Kauai is the only island where we took the excursion from the Carnival Spirit ship. It's not that they didn't have a lot to offer for excursions; however, none of them appealed to us or else they had a piece of one and a piece of another but they didn't offer them together so that's why we struck out on our own for the other ports of call.
Right away this one caught my eye and I thought it would be fun. I did write Carnival to find out more about it. The descriptions they offer leave much to be desired. I wanted to know if the tour bus stops at different locations and allows us to get off to view the area better and take pictures and I also wanted to know about the lunch that was included. It said lunch on the beach so I wanted to know if there were tables or if we had to sit on the sand to eat. I also wanted to know if we could bring along a bottle of water because the trip was 6 1/2 hours long.
The answer to the questions were yes, we make stops and can get out. The lunch place has changed from the beach to a restaurant so it would be inside with table and chairs. As for bringing bottled water, yes we could bring that along too. They also provided that our bus would be for 25 people max and that it was air conditioned as well as being able to open windows if guests preferred. That was nice to know.
After our beautiful arrival at the port in Kauai we docked so there was no tender involved here either. From our balcony we saw the sunrise in the harbor. So pretty! Day four of our island adventures soon to begin!
Our tour was to begin at 9:30 and our tickets said to be ready by 9am so we got off the ship, into a small warehouse looking building and saw right away the sign for our excursion. It was very easy to find and not the craziness that was going on at all the other piers. I was glad for that.
It looked like quite a few people were taking this excursion so we got into line right away. As the buses pulled up a group leader took a group over to get onto the bus and the rest of us waited for another bus. It didn't take too long for the next to come. I guess security will allow one bus per company to be inside the gates at once so when one left then they allowed another in.
It was finally our time to go and we had a very up beat woman as our guide. I think part of her goal was to learn everybody's names right away..and she did! Our bus had 3 open seats left on it so there was plenty of room. It was a nice sunny day as we left and I was impressed with all the green around as we drove.
On our bus there was a tv and she showed video clips of movies that were filmed on Kauai and she talked about a few of them. Every time we came to a special spot where a film was made, she would show the clip and then point out where it was filmed and called our attention to what they added in the film or how they changed things around. Some of the movies were from the 50's and others very recently.
Not all of the stops had signs telling you what they were and I had no paper and pen to write it down. We went by so many different areas it's hard to recall them all.
We did see where various parts of Jurassic Park was filmed, including the waterfalls, we also saw the waterfall where Fantasy Island was filmed (da plane, da plane), along with a site where the movie Dustin Hoffman was in called Outbreak was filmed.
Our first stop was the waterfall where Fantasy Island was filmed. The name of the falls is Wailua Falls. On that stop there was a man sitting outside with his dog under the shade of a tree making some bowls out of some long leaves. Amazing race even made a stop here!
The bowls were very pretty, but when I was doing my research I saw that a woman purchased one of these (not sure it if was from him or not) and when she was getting back on the ship they considered this to be agriculture and they took it away! I held back on buying one for fear this would happen. As I said, it was very pretty though!
Our next stop was a beach. The name of the beach was Hanamaulu Bay. They showed a few different movies that were filmed here, but don't remember the name of them. Wish I'd have brought a pen and paper!
Our guide told us we could get out and look around, but to be careful putting your feet into the water because it's known for hammer head sharks! I took a pass going into the water, but a few people did it anyway.
It was a very pretty beach and had a sign posted saying no living there or camping out. People must not listen to that either because where we pulled up it looked like this person had been living there for quite some time. He had everything quite comfy, including a hammock between the trees! Bathroom facilities here were the kind where you dig a hole...no thank you! We were told the next stop would have good facilities, so I wait.
Upon getting ready to leave this beautiful beach with the warm sun shining down we could see off in the distance something bobbing around. At one point we wondered if it was the person living in the area next to our bus, but then upon looking further it turned out to be a dolphin! The waters were kind of choppy so it was hard to tell right away, but sure enough, it was one.
It was time to load up the group and move on to our next stop. This was Opaekaa Falls and were told what movies used these falls, but I don't remember them right now (again, wish I had paper and pen!).
A short walk down the sidewalk you can cross the street for another look out area. By this one you look down and see the Wailua River Valley. So beautiful. Here we were told that Raiders of the Lost Arc, Jurassic Park, and the Outbreak movie with Dustin Hoffman was filmed. Looking down we could see some people in kayaks paddling down the river (or was it up?).
