After having a unique (read: space- and budget-constricted but fantastically flavorful) Thanksgiving dinner with our two loved ones and their young friends yesterday, we packed up our bags for an island hop to Kauai this afternoon. Before leaving, we were treated to breakfast at a locals' favorite called Bogarts Cafe, located just east of Kapiolani Park and the Honolulu Zoo. I saw signs on the wall boasting "best breakfast bagel in Honolulu," so I tried it and completely agree. Coffee's great. The food's fresh and very tasty.
Years ago, when hippies were a lot younger than they are today, quite a few of them chose to drop out of society and escape to the most remote reaches of Kauai and live "naturally." That meant living nude, smoking dope, camping out, growing sprouts and "living off the land," which has always been a euphemism in hippy parlance for doing as little as possible for as long as they could. Eventually, the park system flushed most of the hardcore society drop-outs from the Na Pali Coast area where they'd clustered.
Those days are gone now, and hundreds if not thousands of people challenge themselves with hikes on the extremely rugged trail that boasts views of a jagged and nearly vertical 11-mile stretch of fin-like cliffs, considered one of the most dangerous and gorgeous in the entire country if not the world.
On past trips we'd always found the jungled, tropical and rural areas of other Hawaiian islands to be most attractive and beautiful, eschewing mega resorts and elaborate accommodations in favor of uniquely "real" places that are locally owned and operated. Well, we've found another one, and at the moment I can't even tell you the name of it, but I can say I feel like Robinson Crusoe in the jungle.
We landed at Lihue Airport and began driving our rental car north on Hwy 51, eating at Bubba's Burgers in Kapaa, then driving through Kailua, Princeville and Hanalei, places that will have no meaning to you at all unless you've been there already. Let's just say, you start off in shrubby, windy and rather dry-looking coastal areas and wind up in a lush low-lying valley with wide flooded fields of taro with a backdrop of tall craggy and steep mountains wrapped in puffy clouds as a backdrop.
This is a B&B with only three different spaces that are rentals. Ours is a cottage with a lanai (veranda or porch), a kitchenette and a small yard filled with tropical plants. It's private, has its own entrance out of view of the other small buildings and the main house and an outdoor bed to use if we want to, and a larger indoor one with books to read. There's no TV but we do have good internet access. No phone. No one around. Just us. We have to let the owner know a day in advance if we want to have breakfast next morning so they can buy supplies and cook for us. If we want to, we can cook our own meal in a little kitchen area off the main room. We feel like, hmmm, explorers I guess. The skinny two-lane highway just beyond the yard here is lined with large home built way up high off the ground that I suppose allow for air and/or water flow beneath them. I mean, some are 20 feet up off the ground on pillars. Ours is not, but it's further removed from the shoreline.
We took a walk for about a mile to Tunnels Beach, a tawny-sand beach that's golden, long, with curling aqua-colored breakers thumping on the curving shoreline. It's not quite the last stop on the road, but it is famous for a few caves there as well as fantastic sunsets. We did a rather quick reconnaissance of the area before having to walk back quickly before darkness fell.
We ate dinner across the street and down a ways at Mediterranean Gourmet Restaurant, an oddly self-descriptive name lacking any romance. The food was terrific, the setting romantic and handsome. The chef is from San Francisco and did himself proud with the seared ahi and chicken kabob that we ordered.
Now, far after dark, cricket-like insects are trilling in the distance and light showers are sprinkling down on the lanai overhang as I write. It's cool, maybe 70 degrees out tonight, and in the distance the surf is making the same muffled rumble we are so used to hearing in Pacific Grove. The bustle of Waikiki is far away, and we are ready for discovery and adventure.
Causes Christine Bottaro Supports
The Nature Conservancy, California State Parks, The United Way