My sisters and I used to go apple picking with my parents when we were little kids. Of course, I have no recollection of where we went or if we even ate the apples we picked afterwards. After doing a bit of research online, we decided we would go to Chudleigh's Farm. They had a pretty good variety of apples available for picking and would still be open when we returned from Hawaii. Perfect!

We drove to Halton Hills with Gaby and Adam on the Sunday after we returned from Hawaii. We made plans to meet up bright and early to avoid any potential crowds. Within minutes of us arriving and parking the car, the parking area behind us rapidly filled up. Since this was our first visit to the farm, we were a little unsure of how to proceed. We referred to a few posted signs just inside the entrance and spoke to a lady behind a counter who was waiting for slices of apple samples to arrive. We were told that we needed to wait for the hay wagon to get into the orchard. So we did. As it turns out, waiting for the wagon was entirely optional. We should have just walked into the orchard and then followed the signs posted inside the orchard. Rows of trees that were ready for picking were marked with orange pylons and signs that told us what apple variety was represented. The wagon would stop only at the rows with orange pylons. Well, we could do the same thing with our feet!

About a dozen different varieties were available for picking and several more were available for sale (already picked and bagged) at their general store. The variety that we were most interested in was Ambrosia, Matt's favourite eating apple. Ambrosia and Creston apples were priced at $2.00/lb while all the others were $1.25/lb. It comes as no surpise that Matt likes fancy apples.

We could see the signs for Ambrosia apples from where we were standing around, waiting for the wagon. What the heck. We just walked over to the marked rows and started picking apples and stuffing them into the designated bags. There were numerous apples lying on the ground around the base of the trees. Many of them were damaged in some way, but some of them had simply fallen off the the trees because they were too heavy. Through the course of the morning, we worked our way through the rows of Ambrosia onto Fuji, then Mutsu, and finally Creston. We caught a quick ride on the wagon from one part of the orchard to another when we saw that some of the distances were a little further than we thought. Otherwise, we spent the majority of the time walking amongst the rows of trees. 

The apple trees were quite different than the ones I remembered from my childhood. Most of the trees in the rows were young trees grafted onto older stumps. The trees I picked from as a child were mature adult trees. Of course, there were also far fewer available varieties at that time. We finished up our visit to the farm with a visit to their general store. Gaby had planned to make an apple pie when she got home. Adam ruined her plans by picking up a ready-to-eat Chudleigh's apple pie. Oops. 

We returned to Toronto and had a hearty lunch at WVRST. After lunch, we all agreed that we would compare notes later to see what we had done with our apples. I haven't heard from them yet, but I can safely say that the Ambrosia apple pancakes that Matt made for dinner that night were delicious. =)



Sometimes ... it's good to be persistent. We failed at our attempt to have breakfast at Eggs 'N Things the first time we were on Oahu. We showed up much earlier this time and still had to wait 15-20 minutes! They were certainly worth the wait and the second attempt at eating there. Eggs 'N Things has been serving breakfast to locals and tourists alike since 1974. Matt had a plate of macadamia nut pancakes while I had eggs and Portuguese sausage that came with a side of regular pancakes. Matt's plate came with five sizeable pancakes while mine came with a stack of three. Ridiculous portions! The majority of the patrons appeared to be Japanese tourists. Many of them were passing their plates amongst themselves so that everyone in their party could try every dish ordered. Quite a few dishes were piled high with whipped cream. After we finished stuffing our faces full of pancakes, we walked along Kalakaua Avenue to the Waikiki Aquarium. 

The aquarium in Waikiki is not a large facility, but they had many unique creatures on display. One if these creatures was the peppermint angelfish. It is orange with white stripes and was acquired during a Smithsonian funded research expedition. It is on permanent loan to the aquarium. We were told that a private collector offered $30,000 for it when it arrived there! Many colourful creatures were on display. Some of the interesting ones included nautilus, jelly fish, various corals, giant clams, and local fish. There was an impressive outdoor coral farm and a giant clam display. 

