2018 Kauaʻi Trip Report Part 3: Chasing Waterfalls

To celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary, we took a trip to the Hawaiian island of Kauaʻi (read the previous parts here). After a fun day of traveling and exploring, we were ready to start our first full day on Kauaʻi…

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Our day almost got a really early start, because we both woke up around 4:30 AM. That is 9:30 AM back home, so that explains our waking up. But then we did not have any trouble at all going back to sleep for a little while longer.

We woke up again a little after 7:00 AM, thanks to my phone alarm that I had set. We got up and got ready to go to breakfast, although we did not actually know where we were supposed to go. I checked our reservation once again, and it said breakfast at the Ilima Terrace, so we set out in search of that.

Along the way, we saw a couple of vendors selling things, and Laura looked at what they had to offer. We also saw that there were three macaws on perches in the open area of the lobby, so we spent a few minutes looking at these brightly-colored birds.

As it turns out, Ilima Terrace was not far from the open area of the lobby. We went up to the counter, where the hostess asked us how many were in our party, what our name was, and what our room number was. She checked her list, and our room number was on there, so that is how they know who has paid for the breakfast package.

After a short wait, our name was called, and we went downstairs to the main part of the restaurant to be shown to our table. We were seated at the outer edge of the restaurant, which was right next to the pond and a great view of the gardens and beach down below. In fact, the only thing separating us from all of that was a netting to keep the birds out. Otherwise, we were sitting right outside with a roof over our heads. The view was fantastic! However, the net did not quite keep all of the birds out, as a few of them would find their way inside from time to time. But they werenʻt a problem for us.

Our server soon came. Once she learned that it was our first time there, she told us that we just had to go get what we wanted from the buffet. She said she would get our drinks, and Laura asked for chocolate milk while I asked for orange juice. She said that because we had the breakfast package, that when she brought the bill, even though it showed the full total, all we had to pay was the tip. The rest of it was already covered. Cool!

We went to the buffet and loaded up our plates. I got waffles, watermelon, hash browns, sausage, and some fresh pineapple. While the waffles were good, I liked the pineapple best of all. I made myself a mental note to get even more pineapple the next time. Our server was friendly, coming back to check on us often. I think she was a little surprised that we each only made one trip to the buffet. We actually are not usually big breakfast eaters, so one trip with a full plate is much more than what we usually eat at home. Although we hated to leave our nice view, it was time to move on to other things and give someone else a chance at one of the good tables.

After wandering around the hotel for a bit and checking out more of the vendors, we went back to our room to get ready for our dayʻs adventures. We had a few things we thought we should try to see for the day, and we wanted to take more time to figure out where everything was and just do some general exploring. And because we were planning on ending up at a beach, we went ahead and dressed for swimming, taking along a change of clothes in case we needed them somewhere along the way.

We started off by driving back toward Līhuʻe. We made a quick stop at Walmart to check it out and see what all they had. We did not buy anything, but we figured we would be back later on. And their selection of stuff gave us something to compare to when we went other places, too. Also, we were interested to see the chickens just hanging out in the Walmart parking lot. We had seen a few at our hotel in the morning, even hearing some roosters crow from time to time. And now here they were roosting in the shade of the cars in the parking lot. It was funny to us. Maybe you had to be there.

As we were driving, we tried to find a local radio station to listen to. That can sometimes be interesting when you go to a new place, and it helps you to get a better feel for where you are visiting. Local commercials can often be interesting, and local weather reports can sometimes be very important. We scanned through several stations on the Mustang radio, and the one that we found that fit us the best turned out to be a Classics station. “Playing the classic hits of the 60s, 70s, and 80s!” But mostly from the 80s, and even a few from the 90s. The songs that were popular when we were teenagers and young adults. People like Billy Joel, Huey Lewis, Hall & Oates, and others. About half of the songs that I have on my main Spotify playlist were played on that station. Thanks, radio station, for making me feel old! I mean classic. Which is just another word for old. But we did enjoy many of the songs, so I guess that was good.

Laura then navigated us to our first stop. We had thought it would be fun to check out some of the waterfalls of the island, because we have to drive several hours to see those at home. So we drove to Wailua Falls State Park, because it was on the way that we had chosen to go that day. When we got there, we were slightly disappointed to see that all that was publicly accessible was a small parking area that overlooked the falls. The parking area was crowded, because several other people apparently had the same idea that we had.

Wailua Falls in Kaua’i

Wailua Falls, as seen in an earlier post, cleverly titled Wailua Falls in Kauaʻi. Read all about it there.

The falls were cool to see, but we could not go exploring very far. Actually, we probably could have, but we probably would have gotten in trouble. There was an older man there making palm frond hats and such to sell, and he was yelling at some people who had climbed over the fence and down to the bottom of the falls that they were going to get in trouble if they got caught. They probably did not get caught, but we arenʻt the kind of people to go against the rules like that. So we just enjoyed the view for a few minutes and listened to the sounds of the waterfall over all the people talking before we moved on. Fortunately, the Mustang had a good backup camera and could turn rather tightly for a Mustang, because getting out of the small, narrow parking area was a challenge for some of the bigger vehicles.

