Hayden and Layla's Place

Napali Boat Tour… well, kind of April 22, 2014

Filed under: Mommy — karagoodwin @ 6:36 pm
Tags: , , ,

On our final day we took a catamaran to see the Napali coast. ¬†IMG_3380On the way to the port, we stopped in a little shopping area to find some souvenirs and got this cute pic of the kids hanging ten. ūüôā

We had beautiful weather, hardly a cloud in the sky, but the wind when we got out to IMG_3394sea was outrageous. ¬†After a while the waves were so rough that everyone who wasn’t in the sheltered lower deck was getting drenched. ¬†The captain asked us if we wanted Layla to join him in his little sheltered area of the boat, so she and I did and as such escaped getting soaked, but John and Hayden stayed on the top deck and just got soaked. ¬†Luckily Hayden had a great attitude about it, though. ¬†The captain eventually determined we wouldn’t be able to make it all the way to the Napali coast as he knew the waves would get worse when we turned north, and there were people getting seasick as it was. ¬†So we turned around and focused on finding whales. ¬†We had already spotted one who was strangely motionless with his fin out of the water. ¬†They guessed he was sleeping, but they said it was very IMG_3397unusual. ¬†We saw him again when we turned around, and we got close enough that he “woke up” or whatever happened to make him decide to swim off. ¬†Apparently there were also dolphins who came close to the boat, but just for a split second – most of us didn’t see that. ¬†And we saw a double rainbow which stuck around for a really long time.

IMG_3385

Whale fin sticking out of the water, towards the horizon

The crew was really nice, and they provided plenty of drinks (our kids were pretty liberal with their soft drink consumption) and we had a nice sunset dinner on the boat.  The couple who was on our helicopter flight was also on this boat so it was nice to see them again.

All in all, it was a nice ride on the catamaran. ¬†Shame we didn’t make it to the Napali coast, but we were lucky that we had seen it from the air in the helicopter.

Advertisements
 

Luau and the “Secret” Beach

Filed under: Mommy — karagoodwin @ 6:16 pm
Tags: , , ,

We started Friday with breakfast out. ¬†One of the nice things about staying in the condo is that we’ve had food at our fingertips when we’reMad Libs at Kalaheo “home”, so we don’t need to eat out every meal. ¬†Good for saving money of course, but also good that we can eat at 6:30 am (our kids did not totally adjust to the 6 hour time change, but did get a little better as our vacation went on). ¬†We went to Kalaheo and had pancakes, egg sandwiches, pastries, and Hayden even had a smoothie. I got a souvenir mug as well. ¬†We also did a few mad libs while we were there, which has been a huge source of mealtime entertainment on this trip!

IMG_3319After breakfast we went on a little adventure to what we were calling the secret beach. ¬†You have to drive down a completely torn up dirt road to get there, and I think we were just calling it that due to inaccessibility – maybe other people actually do call it that, but I think the proper name is¬†Mahaulepu Beach. ¬†We had an SUV on the trip, so we had a higher clearance than some cars but we still bottomed out a couple of times, even while only going 5 mph. ¬†When we got there we were impressed with the smaller cars we saw parked who had made it – we’d passed a couple on our drive who weren’t sure if they should turn around.IMG_3327

The beach was beautiful, and when we arrived we had it all to ourselves. ¬†The kids decided the first order of business was to dig, and Hayden dug so far he couldn’t IMG_3338reach to the bottom anymore so he recruited Daddy to take over. ¬†We took a little walk after a while and enjoyed the beautiful scenery. ¬†I had a friend from high school doing a Hawaiian cruise to all the islands while we were there, and he was on Kauai the day we were at this beach. ¬†When we first got there we noticed some people going by on horseback, and we were paying so much attention to the horses and the two accompanying dogs that we didn’t pay any attention to the¬†people riding. ¬†I was so bummed when I saw a message from him a few minutes later saying his family had ridden by and saw our family but he didn’t want to shout. ¬†So close but so far away! ¬†Another thing to mention that we saw oLayla being Elsa from Frozenn this beach was a couple with a dog that said “adopt me” on its vest. ¬†The Kauai humane society allows you to take a dog out for the day on your vacation. ¬†We loved this idea and considered doing it, but never found the right “dog-friendly” day.

