To celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary, we took a trip to the Hawaiian island of Kauaʻi (read the previous parts here). Previously, our plane had just landed in Kauaʻi. Now the real fun begins…
July 4, 2018 (Continued)
While we were waiting for our luggage, I picked up a few maps and brochures and such. Maybe we should at least know what is in the direction we are going before we start driving, right? After a short wait, again much different from our usual Memphis airport wait, our bags showed up and we went to pick up our rental car.
I saw a rental car counter right across the drive from the airport. But when we walked over there we saw that you don’t pick up cars there. Instead, we had to take a shuttle bus to the actual rental car place. A bus for Budget came after a very brief wait, and the bus driver even helped us load our luggage on to the bus. It took all of about two minutes to drive to the Budget office, so it wasn’t far at all.
We walked up to the counter in the small office, and I gave my name. I had reserved us a Hyundai Elantra because it fit into our price range. Everyone talks about how nice a convertible Mustang is in Hawai’i, or how cool a Jeep is. But prices for those cars are not nice and cool. So I figured we would drive a family car and have a little more money to spend on other things. But then the guy at the counter said, “I have a red Mustang coupe over there if you want to take it.” Knowing that when I had made our reservation that car was more expensive than what I had reserved, I asked, “Is there an extra charge for that?” “Nope,” he smiled. And I smiled, too. “We’ll take it!” I did notice the sign that said it is illegal to use handheld devices while driving in Hawai‘i, and that was good to know on the front end. Also, another sign indicated that they are very protective of their geese in Hawaiʻi. So I knew to be on the lookout for nēnē when we were driving.
We went out to the parking lot and found our car. It was a 2015 Mustang, slightly newer than our one back home, but of course, that was nothing to complain about. Our bags easily fit in the trunk. That was nice, even though the only other time we would have our bags in the car was when we were going back to the airport to go home. But we didn’t want to think about going home right now. We got in and spent a minute or two making sure we knew where all of the controls were because that is always good to figure out before you get on the road. And then, we were off, dodging chickens along the way. We hadnʻt been there long, but we had already figured out that chickens were all over the place. Pretty funny to see. And actually pretty cool, because they were more colorful and more plumed than our ordinary chickens back home.
It was about 2:30 PM by that time and check-in time at our hotel was listed as 4:00 PM. We decided to drive on to the hotel to see if they might have our room ready, knowing that we could at least park there and walk around the hotel for a while if it wasn’t ready yet. Laura got her phone and navigated the way for us to get there. It did not take long to get out of Līhu‘e, and soon we were greeted by huge mountains, green fields, and trees much different from what we have back home. We greatly enjoyed the views as we drove, and Laura took more than a few photos with her phone along the way.
We drove along a road that was continuously lined with trees. We later learned that it is called the Kauaʻi Tree Tunnel, which is on Maluhia Road or State Route 520. It was really cool to be surrounded by all of these tall trees forming a canopy over us. Not necessarily that much of a landmark, but we thought it was fun.
We made our way to Poʻipū, which is where our hotel was located. We found the drive for the Grand Hyatt and pulled up under the canopy. We weren’t quite sure what to do, so we left our car parked there and went inside to the registration desk.
The lobby was fascinating because it was all open-air. Much of it was covered overhead, but there was a section in the center that was open to the sky. And you could look straight through the whole thing and see the ocean and beach outside. It was perfect, and we knew immediately that we would like it there.
I went on to the registration desk, but Laura was stopped by someone asking about us parking our car there. When she figured out we were just checking in, she gave Laura a lei and brought me one, too. I guess our car shouldn’t really have been parked there, but evidently it was okay for just a few minutes.
Anyway, the lady at the registration desk was very welcoming and friendly, and she made checking in a breeze. Our room was already ready, and we were happy to hear that. She asked if we were there for any special occasion, and we told her we were celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. She said they would like to do something special for us and asked if we liked champagne, or perhaps sparkling cider. We don’t care for either one, and we told her that we appreciated the offer but we would decline. She happily got our room keys for us, asked if we needed any help with our luggage, told us where we could park our car, and showed us on the map where our room was. We asked if there were any fireworks at the hotel for July 4th. She said there were not, but she gave us a couple of pages that someone had printed from the internet about a couple of different celebrations if we were interested in going to those.
