A Travellerspoint blog

Kauai - Moving on UP! To Da Big Island

Wednesday

Another cloudy, cool, misty morning. Our last in Kauai. So we did it big at breakfast.

Mimosas - a must. Steak & eggs? A total splurge. I don't eat heavy food like this, ever. And it was goooood.

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After breakfast, we packed. And by packed I mean hastily stuffed our wrinkled clothes in our suitcases so we had more time to enjoy the pool and beach. Priorities, people.

We lounged by the pool, then strolled along the beach. Down to the Sheraton Kauai. To scope it out. I am a nosy hotel voyeur. Not in THAT sense. ;) But I do like to check out other properties just to see what the other hotels have to offer.

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There is a beautiful crescent stretch of sand right out front of the Sheraton. Waves are sorta rough, but the beach is lovely.

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We waited until the Last.Possible.Moment before heading out to the Lihue airport.

And a quick jump to Honolulu.

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Followed by a quick jump to Kona on the Big Island. And the second part of our vacation had commenced!

The Kona airport is now one of my favorites. Thatched roofs, breezy outdoor gates, and a very Hawaiian feel to the architecture. Now THIS is a way to be welcomed to the Islands!

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We did the rental car dance again, and once we were loaded into our 4x4 sport utility we took off toward the resort.

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Now THIS is different. Black rock. More black rock. And ONLY black volcanic rock as far as the eye could see. Someone in Kauai likened the landscape to the surface of the moon. That's a very good way to put it - it does feel otherworldly.

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Every now and then some prairie-like grass. And more black rock. I was starting to get nervous - where is everything? The massive resorts? It seemed so desolate. Beautiful, but desolate.

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Then, we turned off the highway into the Mauna Lani resort. And drove down the palm tree-lined road. Lush landscaping. I relaxed.

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After winding along the road toward the coast, we pulled into the Fairmont Orchid. Stately, impressive, regal and HUGE. It was very different from the small but classy boutique hotel that is the Koa Kea.

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Hubby had (wisely) booked us on the Fairmont's Gold Level, which gave us private check in with a Gold Level concierge and access to their Gold Lounge. they greeted us with a cold drink. Holla! This is the life.

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We snacked on the complimentary offerings, including sushi, cheese, crackers, fruit, nuts and cookies. Water, juices and sodas are available at all times. A full bar including champagne was offered.

Yep, hubby is a good man.

Only one snafoo (is that a word? Just made it one) was our room. They had us in two double beds instead of a king. I'm pretty sure this was our TA's fault and not the hotel's, and they were very apologetic. We could either move to another floor (and give up the Gold Level privileges) for a king room, or we could stay in the double room. Yeah we're gonna take the double beds! It's not our honeymoon - we've been married for several years now - so a few nights in beds to ourselves actually....sounded pretty good! ;)

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We unpacked and headed down to the "secret" grotto hot tub. It's called the secret jacuzzi because it's hidden in the flower gardens away from the pool. There were several others in the jacuzzi though - so not sure how "secret" it really is...

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We wanted to drive into Kailua-Kona for dinner, to see a little bit of that coastal town, so we made the 40 minute drive down. And it is quiet, I mean I think the whole town shuts down at 8pm.

We strolled into The Fish Hopper for dinner, and I think there were only 2 or 3 other couples in there. We sat at a nice quiet table by the open windows and enjoyed the breeze and a few cocktails.

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Fried seafood platter

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Smoked ribs

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It was getting late, and the travel had made us a little sleepy. After the quiet drive back we turned in for the night.

Posted by weathergirl29 14:45 Comments (0)

Kauai - The Breezy North Shore

Tuesday

Breakfast. Mimosas. Stuffed.

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One only spot that we hadn't touched yet - the North Shore. Hanalei Bay. Princeville. Gorgeous landscape.

We were ready.

The drive was a little longer, so we headed out a little earlier too. Beach towels, bottled water and sunscreen in tow.

About two hours later we cruised into Hanalei. A sleepy, older surfer town.

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Quaint shops, colorful bars and boutique hotels lined the street. We had directions to the beach and parked in a grassy spot next to a taco truck. Did I say this place was colorful?