As lunch approached we decided to take a little hike. ¬†Layla was wearing her towel as though it was an Elsa or Anna cape from Frozen. ūüôā ¬†For lunch we went to¬†Sueoka’s Snack Shop in Old Koloa. ¬†Food was good and cheap!

In the evening we went to the Smith Family Garden for a luau! ¬†We all enjoyed that. The grounds are beautiful, and they have you arrive early so you can take a tram IMG_3368through the grounds for a guided tour, then you can walk around for a while. ¬†We got some great pics of the kids, and they liked running around and climbing on various rocks that were around. ¬†Dinner was a buffet with the roasted pig, poi, and all that stuff. ¬†The food was ok – ¬†being vegetarian I wasn’t too excited about the pig but they had stuff for me to eat and none of us went hungry. ¬†At the end of dinner they IMG_3371invited some people up to learn the hula, Layla being one of them! ¬†She was so darn cute up there. ¬†And then came the luau itself, which was really well done. ¬†I was surprised the kids stayed awake the whole time as it was getting late and had been a long day, but they were engrossed the whole time! ¬†They did both crash as soon as we got in the car, though. ūüôā

 

Helicopter Ride April 12, 2014

Filed under: Mommy — karagoodwin @ 7:24 pm
Tags: , , , ,

IMG_3262Thursday we went on a helicopter ride! ¬†It was very, very cool. ¬†Luckily the winds had calmed right down – I don’t think I would have been very comfortable in strong winds. ¬†The kids didIMG_3228 great – Layla wanted me to have my hand on her leg but that was all the reassurance she required. ¬†She was very quiet though so I think she was apprehensive but being very brave. ¬†She got so comfortable in the end though that she ended up falling asleep!! ¬†Oh dear. ¬†Hayden was in the front row with John so I wasn’t able to see him, but John said he was really excited.

It was a clear, gorgeous day so we had spectacular views.  We saw each area of the islandIMG_3251 (i.e. north, south, etc), and the pilot told us some stories and facts about the island and pointed out areas of interest Рmany of them relating to the many films shot around the island.   For instance, the waterfall from Jurassic Park (pictured) and the beach from The Descendants.

We were a couple of minutes late for the helicopter check in because we spotted some whales when we were on our balcony before we left. ¬†We tried to get a good pic but it’s really hard to capture them from shore without a fancy camera. ¬†It is just so exciting to see the water spraying into the air and the occasional fin splashing out of the IMG_3278water. ¬†We could see there were about 3 or 4 traveling together (from what we hear, likely mom and calves). ¬† So after the helicopter ride we came back to the condo, made some lunch and parked back out on the balcony to see if we could see more whales. ¬†They weren’t around any longer, so we took the kids to the pool for a while. ¬†John and I each took turns watching the kids while the other went to a spot nearby to watch the waves and turtles. ¬†We’ve gotten good at spotting the huge turtles swimming around. ¬†They really seem to do well in the rough areas that you would think would just bash them right into the rocks.

We had our rescheduled photo session in the afternoon. ¬†It was fine, but it is just so breezy on the shore as well as so bright looking into IMG_3300the sun that I am a bit weary about how they will turn out. ¬†I’ll have to just try to suspend my judgement until I see the photos. ūüôā

After photos we took a little hike around shipwreck beach. ¬†We could see again some whales playing in the water – proper splashing around and seeming to have a “whale” of a time out there, so much fun to watch! ¬†We also saw some more turtles showing off in the rough waves in a different part of the shore. ¬†Hayden was loving IMG_3305the hike¬†as usual, but it was a sandy path and Layla just can’t deal with sand in her shoes. ¬†So there was a lot of carrying her around and eventually I just told the boys to go on as far as they wanted and I took her back down to the beach. ¬†While we were waiting we found this cute heart made out of stones. ¬†I love the pic of Layla standing on it. ūüôā

We had reservations at Keoki’s Paradise for dinner. ¬†We had some more yummy Mai Tais (still not beating Merriman’s, though), calamari, fantastic bread, and John and I split our fish and seafood risotto meals. ¬†The food was good – I think I ate too much appetizer and bread because it was hard to finish the meals, but it was good. ¬†The couple at the table next to us had a drink that came in a pineapple, so we had fun watching that and eventually he gave the pineapple top to Hayden which was fun.

