Chasing The Sun: Hawaii – Part 1: Kauai

Hawaii may very well be the spiritual home of The Drifter Blog’s aesthetic. That’s what I kept thinking, anyway, as I watched Ming happily snap away, imprinting the essence of Pacific paradise.

 Those fabled isles have captured daydreamers and holiday seekers for as long as we’ve romanticized warmer climes. For so many of us, Hawaii represents the endless summer, the Great Escape, and a climate truly hospitable for living well.

 Of all the Hawaiian islands, Kauai is most revered for its vibratory mana, or spiritual life-energy. The island’s rugged interior is carved with deep ochre valleys and dotted by lush emerald precipices. Flying over the island only reinforces the magic of the place, watching waterfalls conjured from mysterious water sources and witnessing the radical terrain of the island’s centre. Who knows what ancient secrets are sealed there, where not so many modern humans dare to wander. Unless you’ve got the stamina to explore the interior by foot, Island Helicopters offers the only birds-eye-view of Kauai that also lets you land at the majestic Manawaiopuna Falls (also known as Jurassic Falls after being featured in the original Jurassic Park film).

 If the rallying cry for anti-development in Hawaii is “Keep the country ‘country,’” then Kauai must the country they’re referring to. The pace is (mostly) slower here, the land and ocean scapes wilder. Refreshingly, the small-scale and local still have their place here, too. Thriving homegrown companies like the Kauai Juice Co. serve up freshly squeezed health brews, juices and tonics. Cozy, family style B & B’s like the immaculately curated Palmwood will get you directly in touch with local hospitality (and the fluffiest towels you’ve ever felt!).

 At nearly 5 million years old, Kauai is the oldest of the Hawaiian islands. While the Big Island continues to expand with its volcanic sprawl, Kauai is slowly sinking back into the Pacific and may well be fully encompassed by ocean in the next 20-25 million years. So, there’s still time to visit …. 

Words by Lauren L. Hill

– From Ming: *A little extra insight on our Kauai adventure, I was fortunate enough to experience TWO helicopter tours over the island. The first with Safari Helicopters, which saw us fly right and around the entire island. Leaving Lihue airstrip we flew west and along the inner coast, soaring over waterfalls and flying up over ridgelines to reach the Napali coast on the North Shore, through the majestic valleys of the oldest island in the chain that makes up Hawaii and back to base slowing down on the way to squeeze through some pretty amazing revines.

My second trip up in the skies above Kauai, with Lauren was with Island Helicopters. Lauren and myself had both been avid Jurassic Park lovers as kids so we were pretty pumped that this tour included a landing at the base of Manawaiopuna Falls. Flying in through the valleys, so close to all the vegetation to land in the middle of the jungle in Kauai is something you should do at least once in your life. Once you land, the view from the base of the falls is just as good as above when you cast your eyes upwards at cascading water falling from over 109 meters! Also, I’m pretty sure I saw a pod of Brachiosaurus hiding under the canopy as we flew away.

A massive Thank you to

Safari Helicopters

Island helicopters

The Palmwood

Kauai Juice Co.

Images by Ming Nomchong & Lauren Hill.

Aboard Island Helicopters tour over kauai, a bird’s eye view of Kalalau Beach, Wainiha on the North Shore of Kauai. The beginning of the Napali Coast hike starts here and takes you on a cliff trail for 11 Miles to Kalalau Beach.

Honopu Valley and Kalalau beach. If you look closely you can see little huts and shelters. You can camp here in Summer months while there is a big stretch of sand, just not in winter as big seas erode a lot of the beach away.

Our helicopter pilot from Island Helicopters flying up to Manawaiopuna Falls, AKA Jurassic Park Falls

Ground eye view of Manawaiopuna Falls

Being the quintessential tourists in front of the Manawaiopuna Falls

Looking up from inside the cockpit to just one of hundreds of waterfalls on Kauai. See the lone tree on top of the falls?

The majestic Napali Coast

Looking down at The Napali Coast and tour boats that ferry people to and from un-accessible parts of the coastline.

Can you spot the beach walkers?

The view through to Halelea Forest Reserve

Taking in the scenery of another pretty spot in Kauai

The gorgeous little town of Hanalei, North Shore Kauai

Juice bars littered the roadside in Kauai. You don’t have to search far for a refreshing beverage.

Is this not THE best steering wheel you’ve ever seen?

And owning to the most unusual ride we’d seen in Hawaii.

Another roadside pitstop to take in the view, North Shore Kauai

A farmer tends his taro fields, North Shore Kauai

It’s easy to see why they call Kauai “The Garden Isle” – The only colour on the island is Green

When people said you’ll see waterfalls from the side of the road, we didn’t really believe them. Until we saw for ourselves. Opaekaa Falls seen from the side of the road. For Real.

Our humble abode while in Kauai. The Palmwood guest house, tucked amongst the rolling green hills of Moloa’a, is a home away from home. With their plush towels that made Lauren so excited I thought she might be trying to stuff one in her bag as we left, the amazingly comfortable bed, the gorgeously styled interior with Pacific Green sustainable furniture (made in my beloved Fiji) and the views of the hills that surround the house, we left feeling like we’d be homesick for The Palmwood in just a few hours.

Lauren, tuning in, and chilling out at The Palmwood

Our warm welcome

Who said anything about having to leave!

The Fire pit, ready for re-caping on your days adventures

Our room at The Palmwood

And the view from our room. Can anyone say HEAVEN?

It was pretty hard to get Lauren out of bed in the mornings. Can you blame her?

Totally inspired by our surroundings at The Palmwood

Mychael, our most gracious and warmhearted host. Mychael is a travelling chef, splitting his time between LA and Hawaii. He made us the most delicious breakfast we’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. You can follow his adventures on Instagram – @cookwilltravel

Good to see that Beeswax food covers are spreading over food world wide!

Breakfast made by Mychael.

Lauren and I, sharing stories and playing with puppies while taking in the view

There’s always time for hammock time

Can you spot the native Australian flora?

Sea swings. Is there anything better?

Playing winter dressups in summer heat for Billabong in Hanalei Bay

Winter in Kauai 😉

Hanalei Bay

Honopu Valley seen via my second heli tour by Safari Helicopters. How’s that view… The Beach down on the right has a key-hole in the side of the rock that leads you through to another beach.

How often do you see waterfalls right into the ocean. The Napali Coastline is littered with them

The Weeping Wall of Waterfalls

A note for anyone planning a trip to Kauai. Make sure you do one of these helicopter tours. They’re incredible. So much so I ended up doing it twice.

Palm trees lining the beachside town of Kapaa

Kapaa is the cutest little sea-side town on the east coast of Kauai. We had to stop here and check it out while on our way up to Hanalei

Kappa town

We were pretty excited to visit the Kauai Juice Co in Kapaa. Loading up on juices to get us through the day, they have the most delicious concoctions of fruit and vegetable juices, tonics, Kombucha, nut milks to name just a few.

Wall of fermented goodness

The colourful Kauai Juice Co.

Kauai Juice Co. Kapaa town

Kauai Juice Co. juice.

Anyone for a coconut? Hmm? Coconut food truck, Kapaa town

The fascination with the humble Pineapple continues

The Pineapple Princess – Ahead of her time

We’ll never get sick of this view

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Chasing The Sun: Hawaii – Adventuring on Oahu


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