When we finished up at the aquarium, we walked along Waikiki Beach instead of Kalakaua Avenue. We were pleasantly surprised to find that this section of the beach was quieter and less populated. We watched some people learning to surf and a couple who were learning to paddle board. Further along, we walked out onto a pier for a different view of the beach. We discovered that the beach area immediately surrounding the pier was quite shallow. We were able to see many fish swimming very close to shore, including the colourful state fish, the reef triggerfish. It's Hawaiian name is Humuhumunukunukukuapua'a. Seriously. On the pier itself, small crabs ran back and forth from the top down the sides of the pier. They scattered down the sides as we approached to take a closer look at them. We returned to the hotel and finished packing up our things. We had the hotel store our bags while we continued exploring Waikiki for the final time. 

One of the things we had considered doing as a group after the wedding was having lunch at Morimoto's. Having a meal at a celebrity chef's restaurant is always cause for excitement. Unfortunately, it didn't work out because we simply ran out of time. Sometimes ... it's good to do things on your own. We made a reservation for lunch at Morimoto's the evening we returned to Oahu. As it turns out, lunch at Morimoto's was a quiet affair. We were seated on the patio that overlooked the marina. A nice breeze kept us comfortable despite the afternoon heat. Only two other parties were seated on the patio with us. Matt ordered braised black cod (served with miso soup, mixed green salad, and chef's selection of sushi) while I had chirashi don (assorted sashimi over sushi rice). I was impressed that Matt ate the sushi since he has always had an aversion to eating raw fish. He even ordered scallop sushi! My chirashi don was definitely the fanciest one I've ever had. 

We decided against dessert and opted to return to Kona Mountain Café for a caffeinated beverage. Matt enjoyed his drink while I worked on a few travel posts. When I finally finished working on my posts, we went for another short walk. We stopped at Aloha Harmony Tea House for (no, not tea!) several scoops of gelato. =) Definitely a refreshing stop. We also took a look through the Honolulu Surf Museum located in Jimmy Buffett's at the Beachcomber. It housed an interesting collection of surfboards and ukuleles.

Sometimes ... hotels really do know best. Every time we had taken a taxi to and from the airport, it cost over $40. Ouch. There had to be a better way. Our hotel was partnered with a shuttle service that was far more economical, only $12 per person. We were quite pleased with that. The ride to the airport was fantastic. The driver was on time, efficient, and very pleasant. We were at the airport with lots of time to spare. We had snacked on fresh fruit while we were waiting at the hotel for our shuttle. Now we would have time for a light dinner while we waited for our flight. We shared a sandwich and salad before going to wait at our gate.

Sometimes ... it's good to go shopping. Our flight from Honolulu to Vancouver was freezing. Despite the fact that we had taken the time to change into more appropriate clothing for the flight, it wasn't quite enough. Luckily, we had to pickup our checked luggage and re-check it when we landed in Vancouver before boarding the connecting flight to Toronto. We unpacked a few more layers in preparation for the next flight. Matt had purchased a few items of clothing in Hawaii. The irony was he had purchased a long sleeved casual shirt and a hoodie, decidedly un-Hawaiian clothing. Who knew these would be the perfect items for our flight back! We were definitely more comfortable on the connecting flight.

Sometimes ... it's good to have friends with cars. We landed in Toronto in bright sunshine. Yay! Then we noticed that all the windsocks were completely horizontal, indicating a fairly strong wind. Boo! We had originally planned to get home by public transit. Once we stepped out of the airport, I was relieved that our friend George had offered to pick us up and Matt had accepted his offer. Thanks, George!

That night, the three of us met up with the other four who had also travelled to Hawaii and we all had dinner together. We all raved about what a great time we had in Hawaii and talked about how we all wanted to go back. Sometimes ... life takes us to unexpected places. 

Pat and Kazumi: Congratulations! Best wishes for a long life together filled with love, laughter, and adventure!

Joe and Clare: Thanks for hanging out with us on Oahu and Maui.

George: Thanks for rescuing us from Pearson.

Gaby and Josephine: Thanks for giving us great ideas for things to do and places to see!

