Kilauea to Queens Bath, Kauai

Kilauea Lighthouse
June 15, 2012      As we drove toward Princeville we stopped to visit the Kilauea Lighthouse.  Serving as a navigational aid since 1913, the lighthouse was decommissioned in 1976 and is now part of a National Wildlife Refuge.  The cliffs next to the lighthouse are the nesting place of several seabirds, including the red-footed booby with a distinctive blue beak.  We were also lucky to see a Hawaiian monk seal.  With only 40-45 of the seals making Kauai their home, they are not easily spotted.  The endangered seal’s total population is around 1000. Endemic to Hawaii, most of these mammals live on the uninhabited islands of the Hawaiian archipelago.

Taro fields
Moving north along the coast, we stopped at the Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge overlook.  Below there were large watery fields of taro plants.  The taro plant leaves are used to create Laulau as well as other native recipes.  The root of the plant is roasted and mashed to create poi.  An infamously bland food, we haven’t had the opportunity to try yet, but it is a traditional food on the islands.

Once we checked into our accommodations in Princeville, we walked down the beach trail to hang out with a cocktail to wait for the sunset over the Hanalei Bay and mountains.  It was a perfect way to end the day.

Sea Lodge Beach
Prioritizing snorkeling as our activity of choice, the following morning we headed to Sea Lodge Beach.  Located at the edge of a private development, the beach is reached by climbing down a steep and narrow trail.  The hike takes about 20 minutes.  Reaching the water area, we were surprised to find several others had made the trek down to this isolated spot.  At low tide the water over the reef was shallow but we glided over the top to discover a few new varieties of tropical fish, in addition to some small moray eels.   It was worth the climb down.

During our stay on Kaua’i, we have been woken each morning by roosters.  The crowing starts around 5:30 A.M. and continues, more or less throughout the daylight hours.  Wild hens and roosters have always been present on the island, but after a severe hurricane in 1992, thousands of the birds were either released intentionally or due to damaged cages.  They now roam over the entire island.  At the grocery store, the beach, the outdoor cafes, it doesn’t matter where you are on the island, there will be chickens.  No natural predators for the birds exist on this island, so they continue to multiply.  Since even after prolonged cooking the birds are tough, the population is not being reduced by consumption, and there are no current plans to eradicate the birds.  So if you are visiting the island and want to sleep past dawn you might want to pack some ear plugs.

Tunnel Beach
Heading north seeking out a new snorkel site, we drove to Tunnel Beach.  Considered one of the best snorkel areas on the island, we packed up our gear and walked down the road to the park.  Unfortunately (for us), the surf, which is typically non-existent in the summer, was kicking up waves along the entire northwest coast of the island.  Definitely not a snorkel spot during our visit, so we moved north to Ke’e Beach hoping the conditions might be a little better.
Ke'e Beach
At Ke’e Beach the parking lot is even smaller than at Tunnel Beach, so we left our car parked along the side of the road and walked up to Ke’e.  Normally another excellent snorkel site, we were skunked here as well.  The Kalalau Trail also starts at this point.  The entire trail is 22 miles round trip and ranges from easy, at the beginning, to serious advanced hiker level, further into the trail.  We had packed no extra food or water, so decided to forgo the trail.  Not that we consider ourselves advanced hikers, but we might be able to complete the first mile or two. 

Alan at Queen's Bath
As a last resort, we headed south to Queen’s Bath.  Located near Princeville, this tidal pool can range from being very calm to being life threatening (29 people have died at Queen's Pool.)  The pool is accessed by a 20-minute hike down a steep incline followed by a walk over volcanic rock.   On the day of our visit the surf was beginning to come over the rocks.  Alan decided to go into the water for a short snorkel, but found few fish in the water.  He ultimately felt the arduous and potentially dangerous hike was not worth the payoff, even though it was a unique setting.

We’ll be heading out next to explore the Na Pali coast, and perhaps some snorkeling as well.
Tree at Ke'e Beach

Beginning of trail to Sea Lodge Beach

Red footed booby
Alan painting on the beach

Hawaiian Monk Seal
Morning rainbow from our balcony

Wai'oli Hui'ia Church-Built in 1912
Queen's Bath

Final "path" to Queen's Bath

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