giovedì 14 luglio 2022

Kauai e Moloka'i... fanno rima con Hawaii

Ecco il diario del nostro ultimo viaggio pre-Covid. L'avevo preparato tantissimo tempo fa ed era rimasto nelle bozze... fino ad oggi! Ah dimenticavo, l'ho scritto in inglese cosi' anche i miei amici americani che erano con noi lo possono leggere. Sorry!!! Guaz :-)

[Writing in English to allow my American friends, who joined me in this trip, to read the story as well]

Holidays 2019: destination Hawaii! "Again?!?" someone will say. Yes, again.
2 reasons: 1. Two of the Hawaiian islands were still on our bucket list 2. Part of our family is from there (James, our bestman, was born in Oahu and his relatives live there)

So, it's decided: 7 nights in Kauai, 4 nights in the remote Moloka'i and 1 night in Honolulu to say hi to James' family.
We travel with 2 other friends from the Zug Italian gang: Elen and Anna. We fly all together from Zurich to London, then to Los Angeles and the last leg is to Lihue, the main airport in Kauai.
All goes well except for a "small" accident at the LA airport which costs us a bottle of champagne and leaves a "nice" smell on our clothes and luggage... (if you want additional info, please ask Bruno - yes, believe it or not, this time it's not my fault).

Once landed, we meet James and his sister Linda who flew from Honululu to spend the weekend with us (how cool is that?!? "Yeah, no big plans for this weekend... just flying to Kauai" :-)).
It's 6 of us and the crazy minivan is full - for now ;-)

Kauai is called the "garden island" and it's enough to drive 10 min to understand why. Everything around you is green! Huge plants, palms, trees, extended green fields... happiness for our eyes!

We stay in an apartment in the south of the Island (known as the "sunny side"), super close to Poipu Beach Park, which becomes our first destination after grocery shopping.
The beach is white, with small waves, easy access and.. surprise surprise, 2 monk seals (endangered species in Hawaii) sleeping on the beach the entire day. Tough life!

The first day goes well and, due to the jet lag, we go to bed at 9-9.30pm and wake up at 6.30am. This habit remains more or less the same the entire holidays and it's actually not so bad since it gives us the possibility to enjoy the whole day, sunset included.

Sunday starts with an early wake up for Bruno and me since we want to go swimming before breakfast: and this is when we see 3 green turtle ("Honu" in Hawaiian) sleeping on the beach! Amazing!! And even more amazing seeing that everyone, tourists included, respect the 2 metres distance from the animals!
Morning goes fast (and breakfast prepared by James is lovely, as usual! He always takes care of us ;-)) and we decide to drive up to Waimea Valley in the afternoon.
From the sea level to the mountains it's a short trip; this is what I like of Hawaii: gorgeous beaches not far away from beautiful hikes and breathless views! Waimea valley is famous for its canyon which was the set of Jurassic Park and has red and pink stone layers surrounded by green forests. And from the top, you can even see the Napali coast, one of the main attraction of Kauai. Super beautiful!!
We do not stay long since Linda has a flight to catch in the evening but time spent there is enough to convince us to book an helicopter ride the following day. We want to see Waimea and the Napali coast from the sky!



Monday is the day of what I have been waiting for long time: hiking in the Napali coast! On paper an easy hike, not too long (4 miles in total), not too up&down and with amazing view. In reality? An intense hike, with super slippery ground, not too up&down and with amazing view. 50% of the info we had were true, at least :-)

The highlight of the hike (besides the fact that we survived!) is definitively the beach you can reach after 2 miles. Long, white, with huge waves which reaches your feet even if you stay far away (thankfully the sun was strong enough to dry a bit our socks and boots while we had our sandwiches). Ah, I forgot to say: this adventure was only for me, Bruno and James, the brave people (or the fool?!?). Anna and Elen chose a bumpy but safer boat tour ;-)


A couple of days after, it was the day for the helicopter ride! Elen was a bit sick so this time it was the 4 of us: Anna and Bruno in the front row (it's cool to have our favourite flight attendant and our favourite photographer in the best seats), James and me in the back row with a young German speaking couple.
It was the first time for me on an helicopter and I was soooo happy!! We saw the entire island from the sky, moving closer to the waterfall of the opening scene in Jurassic Park, flying over the Waimea canyon and the Napali coast. Definitively recommended!

Kauai is really a nice and green island: every day we tried a different beach but at the end, due to the good weather, the best one was Poipu, the closest to us. Sunsets were obviously amazing, especially the last one when we were organized with cold beer, G&T and chips, like pros!

