Kauai, the oldest of the Hawaiian islands, is nicknamed the garden island with good reason. Every rainy, verdant, undeveloped, dramatic landscape looks like an untamed garden. Due to its appeal, over 60 movies have been filmed here, including the Jurassic Park series, Jurassic World, Pirates of the Caribbean, Avatar, and The Descendants, just to name a few.
The Pride of America docked at Nawiliwili where we rented a car. For just $50 a day, we had the freedom to explore wherever we liked on the island. Of the many choices to see and do, the top of our list was the Napali coast followed by Waimea Canyon. You can only see the Napali coast by boat or air and, fortunately for us, the Pride of America would cruise along the coast the following day. We chose to drive to Waimea Canyon, once dubbed the Grand Canyon of the Pacific by Mark Twain.
The drive was just 31 miles but it was up a curvy 2 lane road with amazing scenery so we took our time and stopped along the way. At first, it seemed odd that the landscape appeared somewhat arid with red soil and shades of yellow and brown vegetation interspersed with patches of lush, verdant plant life. Then I remembered this was the leeward (drier) side of the island.
The drive to Waimea Canyon
View on the road to Waimea Canyon
View of the Pacific
Our friends and travel companions, Rick and Lori
Red Dirt Waterfall
Laura and Jim at the entrance to Waimea Canyon
Waipoo Falls rising 800 feet above the canyon floor amazed and inspired us.
Waipoo Falls in Waimea Canyon
Overlook at Waimea Canyon
In the parking lot at Waimea Canyon Lookout, vendors sold exotic tropical fruits and other products. We tried the dragon fruit which the sign told us tastes like pear plus kiwi. Yum!
Vendors at Waimea Canyon Lookout
Tropical fruits for sale
I wish I had tried the manapua which is a pork pastry originally introduced to Hawaii by Chinese immigrants. I noticed there was also a sweet variety with cream custard, probably to appeal to today’s sugar addicted consumer.
The vendor where we bought our fruit
We were intrigued by the chickens we saw wandering freely all over the island including this parking lot. The protected feral chickens supposedly have no natural enemies on Kauai so they flourish in larger numbers here than on other islands. My research, however, led me to this article from the Hawaii Invasive Species Council. The mongoose was introduced in 1883 on other islands to control the rat population in the sugar cane fields. An unintended consequence occurred because the mongoose has no natural predators on the islands and it also reduced the population of island birds including feral chickens. The mongoose was never introduced on Kauai but a number of sightings and one capture have occurred. If indeed, the mongoose has gained a foothold, Kauai will need to develop a management plan. (First Live Mongoose Captured on Kauai, May 2012)
Mama and her brood
Come back to read more about our visit to Kauai. Spoiler alert: more chickens, a fort, and good coffee are coming up.
Based on events in November 2015.
Press Release. (2012, May 23). First Live Mongoose Captured on Kauai, May 2012. Hawaii.gov. Retrieved from http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/hisc/news/kauaimongoosepr/