 

Northern Exposure April 11, 2014

Filed under: Mommy — karagoodwin @ 7:32 am
Tags: , , , , ,

We spent Wednesday on the North Shore. ¬†We’d heard all along in our planning that the north was traditionally rainier/cloudier and the south was more predictably dry. ¬†Well, I’ll start by saying we had a beautiful, dry, sunny day in the north. ¬†I presume the same happened inIMG_3128 the south but it was cloudy when we left in the¬†morning.

We had a 9:30 kids’ tour at Na’Aina Kai Botanical Gardens. ¬†It was a lovely, hour drive up the island. ¬†Unfortunately, Layla fell out of the car when we got there and skinned up her knee, so we started our time there trying to get that cleaned up and her calmed down (poor thing – there was a good amount of blood ūüė¶ ). ¬†Luckily John had thrown someIMG_3125 Hello Kitty band aids in his backpack before we came on this trip, so it definitely softened the blow when she needed THREE of them! ¬†The staff were so helpful when they saw her, bringing me antiseptic, hydrogen peroxide, and bandages. ¬†Layla loves being carried, and we knew with her fresh injury we were going to be carrying her throughout the tour. ¬†The guide asked if we wanted a stroller for her, and that did help being able to push her along.

IMG_3112I can’t say enough great things about the botanical gardens. ¬†They gave the kids little paper bags to collect anything on the ground that interested them. ¬†Our tour guide was so nice and informative, the grounds were stunning, there was a big pond with koi fish that could be hand fed (Hayden got a big kick out of that), there were beautiful statues throughout, and once the proper tour was over we could play in the kids area (which was immaculate, even the restrooms) which had a splash area as well as lots¬†of other unique and well maintained equipment for kids.

After the gardens we went to Kilauea for lunch at the Bakery. ¬†Another fantastic meal! ¬†We all got a little treat for dessert (Hayden got a slice of cherry pie that he seemed delighted with) – just wonderful. ¬†We hit the Kilauea Lighthouse from there. ¬†Before we got there we saw in the distance a seal sunbathing on the shore – first seal of the trip! ¬†The IMG_3146lighthouse itself was pretty simple and you couldn’t go in it, but it was out on a point that was really beautiful and apparently there are many whale sightings although the volunteer we talked with hadn’t seen any that day. ¬†We did see an albatross and frigate which were beautiful birds, and we had a nice chat with the volunteer who was from England so we had lots to talk about in addition to the local knowledge she provided.

We kept driving west on the north coast, and got to the end of the road on Ke’e IMG_0105beach. ¬†We went for a .5 mile hike up a trail and caught some beautiful views. ¬†I hadn’t realized we were going to be hiking at that particular stop so I hadn’t changed my or Layla’s shoes, so we were both in flip flops. ¬†She also wouldn’t walk on the way up because of her boo boo, so I’m sure I looked like a complete idiot hiking in flip flops while carrying a 3 year old who was also in inappropriate footwear. ¬†Hayden was SUPER into the hiking, though. ¬†He has really loved exploring. ¬†John made a great point earlier in the week that he will be a prime candidate for the Cub Scouts next year, when he’ll be old enough to join. ¬†Layla IMG_3167finally did want to walk herself on the way down – thank God! ¬†She had a lot of fun hopping from rock to rock to get down. ¬†When we reached the 1/2 mile point Hayden was desperate to keep going, so the boys went on a few¬†more minutes and passed us a little ways from the bottom.

