1 We stayed at the Sheraton Kauai Resort in Poipu Beach. The temperatures hovered in the eighties during the day and the seventies at night.
2 The entire beach resort was destroyed during Hurricane Iniki in 1992 and had to be completely rebuilt.. When we arrived, they were still renovating parts of the hotel.
3 The staff told us it was not unusual to see monk seals sunning themselves on the beach. This seal was very cute, rolling around and occasionally scratching himself with his flipper. They are an endangered species, known to native Hawaiians as ʻIlio-holo-i-ka-uaua, or "dog that runs in rough water."
4 The first excursion we went on was an all day adventure with Outfitters Kauai. It began with a two mile kayak on the Hule'ia River.
5 My sister and I love to kayak together, though she's much better at it than I. She used to row crew in high school! I always let her steer.
6 Along the way, we saw the rope swing used by Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones in the film, "Raiders of the Lost Ark."
7 Our group disembarked on the shore and began a hike through the forest.
8 We stopped at a small natural pool to take a dip and try out a rope swing. This pool was can be seen in the movie "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides," starring Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz.
9 Meg and I decided the water was a bit too cold to jump into, and instead chose to pose for this photo.
10 It's easy to see why Kauai is perfect for films. On one island, you have beautiful beaches, untouched rainforests, and amazing rocky cliffs.
11 This area is called Kipu Ranch and was owned by William Hyde Rice. He purchased the land from Princess Ruth Keʻelikōlani for $3,000 to breed cattle and horses. The area is still privately owned and preserved, but the family graciously allows tours to go through it.
12 The next part of the trip was riding on a tractor pulled wagon to last destination, while enjoying the scenic views.
13 Here are some of the cattle still bred on Kipu Ranch. Barely any of the animals or plants found on Kauai are native. Cows, chicken, and coffee plants were all brought here by settlers.
14 There are wild chickens running all over Kauai, as common as pigeons in New York City. Every where we went, there were chickens pecking at our feet!
15 We arrived at our next stop, where we would be riding on a zipline. Our guides helped us into our gear and gave us a safety lesson.
16 First, we had to walk across this long, narrow, wobbly bridge as a test to make sure we were ready for the zipline. I did feel a little like Indiana Jones crossing it.
17 The first zipline was about 800 feet high over flowering trees. Here's my sister coming down the line.
18 The second zipline was 1800 feet high and tandem, so my sister and I could zip together.
19 In ziplining, you wear a harness that connects you to a cable by a metal pulley. It's a bit daunting when you realize that's all that is keeping you from plummeting 1800 feet into the forest!
20 The ride only lasts 90 seconds, but it gives you an amazing aerial view of the landscape.
21 Afterwards, we hiked back through the forest to the river bank and got a ride back to town. Many of the hiking paths had been destroyed recently by large amounts of rainfall and flooding, so we had to take a few alternate routes.
22 The northern part of Kauai, called the Na'Pali Coast, is only accessible by boat, helicopter, or foot. Na'Pali is the Hawaiian word for cliffs. We took a sunset boat tour on a 60 foot catamaran provided by Kauai Sea Tours. http://www.kauaiseatours.com
23 The crew members had no qualms with the motion, unlike the rest of us who were gripping on to the railings. They were a very nice crew, full of helpful information and stories of the island.
24 We passed many sugar plantations. Sugarcane used to be the a major industry in Kauai but now much of this land is used for cattle ranching instead. Sugarcane requires a lot of water to grow and it has become too costly for production.
25 This area, Waimea Canyon, may look familiar to fans of "Jurassic Park." Other movies filmed here include "Six Days, Seven Nights" and the 2005 remake of "King Kong."
26 Nualolo Kai is marked by a giant X said to be created by Pele, the goddess of fire, lightning, wind, and volcanoes. Many volcanic phenomena have been named after her, such as Pele's hair and Pele's tears.
27 A beautiful sea cove
28 Kalalua Valley is the widest and most famous of the Na'Pali valleys. Above are "The Spires," pinnacle-shaped cliff formations. This area is also sometimes referred to as "The Cathedral."
29 We were also entertained by many Hawaiian spinner dolphins. They can spin up to eight revolutions as they leap through the air. They are both smaller and friendlier than bottlenose dolphins and like to swim in the wake of boats.
30 After a nice dinner on the boat, we stopped to watch the sunset over the ocean before returning to port.
31 On the last day of our trip, we decided we wanted to fit in as much ocean life as possible.
33 Those fins poking out of the waters are more of our spinner dolphin friends. They travel in pods of as few as twenty and as many as hundreds.
34 There were Hawaiian green sea turtles everywhere!
35 It was exciting to be able to swim so close to them. This area is nicknamed "The House of Turtles." They live in caves on the ocean floor in shallow water, coming up for air and to munch on seagrasses.
36 At the second snorkeling location, there were many schools of fish, like these black triggerfish, called Humuhumu'ele'ele in Hawaiian. In the water, they appear black but when taken out of the water, you can see they are actually dark blue and green.
37 As soon as we got back into the boat, our dolphin friends came to join us again. It was a wonderful trip and I can't wait to go back for my sister's wedding!