Mahalo, Hawaii, we will see you again. Sometimes ... it's good to be home ;)


Not yet

This was not our last day in Hawaii, but it was our last day on Kauai. This time we didn't have the standard early start. We spent a bit of time cleaning up and packing our things. When we were done, we had breakfast at Kountry Kitchen. Matt had a giant macadamia nut pancake (it was bigger than his face!) and I had a spinach omelette. Since it was conveniently located down the street, we made one last visit to Java Kai and enjoyed a couple of caffeinated beverages. We didn't have a lot of time to do things since our flight was in the early afternoon. We managed to see Poliahu Heiau which over looks the Wailua River. They are ruins of an ancient place of worship. Not much of the structure remains except a low section of the outer walls. Wailua River was quite wide and seemed to be fairly calm. We saw some people slowly kayaking along the river. Next we saw Opaeka'a Falls and Wailua Falls. Both were easily accessibly by driving and required no hiking.

We returned our rental car at the airport. What did we see while we were waiting for the shuttle to the terminal? More wild chickens! They were our ever-present companions no matter where we went, all over Kauai. Our return flight to Honolulu was with Island Air. We were puzzled with the seating assignment designation on our boarding passes: open seating. This meant we could seat ourselves anywhere we wanted on the plane. It was very similar to boarding a bus and sitting anywhere you wanted. Once we were all seated, they handed out "cold towels". The flight was quite short, 40 minutes in duration. We were given the option of either water or juice as a beverage during the flight. As we began our descent into Honolulu, we could see a variety of military aircrafts parked on the portion of the airport that was exclusively for mililtary use. We even saw a military plane lined up to use the runway along with the commercial planes! 

After settling in at our hotel, we set out to so some last minute shopping in Waikiki. One of the places we visited while on the hunt for some specific items was Kona Mountain Coffee. Although Matt wasn't a fan of Kona coffee, we thought we would sample some of their coffee. I think Matt now has a new-found appreciation of Kona. =) Once we completed our shopping, we had dinner at Hula Dog. Hula Dog serves hot dogs in a unique way. They take the bun and pierce a hole along it length-wise. The bun is toasted from the inside by placing it on what looks like a metal spike. The hot dog is then inserted into the bun using the same hole. Virtually no mess! After a leisurely dinner, we revisited Island Vintage Coffee, Clare's favourite coffee place when we first arrived in Hawaii. We lingered there while we planned out our last day in Hawaii. Soon, we will be returning to reality. Aww. =( But not yet! 



Another morning, another early start. This time, we started with breakfast at Art Café Hemingway. We were pleasantly surprised by this café. They served a seletion of hot croissant sandwiches, sweet and savoury crèpes, and various omelettes. We chatted with one of the owners who was happy to share a few words with us. It was apparent by the art on the walls decorating their café that they had a strong connection to Prague. The gentleman revealed that his wife was Czech and they had lived in Prague before relocating to Kauai. It turns out that they had been accomplished gallery owners in Prague. They sold everything to achieve their dream of relocating to Kauai. What an amazing story.

We drove northbound along the coast. We arrived at Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge and were surprised to see the gate was closed. We were, in fact, too early. We spent a few minutes admiring the scenery and waited for the gates to open along with about a half dozen other tourists. The area was framed by steep cliffs on one side, and the ocean on the other. This wildlife refuge was a habitat for local nesting seabirds, many of which relied on the ocean for their food. 

This would not be just another beach day. It would be a day of many beaches. Our first beach was Kauapea Beach (also called the "Secret Beach"). We could clearly see it while we were touring the wildlife refuge. We casually asked for general directions at the refuge's admission booth. The park ranger in the booth told us that for liability reasons, they never give directions to the beach. The riptide along the beach was extremely strong. He said just standing in ankle-deep water on the beach was sometimes enough to get into trouble. We managed to find the footpath to the beach without too much difficulty. A dead give away that we were on the right track was a sign on a gate that read "Secret Beach Organics". The path down to the beach was fairly steep but manageable. It was through a fairly heavily treed area so I sustained quite a few bug bites on the way down and on the way back. We walked a short distance along the beach and could see up close how violently turbulent the water was there. It didn't take us long to snap a few photos and then continue on our way.

The next beach we stopped at was Anini Beach Park. This stretch of beach was considered one of the safest beaches on Kauai. It has a protective reef which provides consistently calm water conditions. We took the opportunity to have a quick dip in the ocean here since the waters were so calm. We also had a mini picnic on the beach that consisted of some snacks that we had packed with us in the car. After we splashed around in the ocean and then soaked up some rays on the beach, we had lunch at Tropical Tacos. I ordered a grilled fish soft taco while Matt had a beef taco. After lunch, we walked around the little shops near Tropical Tacos for a few minutes. We also made mental notes of some dinner possibilities in the area.