In this parking lot there was a woman sitting in the back of her open SUV. She was alone and I didn't pay much attention to her. Guess I should have. She was selling Macadamia nuts, shelled, out of the back of her car. A full quart size baggie for $15. A real deal. Darn! I missed it! One woman and man on our bus didn't miss it and I think all of the others, including me, had mouths watering as they were eating them in front of us! LOL
This was the stop to use the bathroom facilities too. I wouldn't say nice bathrooms, but better than digging a hole or using an outhouse. It will do being that the next one won't be until lunch!
Just as everyone got back on the bus the skies opened up and it was a downpour! Boy was I glad I got on in time. I think I was the last one to get on.
One thing we noticed here and as we're driving that there are a lot of roosters running around! We're told that there is no predator to them so they just run around because they don't taste good either. I pose a question here...wouldn't they just die off? I didn't see any female chickens so how are the roosters born? Just thinking.
Next stop, the Coco Palms Hotel that was torn up by a hurricane about 10 years ago..what a shame. So many memories with Elvis and Blue Hawaii there. We had to sign a release to get out of the van because of all the coconut trees and falling coconuts! Did you know that 109 people die each year from falling coconuts? I'd never heard that before!!!
We got to get out and look around and it brought back so many memories of the movie to me. I was a big Elvis fan, probably because my mom was so we watched all those movies.
I was very excited when we got to walk down to the open grounds area and I got to see and stand where they filmed the wedding part of Blue Hawaii. I had someone take a picture of me and DH standing there too.
It began to rain so we got shelter in the building, it's all open air, and they had the guy that always sang at the hotel there singing! His name is Larry Rivera and he helped in the push to get someone to rebuild the hotel. His being there singing was a nice touch. He's in his 80's now and he was telling stories of when Elvis would visit and when Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby would come. He and his wife knew them all.
You could see how beautiful the place used to be and what a shame no one ever fixed it up after hurricane Iniki hit. Then we found out that a Japanese group purchased the land and is in the process of gathering information and pictures of how it was in it's prime and they plan on restoring the place and trying to make the entrance and main part look as much as it did before the damage; however, they will add computers, etc. too so it won't be exactly identical, but as close as they can make it. They'll be adding condo's to the property also.
Out on the grounds there was a building that was where Elvis stayed (#56) when he was there. I could see it through the trees and brush from where we were standing, but I wanted to get a closer look and saw one guy with a video camera going out that direction so I decided to go too. I mean we were standing there for over 1/2 hour now and no coconuts had fallen.
So off I go on the winding path to Elvis's room/hut. The path was winding, but finally I came around the bend and the guy with the video camera was walking quickly with his hands on his head! He said he was filming and a coconut fell about 5 feet from him and when he heard the thud he decided to seek shelter because they fall hard.
I kept on my way thinking he was crazy, it couldn't be that bad. I got right in front of the hut Elvis lived in when he was in Hawaii and was disappointed that I could not get close. I wanted to peak into the window (actually no window, just a hole in the wall that had slats on it that were broken so you could see in...if, and that's if you could get close enough) but there was so much thick brush in front of it there was no way.
I tried to maneuver around a little to see if there was another way to get closer and just then a wind came through. As it did, 5 coconuts fell close to me. What a thud they made too! Got me scared right away and in my mind I said sorry to the other guy that said it was loud and I also put my hands onto my head and started walking as fast as I could back to shelter also! If I could have run, I would have been running!
As I came around the last bend in the path to where everyone else could see me now, my DH was laughing and asking what I was doing and I told him about the coconuts falling and he yells out "so you think your hands are going to save you?" My reply was, "well, I'd rather have my hands broken instead of them breaking open my head!" Once back under protection one of the other guest, the one that knew about the 109 deaths a year from coconuts, proceeded to tell us that placing our hands on our heads would not stop the coconut from breaking our heads open because of the force of them...why didn't he say that before? Not that I would have believed him anyway though! LOL Maybe they should think about getting hard hats for the people?
As we were walking back to the van my DH picked up a coconut that was on the ground. I never realized that they are covered in a hard shell, kind of like other nuts and the "hairy" part is under that hard shell. The coconut is also large. It was about the size or bigger of my husbands whole head. He held it up with his arm above his head and let it drop onto the ground and even the thud you heard from just that distance you knew it would do major damage if it hit any part of your body! At this point I had had enough and was ready to get back into the van for cover!!! Thank goodness it wasn't too much more of a walk, but it was lined with coconut trees full of coconuts and many coconuts on the ground along the way! We made it safely though, thank goodness. Now onto our next adventure.