We moved our car to the parking lot and rolled our luggage back in. Our room was on the 5th floor, but the level with the lobby that we had walked in on was the 4th floor, so that we were only one floor up. Because we had our luggage, we decided to take the elevator, but we made a point to look for the stairs for future reference.
We walked to our room, enjoying the views of the pool areas and the beach beyond as we walked along the open-air hallways. Everything was just getting better about this place. The sun was out, and everything looked wonderful.
When we arrived in our room, we were even more impressed than we had been with the hotel lobby. The room was large, with a big open bathroom just inside the door. There was a separate toilet room, and there were pocket doors that could be used to close off the rest of the bathroom if needed. The shower had a large glass wall and tile. Beyond that was the bedroom, with a king bed, a flatscreen TV, a small refrigerator and microwave, a table and chairs, another sitting chair, and a curtained glass wall. Outside of the glass wall was the lanai, with a table, two chairs, and a great view. The registration lady said we had a tennis court view. That was partially correct, but the tennis courts were completely surrounded by trees so that we almost did not see them. The same could be said for the parking lot, which was hidden behind trees. Instead, we had a nice view of palm trees and other trees, with a majestic mountain off in the distance. I knew we would be spending a good bit of time sitting out on the lanai when we were in our room.
I could quickly get used to a view like this.
There on the table in our room was a bottle of wine, two champagne glasses, a can of Pepsi, a can of Diet Pepsi, and a bag of chocolate covered pineapple bits. We knew we wouldn’t drink the wine, but we were ready for something. So we made the most of it by drinking Pepsi from champagne glasses. That’s big-time living for us, even if we would have preferred Coke instead of Pepsi. But then we tried the chocolate covered pineapple, and it was fantastic! Why had we not had that before? It was difficult not to eat the whole bag right then.
Pepsi in champagne glasses. And a lei. Thatʻs how we roll.
Also, our room had a heated toilet seat, along with some buttons on the wall that would do some sort of, um, cleaning operations. Hmm, that looked intriguing. Sort of like the Japanese toilets in Tokyo and Bangkok that I never did try. This place had everything. They even had two reusable water bottles in our room, with a note saying that there were filling stations around the resort to help cut down on the use of throw-away plastic water bottles. Plus, there was a reusable shopping bag in the room that we could use, because plastic shopping bags are not allowed in Hawaiʻi. And two bathrobes were in the closet, too. Those might come in handy.
Laura on the lanai
Once we had gotten all of our things settled in our room, we decided to go explore the rest of the resort for a bit, just to see where everything was and what we could find. We started back in the lobby where we had come in, and we enjoyed seeing some of the tropical plants in the open center area. We walked past the lounge, and it took us a couple of tries to figure out how to get to the ground level down below. But we did not mind, because the views of the ocean were quite nice.
The open air lobby. Cool.
We finally did get to the lower level outside, and we found that the pool is huge! It just keeps going and going. But it is designed in such a way that it looks small, except that you keep going around bends and finding more pool areas that you had not seen before. And then there is a saltwater lagoon for swimming as well. Not that it is out in the ocean, but rather it is just another well-designed pool that has saltwater instead of chlorine. On top of all of that, there is also a lazy river and a water slide, too. That was all sounding really good.
You mean we actually get to stay here for a week?
Enjoying the views
We walked out to the beach to see what it was like. The first thing that we saw was the red flag flying, which meant that the beach was not necessarily favorable for swimming. We also saw that the red flag looked to be permanent, which meant that it would not change any while we were there. We figured that we could find other beaches on the island that would be good for swimming, and we did enjoy seeing the big waves crashing on the beach.
Toes in the sand
Laura on the beach
All of that walking make us rather hot, thanks to the humidity that was just like what we have at home in the summer. So we decided to go back to our room and change so that we could actually enjoy the pools. We also made some plans while we were in the room. When we checked in, we had been given a card with a number we could text with any questions. I gave it a try and texted to see if there was any availability at the luau on Sunday night. I quickly got an answer back saying that there was, and that they had reserved spots for us. We just had to go by the concierge desk at some point to arrange payment and pick up our tickets. Pretty cool and convenient!
Look at all those waves!
We knew that the hotel provides towels for the pool, but it took us a little time to figure out where to get them. We finally found the desk and asked for a couple of towels. The guy there gave us colored wristbands to wear, which he said helps them to make sure only hotel guests use the hotel pool. I can see why they might need that, because anyone can walk up from the beach to the pool. We also asked about the lazy river. They have floats for rent, but those were all gone at the time. He also said the water slide would be open until 7:00, or about another hour. We got our towels and we were off.