We staked out our stretch of beach, which was rather quiet. Most folks gather around Hanalei pier, but we would rather have some space to ourselves. Can't deny it - Hanalei Bay is remarkable. One of Hawaii's best beaches. The gentle slope of the mountains reaching down into the Pacific waters - it's amazing.

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And it's WINDY. Not sure if this is common or if we were there on a bad day, but sand was blowing everywhere. Into our eyes. Into our bags. That was the only problem. Oh - and no shade. No tropical palm trees on the beach here, so the sun was brutally beating down.

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So, more time in the water to cool off....

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After a few hours of fighting the sand we were ready for a cold drink, lunch and some shade. Even though the taco truck was reeeeaaaalllly inviting (and smelled amazing), I had a place in mind. A friend who was had lived in Hanalei said it was a hole-in-the-wall bar and grill and not to be missed.

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Tahiti Nui (I immediately loved the nostalgic feeling I got from the name - Tahiti will always have a place in my heart!)

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The indoor/outdoor bar is funky, relaxed and just what I expected. Mai tais coming right up!

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Menu was actually pretty large for a place that's mostly a bar. Mai tai was strong, and the food yummy

Kahlua pork sandwich

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Tomato, basil and parmesan bruschetta

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We people-watched while we sipped our frosty drinks, and then sadly got back on the road. Our Kauai trip was winding down, and we really had loved Hanalei. As fun and as beautiful as Poipu is, something about the sleepy and relaxed North Shore got to us.

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Back in Poipu we watched another glorious Kauai sunset and then soaked ourselves into a stupor in the jacuzzi. When we could finally drag our behinds to dinner, we picked Keoki's Paradise. Touristy, kitschy with all things "tiki" themed - and exactly what I wanted ;)

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After a supper of parmesan fish and salads...the piece de resistance .... HULA PIE.

Not just hula pie. MINT CHOCOLATE CHIP HULA PIE.

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A fitting end to our last night in Kauai....overindulged and satisfied.

Posted by weathergirl29 13:49 Comments (0)

Kauai - While the Hubby's Away, the Girl will....Nap?

Monday

The one thing hubby was looking forward to the most on this trip was his round of golf at Poipu Bay. Tee time at 7am meant we had to get up bright and early. Only I was still "hungover" from my seasickness the day before. Oy vay. Glad I hadn't agreed to "ride along in the golf cart" like he had wanted me to....

I was a trouper though and made it to the breakfast buffet (like I was gonna miss that anyway...)

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And hubby happily left me to hit the links. (Maybe a little too happily...???)

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And so I was left with an option. Throw on the swimsuit and hit the pool/beach ... OR ... go back to that gloriously cool and refreshing bed and take an after-breakfast-nap. Bet you know which one I chose!

After a 2 1/2 hour nap (I am a power napper) I woke up feeling much better. Like I could actually put a swimsuit on. And sit by the pool. And read. Such hard work.

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Hubs got back to the Koa Kea around lunchtime, and after he took a dip in the pool we headed out on our next sightseeing expedition. Seasickness be darned, I was going to see the Waimea Canyon!

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But first, we must eat. At Tortilla Republic. Yes - it's a chain, but it had open tables, a cool breeze in the bar, and icy frozen margaritas.
And chips & salsa. I must. Plus guacamole. I must again.

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Some pretty chicken flautas too

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Sufficiently stuffed we grabbed our guidebook, sweatshirts, hiking sandals, bottled water and trail mix and got in the car to drive through the canyon. Wait - you thought we were bringing all that stuff to hike through it? No way! Those are the supplies needed to survive a few hours in the car. We were roughing it!

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Waimea Canyon is gorgeous. It's called the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific" for a reason. The red clays of Kauai mixed with the verdant green trees.

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There are several lookouts along the drive up to the top of the canyon - and we stopped at every one.

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The vastness of it all is breathtaking.

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Turns out we didn't need my supplies - fresh fruit is available, even up here!

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We kept driving up winding roads...

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And finally made it up to the Kalalau Lookout - and in the background, gorgeous views of the coast. Pictures just do not do it justice. The blues and aquas of the water next to the red sand, green vegetation....I see why Kauai is considered one of the most beautiful islands in the world.