We went by some beaches and various things all the while seeing movie clips. We also picked out what we wanted for lunch from the choices on the sheet. They did burgers, chicken breast sandwiches, some kind of noodle thing and then a salad but we were told the salad wasn't very big and not filling if you're pretty hungry. I think there was a fish option too, but can't remember.
You were told to pick out what you wanted and then next to it was a colored dot. Along with the sheet of what was being offered was rows of colored dots so you were to pull off the dot corresponding to what you wanted to eat and put it on your shirt that way when we got to the restaurant they would know who ordered what. Simple and easy and worked out great!
Just before lunch we pulled into this area with a couple of beautiful homes! Along the fence surrounding these homes were beautiful plants, some with Plumeria flowers and then Hibiscus too. I believe the name of the area was called Anahola, but not sure.
Our guide brought along a basket with Plumeria flowers for those that would like one. She told us the proper way of wearing them. You put it behind you left ear (like you wear your wedding ring on your left hand) if you are happily married. You put it behind your right ear if you are not married and if you have one behind your left and right, it means you are married, but willing to upgrade (or looking for something better!) LOL. She said whatever you do, do NOT put it on top of your head because that means you are loose and will bed anyone at any time! She said every now and then you see a local wearing it like that and they all just shake their heads. They know that if they see a visitor like that they probably just don't know the custom.
While at this area we were told to turn around and look up into the mountains. What we saw was a mountain in the shape of King Kong! It was amazing to see. When she told us, you could see it right away. As we drove away, you could see it from all angles too. I don't know what the real name of the mountain was though.
We loaded up the bus and moved on to our next stop. It was in a residential area and they actually pulled up by this house that was above an open garage. You could see the bay, which is called Moloaa Beach through the garage and it was just beautiful. There was also a sign saying this was a Monk Seal resting place and they are endangered so don't bother them, approach them or make any sudden movements or loud noises if one is on the beach. None were there, unfortunately, when we were there. I would have loved to have seen one!
Upon getting off the bus, many people walked into the garage thinking this was part of the tour, but it wasn't. That home belonged to someone. They stopped there because right next to it was a public access to the beach.
It was not paved and was a little rough to climb down, but we all made it ok. It was very pretty. It had a lot of lava rocks along the beach and in the water and our guide pointed out some seaweed growing on the rocks. She said in the spring everyone is out there picking it off the rocks (they don't do it now because the waters are way too rough during the winter) to eat! I'll take a pass, but she said it's very good and good for you too.
There were a few people on the beach relaxing and off to one side there was a man fishing. Our guide pointed out an area to the right of the bay when you are looking out to sea where Gilligan's Island, the original one, was filmed. On the same side, but more towards the ocean there was a point of the bay and she said behind all of those trees at that point was the home of Will Smith. She said the family flies in often to stay there too.
On the other side of the bay area out by the ocean our guide informed us that the commercial for Herbal Essence was filmed there...the one where they sing, "Wash that guy right out of my hair".
There were quite a few homes in this area. Some were very nice and others not so nice. Our guide told us that the homes are built up high because of the water that runs down from the mountains and also when bad weather, like hurricanes come, it helps to keep them dry being up higher. She also said that the price of the homes there are in the low millions, but she would never live there because you don't get what you pay for here even though the beach is beautiful.
She also let us know that one thing about Hawaii is that you can own a home that sits right up against the beach, but you do not own the beach. All beaches are accessible to anyone. They all are government owned so even if we were to walk all around that cove over to the area where Will Smith lives, we could go on the beach that he uses because it's not his. She also said that the property tax for this area of homes is about $400 a year!! I don't see why she wouldn't want to live there. I sure would like to!!!
Our guide told us that the walkway we came down to the beach between the 2 houses is open for anyone to use, but sometimes the people that live in the house with the open garage try to stop people from using it and legally they can't, but they do try. For those people that don't know beaches are open to anyone they will turn around, but those that know, keep on going. Quite a few of the homes had signs on them for rent. If we ever go back, that might be something to look into. It was a beautiful beach!
