Hiking the Waimea Canyon and Kauai's South Shore

Episode 5 February 04, 2023 00:24:31
Hiking the Waimea Canyon and Kauai's South Shore
2TravelDads Podcast
Hiking the Waimea Canyon and Kauai's South Shore

Feb 04 2023 | 00:24:31


Hosted By

Rob Taylor Chris Taylor

Show Notes

Are you ready for a side of Hawaii that ISN'T resorts and is just jaw-dropping? This is Kauai's South Shore!! From hiking the amazing Waimea Canyon to doors-off helicopter flights, hear all about our adventures exploring one of the most unique parts of Hawaii. We even have a random luxury stay that, if you have a big budget or lots of Hyatt points to use, you have to plan for it.


Check out our full 5 Day Kauai Itinerary, our grand list of Things to Do on Kauai and details of doing a Doors-off Helicopter Tour of Kauai all on the blog at 2TravelDads.com!

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:13] Speaker A: Welcome to two Travel Dads podcast. Here we share our favorite destinations, travel tips, stories from our adventures and bring on awesome guests to share insights into their travelsome lives. Be sure to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts and check out our detailed show notes at. [00:00:30] Speaker B: Dash Episode hey, welcome back to another two Travel Dads podcast. I'm Rob. [00:00:38] Speaker C: I'm Chris. [00:00:39] Speaker B: And today we've got another episode about Kauai to share. We're going to talk about the south shore of Kauai, about hiking at the Waimea canyon, and then also about our kind of wild and crazy doors off helicopter experience. [00:00:54] Speaker C: It was awesome. [00:00:55] Speaker B: It was awesome and it was terrifying. But we're not going to start there. Something I wanted to mention. I didn't talk about it in our last Kauai episode, but I made a little list of the places you can fly direct to Lahui, which is the airport on Kauai. Fly direct to Lahui from the mainland, USA and Canada. So you can fly direct into Lih is the airport code from Los Angeles, Seattle, Oakland, San Jose, Phoenix, San Francisco, Denver, Las Vegas, San Diego, Portland and Vancouver, BC. And yet we did not fly back through any of those and we had to have a stopover in Honolulu and in Dallas and blah, blah, blah. [00:01:33] Speaker C: There are just lots of flight issues on our trip, ended with running to catch a flight good time. [00:01:40] Speaker B: So moral of that really quick story is just if you can fly back to the mainland to one of these airports, do it so that you don't have to try to make one of those inner island connections on Honolulu because those will throw you and ruin your trip. Anyways, though, Kauai, it is the garden island. It's beautiful. It's lush. I think that it is pretty darn cool, but it's not as cool as the big island. I'm going to stand by that. [00:02:06] Speaker C: What's really great is there's an island for everybody. [00:02:08] Speaker B: There is an island for everybody. That's true. And Kauai is Chris's island. So there you it. So let's, what do you want to talk about first? Do you want to talk about just all the fun, beautiful stuff? Do you want to talk about the Wild hiking and rainbows or do you want to talk about helicopters? [00:02:25] Speaker C: Let's talk about the wild hiking and rainbows, because I thought that was gorgeous. [00:02:30] Speaker B: Yeah. So there's a state park on kauai. You get to it from the south side. It's called Waimea Canyon State park. And one other quick thing before we get into it, there is no loop road around the island of Kauai. There's a loop road on Oahu. There's one on Maui. There's one on the big island. Not on Kauai. To get to Waimea canyon, you have to, like, if you're up on the north shore, you gotta drive 2 hours to get to the south side. Yeah. So just a handy thing to know as far as planning your time and travel goes. But it's beautiful. So Waimea, which. We talked about that in our other kauai episode. Waimea means reddish water. I didn't know that. Yeah, it's true. And do you know why the water is reddish? [00:03:17] Speaker C: There's some type of mineral in the dirt. [00:03:18] Speaker B: No, it's just because the dirt's all red. [00:03:20] Speaker C: Well, okay. What made the dirt red? [00:03:22] Speaker B: Well, so kauai is one of the oldest of the hawaiian islands, and so know an extinct volcano, and over time know things breaking down, like