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With the afternoon winding down, and the sun beginning to set, we wound down the road back through Waimea and stopped for a treat we happened to spot on the way up -

SHAVE ICE! And not just any shave ice....

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Jo-Jo's has quite a following. We stood in line and pondered our choices.

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It's a little overwhelming! POG with blueberry? No - wait, lilikoi and pineapple. Er, um maybe coconut and mai tai. But lychee and pina colada sounds good too...oh and don't forget about the ice cream too!

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...and finally I decided. I got a stuffed snoball. I know it's a "shave ice" in Hawaii, but we're from New Orleans and it will always be a snoball or "stuffed" snoball if there's ice cream in the middle. My final choice - lilikoi, pink lemonade and blue hawaii. Stuffed with vanilla ice cream.

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Whatever you call it, it was good. Icy, sweet, creamy, fruity and definitely hit the spot.

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We made our way back to Poipu and settled in for an early night. We had every intention of heading out to Roy's for a nice meal, but.... just didn't. Sometimes a quiet evening in listening to the waves on your balcony is better anyway.

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Posted by weathergirl29 14:13 Comments (0)

Kauai - Waterfalls and Seasickness....

Sunday

We woke up to gray skies, but we quickly learned that this is normal for the Poipu area this time of year, and that the sun would come out around 9:30-10am. Some light sprinkles were falling and it was nice and cool so we pulled on our running shoes and went for a jog along the pristine coast...

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We were up early with the time change, so it was us and the roosters out. And they were crowing. Loud. I had to chuckle - here we are on vacation in a tropical paradise and I feel like I am on Old MacDonald's Farm.

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We passed some beautiful homes on our jog - and we had fun picking out which ones we would buy (you know - when we win the lottery!)

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By the time we got back we were all energized and went to Red Salt for breakfast. Breakfast was included in our package, and we were allowed to get anything from the continental breakfast bar, plus a hot entree, and the best part ... MIMOSAS!

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Instead of our usual laying out around the pool and beach, I had planned a pretty active day, so we finished our breakfast and got ready to head out in our car. I had a guidebook and was set on seeing several waterfalls around the Wailua and Lihue areas. More great service at the Koa Kea - when we called down to get our car from valet, we found they had gotten us towels from the pool to take with us just in case we wanted to stop at any beaches, and had printed out directions to the two waterfalls I wanted to see. I'm LOVING these valet guys!

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We drove leisurely up to Lihue and Wailua, stopping for photo ops or if we saw something we wanted.

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Like at Wal-Mart. Yep, we flew all the way to Kauai to visit their Wal-Mart. Well, ok, that's not entirely true - but we did stop in for some bottled water. And I noticed their large souvenir section. They had everything you would find at a resort gift shop, but at half the price. All of their t-shirts were $9 regardless of size or design. Why have I not known about this before?! We've been buying $18 souvenir shirts this whole time. NO more my friends! We're on to the secret.

On to Wailua Falls...our first stop. And the prettiest view in my opinion- oh my.

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Cascading water into a deep green pool below.

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And of course, words of caution.

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We admired the view, enjoyed the breeze and cloudy skies, and then got back in the car for our next stop

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Opaekaa Falls is set back a little further from the road, but still offers a spectacular view.

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And across the street you can see the Wailua River lazily winding down the valley. More awesome photo ops.

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By now it was reaching lunchtime, so we drove back through Lihue and toward Poipu. The big breakfast we had was still sitting heavy in our bellies, but we wanted a little snack until our evening meal. So we stopped at another recommended spot: Savage Shrimp

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Savage Shrimp used to be a shrimp food truck - but has become so popular that they now have an outlet in the Kukui'nui Shopping Center near Poipu Beach.

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There's not much to the place - a few tables - but that's all that's necessary. The food is the big draw here. It's made to order and comes out hot, spicy and delicious! We decided to split an order of grilled shrimp tacos. With a cool, creamy and crunchy coleslaw on top, this one was a winner...

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We were now running low on time - we had a schedule to keep! - so we hurried back to the room and got ready for our "Sunset Champagne & Dinner Sightsee Tour" to visit the Na Pali coast. I was so excited about this! The Na Pali coast is supposed to be gorgeous, but the only way you can see it is by boat or helicopter. Helicopters are no good for me and my motion sickness, so we chose a power catamaran tour.

