Day 6 – Wednesday
When my watch alarm chimed at 6:00am, I turned if off, rolled over and went back to sleep. The sunlight woke us up again at 6:45 and we got up. We made coffee and relaxed. Chris read the paper and I wrote up the previous day’s journal. As we ate the last of our Raisin Bran on the balcony, we finalized our plans for the day — a tour of the northern part of Kauai.
We packed up the car and left the Islander at 9:15, heading north on Highway 56. We drove through or by the towns of Kapa’a, Anahola, Kilauea, Princeville, Hanalei, and Haena to the end of the highway at the northwest corner of the island. As we passed Haena Bay, it started to rain, quickly progressing from a drizzle to a downpour. It was starting to let up as we reached the end of the road and turned around. Heading back, we found an access road to Tunnels Beach. The clerk at the snorkel shop and our guidebook had recommended Tunnels as a usually-calm place to snorkel. By the time we had parked on the access road, the rain had stopped. We unloaded our fins and masks and headed for the water.
The first place we went in turned out to be pretty rough with large coral mounds just under the water and two- to three-foot waves. We got out and went farther east on the beach to where we could see other snorkelers. The water was a little calmer there, but there was a pretty strong surge pulling us out past the shallow region. After fighting the surge for fifteen minutes or so, we decided it wasn’t worth it. We weren’t seeing many fish, and we had to constantly swim against the tide. Disappointed, we left the water, retrieved our gear, and pointed the car east again.
We had heard great things about a site called Queen’s Bath. It is a natural pool in a lava shelf. It is fed by waves and drains through a gap at the north end of the pool. The site is not well known, and it is hard to get to. We drove through Princeville to a small parking area, then descended a short trail to the lava shelf. The trail is not long, but it is steep in places and very slippery with red mud in some of those steep parts. We had been warned of the mud, so we changed into our reef shoes — cheap, rubber-soled shoes made to be worn in rocky water. Reef shoes are not ideal for hiking, but we knew the trail was short, and we didn’t want to get red mud stains on our sandals.
We made our way down the steep trail, then turned west on the lava shelf, following a trail of tracked mud for about 400 yards. When we got to the pool, there were only six people there. Waves were crashing against the shelf, filling half of the pool with foam, but the far end was clear. We stashed our gear in crevices in the lava, put on our masks and made our way into the pool, still wearing our reef shoes. While the water was much calmer than the beach had been, there were still occasional surges as waves crashed over the rocks and into the pool. At those times, visibility under water went to zero until the foam disapated.
There were a surprising number of fish in the pool, and we swam around for over half an hour, switching from our reef shoes to our fins about halfway through. After a series of waves that kept the water cloudy for a couple of minutes, we decided we had seen enough, and got out. Our timing was pretty good. As we were drying off, a huge wave hit the lava shelf, sending a very high surge through the pool. The swimmers still there had to really fight to keep from beeing washed back into the shallow, rocky end.
As we were starting back toward the car, it started to rain again. We were already wet, and the rain was not cold, so we just walked in it, letting it wash some of the salt off of us. By the time we had retraced our steps to the base of the trail, the rain had stopped again. Halfway up the trail is a small pool of fresh water fed by a short waterfall. I decided to wash off the rest of the salt and made my way into the pool, then sat under the waterfall for a few seconds. Refreshed and a little cleaner, I rejoined Chris on the trail and we finished the climb to our car.
It was nearly 1:00, and we were both very hungry. I suggested we eat at Duane’s Ono Char Burger in Anahola again, and Chris agreed. By 1:30, we were placing our order. I got a regular burger and Chris ordered a grilled chicken sandwich. We waited impatiently for our food and made quick work of it once it was ready. With our hunger satisfied, we headed back to the Islander.
After we unloaded the car, I stayed at the room to shower, relax and update the journal. Chris took off again to do some shopping. When we had eaten at Coconuts the night before, we had admired the the decor, including large, round trivets at each place setting. We asked the maitre d’ where we could find them, and he told us that the owners of the restaurant also own a furniture/accessories/clothing store named “Two Frogs Hugging.” Chris wanted to check out that store. When she returned to the Islander around 4:30, she had one of the trivets we had admired, earrings, a tiny wind chime, a couple tee shirts, and some note cards.
The owner of Two Frogs Hugging had recommended a Japanese restaurant, named Kintaro, to Chris. We decided to try it out that night, so Chris called to make a reservation. Then we chilled out until it was time to go eat. We were not sure where the restaurant was, but thought it was one we had seen while driving around. It turned out to be the one we remembered, and it took us less than five minutes to drive there. Had we been sure of its location, we would have walked.
We were a little early for our reservation at a Teppan Yaki table. Tepan Yaki is having the chef come to the table and prepare the food on a table-top cooking surface as you watch. Since we were early, we were shown to a small table where we ordered a Kirin beer and looked over the menu. We decided to get some sushi for starters, and I ordered yellow-fin tuna, fresh-water eel, and giant clam nigiri (sushi on rice). Before the sushi arrived, we were shown to our Teppan Yaki table, which was set for only four people. The table could handle eight diners.
Another couple was seated just after us, and we started talking with them. They are from Racine, Wisconsin where she is a police officer and he owns a construction consulting company. They had been on Maui since the previous Sunday and had just arrived on Kauai. They would fly back to Chicago the next Sunday. We found out later that they were on their honeymoon, having been married just the previous Saturday. While we were talking, the waiter brought our sushi, then took our dinner orders. Chris ordered shrimp, I chose teriyaki chicken, and our tablemates both ordered teriyaki New York strip.
The sushi was as good as any I have had. The tuna melted in our mouths, and the eel was very delecate. The giant clam did not have much flavor, but had a wonderful texture. The wasabi was very potent!
We were soon joined by the chef. He began by setting fire to the top of the griddle. He poured some form of alcohol on it and lit the fumes, making a large flare and definitely getting our attention. He then cooked our vegetables, including a stack of onion slices arranged to form a little cone. He used the alcohol again, pouring it into the onion cone, then lighting the fumes, making it into an active volcano — a nice little trick. Next he cooked up Chris’s shrimp, then the steaks, then my chicken. It was a lot of fun to watch him, and the food was quite good.
We were both full when we left Kintaro and wished we had walked to get there. The walk back would have felt pretty good. Instead, we drove back to the Islander and then went for a thirty-minute walk by the beach. Back at the room we got ready for bed and I channel surfed. I stumbled across a cartoon that looked pretty goofy and watched it for a couple of minutes. It turned out to be a new cartoon series called “Spongebob Squarepants.” We had heard or read that name somewhere recently, but could not remember where. The central character is a square sea sponge named Spongebob who brainlessly wanders around his undersea community doing stupid stuff. Pure sucrose for the mind, but we watched it to the end, then turned off the light and went to sleep.