trees and plants and all that stuff mixing with the volcanic soil. It makes the red dirt. It's kind of like when we went to painted hills in Oregon, which there's also a podcast episode about that. They've got all these red dirt areas, which when they talk about the different things that all these different dirts are made of, the red dirt is made from decomposed organic matter mixed with volcanic soil. [00:03:53] Speaker A: Voila. [00:03:54] Speaker B: There you have it. So the Wimea canyon is just layer upon layer of the most extraordinary colors of rock and waterfalls and clouds and rainbows and jungle. [00:04:09] Speaker C: It was just beautiful. [00:04:10] Speaker B: Yeah, it's just astounding. So as you drive up, you're starting down at sea level, right? And then you just continue to meander on these winding, winding roads going up the canyon. There are viewpoints. Gosh, what, every, like, quarter mile or so, and as you go, you'll just. [00:04:28] Speaker C: Find the one that inspires you, and you'll pull over and spend some time just gawking at the valley and at the canyon. [00:04:35] Speaker B: It's just so beautiful. And because of how so the canyon kind of opens up to the south, so as the sun moves across, it changes, and the light makes each angle and little chasm a little bit different each time you look at it. So make sure you stop at all the different viewpoints on the way to your hiking trail, because that's what you want to do when you are at Waimea Canyon. The most amazing trail is also one of the shortest. It's also one of the most difficult. It is the canyon Rim trail. So you're driving along the canyon, you pass the red dirt falls, which is really pretty and kind of weird because it's like a tiny baby waterfall, but it's really beautiful the way it goes over all the red dirt. Once you get past that and you go past all the viewpoints, you'll come to the very last one. It's past the entrance to Koke State park, which that is where the Nepali coast trail ends. You'll pass the entrance to that, to the parking lot for the canyon rim, and you want to do the hike that goes to mini Falls or Waipu Falls. It's kind of difficult to characterize how steep parts of this trail are. Did you not think it was steep? [00:05:44] Speaker C: Your face says, no, there are parts that were steep. But again, I think we still had our same keens that we talked about in the last episode. I will always promote keens, but no, it's totally hikeable. But, yeah, there's parts that are steep and you've got roots, you've got rocks, but there's things to hold on to. You just got to. [00:06:08] Speaker B: There's parts of the trail that are. [00:06:09] Speaker C: All gullied out and you're walking one with the trail. [00:06:11] Speaker B: Yeah, you're walking between boulders and mud hills. That's right. This was also the trail that had those kind of hobbit hole areas where you had to go through basically, overgrowth had a hole kind of cut through it all. Crazy. There's pictures on the website, so go to our website to find out. But, yeah, it was absolutely amazing. What was really cool, though, was the viewpoints as you near the end. So there's this one moment where you are just hiking, hiking, hiking. You've gone through the woods and then all of a sudden you realize that you're coming out to just this really exposed viewpoint. And the view across the canyon is just remarkable. And then as you continue on past that, you go down towards the top of the waterfalls and there's actually a small waterfall with a splash pool that then continues on to Waipu Falls. And, wow. Just. You can stand at the top and look down. [00:07:07] Speaker C: It's amazing. [00:07:08] Speaker B: It's amazing. It feels a little bit unsafe, but also, as long as you are being safe, don't worry about it. It's just incredible. [00:07:16] Speaker C: Imagine what it's like if you get there in the morning and then you just hang out there all day with a really great picnic and just watch how the colors change, the views change because of the sun moving. The canyon is just so pretty. Yeah. [00:07:35] Speaker B: And if you did sit there all day I wonder how many helicopters you would actually count. Yeah, because I think we should talk about that next. [00:07:43] Speaker C: Yeah, sure. [00:07:44] Speaker B: So it's funny because we did the. [00:07:47] Speaker C: Hike before we actually