a car drove off and other car with two young local guys was parked next to ours. They apparently got out to pee but it seemed a little odd to me at the time. I unlocked the car but apparently the passenger door was unlocked. Later I discovered they had stolen my wallet, including $300 cash, my ID and some credit cards, which they used to purchase gas and some apps on the Google Play store! Not very fun, and a poignant reminder to leave no valuables in your car! It also didn't help that we were the only car in a remote lot on a very lightly used trail.
You live, you learn, and you try to earn a living.
Kaua'i has no poisonous animals or insects, but they have some pretty cool looking spiders(!). There are centipedes that can bite you (thankfully we have plenty of chickens to eat them!, a few scorpions (very rare) as well as mosquitos (introduced probably during the whaling industry's peak in the 1850s). But perhaps the best thing is that there are no snakes in all of Hawai'i!
Nonetheless, the spiders are still my favorite.
Check 'em out:
As part of a freelance writing gig I got for Kaua'i Traveler Magazine, Emily and I went kayaking on the Wailua River with Kayak Kauai.
There are many companies that do this trip, but Kayak Kaua'i were the pioneers and launch directly from the Marina. We were with a group of 12 people, including our excellent guide Jaime who grew up on the island.
The two mile paddle was relatively easy on the broad river. Motor boats were seen on the way back; otherwise we had the river to ourselves other than a few kayaks! Later the river got too shallow so we beached our kayaks, crossed the stream and climbed up some serious roots!
The trail was unbelievably muddy and washed out - the worst in at least 13 years according to one guide. But we made it, er, waded through!
There were even ancient remains of the irrigation canals used to irrigate the taro crops and later sugar cane fields.
Finally we made it to the Falls, known as Secret Falls - the best known Secret, or Sacred Falls, or Uluwehi Falls, which means "lush and beautiful" in Hawaiian.
There were some beautiful offerings at the base of the pool with smaller pools created by rocks a guide had arranged.
Can you see the heart-shape the pool makes?
This offering resembles the traditional Hawaiian dugout canoe.
There were even some people rappelling off the falls! (illegal according to our guide)
And of course, there were chickens and roosters aplenty.
And after we trekked back to the canoes, a beautiful peacock swooped down from the trees onto the riverbank before us!
It was a very serene - even sacred! - stream, and a lovely tour.
I did this fun little hike with the two dogs Koa and Uila (pronounced Wee-la) I was sitting and a local MeetUp group, the Kauai Adventure Club. This is a great hike in the Kapahi neighbor just off of Kapahi Road:
Parking is parallel and off-street, on the opposite side from the houses:
You can find the trailhead at the yellow gate marking a public access dirt road:
The trail begins quite broadly but quickly narrows and you feel like you are going deep into the heart of the jungle:
Soon you come across the lush Kapa'a stream running through the forest.
And in less than a mile you arrive to the first of two falls:
Some people, like our unofficial guide Manfred who has been living here for 30 years, swan dive off the far side of the falls (but only after checking for rocks and debris below first, of course!).
The next section of the trail goes through some pristine forest of what I believe are called wiliwili trees, with a lush tropical vine growing on them I see everywhere on Kaua'i but can't remember the name! ...It reminds me of kudzu.
A little while longer and you come across some larger falls. In high water, the falls apparently go all the way across the stone rim!
There is a trail around to the right that leads down a fairly steep but doable trail to the bottom, where you are richly rewarded with a nice picnic and swimming area, complete with a rope swing!
All in all, a great, short, refreshing hike not ten minutes from where we live!
Our first visitor came to Kaua'i on a medical conference. We visited Laura's family when Emily and I were in Minnesota last August. Her husband, Dave, was my youth pastor growing up in Wilmington, DE. Laura and I took the dogs for an epic exploration of Waimea Canyon - check it out!
Had a grand hike up Sleeping Giant (Nounou) Mountain with incredible views of the East shore.
Another view of Wai'ale'ale and the Wailua Homesteads, further on the trail.
After about two miles we made it to the top.
With some spectacular views of the East Shore!
We had to share the picnic area near the top with this dude. These "king toads" are quite big and plentiful but harmless.