On the way to lunch we passed up where some of Jurassic Park was filmed and a golf course where you have to pay $500 a round to play! There were a couple of really pretty hotels too that I'm sure you had to pay a pretty penny to stay at.
We had to cross a wooden bridge that only had room for one car at a time to go across. The sign as we approached it said courtesy is to allow 5 cars to cross and then it's your turn. Looked to be a busy spot too!
The place we ate at was called the Tahiti Nui Restaurant and Cocktail Lounge. It was located in Hanalei Bay area. It was a hut like building and the door we went into said it was also a Tahiti Nui Luau. It was an open area with some long tables and chairs with a stage in the back. Very clean and clean bathrooms too! The food was very good. DH and I both got the cheeseburgers and they tasted like the ones you grill in the summer! We were hungry by this time, about 1:30pm I believe and they were good. Also the new movie with George Clooney called "The Descendants" was partially filmed here!
Around the corner was an ice cream place. I was looking for some shaved ice, but didn't see that on their sign and once we got to the corner after our lunch we saw they brought around the bus and people were getting on so we headed back instead of on to the ice cream shop. We noticed it too late!
One thing I did notice when we were outside of the restaurant was up in the mountains some of the cloud cover had gone away and there were 3 big, long waterfalls! What a sight. It was from far away, but still beautiful. Our guide told us if you go on the plane or helicopter they say there are hundreds and hundreds of them in between the mountains that can only be viewed by air. I'm sure it's amazing to see because it sure was by land too!
We all got on the bus and our next stop, and last stop, was Hanalei Beach and Pier. There were quite a few movies filmed here but I think the most famous would be South Pacific.
As we pulled up there were a lot of people all around and it began to rain again. We sat on the bus for a bit while our guide gave us additional information on things and then it began to slow down. Quite a few people still wanted to get off even if it was raining, so they opened the doors and let whoever wanted out off.
I decided to go ahead and get off. It was warm out and not raining too hard anymore. It's a very nice beach and one where they give surfing lessons. Some were going on as I was walking to the pier.
There was a sign saying no jumping or diving off the pier, but people must not be able to read because a lot of kids were doing it. Made me nervous! The homes in the area were very pretty. There were quite a few people in the water besides the ones jumping off the pier and the ones taking the surfing lessons. I know there were a lot of cars in the parking lot and they had some hard sided out houses too. I stayed away from those!
The waters didn't seem to be as rough as the ones at Moloaa Beach. I guess it was good for beginning to learn to surf because there were some smaller waves. It was a shame that someone took a horse out onto the pier when they're not supposed to and let it do it's duty on the pier. Yuck! Don't know when it happened, but no one cleaned it up either. Made a big detour around that mess.
The clouds were very low over the tops of the surrounding mountains. You couldn't see the tops of them at all. Our guide told us when hurricane Ikini hit it tore off the end of the pier and they had to rebuild it. They did a good job because it didn't look any different than the rest of it.
As we were walking back to the bus, the drizzle stopped and clouds moved away from the mountains a bit. All of a sudden you could see this beautiful waterfall in the distance! It was from the top of the mountain and all the way down. I'm sure close up it's even more beautiful.
While taking a picture of that one the clouds moved away from another mountain and it revealed yet another waterfall. I had to get a picture of that one too and on our bus was a couple on their honeymoon and the man was taking a picture of his wife with that in the background, so I offered to take one of them together with it in the background. I hope it turned out the way they wanted it too!
Alas, our tour has ended and it's time to return to the ship. As I couldn't believe our time on Kauai had come to an end. As we got back to the ship we had 1/2 hour before we had to be on board. As we got off the bus our guide gave everyone a hug and she passed out a map of the island. I wish we would have had that before we went to our first site because I could have marked it all.
I was hoping to be able to take a shuttle to one of the local stores, but there just was not enough time, so back on the ship we went.
The weather had turned really nasty very quickly. It was raining and the wind was blowing hard by the time we pulled away from the dock. I thought we'd be in for some rough seas during the night..and we were.
We had a nice partial sunset as we were pulling away. The storm clouds moved in before full sunset though. I was hoping we'd go around the island and be able to see the Na Pali coast, but we didn't head that way, unfortunately.
We had a wonderful full day on Kauai with many surprises. I hope to get back to see more of this wonderful island. Back to the Big Island now and Kona!
Aloha and Mahalo, Kauai!!!