Thursday, May 23, 2013

Anniversary trip to Hawaii

Theresa and I are celebrating our wedding anniversary, and what better place to celebrate than Hawaii.

The obligatory shot at the airport terminal.

We're actually staying on the island of Kaua'i.  To prepare of course we watched Disney's Lilo & Stitch.

And if you're really paying attention while you're watching the movie, you can see that the island Stitch crash lands on happens to be Kaua'i.  

We're staying on the North Shore of Kaua'i at the Westin in Princeville. It's a nice resort, but our favorite part of the room was the mini kitchen and full size fridge. Because of that, we stocked up on food on the drive up. We stopped at Costco, Walmart, and Safeway, and Theresa even found some Korean food.

Now most of my trip reports have us running around all over the place doing lots of different things. This trip was going to be different though; it's all about relaxing. We intentionally didn't have any set plans for any of the days. Our goal was to chill as much as possible.

One of the best snorkeling spots on the island is a short 20 minute drive from our hotel at Tunnels beach. There isn't much parking available though, so you have to get there early. Since Los Angeles is 3 hours ahead of Hawaii, we naturally woke up by 6am.

When we arrived, the beach was pretty deserted, just the way we like it.

The small area around Tunnels beach is protected by a small reef which helps keeps the waves low and the water calm.

Like just about every trip we take, we only did carry-on luggage. My personal bag was my camera and lenses. My other bag had our snorkel gear in it plus my clothes.

We've gone snorkeling at some pretty great spots including Tahiti, Bora Bora, Curacao, and Maui. Theresa said this was the best out of all of them. I don't exactly agree with her on that, but we did see lots of cool things.

Going bright and early in the morning, the water was amazingly clear. With hardly any swimmers, plus a protective reef, there isn't anything stirring up the sand, and you can see a long ways.

Hawaii's state fish with the crazy name, Humuhumunukunukuapua'a. It's also known as the Reef Triggerfish

We didn't have a fish chart with us, but we did see quite a few interesting fish. And here they were very tame. As long as you were floating and not moving too fast, they'd swim all around you.

Theresa even saw an octopus, but unfortunately it was 10 feet deep on the underside of a rock, and the camera just couldn't focus with that amount of light.

There was a shelf a 50 yards off the shore where it dropped from 15 feet deep down to 40-50 feet deep. I was really hoping Theresa was keeping a good hold on the camera.

As we were swimming in this open area, all of the sudden Theresa starts pointing and handing me the camera. There was a lone turtle about 20 feet deep making it's way further out to the ocean. I dove down, but wasn't able to get in front of it. Still it was fun to see a turtle.

Heading back into shore, I saw this spotted eel. I dove down, and I must have got it's attention, because it definitely took an interest in me. I think one of the main reasons this was one of Theresa's favorite snorkel spots was because of the large variety of creatures we saw in our short time in the water. There were lots of fish, coral, eels, an octopus, plus a sea turtle!

The Princeville Westin is actually on a cliff and has no beach access. Lucky for us, they partner with the 5-star St. Regis resort which offer free valet parking and a fantastic beach. They even have beach chairs and umbrellas! Every single day we were in Hawaii we spent at least 4 hours here.

A fun panorama I took.

Under the shade of this tree, Theresa even found another connection to Disney. On the Behind the Seeds tour at Epcot at Walt Disney World, there is a plant called Mimosa Pudica, but better known as a sensitive plant. Even the lightest touch causes the leaves to shrivel and the plant looks dead.
Theresa was really really excited to find it. She thought it looked familiar so she touched it with her toes. When it started shriveling she literally screamed "I FOUND A SENSITIVE PLANT!", and yes, it was loud enough for most people on the beach to hear her. Check out the videos below!

At the end of the day, it was nice just to read out on our small porch. The skies were blue, bugs were few and far between, and the temperature was wonderful. No better place to sit and read a book.

One of the next days, we headed to Hanalei Bay. Just as we set our towels down, a light rain started falling. That seems to be pretty typical here in Kaua'i. Once every couple hours a brief 5-10 minute rain shower soaks everything and then the sun comes back out to dry everything up.

This beach happens to be called Pine Trees and is famous for surfing. We headed under a large tree (though I don't think it's a pine tree) to wait out the rain.

After the rain let up, the beach looked beautiful.

A surfer waiting for the waves to pick up.

After reading/laying out all morning, we headed back to the hotel for lunch. We actually didn't eat out any of the days we were here, and just made all our meals ourselves. The Westin has grills available and we bought some prime rib-eyes from Costco as well as baked potatoes.

We had quite the spread. 

Easily a member of the clean plate club.

The rest of the day and most of the other days, we spent on the beach at the St. Regis. Yes there were plenty of other beaches we could have gone to, but with beach chairs and umbrellas available, why go anywhere else?  We'll continue the rest of our trip in part 2.


  1. My all time favorite vacation was when we went to Kauai a couple years ago. We snorkeled Tunnels and saw a sea turtle there, as well! We stayed at Poipu Beach and adored it, lots of great snorkeling, and had the same plan you did with no schedule of any sort. Fantastic!

    1. Nice! We enjoyed staying on the north shore, but decided on our next trip we're going to stay on the south side.
      There were quite a few things I wanted to see on the island but we never did take the drive down south to see them. Things like the tree from Jurassic Park where they found the dinosaur eggs, where they filmed some scenes from Raiders of the Lost Ark, and the 6 Days 7 Nights beach. Next time...

    2. We took an ATV tour and got to swing from the tree that Harrison Ford did in Raiders from the Lost Ark. They even had the rope still tied on the branch!! They also had several scenes from Jurassic Park filmed on the property, along with some other movies like Mighty Joe Young. It was a blast!!

      Plus it was a tour we were able to book at the last minute, since we did like you guys did and arrived with no plans. And we rented a 4 wheel drive open top jeep and just explored every road we could. We stumbled upon this area we called "The Dirt Road", a beautiful road that went through farmland to a beach with cliffs. We stayed through sunset and saw manta rays and sea turtles swimming by, and even found what looked like old Japanese gravestones and such along the cliffs. It was amazing!

      Sorry, I could go on forever about that trip! :-P

    3. Sounds like the perfect tour! That's exactly what I want to do next time we go. If you look at my latest post you'll see why we couldn't go on that tour this time. :)

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    5. I just saw! That's SO EXCITING!! And kudos to her for traveling in that "state", especially such a long flight. She's my hero!