Destination Paradise: Hawaii – Part 5

Feb 27, 2013 View Comments by

Destination Paradise: Hawaii - Part 5

Q: What do these TV series and movies have in common? Blue Hawaii, The Castaway Cowboy, Donovan’s Reef, Fantasy Island, The Hawaiians, Honeymoon in Vegas, Hook, Lost, Jurassic Park, King Kong, Paradise Hawaiian Style, South Pacific, The Thorn Birds, and Raiders of The Lost Ark, to name just a few.

A: They were all filmed on Kauai.

Makes you wonder what Hollywood knows about this island that we don’t. Well that’s easy; it’s drop dead gorgeous. With the exception of a “wrap road” that covers most of the coastline, the center of the island is pure wilderness. Much of the island is taken up by what is called the grand canyon of the Pacific, Waimea Canyon. At the northern edge is Alaka Swamp, ten miles long and two miles wide, it is known as one of the wettest places on earth with 500 inches of precipitation annually. This canyon is open for hiking and hunting (wild boar). What’s not advertised is that this is also an area with some “illegal growth,” and these farmers are anything but friendly, so stay on well-marked trails or better yet, hire a guide. Much of the canyon can be viewed from overlooks along Highway 550, from the wild west town of Kekaha on the southwest shore all the way north to the Kalalau Valley Lookout. It is well worth the ride for its breath-taking view of the Na Pali Coastline. What has to be remembered is that this is the same road you have to return on, so allow enough time to do it safely. This is the dry side, so you will notice a lot of red dirt and cacti. Don’t even try to keep your ride clean as this stuff clings to everything, and they even sell t-shirts soaked in it, just in case you need a reminder. If you really want to see everything AND stay clean, take one of the many helicopter rides, but where is the fun in that?

Another road to explore is Highway 50, which runs from Kauai’s major city, Lihue (where the airport is), northwest to dead end at Polihale Beach on the Na Pali Coastline. Heading northeast out of Lihue, Highway 50 becomes Highway 56, following the coastline through the villages of Kapa’a, Kiladea, and Princeville before coming to a dead end at Ha’ena State Park.

All along 56, out of the idyllic town of Princeville, are locations for the movie South Pacific. The area around Princeville itself has developed into a well-planned and naturally beautiful settlement, with all the necessary support systems as well as a great beach. All in all, a nice place to kick-back for a day, or a week. Though there are other roads both here and further down the coast, many are dead ends or loop roads that connect back to themselves, so once again you can’t get lost.

About the only negative I can say about the Highway 56 route is traffic. Think about it, with only one major roadway everybody has to drive on it, locals and tourists. At rush hour it’s completely nuts, although I have to say the locals will give you a break. If traffic is too heavy for you, stop in Kapa’a and explore the local shops, each a blast from the past (1960s that is). There’s even a coffee shop with 100% Kona, and great scones. After you have had your fill, and traffic is better, mount up and ride off into the sunset, and oh, what a sunset it is.

There is one other “road problem”—chickens, tons of chickens; they’re everywhere. I swore I found one in my boot! Years ago, a typhoon busted up the local chicken coops and set the buggers free, a situation that has agreed with them. These are tough old birds with not enough meat to make a McNugget. After a few days on the island I still don’t know why the chicken crossed the road, but I do personally know one that didn’t make it. Fender lick’n good.

Kauai, may not have as many historical sites as the other islands, but that’s because IT is the site. Rolling hills, a ragged, rough coastline, and a wild canyon area are more than enough to see. The relatively small population makes it a great spot to wind down a vacation to Hawaii. This island is the same as it was 30 years ago, and for me, the perfect memory to take home to the snow and cold. Ride on.

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About the author

A Wisconsin farm boy, I learned how to ride a cow, before a horse and way before a motorcycle. I first started riding on my 16th birthday and I took my first real ride at my party: I pulled a wheelie and dug a trench in the lawn, which sent the bike in one direction and me in another. I was irrevocably hooked!