Leaving Kauai after 8 days was tough, but the idea to visit the remote island of Moloka'i was something exciting!
Moloka'i is quite small, with only 7000 inhabitants and not touched by tourism. Actually, people from Moloka'i do not want tourists: some of them are happy because tourists bring money, but they are against people moving there or staying too long. We saw many times a sign "Come, visit, spend and go home!".
Luckily not everyone thinks the same and we felt welcome most of the time: locals love to talk to you and tell their stories for hours. They are friendly, chilled and happy because you decided to visit their beautiful and remote island.
The best was a local couple who Elen and Anna met at the beach: they were lovely, with incredible stories to tell, tons of kids (7 if I remember well... all grown-up and all spread on the Hawaiian islands) and... they gave us an octopus as gift! A real one, which the guy catched in the afternoon. We tried to said no but they told us "we will be 20 people at dinner.. so 1 octopus would not be enough for all of us... you are not so many so you can enjoy it!". And btw, the octopus was delicious!

I forgot to mention that in Moloka'i we finally met Doug who flew directly from China! He was supposed to be with us for the whole time but a last-minute business trip ruined all plans. However at the end this was funny, since he arrived one day after us and he flew with a tiny plane from Honululu which looked like a private plane!! The airport there is so small that departures and arrivals are in the same hall.. the baggage are deposited by a guy directly on the floor outside of the airport and, if you want to wait for someone, you can just stand behind a glass door and you can see their plane landing not far from you (and in our case we could even see Doug while he was sitting on the plane!).

So, with Doug, we completed the crew of 6 people and we decided to go for one of the highlights of Moloka'i: diving and snorkeling.
The diving centre is the fuel station, which is also the souvenir shop, the fishing shop, the sunglasses shop, the clothes shop and the snack bar.... kind of a shopping mall in 20 square meter!!
We booked the first tour, leaving the harbour at 6.45am. Auch! ..our b&b was at least 40 min from there!!
So, early start for us and by 5.55 we were all in the car sleepy but excited! Unfortunately after 20 min our van (which was a "brand new" van with almost 200.000 km..) started to give us signals that it was the most tired of the group.. some lights started blinking and the cockpit looked like a Christmas tree after few minutes... And at one point, the car just switched off! Thankfully the break was still working and Bruno was able to stop the car... unfortunately the wheeler was blocked and he could not move the car on the side of the road..
So.. we were blocked, in the middle of the main road of the Island (guess what... it's the only "big" one) at 6.30 am, with no reception for our mobile phones!
But, as we said before, people from Moloka'i are amazing and a car stopped immediately when he saw us!
And... after the car... the school bus!!! Not the minivan with 15 kids which we see sometimes in Italy... the BIG yellow school bus from the Simpsons with tons of kids looking at us!!!!! And the lady who was driving it was definitely the best one!! She parked the bus in the middle of the road blocking both ways and she called the police to ask for help!
In the meantime a queue of cars started to form behind the bus... So because of us many people and all kids at school arrived late that day!
As cherry on the cake, we didn't have 1 police car but 2!!!! All forces from Moloka'i were there for us!!!
The policemen were like actors from Hawaii Five-0.. with tribal tattoos, sunglasses, and muscles typical of people who spend their days in the gym!
But the best part was that the diving centre sent us a guy with a pick up to being us to the harbour: we were 6 + the driver ... the pickup had only 2 seats including the one for the driver..
Since maths is only an opinion, we managed it! 3 in the front row and 4 in the back.. in the open air! And obviously, we left in front of the policemen...
So, after the initial panic, at the end we were lucky, all went well. We had a lot of fun, we met all locals, we became famous for a day, we became friend with the policemen (who said Hi to us the following day when we met at a food truck eating poke) and we even went out for an amazing snorkeling activity!!
We saw the most beautiful reef in Hawaii and the best thing was that we were the only boat out there. Really magical and unbelievable how many turtles and eagle rays we saw!
So, definitely Moloka'i is a hidden jewel in Hawaii and we really hope it will stay like that for a loooong time!
And we will never forget the saying from Moloka'i: "whatever happens in Moloka'i.... everybody already knows!"
After Molokai we were almost at the end of our amazing vacation. We flew to Honululu where we had to say bye to Elen&Anna (the lucky girls kept travelling for additional 2 weeks!!!!!) and then we went to visit our Hawaiian family :-)
A cool dinner with Linda, Cecil and Sherwood has been the best way to conclude our holidays (not to mention the pasta with poke created by Chef Zazza and James).
Thank you again guys. You always made us feel at home.
Mahalo and see you soon ;-)

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