Before we left we checked out a wet cave and a dry cave, which were both cool. ¬†Layla and I tried to split a coconut drink, but she didn’t like it. ¬†Then I tried to split it with John. ¬†It’s not bad but is a taste I have not acquired. ¬†We got through most of it. ūüôā

IMG_3176On the way to dinner we went out to the pier in Hanalei, which is where they filmed The Descendants (love that movie). ¬†Then off to dinner back in Kilauea, at a restaurant called Bistro. ¬†Good food, and another good Mai Tai (I still consider the best to be from Merriman’s but John thought this was better). ¬†A beagle-sized dog wormed his way through the little patio fencing in the restaurant while we were eating to make himself at home. ¬†Everyone wanted to take him home and I think John had the kids thinking that was a possibility, luckily Hayden wasn’t too deflated when we broke it to him that we couldn’t. ¬†He just wanted reassurance that the doggie wasn’t going to die when we left, bless. ¬†He seemed like he had a steady diet so hopefully just a dog from a surrounding neighborhood off scavenging.

We drove the hour back with the kids passed out in back.  Another packed, glorious day!  Mahalo, Kauai!

 

Lydgate Park, Plantation Gardens

Tuesday was incredibly windy! ¬†The gusts were so loud it sounded like the roof was going to blow off the house a few times, and it was IMG_3093hissing through the kids’ bedroom window tot he point that they were getting a little put off. ¬†Apparently these were abnormal winds (trade winds, maybe?), but they lasted 2 full days. ¬†We didn’t even sit outside in the evenings after the kids were asleep as it was so windy and chilly (the good news was the bugs were kept away with the wind).

We started the day on¬†¬†the east coast. ¬†We first stopped at the Wailua Falls, one of the many gorgeous waterfalls on Kauai. ¬†Like so many beautiful attractions on Kauai, it was just a quick (free!) stop off destination. ¬†Most of us appreciated the view, but Hayden was upset because we’d originally thought we were going to go Na’Aina Kai Botanical Gardens and told him there was a fun kids area, but we couldn’t get IMG_3094reservations for the kids’ tour in the morning so had to push that to the next day. ¬†So the falls seemed a bit boring to him in comparison, but luckily for him there is not too much to do when viewing a waterfall – however beautiful – to keep you there too long.

We headed on to Lydgate Park and Beach. ¬†This is a MUST for any family with kids visiting Kauai. ¬†Hayden still says this is his favorite part of vacation, and as we were leaving the park he asked when we could come again. ¬†They have a fantastic, huge playground that the kids had a blast exploring. ¬†Unfortunately, we got our timing a bit off as it happened, and did the playground while it was lovely and sunny and tried the beach after it clouded over and eventually rained for a while. ¬†I mentioned in my last post how crazy windy it was for a couple of days – add those enormous gusts to clouds and a bit of rain and it was downright cold while we were on the beach! ¬†Apparently the water was cold too (it was nearing lunch and with the weather as it was I didn’t even bother changing into a swimsuit). ¬†The kids and John spent a bit of time in the water – thereIMG_3096 was a nice little lagoon made by rocks to keep the water calm, similar to the day before. ¬†The kids were over it after a few minutes, but John stayed in to do a little snorkeling. ¬†He didn’t realize it had started raining, so we took cover under a tree while we waited for him – he got a new backpack with 700 compartments and it was easier to wait for his return than trying to figure out where the keys were.

We headed back south for lunch.  John and I went to the Koloa Fish Market to get some delicious fish for lunch, which we took back to the condo to eat while the kids had some sandwiches.  Layla helped herself to some of the edamame we had gotten (she approved).  I had their lunch special which was 3 generous pieces of 2 kinds of fish (ono and ahi) with various sauces I selected, some wonderful macaroni salad, and sushi rice.  It was excellent Рbut so big that I had to save the rest for another time, but it was just as great a couple of days later!  John got a seaweed salad and a scallop salad which he said were awesome.

