Kona recovery started with a jump off the end of the world.
It took me a full three minutes to gather the courage to willingly jump – it was scarier than lining up to race Kona! – but whoa… it was worth it. So exhilarating!
Could not stop smiling after that jump!
We crammed in a few other activities on the Big Island after the race, including a trip to the black sand beach at Pololu Valley Lookout (the Jurassic Park views!), Hapuna Beach (the sunset!) and an estate coffee farm tour (more on this soon!).
On Tuesday after the race, after one last swim in Kailua Bay and an açai bowl (obviously), Nick and I hopped a flight to Kauai for another week of R&R with my sister, her bestie and my cousin.
Incredible beaches, magical light and overall chill vibe aside, my favorite thing about Kauai is what it taught me: That life’s too short to be stuck sitting in traffic for 90+ minutes a day. I want my real life – the one with a job, responsibilities, Costco trips, the one that affords me to take trips to Hawaii – to reflect more of that laid back, TV-less, let’s-slow-it-down lifestyle. So, on Kuhio highway near Hanalei, I accepted a job offer that gets me closer to that by eliminating more than half of my crap commute. Needless to say, we had a lot of celebrate while in Kauai!
On our first full day on the island, we met up with Nick’s good buddy, Kris, who’s a police officer there. Nothing like our own personal tour guide showing us off-the-beaten-path Kauai! Top picks: dinner at Saiman, breakfast at Java Kai in Kapaa, Papaa Bay beach, the King Kong açai bowl Kalalea Juice Hale(!), poke from a hole-in-the-wall market and Polihale State Park. It was a ridiculously potholed adventure to get to the beach at Polihale, but when the road opened up to the ocean… whoa. The beach was incredible… the start of the Nā Pali Coast on one side and sand for miles on the other. And, the stars! I could have stayed there forever. We’re camping there for sure on our next visit.
A few pics from Papaa Bay…
The traveling towel… it’s been to Costa Rica, Australia, Mexico, Hawaii, the Bahamas…
What açai bowl dreams are made of.
And, a few pics from Polihale State Park…
North shore beaches
We spent rest of our week on Kauai exploring the north shore beaches – where we had them practically to ourselves. Words can’t quite describe their beauty and quiet, but I do know that I’ve never been more relaxed anywhere than I was there. You can bet I bottled up all that aloha for use on frigid subzero Minnesnowta days!
Our favorite beaches: Lumaha’i, Ke’e and Tunnels, which was pretty much across the street from our VRBO. Sunrises and/or sunsets are spectacular from all. The snorkeling’s fantastic at Tunnels. And, Ke’e… a monk seal sighting and views of the absolutely spectacular Nā Pali Coast.
Sky on fire at Lumaha’i, all to ourselves.
Ke’e Beach is at the start of the Nā Pali Coast and absolutely spectacular!
Obsessed with this Kauai Juice Co. kombucha (I drank one everyday) – and this beach.
Oh, hey there, endangered monk seal.
Morning sunrise + rainbow at Tunnels Beach.
Night into day: moonset on the left, sunrise on the right ♥
Swimming with honus at Tunnels!
Kalalau Trail on the Nā Pali Coast
No visit to Kauai is complete without hiking the Kalalau Trail along the Nā Pali Coast. To beat the crowds, we arrived at the trailhead at first light. It worked, too, as the trail was fairly quiet the first half of the eight-mile roundtrip hike. Highlights included the absolutely spectacular views of the Nā Pali Coast(!!!), all the guava (and eventually all the rotten guava), a muddy trail, stream crossings, bamboo forests and swimming at Hanakāpī’ai Falls (freezing, but amazing!). Our next trip will include hiking the entire trail, start to finish, and camping… already counting the days!
Our hiking crew!
Taking in the breathtaking view.
The Kalalau Trail should have been called the guava trail… they were everywhere.
Amazing, but so cold. I got a little panicky, so didn’t swim long.
From waterlogged Ali’i Drive to the muddy Kalalau Trail, my HOKA Cliftons kept my feet blister free in all conditions.
Through the jungle.