We continued travelling northwards and found ourselves at Ha'ena Beach Park. The lifeguard tower had a signboard that provided all sorts of information on local weather and water conditions. We walked along Ha'ena Beach to the adjoining Tunnels Beach. As we walked, we watched tiny little crabs running to and fro on the beach and digging little holes into the sand to hide. We also picked up a few tiny shells until we gathered a small handful. We will probably add them to our coffee table as a reminder of our trip to Hawaii. We also took a quick look at the Maniniholo Dry Cave since it was cross the street from the entrance into Ha'ena Beach Park. It was a sizeable cave with a low ceiling and a sandy floor. There were some plants growing on the walls close to the mouth of the cave. We waited until it was close to sunset so that Matt could do more sunset photography on the beach. We stayed until it was dark. The walk back to the car in the dark earned us more bug bites. For dinner, we stopped at L & L Hawaiian Barbecue, a local barbecue chain. The portions were generous in size, even the "mini" portions.

Our drive back south wasn't dangerous or treacherous, but it had to be done with care. The single lane roads were unlit for the most part. We arrived at our hotel without incident. Since this would be our final night on Kauai, we spent the rest of the evening preparing for our departure to Oahu. 



We got up bright and early and packed up the car with everything that we would need for the rest of the day. We headed to Dani's Restaurant for breakfast. They are a local diner known for their hotcakes (pancakes). We were a little disappointed that they had practically sold out of the papaya hotcakes and only had enough for one hotcake. We got there around 7:30am! We settled for pineapple hotcakes for the rest of our order. The one papaya hotcake we shared was much better than the pineapple ones. Darn it! 

After breakfast, we decided to do a short hike. The closest trail was the Sleeping Giant Trail. The hike was only 1.75 miles long but was almost all uphill, a 1000 foot altitude change, up a mountain that really does resemble a giant figure resting on its back. The trail was very well marked. Each quarter mile distance on the trail was marked as well. It was very rewarding to reach the top. We sat for a few minutes at the very top, resting at one of the two picnic tables there. When we had arrived at the start of the trail and were preparing for the hike (applying sunscreen and bug spray, checking our camera gear, etc.), another car arrived and promptly hit a parked car. The gentleman who caused the collision didn't even know he had hit the parked car. Luckily the driver of the parked car was still there and some words and information were exchanged. A rather unfortunate situation when one is on vacation. Matt offered his assistance as a witness to the driver of the parked car before we set off on our hike. The two parties involved in the collision arrived at the summit while we were still there, resting. Matt dramatically whispered to me, indicating the gentleman who hit the parked car, "Stay away from that guy. He might collide into you and not even know it!" 

We made our exit after taking a few photos to commemorate our climb. We were quite thirsty by the time we arrived back at our car. We returned to Java Kai to reward ourselves with some beverages. We stayed long enough to finish our drinks and then returned to our hotel for a quick lunch. Remember the sad trip to Safeway when we first arrived on Kauai? The remaining salad was the perfect quick lunch. 

After lunch, we headed off to attend a helicopter tour with Blue Hawaiian. We were only allowed to bring our cameras, sunglasses, and a bottle of water (if desired). Hats and bags were not allowed. When we arrived at the tour operator's office, we were all weighed individually and assigned seat numbers based on weight distribution for safety reasons for each helicopter. We all watched a safety video before boarding our respective helicopters. We found out when we arrived that we had been scheduled as part of a party of six. For some unknown reason, two participants did not show up. Well! More room and better views for the rest of us! The tour was approximately an hour long. Our pilot, Marty, was extremely knowledgable and directed our attention to many points of interest and landmarks. We were able to see the entire island of Kauai including Waimea Canyon, Na Pali Coast, and Kilohana Crater. 

After we thanked Marty for a fantastic tour, we headed towards Kalapaki Beach in the hopes of getting some beach time at a new location. It didn't quite work out as we planned. We followed the directions in our borrowed guide book and ended up on a very rocky area. Hmm. Matt decided he would attempt some sunset photography later in the day. In the meantime, we did what we did the day before: returned to our hotel and enjoyed that immediate section of beach. When Matt returned to the rocky area, I booked our hotel for our final night in Hawaii. I finished up my solo task just as Matt returned. How timely!

