Friday, July 31, 2015

Hike, Jump, Swim, Eat - Kauai Day Ten

It is now Wednesday, our 10th day on the island of Kauai. We fly home on Thursday, our 11th day. I don’t like the days leading up to the end of our vacation. It can easily put a damper on things. So I decided to kick things up a notch.

First, for the second day in a row, Evan woke up early for his trip with me to the Village Bakery. This time, Evan was confident enough to ask for a “dozen” after learning what “dozen” meant. 

Queen's Bath
Once we got home, I woke up Ethan and Madison. We planned to explore 2 new spots, one is the trail directly behind our timeshare, and the other, Queen’s Bath. Both are located in Princeville. I’ve been reading up on Queen’s Bath. According to, it’s “a turquoise and emerald pool set in black lava with views of Bali Hai. Except it’s also a lava bench on the North Shore of Kaua’i exposed to the deadly winter surf.” There were many mixed reviews. Along the trail, we should find a couple of waterfalls, views of the ocean. I figured we’d check it out, go for the short hike, and if the waves are calm, then we’d jump in. That was the plan.

The walk or hike or whatever you want to call it was not bad at all. There were many things we were able to step on that made us comfortable with the trail. Directly behind us was a jogger and he was able to go about his exercise with no problem. As expected, there were a couple of waterfalls along the trail. We saw these within a few minutes. The biggest of the waterfalls was the one that actually falls directly to the ocean.

Once we saw the bigger waterfall, it took another 2-3 minutes of a short walk towards Queen’s Bath. Many bathers were already playing at QB. Playing as in swimming, wading, and jumping off the rocks. Oh and BTW, did I tell you that Ethan and Madison DID NOT want to jump in or swim at QB? Well, that’s what they said when we left our timeshare. But sure enough, as I had expected, they were the first ones to jump in before me. Those are my kids alright! We took turns in jumping from the rocks, probably no more that 10-15 feet of a leap before you hit the water. That was a lot of fun. We stayed at QB for about a 1/2 hour and then we made our way back up.

Once we got back to the house, Nancy, Caitlin, and Evan were all ready for the day. But before leaving, I ate Spicy Soft Crab Poke that I purchased the night before from Foodland. I've never had raw crab before - this was so sweet and flavorful. I ate with rice. I blame the hiking and swimming.

We left close to 11am and we took a few stops…the Hanalei Valley lookout near the Princeville Center.

After a few Kodak moments, we ventured off to Hanalei and stopped at the Hanalei Taro and Juice truck. It was a stop that was well worth it. I ordered the hawaiian mix plate (with Pork Lau Lau and Kalua Pig, lomi lomi salmon, and taro mochi cake. THAT WAS AMAZING! While I enjoyed my Lau lau from Koloa Fish Market last week, it does not even come close to the flavor of the one from this Hanalei truck. I had to personally compliment the chef, simply flavorful, delicious!!! Thank you to my friend, Dolly, for recommending this!!!

The beach that I once called Lumaha’i
When you love a beach that much, then you go back and enjoy it some more. And that’s exactly what we did. We went back to what I thought was Lumahai Beach (I’ve known it as Lumahai since Nancy and I first visited in 2000). It was always Lumahai this, and Lumahai that….until recently, I was told, the beach I knew as Lumahai is actually Kahalahala Beach (which is the East end of Lumahai).

Learning this does not change my love for this beach. Hence, we spent the early part of our afternoon swimming at Kahalahala. We took pictures by the rocks, and for most of our stay at the beach, we just played and talked with the kids. Guess what? We will go back to Kahalahala again, that’s a given!

Dinner in Lihue
After our swim, we headed to Lihue. Ethan’s been craving for Mark’s Place. It was one of his favorite places to eat so I got him Chicken Katsu and Teriyaki Beef.

The rest of us opted to go somewhere new - Garden Island BBQ & Chinese Restaurant. I forgot where I was...I think someone from Tip Top Bakery recommended this place. Nothing fancy here, but we were pleasantly surprised with the flavors and portions they served. We ordered Singapore Noodles with Roast Pork and Wor Wonton Soup. I’m glad that we tried this new place…I shall come back!

That was our Day 10, another day of savoring what Kauai had to offer. Mahalo!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

From the End of the Road to "Caitlin's Beach" - Kauai Day Nine

Ahhhhhh Day Nine...can't believe that time flies even when on vacation. You better believe that we planned to continue to enjoy every waking moment on this Tuesday.

