The Koos Take Kauai!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

We were so excited about our recent trip to Kauai...after all of the snow and cold we've had this winter in Chicago, a quick trip to paradise at the end of February was exactly what we needed! Ok, so the real reason behind our trip was so Steve could shoot a wedding, but we got in plenty of r & r.

Thursday, Day 1
We took a 7:30am flight from Chicago to Los Angeles. Which meant an early morning. After that 4 1/2 hour flight, we basically walked straight onto our flight to Honolulu. I was disappointed we didn't have a long layover so we could grab a bite to eat, but I was fine with it after I saw...

...the empty seat next to me! I was so excited I had to take a picture. Since it was a 6 hour flight, the empty seat was perfect. Since our flight was basically full, many people gave us the stink eye as we spread out over all 3 seats.

And, 6 hours later we were welcomed with a gorgeous view of Honolulu. The airport was all open air, and it was amazing how lush and tropical everything felt.

After a short layover in Honolulu, we board a small plane to Kauai. It was about a 30 minute flight, and we opted to fly go!Mokulele because they were the cheapest carrier. More on them later. We picked up our rental car (a must in Kauai) and drove to our hotel, which was just north of Lihue/the airport.

We stayed at the Kauai Beach Resort. Again we went with what was the cheapest. At around $100/night we didn't expect much, but the hotel was actually great. Friendly service, clean room, awesome new bathroom, and a nice pool. Because we were on the east side of the island, the beach was basically unusable, but with so many great beaches on the island this wasn't a negative for us. We'd easily stay there again. Note to any future guests - wifi is only free in the lobby, and the best reception you'll get is right by the elevators. Kind of ghetto, but not a deal breaker.

By the time we had checked into our hotel, it was early evening so we were ready to eat! After a little searching online, we headed up a little further north toward the town of Kapa'a and went to Monico's Taqueria. We were so glad we found this place!

Of course the picture is blurry, but below is my fish tostada. The fish of the day was ahi and there was so much ahi on here it was ridiculous! Yum. Steve ordered fish tacos, which were huge and amazing. We also ordered guacamole which was the best guacamole I have ever had. I'm still dreaming about it!

Both of our entrees, the guacamole, and two beers came to under $50 (including tip). Love!

Friday, Day 2
We drove up to the north side of the island and enjoyed the awesome views. We ended up in Hanalei...isn't Hanalei Bay gorgeous?!

Steve really wanted to take surf lessons, so I gave in and we signed up. There are a million places you can take lessons through. We booked our lesson with Hawaiian Surfing Adventures, located right by the bay. With the semi-private lesson, it was just the two of us at $75/person it included our boards, rash guards, a 1/2 hour lesson and 1 1/2 hours of surfing with our instructor Tatum. It was so much fun! I wiped out a million times, but it was so fun actually riding some waves. Even though I never advance to paddling into my own waves (Tatum kindly pushed my board for me each time so I could gain momentum), it was a lot of fun. Hanalei had calm waves that won't knock you down too badly.

After surfing we wandered around the Hanalei area a bit. We grabbed fish tacos at Tropical Taco. They were ok, but nothing compared to what we'd had the night before.

For dinner that night, we went to Oasis on the Beach. They're located at the Waipouli Beach Resort in Kapa'a but hard to find (park at the hotel, walk through the lobby, follow around the outside of the pool, go through an exit, walk around the side of the hotel...strange!). The menu is 85% local and is all small plates. Everything we had was fabulous (sorry, no pictures!) but we ordered WAY TOO MUCH. We were stuffed.

Saturday, Day 3
Saturday was the entire reason for the trip - the wedding! To start off the morning, we went to this awesome little bakery/coffee shop Icing on the Cake. We were lured in by the fact that they brew Blue Bottle Coffee and we ended up hooked on their baked goods!

Steve had an awesome time shooting in Kauai! The bride and groom chose to go to Poipu Beach for pictures, considered one of the prettiest beaches in the country!

Sunday, Day 4
After another trip to Icing on the Cake, we headed up to the north side of the island again and wandered over to Kalihiwai Beach. It was kind of out of the way and was very quiet. Compared to the bigger beaches that are filled with tourists, this felt very local. The waves were bigger here, so it was fun to do some wave jumping and watch all of the kids on the boogie boards.

Oh, and it was fun just laying in the sun! This also shows just how fabulously empty the beach was.