We thought we were having pictures in the late afternoon so we didn’t want to venture too far after lunch. ¬†We hit the pool and hot tub IMG_3102for a little while. ¬†After we were all cleaned up and ready for the photos the photographer came by to check if we wanted to try in a couple of days when the winds wound down and it wasn’t so dreary. ¬†So since we had a bit of time given to us we went to¬†Kukui’ula Village Shopping Center. ¬†I had failed to bring anything warm and wanted to get a long sleeved shirt/souvenir. ¬†We all ended up getting Kauai/Poipu shirts, and I love mine so much I want to go back to get another different but similar one.

For dinner we went to Plantation Gardens Restaurant. ¬†It took a while to figure out where to park – it’s part of a resort and it’s not obvious where the restaurant part is. ¬†But to get to the restaurant you have to walk through their gorgeous gardens. ¬†They had huge koi fish the kids enjoyed seeing and talking to. ¬†The food was superb and the restaurant was very pretty. ¬†And again by the time we left the kids were nearly ready to crash out! ¬†I was not far behind them – I didn’t even make it to 9 before I was asleep watching tv. ¬†We are filling our days to the brim and combining that with whatever is left of jet lag makes for hearty sleeping!

 

 

Salt Pond Beach, Waimea Canyon, and Spouting Horn April 10, 2014

Monday we wanted to spread our wings a little more around the island and venture to west. ¬†First, though, we had to have breakfast at Starbucks to appease Hayden who had been grouchy several times upon arrival knowing there was a Starbucks around and we hadn’t gone to it (why, I don’t know – there is one not far from our house we sometimes walk to but that’s maybe half a dozen times a year). ¬†Once that was checked off, we headed to¬†Salt Pond Beach, which was

When the waves were strong enough the rocks had a waterfall effect

When the waves were strong enough the rocks had a waterfall effect

great because it had these big rocks which created a little lagoon where the kids could “boogie board” in the gentle water (read: lay on the boogie boards while the water bobs them around a bit) and John could snorkel. ¬†There was another side of the rocks which also seemed pretty cool but a bit more active on the wave front which we didn’t make it to, and then the rocks itself had really small pools in some where little marine life could be found. ¬†The rocks also had a little waterfall effect when the waves were strong enough.

IMG_3072There was a food truck at the beach, so we tried that out for lunch. ¬†Hayden had a couple of shrimp tacos which were great, John and I shared the fish tacos, also good, and Layla had a couple of bites of a cheese quesadilla. ¬†The kids had had a lot of sun and had been really active by then so we thought it was a good time to move on. ¬†I saw there was a geocache nearby so I tried to find that before we left the beach, which took us out to the (hot, slippery) salt ponds area (which was a red clay that left a stain on my feet that was very hard to get off). ¬†I was so bummed I didn’t find the cache! ¬†I’m sure I could have with more time but the kids were so tired and hot that I was under some pressure to get moving – plus it was the first one I tried so maybe I’ll get better with more tries.

There was a bit of travel time involved with our adventures for the day, so we tried to make the most of the overlooks we past.  On the way to the beach in the morning we took in Hanapepe Canyon Рjust breathtaking.  After the beach (while Layla had a well-earned nap on IMG_3060the go) we drove up to look down on Waimea Canyon Рalso spectacular.

As we approached Poipu we checked out Spouting Horn. ¬†It was a very interesting natural phenomenon where the water has worn away the lava rock and when the waves get big enough they shoot water up from underneath the rock and spray it into the sky, along with a horn noise. ¬†It’s pretty cool. ¬†Luckily it’s free – although it’s neat to see I wouldn’t pay to see it. ¬†It’s one of those where you go, stand behind the fence for a short time, see it, get the idea, and then leave. ¬†It’s a quick, cool thing, but the kids were pretty over the nature observing by that point.

We decided to go back to Poipu beach for a quick visit in the late afternoon (very near Spouting Horn so why not). ¬†The kids played on the playground for a while, while I went to get them shaved ice from BrennecIMG_3088ke’s (a hit). ¬†John and Hayden found an eel/sea snake (depending on which on looker you talked to) – one woman said it has 2 sets of jaws but I don’t know if she knew what she was talking about. ¬†Then another giant sea turtle came up on shore. ¬†John thinks it was a different one from the other day but I don’t know he knows what he’s talking about – lol! ¬†Oh yeah, high five! ¬†It was cute though because it moved it’s head so it was looking right at Layla while we were watching it which we made a big deal about and she was excited about.