did the helicopter tour. [00:07:50] Speaker B: Yeah. We did both the nepali coast hike and the Waimea canyon hike without having done a helicopter tour. Then, you know, we do our hiking and whatever, and then we go to Lui airport to do. We did doors off helicopters with air kauai. And doors off is exactly as it sounds. You get into a helicopter with no doors and you are exposed to the air. The air and wind. The wind and thousands of feet below you. [00:08:18] Speaker C: It's true. [00:08:20] Speaker B: But with that, you get to see Kauai completely unfiltered from the sky. And wow, what was the most amazing element of the doors off experience for you? Not what was your favorite view, but what wowed you the most about the experience? [00:08:37] Speaker C: Just having unobstructed views. And it was a very personal tour. And I would do it again in a heartbeat because you don't get to see the terrain that way. You're up close and personal with Kauai. [00:08:50] Speaker B: Yeah, I think the thing that. So if you would have actually seen me on it, I actually had tears the entire time because thought it was. [00:08:58] Speaker C: Going to throw up. [00:09:00] Speaker B: Yeah, I thought I was going to throw up. I thought I was just going to start screaming uncontrollably because it's genuinely terrifying. But then in retrospect, it's actually amazing. And I would do it again. [00:09:09] Speaker C: Oh, I totally do it again. But next time I'll sit on the outside. [00:09:13] Speaker B: Yeah, I think that's the thing, is being on the outside edge, where literally part of your leg is dangling a little bit. [00:09:22] Speaker C: That's okay. You're buckled in. [00:09:23] Speaker B: You're buckled in, but it's still scary. But I think that the thing that I enjoyed the most, in retrospect, not in the moment, but in retrospect, were the moments where we would be flying along. And there was this one specific spot where the pilot took us past Jurassic Park Falls. It's also called Manawai Opuna Falls. And when you see Jurassic park one, the very original, it's the waterfall from the big famous shot. You go past that and then all of a sudden you just kind of skim along the top of the rainforest, and then you go over a hill and boom. You are all of a sudden in the Waimea Canyon, and there's just waterfalls and there's rainbows over the waterfalls. [00:10:08] Speaker C: Rainbows are everywhere. [00:10:09] Speaker B: Yeah. I don't have anything else to say about that. [00:10:11] Speaker C: No. Rainbows are everywhere. Coastline's everywhere. The water is beautiful. You're looking for whatever you can see in the water below, the waterfalls, the lush greens. It's amazing. [00:10:25] Speaker B: Yeah, beautiful. So as you are experiencing all these rainbows and all that stuff, and you actually get to do a complete grand circle tour of the island of Kauai. So for us, that meant because of wind and stuff, we started along the south, went over Waimea Canyon, and then, like I said earlier, the nepali coast trail, it ends right next to Waimea Canyon. So as we were flying, we all of a sudden were flying over what we had been hiking the day before. And it was just, wow. To actually see from the air the rugged, terrifying coastline that we were hiking on with the most saturated blue and green water and hillsides, it was just, wow. Amazing. And then to kind of just round out talking about the doors off helicopter, I think the thing that why I would do it again versus how I felt when I first got off the helicopter, because I'll tell you, when we landed, we needed a cocktail. Yeah. I think the thing that really made me kind of change my mind, in retrospect, is looking through the pictures and the video that we took and realizing that the view we had, the only other people that get that view are helicopter pilots and birds. And it's just seeing how undeveloped the northwest portion of kauai was. Wow. It's what the rest of the world, I'm sure, used to look like. [00:11:56] Speaker C: Just extremely beautiful. [00:11:57] Speaker B: The perspective of time, and it's just so incredible. It's overwhelming. Anyways, those are my thoughts. [00:12:06] Speaker C: If you get an opportunity to do it. Highly recommend. [00:12:08] Speaker B: Gosh. Wow. I would do it again, I think, also, I don't know if both kids would be into it, but I think Oliver would definitely go for