For dinner, we chose a Japanese establishment called Restaurant Kiibo. They served simple, home-style food. I had nabeyaki rice (vegetables, shrimp, chicken, and an egg all in broth, over rice, cooked and served in a cast-iron pot) and Matt had fried Mahi Mahi. We chatted with the elderly lady who served us (who may have been one of the owners) and explained that we appreciated simple, non-fussy dishes like the ones offered by Kiibo. She was delighted to hear our feedback. We were delighted with our meal. =) 


Go west

We got up bright and early since we had a full day of activities ahead of us. We started off by heading over to Tip Top Café where we indulged in pancakes with a house-made papaya sauce and sweet bread French toast. After breakfast, we drove to Western Kauai to do some hiking in Waimea Canyon State Park and Koke'e State Park. 

It was about a 90 minute drive from Eastern Kauai to Western Kauai. We stopped on the road before reaching Waimea Canyon to admire it for a few minutes from afar. Next we stopped at Waimea Canyon Canyon Lookout for a slightly closer look. Finally we began our hiking for the day. Looking at maps, it's a little confusing which state park we actually hiked in; Waimea Canyon and Koke'e are side by side. We carefully hiked up and down the trails. We think they were Cliff Trail and Canyon Trail. Our goal was to see Waipo'o Falls. On our way to the Falls, we only encountered two other groups of hikers. As we retraced our steps, we passed quite a few more hikers on their way to the falls. We were glad that we started out early and managed to avoid the crowds. We continued on to the Koke'e Museum and spent a few minutes looking at their exhibits. We also spent a few minutes at Russian Fort Elizabeth State Park. We stayed long enough to read the information plaques and took a quick stroll into the ruins of the fort. I found it curious that such a small area was considered a state park.

On our way back to Eastern Kauai, we spotted a sign for Kauai Coffee Company. How could we not stop and take a look? The Visitor Center had a self-guided walking tour and a tasting area where you can sample every available estate coffee and watch a short film about the company and the plantation. Each coffee plant (tree) yields roughly one pound of coffee. Kauai Coffee Company has over four million plants on their plantation. They are the largest coffee producer in Hawaii and also in the U.S., and they are proudly 100% GMO free.

After a fairly full day of sightseeing, we returned to our hotel and spent some time relaxing on the beach. When we returned to our room, it was decided that there was a shortage of clean clothing. An emergency laundry session was required. Once the clothing crisis was averted, we went for dinner at Kalapaki Beach Hut. We both ordered beach burgers and a side of taro fries. They used local ingredients, including the beef. The food was fresh and very affordable. It was a nice conclusion to a busy day.    



Cluck cluck!

We noticed a fair number of moa (wild chickens) when we visited different areas on Maui. On Kauai, they are absolutely everywhere! One of our borrowed guidebooks (thanks, Catharine and Henry!) explained why. Hurricane Iniki swept through in 1992 and scattered the existing moa population all over the island. Since then, a population explosion occurred. The population explosion led to an increase in the number of roosters. When there is a large number of roosters, they are not just noisy at dawn: they are noisy … ALL … DAY … LONG. In some areas, they are also noisy all night long! And here I thought the roosters were confused because they were crowing every few minutes from at least 8am onwards. Nope! 

We started our day by finishing off the rest of the sliced pineapple that travelled with us from Maui to Kauai, and some yogurt purchased the night before from Safeway (remember our dinner disaster?). After breakfast, we had a leisurely stroll around the resort grounds. We checked out a few of the amenities and then headed to the front lobby to post a couple of updates. Once we were done, we returned to our unit to enjoy a cup of coffee and prepared for the rest of the day.

For lunch, we headed to a nearby establishment called Shrimp Station. We shared a plate of sweet chilli garlic shrimp and a plate of coconut shrimp. They were both very tasty. While we were eating lunch, a couple of moa were so bold that they literally came into the restaurant through the open windows and briefly wandered amongst the tables. 

