I know I already covered Hawaii a couple of posts back, but we love going back there, and hopefully you'll want to come back there with us too. Bear with us, this trip was different to the last, as will this post be. By now we had added another baby to our nomadic family. As you would have discovered in my previous Hawaii post, Hawaii was Bodie's first big international trip, so it seemed only fair to take Lola there for her first big adventure. This time however, we didn't do a quick 10 day trip and resort stays, we decided it was time to 'live like a local'. We were in a fortunate enough stage of our lives, where I was on maternity leave, and we were moving countries, from Australia, to New Zealand. So we decided to take the scenic route home to NZ and book a HomeAway condo and stay for a month! Short of winning the Green Card Lottery, this was the closest we would ever get to 'living' in Hawaii!
As we wanted the quiet laid back lifestyle (with a 2.5yr old and a 6mth old), we chose Princeville, Kauai as our home away from home. Princeville is a peaceful, up market community, with the likes of the Westin and St Regis Resorts. We could dine and watch the sunset at these resorts, but more often we would go to the Princeville Shopping Center, for more local cuisine, or stock up at the conveniently located Foodland.
Our condo was perfectly located in a small complex with a communal swimming pool, and lovely tropical gardens to stroll around. It was a short mini-hike away from Anini Beach, where you could easily find a spot to yourself daily, and feel like you are the only person in this, off the beaten track paradise! The water was calm, and shallow, perfect for toddlers, however there is a reef further out, where we could snorkel and swim with the turtles. Being natures playground there was a perfectly positioned swing hanging from a tree over the shallows.
Our condo was perfect for our family, and our 'living like a local' desires. With two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a well-equipped kitchen with everything we needed, from making home cooked meals, to pureeing baby-food for Lola, who had just started solids, to making blended cocktails to enjoy on the tropical garden patio, once the kids were in bed! Our lovely host Shannon was just a phone call away. She organised a port-a-cot or as some call it a pack n play for us, and also a baby high chair. When the ice maker on the fridge stopped working, she was around daily with bags of ice, until the serviceman could come repair it. She obviously understands the importance of a daily, icy cold tropical cocktail! The pool in the complex was great, for when we didn't want to deal with sand and toddlers, or to cool off in after a long hot day.
When we wanted to venture further, Hanalei Bay was only a 10 min drive away. Hanalei is quite possibly one of the coolest wee towns in all of Hawaii. With no high rises, large resorts, or chain restaurants, and with it's local weekend markets, you really do get to experience the 'real Hawaii'. Again mostly the beach was calm and great for toddlers. We were there in the summer months, however the winter months bring big waves like most other 'north shore' areas on the islands. With the famous, think South Pacific, Pier, the long crescent shaped beach with the backdrop of tall swaying palm tress and mountains with cascading waterfalls, I truly couldn't imagine a more beautiful spot in this world. Oh and not forgetting that you have 'Puff the magic dragon' watching guard over you and the town!
Driving out, around the 'dragons head' (mountain) will bring you to a string of fantastic beaches, and even a lava tube! Keep driving until the end of the road, literally, the road north ends at this point, and you will get to Ke'e Beach. I am almost even more in awe at Ke'e Beach, as it is the start of the majestic, magical looking Na'pali Coast line. You and the beach, feel tiny at the foot of these magnificent mountains, featured in Jurassic Park. We didn't spot any dinosaurs, but we did have a sea lion playfully swim around us!
When we weren't on the North Shore, we were out exploring the rest of the island. For such a small island, Kauai is quite diverse. One of the biggest surprises is that there is a canyon, right in the middle. I've never been to the Grand Canyon, however this 'Canyon of the Pacific' was pretty spectacular.
A highly recommended fun family activity is hiring a bike in Kapa'a town and riding along the bike path. We loved it so much we did it twice in both directions. The bike shops had toddler seats and carts, which even meant we could be out during 'nap' time, as we could position Lola so that she could comfortably sleep while being pulled along! We had the bikes all day, so biked right to the end, to Lydgate State park, where Lola woke just in time to enjoy a swim, in family friendly protected snorkeling lagoons. The ride did take about an hour, but there was plenty to see and stop at along the way. We had lunch at the Coconut Plantation Marketplace, and again found one of the most scenic swings in the world!