Along with our camping buddies David and Pam, and Pam’s mom, Joan; Ed and I spent the first 10 days of our Hawaiian holiday in a vacation rental by owner (VRBO) property called the Mango Plantation, located in the Moloa’a Valley on Kauai’s North Shore (just south of Kilauea).
(I will write separately about the Mango Shack and Cottage experience, as it deserves a post of its own.)
With nearly daily rainfall, the north is a verdant oasis with jagged-peaked green mountains, whereas the drier windward west and south sides were consistently warm and sunny.
As a bunch of water babies, we found that the beaches in the north frequently had up to 6 foot surf and dangerous undertows; while surf on the southern shores never rose above 2 feet during our stay, i.e. always safe for swimming.
The east end of the beach has a trail that leads up to the Larsens Beach overlook where you can watch sea turtles at play in the ocean below.
We saw a whale breech from that beach on our first day there.
On a couple of occassions, we tripped into Kapa’a, where we lunched at the Olympus, shopped for groceries at Foodland (great Ahi Poke and the best cake ever) and saw a firetruck equipped with a surf board.
We also stopped at the Tunnels.
When it was dark or rainy, we stayed inside and played games, did a jigsaw and watched videos from a selection of bad Hawaiian-themed movies and TV shows (i.e. Blue Hawaii, Hawaii Five-0 and Magnum P.I.). The boys also did some repairs around the Plantation and I made friends with Mango, the resident cat.
We also tossed rocks and coconuts at the local roosters, which are an endemic pest throughout Kauai — where crowing begins between 2 and 3AM. Stupid though they are with regards to civilized sleep patterns, they’re not so stupid as to become standing targets.
After saying goodbye to Pam, David and Joan, and before heading off to the Big Island on our own, Ed and I spent an evening at the lovely Marriott in Lihue.
Fortunately, there were 2 better hotels right next door, so we had access to food and entertainment. We did breakfasts at the Hilo Hawaiian and enjoyed an evening listening to a local entertainer sing and play the ukelele at Uncle Billy’s. Other food highlights were Cronie’s and the Cafe 100, were I enjoyed a Beef Teri Loco… YUM!
The banyan trees were also amazing.
The next day we did a helicopter tour with Paradise (doors off) and looked right down into the crater, saw the sole remaining house of 150 in the subdivision that remains standing (and requires a tough 3-mile hike over lava fields to access) and witnessed lava flowing through the skylights. Bob, our pilot was excellent, giving us much more than just a volcano tour, but local geo-political information as well.
After Hilo we spent 3 nights at the Fairmont Orchid located on the Kohala Coast about 30 miles north of Kona. We tripped into Kona just once to do the Atlantis submarine tour, where we saw fish and a couple of boat wrecks.
The Spa amenities are superb, and 3 days later and I’m still enjoying the benefits of Floyd’s deep tissue massage.
Foodland is located just 3 minutes away by car at an outdoor mall, where there are also restaurants, galleries and clothing stores at the mall. I’d recommend the newly-opened Moderna, a noodles / sushi joint where Brian, the bartender, gave Ed a free mohito while we waited for our food order at the bar.
The last week was definitely great but we did miss our friends, particularly tequila-totin’, ukele-playin’ David (see left).