Wailua Falls in Kauaʻi

A wide-angle overview of Wailua Falls

We thought we would give another waterfall a try, so we moved on to ʻŌpaekaʻa Falls, another state park. This one was somewhat similar to Wailua Falls in that we could not get up close to the falls. But this one also had a great view of a mountain that was surrounded by the stream that the falls emptied into. We enjoyed the wide-open vista here, along with the facts that the road was wider and there were not as many people here at one time. You could hear the water rushing over the falls, even if it was off in the distance. Even with the hum of an occasional passing car, it was a nice, peaceful scene.

Opaekaʻa Falls in Kauaʻi

ʻŌpaekaʻa Falls, which is as fun to say as it is to spell.

at Opaekaʻa Falls in Kauaʻi

Trying to get the falls in the photo with us. Maybe we need a little more practice.

Once we had looked at the falls, we followed some of the other visitors across the street, where there was a great view of a valley with a river running through it. There were several kayakers down in the river, and there was a large passenger sightseeing boat of some kind, too. And we could see that far off to our left the river eventually ran out to the ocean, as all of the rivers and streams there eventually do. It was another great view, right across the street from the other great view.

River view

Looking out at the river and the mountain behind it

The two of us and the mountain and river

Mountain, river, husband, wife

On our way there, we had passed a small park not too far away, so when we left the parking lot for the falls viewing area, we turned in that lot as well. There were not many other cars there, but that lot was quite popular with the chickens. Not just one or two chickens, but lots of them. One guy who was there tried to run them off for some reason, but they came right back, wandering all around our car. I guess they know a nice car when they see one.

A chicken in Kauaʻi

Have I mentioned that the chickens are everywhere?


A girl and her Mustang. I think she was trying to do her Vanna White pose.

This park looked over some of the same view that we had seen after we crossed the road a few minutes before. But there were also signs telling about some of what we were seeing and some of the history of the area, which is always interesting to us.

One of the signs was for the Poliʻahu Heiau, but at first, we could not figure out where it was. Laura went looking for it, and it took me a little while to figure out that we were standing right at it. A heiau is a place of worship, and according to legend, this one was built by the menehune, an ancient race of small people from Hawaiian mythology. The Poliʻahu Heiau is now just a rock wall, surrounded by palm trees. However, I should point out that this heiau was built to worship the god Ku, whose worship included human sacrifice, and that probably occurred here. But that kind of thing does not happen anymore. And even with its checkered past, the heiau is still interesting to see and to imagine what it might have been like back in the old times. The people had a majestic view of the river and valley down below, along with the ocean far away. Now, I wonder how many people drive by on the road that runs right next to it without even knowing that it is there. It was just another of those seemingly small things that we enjoy finding, so that we learn more about the culture and history of the places that we visit. And to think that we were not even looking for anything like that, too.

Poliʻahu Heiau in Kauaʻi

The ruins of the Poliʻahu Heiau

When we were driving up toward Opaekaʻa Falls, we had seen another small place to stop, so we stopped there as well as we were on our way back to the main highway. As it turns out, this was another heiau, the Holo-holo-ku Heiau. Also, there was the Pohaku Hoʻohanau, or Royal Birthstone. We did not know it at the time, but we were standing right where all of the kings of Kauaʻi were born back when the island was its own kingdom and not a part of the kingdom of Hawaiʻi. How cool is that? The heiau here was much smaller than the previous one, but it was still interesting to see.

Pohaku Hoʻohanau, or Royal Birthstone, birthplace of the kings of Kauaʻi.

On this site were born the kings of Kauaʻi. Really.

Next to the heiau was a concrete staircase that went up a hill. We decided to see where it goes, and we were delighted to find that it led to a small cemetery. As we looked around, we noticed that much of the writing on the grave markers was Japanese. This was the Poliʻahu Japanese Cemetery. We did not know what much of the writing was saying, but it was still very interesting to see. Many of the dates that we could read were from before World War II, which was interesting.

The Poliʻahu Japanese Cemetery

The Poliʻahu Japanese Cemetery

Some people had left glass jars and coins on the different grave markers. From the hill on which the cemetery was built, we had a great view of the ocean down below. I can imagine someone selecting that site as a final resting place for their loved ones because of the beautiful views that it offered. But then we had not seen many views on Kauaʻi yet that were not beautiful.

The Poliʻahu Japanese Cemetery

The Poliʻahu Japanese Cemetery, with the ocean in the distance

Laura in the Cemetery

Laura in the Cemetery

But that is just half of the day! Watch for the rest of the day’s adventures coming soon in the 2018 Kauaʻi Trip Report!