The Drive to Ke’e Beach

Your correspondent, coming to you from the back of a minivan ( a grand caravan to be precise), reports to you on a drive from Poipu beach to Ke’e beach on the island of Kaua’i. Yes, I’m on Kaua’i for 10 days, apologies to those of you suffering from the recent snow in Seattle.

I’ve never been to Kaua’i, so this 1.5 hr drive is my first chance to see much of the island. Friends I’m with have been coming here since they were 6, so the trip is full of exclamations of ‘hey, I stayed in that condo there when I was twelve’ or ‘look, that’s where my sister Adrienne was stung by a jellyfish’.

In Kapaa now and we’re driving by the remains of the Cocoa Palms resort, destroyed by hurricane Iniki in 1992 and not restored or torn down to this day. It’s a very odd scene as you drive by.

Leaving Kapaa, the sun is starting to reflect on the mountains to the east and the mountain range called ‘sleeping giant’. Quite beautiful.

Jurassic Park was filmed partially on Kaua’i, and so traveling around the island is in some ways a tour of of the film. We did a tough 10 mile hike out to the Na Pali coast from Koke’e state park yesterday where it turns it some of the first scenes in the first movie were filmed. Yesterday we drove by a very large meadow where the scenes of the herds of dinosaurs running were filmed, and just now we passed a turnoff to the house that was used for the park visitors center. None of this was intentional.

We just passed a big rooster on the side of the road. Kaua’i is literally overrun with chickens that have escaped into the wild or descended from original wild Polynesian stock. We even saw some miles into the Na Pali coast backcountry.

Passing through the countryside near Kilauea (of lighthouse fame I’m told), the van has broken out into a Don Ho song, a somewhat frequent occurrence.  This time, it was ‘Beautiful Kaua’i ‘.  More chickens on the roadside.

I’ve been in Kaua’i for five days now and I still haven’t had a shaved ice.

Now driving out of Princeville and a very pretty view down into fields of Taro and other crops growing in Hanalei Valley.

Rounding the corner to our first view of Hanalei Bay, the car breaks out into song again. This time its ‘Bali Hai’ from the musical South Pacific, which was of course filmed right here in Hanalei Bay. So were scenes from the recent George Clooney film, The Descendants. We drove along the shore road and found the beach cottage where they filmed the scene where George Clooney’s character confronts his nemesis.

Past Hanalei Bay the road narrows quickly and becomes twisty and turny and in a short time we’re at Ke’e beach and our destination- the trailhead for the Kalalau trail. Ahead: 8 mile round trip hike up the Na Pali coast to the Hankapiai Falls.

 –John Newhoff

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