On our way back down the island, we stopped off at a little fruit and craft market north of Kapa'a. We found someone who brews his own kombucha so we sampled away. He was so incredibly passionate about kombucha!

I bought a beautiful shell bracelet while we were there and we looked at tons of exotic fruits.

Since my birthday was the upcoming Tuesday, we celebrated on Sunday night. We headed down to Poipu for dinner at Merriman's. Poipu is a bit of a hike from our hotel through some dark, winding roads.

We had a 7:30 reservation, which if anything is early for dinner. Not in Kauai, apparently. We were one of the last couples seated and closed the restaurant down when we left at 9pm! I know it was a Sunday night, but still. I had an amazing sesame crusted opah over purple sweet potatoes. These potatoes changed my life...loved them! In fact, I took a picture of them at the grocery store, I loved them so much.

Monday, Day 5
Steve was obsessed with skydiving on the trip! I. Was. Not. So I called and we eventually got him a reservation. They go up in groups of two, so they have to find someone else to jump with him. He was the first jump of the day, so we had to leave bright and early for the south side of the island to make his 8am jump.

We stopped off at a McDonald's for coffee because we were running ahead of time. Have you heard that there are roosters ALL OVER Kauai?! They cock-a-doodle-doo all day long. This particular parking lot was full of them...they're basically like the pigeons we have here. I got out of the car and they all started heading toward me!

We made it over to Sky Dive Kauai right on time. They're located by Port Allen Airport and have a little white trailer as their home base. Steve and I took one last picture together before the big jump!

They got him suited up, and then the plane took off! I just had to hang out for awhile, and then right before he jumped, they took me out into the field and I saw his shoot deploy. I had to stay far away from the landing spot until he and the other jumper landed safely. All went well and Steve loved it!

Check out Steve's skydiving video!

After Steve was safely on the ground, we drove up to Waimea Canyon. We did the abbreviated version where we only really stopped once to look out at everything. The drive was plenty gorgeous.

Look how beautiful!

Oh, and typical of Kauai the roads were incredibly winding! Steve even took a little video as I was driving around all of the curves.

For our last dinner, we checked out a little hole in the wall place, Pau Hana Bar & Grill. We had tried to find it earlier on our trip, but Google Maps are horrible in Kauai! For businesses, it would often lead you in the wrong direction. So, FYI, Pau Hana is in the same shopping center as the Safeway in Kapa'a.

Pau Hana is known for its fish and chips. These were amazing. Hot, incredibly fried (of course!) with the best waffle fries ever. Love. Steve and I split these and an order of fish tacos (good but not amazing). We were stuffed at the end. Sadly, I'm not used to eating a lot of fried foods, so I wasn't feeling so great later that night...but the waffle fries were worth it!

Tuesday, Day 6
We were so sad to leave the island! We loved our time in Kauai. Everything was gorgeous, we had amazing food and loved the relaxed island life. Unfortunately, we had to leave. Sigh.

We checked out of our hotel and headed to Lihue Airport to catch our 10am flight. Unfortunately, they had canceled our flight. Sad! As I'd mentioned above, we had booked the cheapest airline. So they had no other flight for us until 12:07pm, which got us into Honolulu at 12:45pm. Our next flight boarded at 1:00pm. When we landed in Honolulu we were at gate 81 and we had to run like crazy people at gate 18. I guess when you choose the cheapest, that's what you get sometimes. BUT Mokulele's customer service was great. So that's a plus. And we did end up catching our flight - whew!

From Honolulu to Los Angeles it ended up being a quick 4 1/2 hours. We had a two hour layover in L.A. and then hopped on the red eye to Chicago, landing at 5am on Wednesday morning.

We loved, loved, loved Kauai and would go back there in a heartbeat!


BigAppleNosh said...

OMG This post made me want to go to Hawaii all over again - you guys looked like you had an AWESOME time!!! :)

Penny said...

You are making me want to go back to Hawaii, too - and I've never been to Kuaui - It looks like you had a great time!!!

MayLove said...

Sounds like a great trip! I'd never go skydiving, but if I ever reconsidered, Hawaii is definitely the place to do it!!!

MKK said...

Looks amazing -- all the fish tacos sound great! That's who we went skydiving with as well (I think the only company on the island!). I want to go back to Kauai after reading this, and especially to Monica's Taqueria.

Katie said...

What an awesome trip!!!

And I am loving Steve's skydiving video...he has to be the happiest sky diver I've ever seen!!!

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