After lunch, we headed to Kilohana Plantation, a former sugar plantation estate. We took the 40 minute plantation railway tour. The railway was 2.5 miles long and circled the property. The train conductor/tour guide, "Tiny", was quite informative. The train cars were all original and restored. He called our attention to the many different fruit trees as we travelled through the plantation's orchards. Some of the different fruits included avocado, banana, lychee, longan, canistel, tangerine, starfruit, and rambutan. There were also rows of pineapple plants and even cashew trees. We even stopped to feed some "wild" pigs, goats, and yes, moa. After the railway tour concluded, we took a few minutes to explore the manor house.

From Kilohana, we drove back to Kapaa. We browsed through some of the little shops and then looked for a place to have a few caffeinated beverages. We stopped in at a placed called Java Kai. I was adventurous and ordered a Cortado Kai (espresso with condensed milk). I enjoyed it. Matt made a face at it; it was too sweet for his taste. While we were sitting at one of their outdoor tables, we watched as a moa boldly wandered in and out of the slow moving traffic. It was not in a hurry, but it did not manage to cross the street. 

For dinner, we moved next door to Mermaids Café. We learned our lesson from last night and had dinner at a much earlier time. We would not be foiled again! Matt enjoyed a coconut curry plate and I had an ahi nori wrap. The portions were very generous and the food was flavourful and tasty. 

After dinner, we browsed a few more shops. And I finally completed my EC newbie raider initiation quest: I found some "lava orbs" ;)



The flight to Kauai from Maui was quick, efficient, and uneventful. Picking up our rental car, on the other hand, was a long, drawn out affair. There were a lot of dings and scratches that we had to record before leaving the lot. Once we left the lot, we discovered that our GPS was using it's own battery power instead of drawing power from the cable connected to the auxillary power outlet of the car. And on top of that, our hunt for dinner was a complete disaster.  Either the dinner suggestions I made were not viable (they were either too far, closed, or too expensive), or Matt disagreed with the suggestions entirely (Cess: "How about we make sandwiches?" Matt: "No."). We ended up having one of our saddest dinners ever: a prepared soup and a prepared salad from Safeway. Really the issue was that we started our hunt for dinner far too late. Almost everything closed at 9pm. We really didn't want to resort to eating at McDonald's. Then the final straw: no available parking at the hotel. This problem actually had the easiest solution. The hotel had "overflow parking" passes. Whew. Tomorrow will be another day. Everything looks better in sunshine. =) 



We got up bright and early to finish packing up and eat breakfast. Breakfast consisted of three quarters of a freshly sliced pineapple that we had purchased the night before. Joe and Clare came to collect us shortly after we had checked out of our accommodations. We packed everything into the car and then headed to Paia to start our bike riding adventure.

The four of us met up with Pat and Kazumi and two of Kazumi's friends who had also attended their wedding: Julie and Nick. We completed some paperwork, were given a safety talk, and were fitted for helmets and other gear. We all piled into a van and were driven to an elevation of about 6500 feet (about two-thirds up the mountain) and were set lose on bikes. The driver confirmed that the ride would take about 90 minutes with no stops. The only stipulation was to return the bikes and borrowed equipment by 4:30pm.  

At the start of the ride, most of us layered up and set out. The temperature rose as the day went by and we descended the mountain. We were able to shed some layers of clothing as we warmed up. We all rode at our own pace while being mindful of the other traffic on the road. We stopped whenever we felt like it to take a few pictures here and there. We stopped in at Kula Lodge for a lunch break. Almost everyone ordered a passionfruit smoothie with their meals. The view from Kula Lodge's dining room was spectacular. After we finished our leisurely lunch, we hopped back onto our bikes and continued down the mountain. Our next stop was in Makawao to explore their numerous little shops. A few souvenirs were purchased by Clare and Kazumi. We reached the end of our journey (back at the store front of the bike ride company), and were surprised to learn it was 3:30pm. Where did the time go? We thanked the staff for an enjoyable experience and chatted amongst ourselves to try and figure out what we could do until Matt and I had to catch our flight to Kauai. We decided on a quick visit to Hookipa Beach to watch the windsurfers playing in the ocean. 

