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When I plan a vacation, I like to have a goal. What do we want to do while on our vacation and how will we know we were successful?
Of course, coming home rested and happy is a goal, but if we didn’t get to climb that special mountain, visit that unique shop, or spend time on the beach, then we likely won’t be happy.
Planning for Kauai
The Garden Island as Kauai is called is one of the wettest spots on the planet. Mount Waialeale has an average rainfall of 373 inches of rain each year (Wikipedia). Lots of water for lush rainforests and water sculpted mountain ridges. Kauai, like all the Hawaiian Islands, has lots of beaches.
From a landscape junkies perspective, the Waimea Canyon is high on my list of places to visit. There are lots of tours that feature the Na Pali Coast so what’s that about.
Haena State Park and Ke’e Beach
Turns out that to hike into the Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park, one normally starts from Haena State Park. Haena State Park is at the end of the road along the north shore. Further research revealed that if you want to visit Haena State Park, you need to purchase a parking pass ahead of time. Like 30 days ahead of time. Or, book a seat on the shuttle from Princeville.
I didn’t get around to purchasing a pass in a timely manner. I did get one, Sunday Morning, November 3rd.
I’m glad I did.
We drove out of the resort area at Princeville and turned west on Hawaii 56. The state maintained highway ends and the county takes over almost immediately. The road has recently opened since flooding in 2018 closed it for an extended period.
Drive down a narrow switchback road, across a single lane bridge spanning the Hanalei River and you arrive in Hanalei. The road continues, following the coast. Several new, but still single lane, bridges cross creeks and rivers along the way. Don’t expect to make good time. Apparently, rather than take the opportunity to open up the road when it was being rebuilt, it was decided to keep it rural. This would discourage development it was thought.
So we arrived at Haena State Park. Presented our parking pass and were directed to the parking lot.
It is a short walk from the parking lot to the beach. Not so far as to discourage beach chairs and such, but long enough to make you think about what you are packing.
The beach is lovely. White sand, warm water and some protection from the surf. I say some as there was a significant current running and the lifeguards were discouraging people from going into the water outside the bay.
As the tide came in, the surf pounding the cliff face just south of the beach rose to great heights. The wave formations were spectacular in shape and height.
On our way back, we stopped for lunch at a sports bar in Hanalei. The Seahawks were playing Kansas City and the bar was hopping. Seems there were a lot of Northwesterners there that day.
The weather had deteriorated. It was pretty much a steady rain, so we ended up enjoying a good lunch and a few brews before returning back to our hotel.