Before we went to bed on Monday night, Evan asked me, "Daddy, could you wake me up early?" I asked, "Why? You wanna watch the sunrise with Daddy?" He said, "No, let's go buy Malasadas! I heard the beats in my head the moment he threw that punchline. Knowing that he missed his malasadas on Monday, I made sure to get up before 6am so we could go to Village Snack Shop & Bakery in Hanalei. It was easy to wake up my 6 year old. All I had to say was that it was time to get his malasadas - and he got up.

We drove about 10 minutes towards Hanalei and turned to the Chin Young parking lot. I knew it was early, but there wasn't any sign of life in Hanalei at 6am, more so with the market parking lot. We walked towards the bakery, and we saw the sign stating they open at 6:30am. Evan and I had 30 minutes to kill. Of all days, I left my iPhone at home. Scratch the idea of surfing the net. I did what every Filipino with OCD would do to kill time. I cleaned the SUV! Yep, that's what I did. Could you imagine - 6 passengers - sand, bottles, cans, papers, headsets...the works! No it didn't take 30 minutes to clean the SUV, but that was good enough to kill some time.

The shop finally opened and my little Evan was beaming with excitement. He was the first customer. I ordered a dozen malasadas and a Spam Musubi. Evan was thrilled. On our way home, he asked me the meaning of a "dozen." I explained to him what it meant. We then brought the malasadas home to share with the family.

We got ready for another North Shore day. We were finally out of our timeshare by 9:30am. We made a couple of quick stops at the Hanalei lookout, and of course, where else? Back to Village Bakery so I could try their Coconut Vanilla Haupia Pie.

I then headed to the end of the road, Ke'e Beach. As we approached Ke'e, I could already tell that it'd be pack. Lots of cars were parked along the sides. I dropped off Ethan and Madison to secure a spot at the beach, while Nancy and I looked for a space. Fortunately, we found one very close to the beach, a family had just left.

What is it with Ke'e? It's crowded not only because of the beach, and the overflow from those who came from Haena Beach, but it is also where you get access to the Kalalau Trail. The thought did cross my mind to try and take Ethan hiking here, but maybe we'll give that a whirl when Ethan's older. For today, we just lounged at Ke'e. There were hardly any waves, so we just watched the kids play in the water.

Caitlin's Beach
We rented a body board the other day but couldn't really use it at the beaches we went to in the North Shore. I told the kids let's go to "Caitlin's Beach" - there's this unmarked beach that Nancy and I took Caitlin to back in 2008. Right in front of us was the beach perfect for body boarding, and off to the left and back was a fresh water river (at least that's what I remembered)! I promised them that this is a perfect beach for all 4 of them, for all of us. There was plenty of parking. The beach ground was quite vast. You get a view of St. Regis from a distance. The only downside it took quite a bit of walk from the parking lot to the actual beach front. Other than that, we enjoyed 2-3 hours at Caitlin's Beach. One of the best things I won't forget was when all 4 kids jumped off the rocky side in to the freshwater river.  Everytime I look at them, I get amazed - they are indeed growing! Oh and BTW, I later learned this beach is Lumahai Beach and the river is Lumahai River. For my family, we will always refer to it as Caitlin's Beach  :-)

After leaving Caitlin's Beach, we made our way back and in no time, we found a Farmers Market at Waipa Ranch. We sampled quite a few things from Kimchee Shrimp (raw....sooooo delish), Tarragon Ice Cream , Coconut Cacao...and so much more. I needed Calamansi (a lime-type of fruit) for a dish I'll be preparing. Nancy and I also bought a couple of green mangoes.

For dinner, we had a theme. KIDS' CHOICE
Entreé #1 - My Filipino Bistek - marinated beef with Kikkoman soy sauce and locally grown calamansi purchased at the Farmers Market. I topped the Bistek with Grilled Sweet Maui Onions and slivered fried garlic chips.

Entreé #2 - Good ol' spaghetti. Pasta was cooked al dente with my homecooked meat marinara sauce with chunky tomatoes and sweet Maui onions. On the side was a freshly baked French Bread from Foodland; we brought it home and made garlic bread.

Of course, we had to make room for dessert. That's a cardinal rule! For tonight, it was Kahlua Cream Pie from Foodland.

Finally, we had to make another attempt to take pictures with the sunset. We just had to....aaaahhhh...that was our Day Nine! Mahalo!!!