Hookipa Beach is a very popular destination for windsurfers because of the consistent waves and strong winds that are required for their sport. We watched in awe as the numerous windsurfers zipped back and forth across the waves. When we had our fill of watching the action on the waves, we returned to Paia. We invaded Ono Gelato Company and indulged in some sweet treats. Everyone got something different. I got a scoop of lemon gelato while Matt got a scoop of passionfruit gelato. Both were absolutely delicious. Sweet treats wouldn't be complete without a caffeinated beverage to follow it up. Conveniently, we spotted Nellie's Bistro 19, a café that was located a few doors away from Ono Gelato Company. What luck! We sat in their outdoor seating area until it was time for us to go. We said our goodbyes, gave everyone a round of hugs, and promised to continue sharing our adventures through our postings. 

Thank you to Pat for organizing the bicycle adventure for all of us. What a fun time! Thank you to Joe and Clare for making sure we got the the airport with time to spare. And now it's time for the final part of our vacation: Kauai!  



One of the things that Maui is famous for is the drive on the Road to Hana. Hana is not the point of interest: it is the road itself (i.e. the journey, not the destination). The Hana Highway is 68 miles long and has 617 turns and 59 single lane bridges. The estimated time to complete the drive is 3 hours, one way. Obviously this would be an all-day affair. The four of us (myself, Matt, Joe and Clare) started out by having another hearty breakfast at Castaway Café. Yesterday we all indulged in the raisin bread French toast. Today Matt ordered French toast with pineapple. While the French toast was still good, the pineapple was not freshly sliced fruit. It was definitely from a can. Matt made a very sad face while eating the canned pineapple. After breakfast, we all piled into the car and set off for the Hana Highway. A huge thank you to Joe for doing all the driving today!

Certainly the journey to Hana would have been a true journey of a lifetime if we had managed to execute it on motorcycles, but the distance and the sheer number of turns was rather dizzying. Some of the interesting things that we saw along the road were the many rainbow eucalyptus trees and groves of bamboo plants. Rainbow eucalyptus trees have a very smooth bark that peels off (sheds) at different times, revealing a light green interior and then ages to different colours including blue, purple, and orange. 

We stopped at Nihiku Market Place to stretch our legs. While we were there, Clare was able to get a fresh coconut to drink the coconut water. She had been craving one since attending the luau on Oahu. The same vendor had other coconut offerings, specifically coconut candy. He explained that he sliced the coconut thinly with a mandolin and then toasted the sliced coconut with sugar. Quite tasty. We picked up some coffees at another vendor along with a coconut pineapple loaf and continued on our way.

Our next stop was at Wai'anapanapa State Park. We were here to see the Black Sand Beach (Pa'iola Beach). We carefully made our way down to the beach. What a spectacular sight! My initial reaction: I felt like I was walking towards an ashphalt beach because the wet black sand glistened in the sun. It wasn't fine grain sand; it was large granules, tiny pebbles. The surf was quite strong and it was very noisy when the tide washed in and out. Larger pebbles were constantly being tumbled back and forth, adding to the noise of the rolling surf. We braved the vigorous waters and bobbed about in the ocean once again. We had a quick "picnic" on the beach before moving on.

Our last stop before turning around in Hana was Kaihalulu Bay and the Red Sand Beach. The hike down to this beach was more challenging than the hike to the Black Sand Beach. Once there, the sights were again quite spectacular. The sand here consisted of large deep red-black granules. The surf here was also quite strong. The beach was quite a bit smaller than the other one and far more isolated. It was certainly worth the effort to see it.  

Despite the fact that there were several waterfalls along the Hana Highway, we chose not to stop at any of them. Joe quite correctly pointed out that we have many waterfalls at home, but no unique beaches like the Black Sand Beach and the Red Sand Beach. On our return trip from Hana back to Ka'anapali (where we were all staying), we stopped for dinner at Da Kitchen in Kahului. Their portions of Hawaiian fare were absolutely huge. After being completely stuffed, we made a quick stop at a grocery store to pick up some breakfast food for an anticipated early morning start. 

Our original plan had been to do a sunrise bicycle tour the next morning on Haleakala, Maui's dormant volcano. Unfortunately, the recent shutdown of the U.S. government foiled our plans. The silver lining, though, is that we will be meeting at 9am instead of 3:30am. I guess this means that I will have a bit more time to pack up our things in preparation for flying to Kauai tomorrow afternoon!