Finally, we wrapped up the day with dinner at Merriman’s Gourmet Pizza & Burgers. ¬†Definitely recommend that one! ¬†I had my first Mai Tai of the trip which was amazing. ¬†I also had a shrimp salad with goat cheese which I loved. ¬†The kids enjoyed their meals (but not so much the fancy lemonade), and John had a great and unusual turkey burger. ¬†Our waitress was really nice, the atmosphere was nice but relaxed. ¬†Oh, and we had these really great truffle fries. ¬†Yum!

 

 

Having a Whale of a Time!

Filed under: Mommy — karagoodwin @ 7:06 am
Tags: , , , , ,

Our first full day in Kauai did not disappoint! ¬†It started by watching the sunrise from our lanai, when I spotted a whale’s fin just out of the IMG_2988water. ¬†We watched amazed as the whale worked his way through the water, eventually out of sight. ¬†The kids were being kids – requesting breakfast and anything else they could think of to (unintentionally) distract us from this amazing site (from our rental, no less!), but we still managed to keep track of it until it was out of sight. ¬†Now that I IMG_3011saw a whale so early on in the trip, I am addicted to looking out onto the water to try to spot one – it was so easy the first time! ūüėČ

John went out for an early run and scoped out the local nature scene, so we went on a little family excursion in the morning.  Hayden in particular LOVED the little hike IMG_3016through the nearby volcanic rocks.  Poipu is just incredibly picturesque.

Next we went to the pool in our little resort. ¬†It’s an OK pool but really nothing special, with a little hot tub. ¬†Of course, it’s been a highlight for the kids. ¬†Kids and pools – I’m sure I’m not the first parent who has realized the kids could be just as satisfied going to a hotel nearby with a tiny, crappy indoor pool as going on a proper vacation! ¬†But, whatever, they like what they like. ¬†Luckily John is such a trooper about water that’s not just the right level of warm so they had a grown up to play with in the pool – I was not keen to go in!

After some swimming we went to Kilohana plantation. ¬†What beautiful grounds they have! ¬†They have train rides every hour, and when we got there the 2:00 had just left so we had an hour to scope things out. ¬†We went toIMG_3045 the sweet shop first, and they kids were really excited to get a bag of bulk candy, while I got some vanilla ice cream (flavored with vanilla they grow on the plantation), as well as some locally made soaps that smell delicious. ¬†When the time came for the train, we were in the middle of a large tour group. ¬†We had hoped to get in the second car which was open air, but they filled it before we got our turn so we were directed to the first car, where the kids decided to go to the very front. ¬†Fantastic idea, as the engineer asked them if they’d like to help drive the train! ¬†So John went with them both to stand up with the driver for the duration of the ride, and they got to blow the whistle several times and Hayden was able to drive it for a while!

The tour was really good, the tour guide was really knowledgeable with a fun IMG_3038personality. ¬†We stopped halfway through to feed the goats, pigs, and chickens (they provided bread). ¬†That was really fun and sweet. ¬†I definitely recommend doing Kilohana for kids (I think I would have liked it even if they weren’t there, but particularly with kids it was fun). ¬†I had read positive reviews before we got here but it was even better than I expected. ¬†Only downside was we missed the last rum tasting! ¬†There is rum tasting throughout the day but it finished right when our train ride finished – that would have been an amazing end to our visit there! ūüôā

It was soon time for dinner so we headed to Pizzeta in Old Koloa.  We really enjoyed our food and the atmosphere, but the kids were just completely wiped out so we tried to wrap it up quicker than we would have liked.  Hayden was nearly falling asleep on our laps as we waited for our bill, bless him (very unusual for him Рhe hardly ever falls asleep in the car even anymore).