it. [00:12:16] Speaker C: Oliver would be. I think if I sit on the outside, then Elliot, then you, then Oliver, we'd be definitely. [00:12:24] Speaker B: You would have to do some strategic placement. So some more amazing things about the south shore, though. So Waimea Canyon, I think, is definitely, like, the ultimate highlight as well as the helicopter. The town of Coloa is really cool. So it's got a couple different parts of know. So there's old town coloa, which is really cute, but there's not a lot to it. There's some shops, there's actually lots of restaurants. You can do kind of like a cocktail crawl through old town coloa if you wanted to, very easily. But before. Oh, that's actually now I remember the drive into coloa do you remember how beautiful that was? It was the. Oh, is that the one with the eucalyptus tree tunnel? [00:13:08] Speaker C: Exactly. [00:13:09] Speaker B: Oh, my gosh. [00:13:10] Speaker C: Yeah, I think we saw that from the sky. [00:13:12] Speaker B: Actually, we did see it from the sky, and our pilot called it out and we were like, what? And then when we actually started to drive into the town, we understood what he was talking about. It is absolutely amazing. And the eucalyptus trees in Hawaii are quite spectacular. They're tall and they've got so many wispy, dangly branches, and they're just beautiful. But the road down into Kaloa is just this enormous long tunnel, kind of like wormslow up in Savannah, only with epic giant trees instead of live oaks. [00:13:46] Speaker C: Yeah, I agree with that. [00:13:47] Speaker B: So, yeah, so then you pull down into coloa and you can walk around, have a couple beverages, there's some good food, and then continue down the hill towards Poipu, which is the really beautiful little swimming beach. And there's, of course, a little town site sort of area there, too. And that is actually. Gosh, I wish we would have hung out there a lot more. [00:14:11] Speaker C: Yeah. Because that was kind of towards the end of our trip. I feel like that was a gorgeous beach. [00:14:17] Speaker B: Yeah. And there was snorkeling. There was a part of the beach that was closed because there was a honu who was hauled out and hanging out. So. Yeah. There wasn't as many turtles on kauai as there was on the big island. [00:14:30] Speaker C: No. But there was still amazing snorkeling and amazing water. Yeah. Not as many sea. [00:14:36] Speaker B: Yeah. Yeah. So poipu is really cool because you've got that beautiful, perfect beach. And one of the great things about Hawai is they've got really wonderful beach parks, meaning they've got parking, there's actual beach facilities. There are lifeguards at maybe not every beach, but I would say most. It's just. It's amazing. They know that they've got this amazing asset and they really make sure that everybody can enjoy it. Yeah. So that is why we love poipu. [00:15:02] Speaker C: Oh, but they also have the puka dog. I was just going to say, and if you don't know what a puka dog is, oh, my gosh, you can only get it here. It's extremely delicious. And it is a hot dog. But it is a hot dog in a Tawan style. And they take these buns that they make and they carve a hole out of the center so that they can put that dog. Well, first they put all the sauces inside that hole in the bun, and then shove the hot dog back in it and it's just delicious. But it's more about the different sauces that they have. They've got, like, this garlic lemon secret sauce that's mild or spicier hot, or even like, lava heat and lots of different relishes, whether or not you've got, like, mango, pineapple, papaya, like all these tropical flavors. [00:15:56] Speaker B: But I got that one that was mine, was delicious. And wow, the zing. [00:16:02] Speaker C: Didn't you have the lava? [00:16:03] Speaker B: Was it the lava? Is that what it was? Yeah, it was the best hot dog I've ever had. [00:16:09] Speaker C: And then they have their, like, what makes it famous is this lilliquois passion fruit mustard that they make. [00:16:15] Speaker B: Oh, that was good. [00:16:16] Speaker C: But it looks like a pastry. But I mean, it's just this beautiful bun carved out center, just taken out, hot dogs shoved in with all of the. [00:16:26] Speaker B: It's not an elegant food. [00:16:28] Speaker C: No, but it's so good. But didn't we afterwards go back up? Because upstairs is a different place. So you have puka dog