Hawaii Travelogue 6 – Kauai

Our day was supposed to start with a flightseeing tour of the island, but the iffy weather prompted the pilot to call it off.  I appreciated the fact he didn’t want to take our $ for a less than scenic flight.  However, it would have been nice if they’d told us the tour was cancelled when we called that morning for directions, saving us an hour of driving, but oh well.  My advice if you have a flightseeing tour in Hawaii is to call before you head over and point blank ask “are we really going today?”

After lunch at the resort we headed out to do one of the things we all wanted to do in Kauai:  visit a coffee plantation.  Kauai Coffee Company is located in Kalaheo, about a half hour west of Poipu.  This beautiful plantation sits on land that used to be devoted to sugar cane.  When I think of a coffee plantation, I imagine Juan Valdez and his donkey emerging from a South American mountain jungle – not neatly manicured plants flourishing near the tropical shores of Kauai!

Coffee happily growing by the sea

Coffee happily growing by the sea

They have a cool walking tour where you can see different varieties of coffee trees and learn about how coffee is grown, harvested and processed.  The most interesting thing l learned is that coffee is a relative of jasmine and gardenias – a fact that was obvious from looking at the plants up close.

We visited the plantation just as the coffee trees were about to bloom.

We visited the plantation just as the coffee trees were about to bloom.

I had no idea coffee trees got this big.

I had no idea coffee trees grew taller than a donkey.

A few of the varieties displayed on the walking tour still had unripe cherries on them ("cherry" is the fruit that holds a pair of coffee beans).

A few of the varieties displayed on the walking tour still had unripe cherries on them (a “cherry” is the fruit that holds a pair of coffee beans).

The walking tour was very interesting and well worth the price (free!), but the best part is the “tasting lanai”.  I’d call it a tasting room, but it’s outside on a porch between a small museum and the sales room.  They have several tables of carafes from which you can sample all their coffees – some 15-20 different ones.  I didn’t expect much of their coffee, because I thought all Hawaiian coffee is Kona coffee, which is too mild-tasting for me.  However, Kauai Coffee doesn’t grow any Kona coffee, and their Estate Reserve and Roastmaster’s Choice coffees were all excellent.  There was not one millimeter of spare room in our luggage, but I just had to get a few bags of McBryde ER and RC Kauai Sunrise.  They have a neat auto-delivery club for which I will be signing up as soon as I drink down my stash.  For me one of the great joys of traveling is finding new culinary treasures!

On the way back to the resort we enjoyed the view from the Hanapepe Valley Lookout and made the obligatory stop at the local blow hole – the Spouting Horn.  Not quite as impressive as Halona on Oahu, but cool nonetheless.

Hanapepe Valley

Hanapepe Valley

An interesting sign at the Hanapepe Valley Lookout.

An interesting sign at the Hanapepe Valley Lookout.  Um kay!

at the Spouting Horn

at the Spouting Horn

Spouting Horn

Spouting Horn

Our evening entertainment was a lovely luau at the Grand Hyatt Kauai in Poipu.  Wow.  That is one swank, swank resort.  My pix do not do the elegant buildings, expertly landscaped grounds, and amazing pools any justice.  Unfortunately the wind and constant threat of rain meant that our luau was moved indoors to a banquet hall, but the food was yummy, the show was entertaining, and after the traditional mai tais, our waiter faithfully dropped off icy cold bottle after icy cold bottle of our new fave beer:  Longboard Island Lager.

In the amazing Orchid garden at the Grand Hyatt - how did we manage to not get any orchids in the shot!?

In the amazing Orchid garden at the Grand Hyatt – how did we manage to not get any orchids in the shot!?

The landscaping was so cool - the lava rocks were planted with these brilliant red plants that looked like flowing lava.

I thought this was so clever – the lava rocks were planted with brilliant red plants that looked like flowing lava.

the landscaping was so lush, you could hardly see the lazy river that flowed around the pool areas.

The landscaping was so lush, you could hardly see this lazy river flowing around the pool areas.

Tomorrow we dodge a little more rain and cold to do some snorkeling and explore the incredible Waimea Canyon.

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