We really enjoyed the saltwater lagoon. It had a sandy beach leading to it, but once we walked several feet into it, the sand gave way to a smooth concrete bottom. I did not try drinking the water to see how salty it was, but I do not think it was quite as salty as the ocean would be. But one of the best things about it was that there were not many people in it. Plenty of room to move around. Or plenty of room to stay in one place and not be in anyone’s way. The lagoon was lined with lava rocks (which I suspected were not real), grass, and palm trees. It did not look very much like a swimming pool, but then the main pool did not, either. The landscaping around the whole hotel was amazing.
After enjoying the saltwater lagoon for a while, we decided to give the lazy river a try. Even though we did not have floats of our own, we enjoyed moving along through the waterway, either floating on our own or walking. It was relaxing even if we did not have floats.
The waterslide was next for us. There were only a handful of people in front of us, and most of them were children, although we were not the only adults up there. The slide was not all that long, but it was long enough and had enough twists to be fun, so we enjoyed it. It ended in one end of the main pool, so we thought we would check that out next.
As I mentioned earlier, the main pool was almost more a series of canals, not all that different from the lazy river, except that it was often wider than the river. We enjoyed exploring most of it, although we stayed away from where some teenagers were playing basketball in the water. It really was not like being in a pool at all. Here and there, there were hot tubs near the pool, but we never did try any of those. We just enjoyed the normal water. We never did go to the adults-only pool, but that was fine, too. Of all that we did, we enjoyed the saltwater lagoon most of all. It would be worth coming back to visit again during our trip.
Just one of the many twists and turns of the pool
By this time, we were ready for supper. The chocolate covered pineapple had worn off, and if I had bothered to figure out the time back home and what time we had eaten breakfast that morning, I probably would have felt even hungrier than I did. So we went back to our room to get changed and go for supper.
Just a couple of kids at the beach
I looked on my phone to see what eating options there were anywhere close to the hotel without having to drive all the way back to Līhuʻe, which was about 25 minutes away. I also checked out where the fireworks would be, but both events that we had fliers for were even farther away than Līhuʻe. There were a couple of options that looked promising not all that far from us, so we decided to give them a try.
The first one that we thought about trying ended up being a hole in the wall place. Almost literally. We decided it wasnʻt for us and went along to the next one.
We ended up at a small shopping center, and we thought we would try a place called Savage Shrimp that I had seen. But when we got there, it was closed. I guess that was because of the July 4th holiday, but Iʻm not sure. So instead we went next door to Bubba’s Burger. There was a short line, but not too bad, so we got in line to place our order. Once we got inside the building, we saw that they had a special burger called the Kauaʻi Burger, that included a slice of pineapple and Teriyaki sauce, similar to a Teriyaki Burger I used to get at Walt Disney World way back in the old Adventureland Verandah days. That sounded good for both of us, so we placed our order. I also ordered some onion rings, and Laura ordered a banana milkshake.
We found a place to sit outside, and before long our order was ready. We got our food, and it was all delicious! Maybe because it was because we were hungrier than we thought, or maybe because it had been a long day. But probably because it was just that good. We got a laugh about how we had come all that way to Hawaiʻi and our first meal there was a hamburger. But it was an exceptional hamburger. And Laura really liked her milkshake, too. We were quite impressed.
After we had finished eating, we looked around in a couple of the shops in the center. There was a Longs Drugs store there, and we got a few things that we needed, also appreciating that it was not too far away from our hotel in case we needed more essentials.
When we went back out to the car and I pressed the button to unlock the door, we thought it was cool to see the Mustang symbol projected onto the ground in front of each door. Ours back home definitely doesnʻt do it. Maybe we are just too easily amused, but we thought it was really cool. We unlocked the door a few times just to see it. And no, we arenʻt 8 years old. Really.
Horse on the ground, for those of us who are easily impressed.
It had been a fun day, but a long day. So we headed back to the hotel, feeling slightly like old people by being back in our hotel room at 9:00 PM. And then we went to bed by 10:00 PM. But that was 3:00 AM at home, meaning we had been up for almost 24 hours by that point. But it had been worth it. A great day, and a great start to our vacation.
What a way to begin our trip! Watch for more soon in the 2018 Kauaʻi Trip Report!