We drove down to Port Allen, and checked in with our boat group. There were about 25 of us, and I noticed that hubby and I were conspicuously dressed a little dressier than everyone else.

They had on bathing suits, t-shirts, coverups, sundresses, flip flops, etc. Now, I am usually overdressed to most things so I wasn't THAT concerned - until one of the crew asked where our beach towels were. Uh, towels?? For a sunset dinner cruise? I sheepishly said we didn't bring any, since this wasn't a snorkel trip and no one would be getting in the water - right?? She laughed and said - yeah, but you will still get wet!

Uh oh. What did I sign us up for?

We single file walked down to the catamaran where we took off our shoes (easier to walk on the boat in bare feet) and got instructions for the boat. We got onboard, settled in, and powered out of the marina to the open waters of the Pacific. Ahhh.....

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For the first hour, things went great! I had taken some motion sickness medicine just in case, but felt fine. We were singing along to the music, chatting with our cruisemates and enjoying the gorgeous landscape. And this is the last photo of me from the night, as things only went downhill from here...

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And then. The waves picked up. And then some more. And then MORE. Suddenly we're all hanging on dearly as the power cat surges over 20 foot surf. Salt spray is washing over all of us. I'm soaked from my head to my pretty little toes. Gritting my teeth. Um - isn't there supposed to be champagne? And hors d'oeurves? Perhaps some light canapes? Am I on the wrong boat???

Well the 20 foot waves are not agreeing with me at this point, and I'm starting to look a little green...and gray...and yellow...

But we reach the Na Pali coast. I hand over the camera to the hubs (who is feeling just fine I should add!) so that he can take some photos of the coastline. Which I am told is beautiful...I have no idea...I couldn't look.

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I have a death grip on the side of the catamaran, staring as hard as I can at the horizon. While I whisper to myself
don't throw up-don't throw up-don't throw up-don't throw up

The crew and captain could not have been nicer - I know they felt terrible that I was so sick. They brought me ice chips, ginger ale, and tried to get me settled.

Everyone ate the buffet dinner, laughed, talked, drank and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Except for me.

At one point a nice guy came over and said he had some medicine that would help me. One little problem: it's not FDA approved in the U.S. - so he has to buy it in Australia. I take one look at him and say "I DON'T CARE GIVE IT TO ME!!!"

He could have been offering me crack cocaine, or rohypnol, and I didn't care. Whoever said don't accept things from strangers obviously hasn't been seasick in the Pacific with 3 more hours of a "sunset dinner cruise" to go...
(The man was actually a firefighter and first responder from Colorado - very nice guy)

The medicine actually helped a little, and as we motored back to Port Allen we saw some whales, turtles and a spectacular sunset (this is where the champagne comes out, by the way)

After the sun set, we grabbed our shoes and got back in the car for the drive up to Poipu. Since I had declined the meal onboard (which everyone said was yummy - darn!) we stopped at Kalapaki Joe's so I could get a quick bite to eat.

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Then, a hot shower to get all the salt and sand off, and bed...

Posted by weathergirl29 06:43 Comments (0)

Kauai - Heading to the Pacific. Again.

Saturday

If I don't have a trip to the Pacific planned, I get a little antsy. Just something about that large ocean beckons me. I love the culture, I love the people, I love the islands.

That's why we found ourselves planning a trip to Hawaii just 4 1/2 months after our big trip to Tahiti and Bora Bora. I got a lot of weird looks and a bunch of "Didn't you just go there?" questions, but we didn't care. On previous trips we had visited only Maui, and felt that we had adequately explored that island. I had heard about beautiful, lush and green Kauai, and had always wanted to see Kilauea .... so we decided a split trip between Kauai and the Big Island would suit us.

We broke up the trip over to Hawaii just a little, since it takes about 10 hours from where we live - any which way you slice it. We took an evening flight to LAX and got a room at the Embassy Suites at the airport for the night. Then took a flight directly from L.A. to Lihue the next morning. A 5 1/2 hour flight is a little easier to handle than the typical 8.5 hour one we usually take direct to Maui, and coming off a good night sleep in L.A. I thought we'd feel better on arrival.

