So yesterday didn’t go exactly as planned, but that’s okay. The outcome ended up being more than alright: instead of kayaking up Waimea River after our hike up Sleeping Giant, a trip that would’ve taken 5 hours, we drove down south towards Poipu. Along the way, we stopped at Wailua Falls- the waterfalls pictured in the pilot episode of Fantasy Island. Mom was very upset when Avery wouldn’t let her reenact the scene “boss, da plane, da plane!!”
Our morning started off like all our other mornings here: lazy. I learned how to use a coffee pot that’s isn’t a Keirug; does that make me cultured?? Seriously, I’m shipping a million and one bags of Kona coffee-coffee that is grown here on the island of Kauai. It’s slightly sweeter and richer than the coffee from home; I have to be cut off after 3 cups. Oops.
The story of Sleeping Giant is actually quite hilarious. It is believed by the locals that an ancient tribe of mini warriors fed the giant rocks to put him to sleep. The giant ate so many rocks that he went into a deep slee and has yet to wake. From the bottom of the trail, the mountain side looks like the side profile of a man laying down. You are able to see the forehead, chin, and nose.
We were told the hike up Sleeping Giant was not super strenuous, so we set off trekking. Boy were we wrong. It was about a 1.5 mile vertical hike. Not kidding. But the panoramic views of the entire island were breathtaking. The terrain of the trail alternated between lush tree cover and rocky paths that led us to little pockets of rocks that jutted out of the side of the trail, offering us glimpses of the natural beautiful of the entire island. We reached the top where we were able to see 360 degree views of the entire island. The clear blue Pacific broke along the shoreline and patchworks of green fields were divided by a few rural roads over run by chickens.
After our hike, our original plan was to head to the Waimea River and kayak to the Secret Falls in which we were able to swim. Butttttttt…..in all honesty we were too exhausted (apparently we did the back side of the trail aka the harder, more vertical side of the trail). So instead of channeling our inner Bear Grylls in a kayak adventure, we set our sites on Wailua Falls. When we arrived at the falls, the cloud coverage that had kept us cool on our hike had melted away, leaving a stunning view of two waterfalls pouring out the side of a mountain. To add onto the magical natural beauty of the “Garden Island”, a picturesque rainbow arced over the pool nestled in the gorge below.
After seeing a few people swimming in the gorge, we naturally hopped the fence-despite the warning and no crossing signs- and carefully made our way down. The hike down was not easy nor safe, but man was it worth it. A couple of worn ropes guided a path down and assisted us in staying upright and alive in particularly treacherous parts of the climb. When we reached the bottom, a gaggle of locals and adventurers alike were swimming in the chilly pool, leaving their belongings on the boulders lining the edge. The water was deep and cool, beckoning us to take a plunge. We swam along the edges towards the double falls, noting the people scaling the slippery slope near the falls. We followed them to discover a cave embedded into the rock behind the falls. After scrambling up, we stopped to bathe in the spray of the falls hitting the rock before vanishing into a swirling abyss. Maholo, Hawaii, we yelled. Thank you Hawaii.
It was no easy feat climbing back up to the top of the falls, but there was still a small spark of energy left to head to a nearby beach to snorkel. Brenneke Beach in Poipu is known for its snorkeling, and with clear blue skies and the sun beating on our backs, we beelined to the water as soon as we got there. Yes the beach was absolutely beautiful, but the world that was visible under the water had me wishing (once again) that I was a mermaid (IS IT REALLY TOO MUCH TO ASK FOR!?). The coral, ranging from white as bone to pink as a rose, housed all the fish seen in Finding Nemo, and then some. Green fish with pink and yellow striped, spotted fish, iridescent fish that sparkled like little drops of starlight when hit with sunlight all darted in and out of the coral towers of their underwater castles. Sea urchins of the deepest black, and probably the size of my head, hid in the rocks, just waiting for some unfortunate shmuck to step on the rocks. I even saw a school of the state fish- a humuhumunukunukuapua (yes they’re real, not just a song from HSM 2).
The day ended with a subpar meal with above average margaritas while debating what we should do tomorrow. That’s been my favorite part of this entire trip: just waking up and going. No plan, no clue, just a couple of pointers from local friends and the trusty Jeep.