Nawiliwili, Kauai (March 30, 2023)

Kauai is a standout among the other Hawaiian islands in that it is the oldest and has the most beaches. It is home to either one of the wettest or The wettest spot on earth, Mt. Waialeale, with its average annual rainfall of 450 inches. We’ve heard it both ways. Ninety-seven percent of the island is undeveloped and cannot be accessed by car. An ATV or good hiking shoes give a little more access, but the majority of the island is not accessible. Wild pigs don’t seem to have a problem with the rugged terrain though as evidenced by their ever increasing numbers. There are more wild chickens here than on the other islands since, luckily, mongooses were never introduced. In fact when we sat down to enjoy our lunch at the water’s edge, chickens showed up ready and willing to accept any scraps.

Our tour guide, Domi, outdid himself in a high energy, give-it-your-all, good humor sort of way. His commentary went on for six straight hours. He shared his language, history, top tips for a good marriage, recipes, personal philosophies, horticulture, celebrity updates, and, at my request, his first-date with his wife story (not as good as yours, Walter and Cleone). To keep us on our toes he tested us throughout the day on what he had already shared with us. A confident vocalist and ukulele player, he even played and sang us a few songs.

We visited the Weilue River State Park Fern Grotto, a fern-fringed lava cave. We accessed it by taking a short boat ride up the Wailua River, the only navigable river in Hawaii. Nothing but lush vegetation, including dense mangroves, lined both sides of the river. There was an Hawaiian combo playing music and a brief hula demonstration and explanation during the trip. Once at the grotto the singer took advantage of the wonderful acoustics to perform the Hawaiian Wedding Song. That particular song was chosen since there are so many weddings in front of the beautiful grotto.

Another fun stop was at the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge located on the northern most point of Kaua’i. An old lighthouse is the centerpiece of the small refuge situated atop a cliff 200 feet from the ocean. Albatross glided over our heads and red footed boobies were visible on a cliff on the other side of a small inlet. Wedge-tailed shearwaters were just ending their migration back from Panama. A few were clearly visible in their underground burrows that serve as home while they are here. They were unfazed by our presence. The state bird is the nēnē (nay nay), a distant relative of the Canada goose. One proud representative of the species rested on the ground like he was doing us a favor by posing so handsomely. Like the shearwaters, he was not concerned about our wandering around.

Right off the coast of the refuge sat the smallest of the Hawaiian Islands. I didn’t catch its name, but it’s tiny. Whales come here to calf before heading back to Alaska for the summer. We spotted spray in the distance where a few were coming up for air but never saw any actual whales.

As we made our way back to the ship, we stopped for a quick look at a couple of gorgeous waterfalls and a couple of temple reins. All that remained were their lava rock foundations.

Kaua’i is popular with celebrities and movie producers. 100+ movies have been filmed here plus a few TV series. Domi was carful to point out which celebrity lived where as we passed. Other firsts for the trip included seeing taro fields, beetle nuts, and a small herd of bison. We learned that Russia once had a presence here (think 1800s), sugar cane waste used to be used to make electricity, peeled green (unripe) papaya is the secret ingredient when cooking wild pig and feral chicken, Bette Midler went to high school in Hawaii, and coconut buttons are a must on any good aloha shirt. As I mentioned, Domi covered the waterfront.

I did not join Sandy, Alan, and Dan for dinner tonight since I seem to be flirting with a cold. I grabbed a quick bite at the buffet and they ate a proper meal in the dining room.

… Mea’ole (Hawaiian for trivia) ...

Each Hawaiian island has an official color, and Kauai’s official color is purple. 

Kauai is home to the largest coffee plantation in the U.S.

There is a building code here that states no structure can be taller than a coconut palm which nets out at around four stories.

Nawiliwili is the only other word I know that has four i-s in it other than the word Mississippi.

Kauai is not cheap: gasoline is $5.50 a gallon.
Domi told us eggs are $13.00 a dozen and milk $13.50 for a half gallon.
No Costco here.


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