The flight was nearly full, and shortly after takeoff we were introduced to the "Halfway to Hawaii" game United/Continental plays.

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Ok, so that's kinda cute. We were sitting next to a really grown-up and entertaining 7-year old girl, and she explained the rules to us :) Basically you choose the exact time that we'll be halfway between LAX and Lihue. The captain even provides airspeed, headwind, etc. to help you formulate your guess. I spent a little time working out my answer (me the math and science nerd), and felt pretty confident. The hubby pretty much just picked a random time - with some "help" from his 7-year old seatmate. Well darned if those two don't tie for the right time! Out of the 250+ people on board, just those two had the right time down to the minute, so they each had to guess the seconds, and she guessed the exact number of seconds too. Sweet girl, she was so excited! And she won a Hawaii guidebook for her family!

We landed, collected our bags, and hurried over to the rental car counter. AAaaahhhh that warm, humid, tropical, fragrant air...

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Now I don't know why, but this always takes SO LONG. Why does renting a car in Hawaii take about 5 times as long as renting one in, say, Miami? And why are there always only two people working? Thankfully we walk fast, and we were only the 3rd people in line. It still took about 45 minutes to get the car, but I really felt bad for the people who were 10 or so back in line...

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It was about this time that I started noticing all the roosters. Like, a lot of them in the car rental parking lot. I had heard that there were *some* chickens/roosters in Kauai, but I guess I didn't think they'd hang out in the Avis lot? I mean there's just hot asphalt there - that doesn't sound like ideal rooster habitat. (Of course I realized later that the roosters are EVERYWHERE, even the Wal-Mart parking lot...so I guess the car rental lot was fair game)

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Car rented, we headed out south toward Poipu. Windows rolled down, some reggae on the radio, it was perfect. It was 2pm, and we were wanting a little something to stave off our hunger until dinner, so we drove into the Poipu beach area and stopped at the shops there. I had heard about Puka Dogs from several people. Polish sausage, wrap-around-bun, sweet relishes and mustards.

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We let the guy at the counter order the dogs for us, bought a refreshing fresh squeezed lemonade and found a shady spot to enjoy our late lunch.

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Full and happy we drove the short way back down to the Koa Kea resort. I had picked this boutique hotel based on it's reviews, it's small size, and it's service. We wanted a place with few kids, that wasn't too big - and this was perfect.

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The Koa Kea gets high marks for service, and it's easy to see why from the moment you step on the property. Our concierge checked us in, then walked us around the property pointing out the amenities. She showed us our room and all it's highlights (including the complimentary Nespresso maker - very nice!)

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We unpacked just a little until I just couldn't stand it anymore and I needed to be out by the pool. Small pool, but refreshing!

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Ahh the Pacific breezes, sun going down, rustling of the palm leaves. Can I stay here forever?!

We stayed as late as we could before the breeze started to feel a bit chilly, then dressed for our dinner at Red Salt. Red Salt is the restaurant at the Koa Kea (it also gets high marks in the Poipu area) and a 3-course dinner was included in our package.

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You can tell it's popular because it was packed (and was equally as busy the rest of our stay here.)

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A little cucumber gin and tonic to refresh me before the meal - after all, we're on vacation, right?

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Creamy chilled local tomato and chive vichysoisse soup, rich and delicious

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Hubby's trio of shrimp appetizer

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My meal, to-die-for saffron ravioli with lobster - just al dente, with big chunks of tender lobster piled on top...

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Hubby's strip steak and fries (steak came with several "dipping sauces" that were extra yummy) This is consistently one of their best dishes, and the steak was melt-in-your-mouth tender (plus - how can you go wrong with fresh fried french fries?!)

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And since it was a 3-course meal, we got dessert too - even though we were beyond stuffed. But if we gotta, then we gotta...

Quattro Gelato - vanilla, hazelnut, mango lilikoi and chocolate. YUM

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With the time difference, and long travel day we were exhausted and barely made it to 10pm, but our cool room was awaiting (along with freshly chilled Fiji water by our bedside - more awesome service!) and we headed to rest up before a jam-packed Sunday....

Posted by weathergirl29 14:16 Comments (0)

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