Reawakened by Breathtaking Kaua’i

Sunday, January 12, 2014

A waterfall spills out from a 4,000 foot gorgeous mountain peak, clouds lightly form over the top of the mountains. The rushing water then pools into a lagoon. A perfect rainbow stretches right across it. The water rests calmly before it flows out, becoming a river that spirals through lush green forests and fields. It nourishes every living being that lives around it. The river then spills out into the vast blue ocean. Just incredible!

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Our tiny plane flew over from Manawaiopuna Falls in Hanapepe Valley, more popularly knows as Jurassic Falls, popularized by the movie Jurassic Park. I am stunned to notice a few other equally stunning waterfalls trickling down these tall lush mountains. In those 5 short seconds of awe, seeing this glorious vision made me understand how the earth works. I know I must have studied this in grade school, but I never really fully grasped the entirety of its system before this flight. I have never flown around such a magical island from a bird's eye view before, and it has changed my perspective on life on earth. Witnessing how our planet works makes you realize that it truly is one of a kind.

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Photo Credit: Napali Riders

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Photo Credit: Napali Riders

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Photo Credit: Napali Riders

Hawaii is a group of 12 islands that have been beautifully shaped by the forces of nature: volcano eruptions, wind, rain, waves and earthquakes over a couple million years. Though it is now a US territory, the few remaining locals are passionate about preserving their history and culture. There is a sacred bond between the land and its residents, and visitors instantly sense this connection.

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Even though there are numerous lifeguards on Ke'e beach for instance, North Shore residents still do their share in ensuring that visitors take the necessary safety precautions by posting homemade signs in strategic locations. Standing on the reef or snorkeling too close to it can be dangerous. In the same way, residents also tell visitors that marine animals are protected by federal law, and that they should be admired from a safe distance. They also kindly ask us to leave the beach cleaner than we found it.

I believe that this continuing respect for their environment makes all the difference. There is a $1000 USD fine for littering. That's why you will never see trash anywhere. Marine life is federally protected by the law, making it a conducive breeding place for whales, dolphins, turtles and seals. It is against the law AND considered unlucky, according to local folklore, to collect sea shells and corals from the beach as well. Nothing is harmed and everything stays where it belongs, just as it should be.

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Everything around us is a blessing, all the creatures have its purpose in the cycle of life, making all of us interconnected. Whether Asia, Africa, Australia, Antartica, Europe, North or South America, each continent is blessed in its own special way. What matters more is how we live in them. It really is up to us humans to preserve and responsibly harness all this natural abundance, because after all we are the only species that have the power to protect and save all the other living things in our world.

My top 3 Kaua'i sights:

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Waimea Canyon

The winding drive up to Waimea Canyon is about an hour long. Fill your gas tank on the main road because there are no gas stations up there. There are many view points along the way so make sure not to miss any of it.

Bring along some hiking gear as there are numerous trails of different lengths that reward you with magnificent views. We got there around 10 am and hiked a 1 mile trail. The clouds gently breezing past us was such a surreal experience. There is only one restaurant and it gets pretty crowded so bringing some snacks is a good idea. The drive down is so much faster!

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Hanalei, North Shore

Hanalei remains a laid-back small town with just enough shops, cafes and restaurants for travelers looking for a bit more variety. My travel buddy Veronique and I were obsessed with the Coconut Chocolate Chip cookies from Hanalei Coffee Roasters. Their Revel bar is equally delicious! Tropical Tacos across the road makes mouthwatering healthy fresh fish tacos.

Home to many pro surfers such as Alana Blanchard, and the legendary brothers Bruce Irons and his late brother Andy Irons, Kauai's North Shore is known for its dangerous and shallow reef breaks.

I was wandering around a market when a tall, gorgeous blonde woman, maybe in her fifties smiled at me and walked into a shop. Her energy attracted me so I walked right in. She owns a store that sells locally made accessories. She was so kind and friendly that I ended up chatting with her for a while. When she found out that it was my first day in Kauai, she told me I had to see this peaceful monastery up on the mountains. She encouraged me to surf nearby and got a bit teary eyed remembering her godson that was a great surfer. He started surfing from a very early age and won some competitions. Unfortunately he passed away a few years back. 

She said "Maybe you've heard of him? His name is Andy".

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Napali Coast

"Rise and shine folks. The 6:30 a.m. "Early Bird Tour" is the best Kauai Raft Tour choice overall. Why? Because morning tours to Na Pali Coast are known for 1) More dolphin encounters; 2) Higher probability of being able to enter sea caves; 3) Calmer ocean conditions for general boating and snorkeling conditions. In Hawaii, gusty trade winds are often part of our daily weather pattern, and afternoon tours occurring later in the day will be subject to rougher ocean conditions as a result." - Na Pali Riders

How to Make This Trip Happen:

- From Manila to Oahu, Hawaiian Air round trip ticket cost $750 US. Unfortunately Hawaiian Air have discontinued their flights to Manila, but you may still get a round trip direct flight with Philippine Airlines for about $1000.

- From Oahu to Kaua'i, Island Air roundtrip ticket cost $153 USD

- Kauai Buses are only $2 per trip. Make sure to bring exact amount always as bus drivers cannot give change back. Some routes are only done every hour.

- Rental cars are widely available so I suggest split the cost of car rental and gas expenses with other backpackers at your hostel and gain instant travel buddies. Paradise Car Rental starts at $20 per day. We had the ugliest car everywhere we went but it worked!

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- I have been so privileged to be able to explore Kauai three ways, by car, by air and by boat. I highly recommend that you do the same! It truly is a spectacular experience seeing the same sights from different perspectives.

Special Thanks:

I would like to extend my special thanks to Captain Chris of Na Pali Riders for taking me on a magical 4 hour Napali Coast raft tour and sharing so much of its history with me. Guests may park their cars at the office for the 6am briefing, but the raft departs from Kikiaola Harbor in Waimea in Waimea Town.

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I am also grateful to Air Ventures Hawaii and Captain Paul for the juicy insider stories while flying at a bird's eye view around Kaua'i. They fly from the Commuter Air Terminal at the Lihue Airport. Bring some anti-dizziness pills just in case! Small aircrafts move differently from bigger ones.

Much Aloha,
Sole Sister Adi

Adi escaped from the corporate life and her life now happily revolves around yoga, surfing and traveling. Her goal is to live an eco-friendly lifestyle and inspire those around her to do the same. She shares her AntiGravity and yoga practice everywhere she goes and dreams of building Secret Spot hostels in beautiful tropical destinations. Her goal is to speak Spanish and Indonesian by the end of the year! Follow Adi's adventures on Love the Search.

Get a FREE copy of the Sole Sister Guide to Planning an Epic Trip by subscribing to our newsletter. You can also hang out with us online on TwitterFacebook & Instagram

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