down below. [00:16:35] Speaker B: And this other place, or Bennetker's. [00:16:39] Speaker C: Yeah. And so upstairs, if later, you want to go get a cocktail or something. They have really delicious cocktails up there, and the food looked amazing, but we had already eaten our puka dog. Great views from up there, too. So it's all open. [00:16:52] Speaker B: Brennax beach broiler. [00:16:53] Speaker C: There you go. Brennox beach broiler. [00:16:56] Speaker B: Yeah. [00:16:57] Speaker C: Ten times faster. [00:16:58] Speaker B: Yeah, they did have great cocktails and the best view. [00:17:00] Speaker C: Yeah, really great view. [00:17:02] Speaker B: I also just remembered that other really cool kind of random spot in Poipu. And then we can talk about the cave, because I really want to talk about the cave. But there is actually a really cool hawaiian cultural site right there in Poipu. That is the kanai o lo uma Hayao historic site. And it's in the show notes. [00:17:24] Speaker C: Oh, that's right. [00:17:25] Speaker B: Yeah. So what it is, basically, is, what was it? Maybe like, 50 years ago or so, they discovered the remains of what looked like just this incredible village complex. And all around it there was a temple site and all these different structures, and they just worked to restore them. And then ultimately they've stopped working on it. But there's a couple tiki carvings, or ki, right there at the Hiau. And, yeah, it's neat. You actually get to walk around the whole thing. They've got some really good exhibits, or at least placard displays explaining what was going on. And it's worth taking a little walk, take a break from the beach. Go walk around that and get a little history to go along with your beach day. So, anyways, you look like you are ready to say something. [00:18:12] Speaker C: No, I know you're going to talk about another really cool spot. It was that cave that we came across. Right. I don't think that we understood the grand scale of it until we actually got there. [00:18:24] Speaker B: Yeah, I put it on our itinerary because the Makawahi cave seemed really cool. Pictures looked really of. So here in Florida, we've got all kinds of Florida springs where basically they're these sinkholes and the limestone just kind of falls away and then the water bubbles up. That is kind of what this is, only on a much larger scale. So the Makawahi cave, you hike to it, you go down a dirt road. The ladies in front of us had their flat tires. [00:18:54] Speaker C: I was going to say, make sure you check your tires. [00:18:57] Speaker B: Check your tires before you drive down the really long dirt road because it's a little bit rough. [00:19:02] Speaker C: We changed a tire for a couple of old ladies. [00:19:06] Speaker B: Yeah, good times. But anyways, you get there, you park your car in the dirt, and then you do a really easy hike. Takes you through kind of like some coastal scrub. And then when you get to the overlook of the cave, it's just this big, wonderful hole in the earth with palm trees in it. And then you can see there's a little more to the cave. So you continue on down. And then it's actually from the first Indiana Jones movie. It is the cave that, when he is running from the Hovitos, that he has to pop through before they start shooting blow darts at him. So you have to climb through that cave entrance to get into the larger cave, which then also has a small spring in it, and it goes back deeper into the hillside. It's absolutely beautiful. [00:19:51] Speaker C: Yeah. Now, to get into the cave, you have to crawl down on all the forests. [00:19:54] Speaker B: Yes. It is not something. It's not an accessible site. If you are back problems. [00:20:00] Speaker C: Yeah. [00:20:01] Speaker B: If you have back problems, if you have leg problems or if you use a wheelchair, it's not something that you can access. It is a tight fit. [00:20:11] Speaker C: There's tours that are happening inside. Like, there's a host inside. Like a docent. [00:20:16] Speaker B: There's a docent. They've got some exhibits and there's books and there's photos from the different movies that have been filmed in there. But then they are sharing the history about the. I don't remember what she called him. It's kind of a spiritual leader that would hang out. He would have visions at the spring, and there would be smoke and things like that, and he would