Reader Essential Experience of the Week

Touring the Garden Isle of Kauai by Scooter
Kauai, Hawaii
Posted by Cindy Bond
January 4, 2011

Hawaii would undoubtedly appear on the “I want to go there” bucket list for many people.  Its name evokes images of swaying palms, sun-kissed beaches, and fragrant floral leis presented in greeting.  

The Menehune Fishpond Overlook.

Depicted in movies as a paradise, Hawaii appears lush and green with a backdrop of waterfalls.  All are reasons enough to visit these islands, but I had an additional motive – to celebrate my 50th birthday in the 50th state.  It had a nice ring to it.  I hadn’t celebrated my 49th in the 49th state, and certainly would not be able to celebrate a 51st in a non-existent 51st state, so I surely could not delay.  I’ve traveled to 40 foreign countries but, in an oversight soon to be remedied, I had yet to travel to our 50th state.  It was time, “past time” to take a cruise to the Hawaiian Islands.

Each island in the Hawaiian chain has its own charm, its own characteristics.  To me, the island of Kauai best represents the Hawaii of my imagination with lovely beaches and the wild, rugged beauty of the Na Pali Coast and Waimea Canyon.  Swept up in the adventurous spirit, my husband and I decided to explore Kauai by scooter.  We anticipated the wind in our hair, sea breezes wafting across us as we traveled this garden island.

We began with a parking-lot course on the workings of our mini motorcycles.  We quickly learned that brakes were best applied via the levers on the handlebars and certainly not by dragging our feet.  In a very short time we were making turns, steering, braking and stopping with purpose when needed.  After mastering these basics, we headed for the open road.  We lacked wind-swept hair because helmets are required, but we lacked for nothing else.

My husband, Ken, on his trusty scooter.

Fearlessly merging with traffic, we passed near the shadow of the cruise ship in Nawiliwili Harbor on our way to the first of several waterfalls.  With a hand-drawn map in a pocket, we sped away  – our top speed about 40 mph.  We were on winding roads with the Hawaiian mountains to our side.  The scenery was stunning.  This was fun!  It was exhilarating.  It wasn’t totally surprising that we soon became lost.  With the able and friendly assistance of locals, however, we were quickly back on track and had located the trailhead to Kipu Falls.

Leaving our trusty scooters behind, we entered what turned into a cane maze.  The narrow trail meandered through the towering cane stalks to eventually reveal a secluded waterfall and swimming hole in the midst of dense foliage.  There were rocks to cross the stream, a ladder down to the pool and a rope swing to use to jump out from a ledge and drop into the sunlit waters below the falls with a splash.  Surely we had been transported into an Indiana Jones-like adventure!  The cooling waters and the laughing swimmers created a sense of peace.  We were just a short distance from the road but felt we were in a completely separate world.

A swimmer swings from a rope into the cool waters below the Kipu Falls.

Although lingering longer was appealing, we had many sites we wanted to visit on this one short day.  Our essential experience of this Princess port beckoned us forth to visit the Wailua River, Wailua Falls and Kapaa Town, to name a few locations.  Wailua Falls is the double waterfall that was used in the television show, Fantasy Island.  The Wailua River was used for shooting scenes in an Indiana Jones movie.  It seemed that around every corner there was another gorgeous view, around every bend of the coastal road was another breathtaking beach.

A day spent in Kauai is, indeed, a day spent in paradise.  Perhaps this lovely island has been crossed off my bucket list, but maybe I need more days there just to make sure.

The double waterfall of Wailua Falls, featured on the TV show "Fantasy Island."

Sun-kissed beaches of Kauai.

Around every turn of the road, there is another beautiful vista.

See cruises that visit this destination