give people messages. [00:20:38] Speaker C: That's right. [00:20:39] Speaker B: I don't remember that. I wish I would have written all that down. Yeah, it was really interesting to hear how not just how the cave formed, but also the actual how it was used. Yeah. The cultural history of the Makawaki. I can't even speak now. Makuahi cave. And then also right there. I mean, it's more than just the cave. You continue on, and it's kind of strange. There is a tortoise sanctuary. There's the socata tortoises. They're huge. They're enormous, and they're really cool looking. They're like smaller galapagos tortoises, but they've got these almost, like, scaled armor on their legs. It's really weird. But they're there to actually control invasive weeds. And so they just walk around all day in this kind of closed off area, eating. Eating the invasive weeds to protect the rest of the island. [00:21:36] Speaker C: Yeah, they do a good job. [00:21:37] Speaker B: But, yeah, you can go in, you can see them, you can admire them, and then you continue on to different beaches, and then you can either swim or you can just hike back to where you parked your car along the bluffs, and that is where the waves just crash. And it is amazing and beautiful. Again, it's a really easy hike. Gosh, I think it maybe took us, like, an hour and a half to do the entire thing. [00:22:00] Speaker C: Yeah. [00:22:00] Speaker B: If we would have stayed at the beach, it would have taken us a lot longer, but, yeah, really beautiful and amazing way to. For us. That's how we actually ended our time on Kauai. [00:22:09] Speaker C: I know, which was sad, but that's. [00:22:12] Speaker B: The way of things. So is there anything else that you think we should kind of hit on with the island of Kauai? Because we talked about the north shore, talked about the nepali coast and doing that hiking, talked about the canyon and helicopters. Oh, you know, we did have one really astoundingly beautiful meal. I know. I don't really. [00:22:29] Speaker C: Was that at the Grand Hyatt? [00:22:30] Speaker B: Yeah, it was at the Grand Hyatt. So it wasn't necessarily something that, know, super duper, local, casual, special, small place that we really enjoyed. But it was at the Grand Hyatt at the Tide Pools restaurant. [00:22:41] Speaker C: That's right. Tide pools. [00:22:42] Speaker B: Wow. It was gorgeous. It was the prettiest restaurant I've ever eaten at. [00:22:47] Speaker C: It was very pretty. And also the beaches right there, too. It's a beautiful property and beautiful views. [00:22:56] Speaker B: So if you want to visit Kauai and not adhere to a budget, I would recommend booking a stay at the Grand Hyatt there in Poipu because it is absolutely astounding. The swimming pools are built like lagoons and they're right next to the beach, so you can just go beach to pool to astounding restaurant, all that. You'd think they sponsored this, but they didn't. [00:23:19] Speaker C: Or if you've got like an amazing pile of Hyatt rewards points, oh yeah. [00:23:24] Speaker B: Didn'T you look and see how much the rewards points would go with that? [00:23:27] Speaker C: I can't remember. [00:23:28] Speaker B: Oh, we should research that. That's another great podcast episode, too, is using rewards points for travel. We should revisit that. [00:23:36] Speaker C: I love doing that. [00:23:37] Speaker B: Well, yeah, so I guess that kind of wraps up everything that we want to talk about with the island of Kauai. There's a lot more information on the blog, both in our we've got a five day itinerary. We've got details about hiking in the canyon, about helicopters, about just a general, huge, enormous list of all the things to do all around Kauai, a lot of which we actually didn't talk about today. Yeah. So check out the blog and I guess we will see you next time for our next episode. [00:24:06] Speaker C: Aloha. [00:24:07] Speaker A: Aloha. Two travel Dads podcast is created by Rob and Chris Taylor in St. Augustine, Florida. We'd love to answer your questions here on the podcast, providing both our experience and stories to share our own insights into whatever you're wondering about. Visitraveldads.com slash podcast episodes to leave your questions and to check out past episodes and show notes. Don't forget to hit that subscribe button and have an awesome day.

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