Kauai’s Beautiful Beaches

As of now we spent a little over 3 months on the island of Kauai. We have been to a majority of the easily accessible beaches along with a few that require a little more work to get to.  Below, we have narrowed down our favorites that we visit on a regular basis. All listed with our personal pros and cons for each.

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• Kalalau Beach- Nice remote beach that is only accessible by hiking in (obtain an overnight permit) or via boat/kayak! Permits to do the Kalalau trail are consistently about 3-4 months out and most people make the 22 mile round trip hike regardless if they have permits or not. We obtain permits when we make the trek because it helps the state maintain trails and the facilities along the trails. They have two sets of bathrooms at the camp along with a nice waterfall to rinse off in and get water from which you will want to purify. The beach itself is sparsely populated with only a handful of people the times we went. Expect to find great company (sometimes naked or topless) and to relax on a nice quiet beach. The water clarity doesn’t appear to be quite as good as Ke’e or Tunnels beach on the north shore.

Beach Location– Northwest side of Kauai via the Kalalau trail or boat

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• Ke’e Beach – Great snorkeling and swimming area! Parking is usually the main issue with this beach and can be a headache. Water visibility is great in the summertime but due to high surf in winter the beach stays closed. Has a nice reef/shoal break for snorkeling. Does have a lifeguard tower which is a big plus especially if you have kids traveling with you. They have an outdoor shower and some restrooms. Be careful parking along the road especially where there is signs against it you WILL get a ticket. Great overall family beach and is very safe. NOT a good beach for surfing due to the reefs.

Beach Location– North shore as far as the main highway takes you. You will pass through Hanalei and about another 10 minutes and you will be there. Parking is the biggest pain and we would recommend getting there early to get a good parking spot.

• Tunnels Beach- Great beach with a view! Some of the best snorkeling on Kauai not to mention it has a lush green mountainous backdrop! Water clarity is very good here starting around April till around October. Winter swells are too big for snorkeling November till March. Unfortunately the reefs here are basically all dead from people touching them, BUT everywhere you look there is an abundance of fish and underwater sea life. The reef is very close to shore and would be great for beginners or advanced snorkeling/diving. The downside to this beach like most other beaches on Kauai is the abundance of people so if you would like a secluded beach then i would suggest Kalalau or Polihale.

Beach Location- North side of Kauai. The best access point in our opinion is parking at Haena state park and walking down the beach. If you are facing the beach from the parking area go right down the beach and walk for about 5-10 minutes.

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• Hideaways Beach – A secluded quaint little beach in Princeville. When we went there were only about 4 other people so we pretty much had it to ourselves. We went in March but sadly the waves were too high to take a swim so we just sat in the sand and enjoyed our amazing view. We have heard this beach is great in the summer months when its a bit calmer and can be perfect for snorkeling and swimming! The only con is that it can be tricky to get down as you have to go downhill while holding onto ropes, it can be a bit slippery if it has recently rained so just take your time and you will be fine!

Beach location: Drive up to Princeville and head towards the St. Regis Hotel , just before the hotel entrance there is a small beach access parking lot to the right, only about 8 cars can fit here so its probably best to head here early morning or later in the evening. There is a narrow path between the fences that you will take, leading you down to the beach.

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• Kealia Beach- This beach is probably the one we spend the most time at, mainly for the consistent surf conditions and it offers a good variety of things you can do. We always bring our body/boogie boards, surf board and our snorkel gear because you can always do one of those on any given day. This beach is right off the road and is always bustling with many people, but it offers a long strip of beach so you can space out where your not on top of everyone. There is also a restroom and outside shower to rinse off after your done. Another plus is its along the Kauai bike path so you also have the opportunity to take a stroll if you wanted to. Since this beach offers so much, its our “go to” when we want to take a day and hang out on the water.

Beach Location – Just past Kapaa on the right hand side of the road if your coming from Lihue, you can’t miss it! Plus there is plenty of parking 🙂

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• Poipu Beach- This is a great beach for snorkeling and a great place for children to swim as there is a natural wading pool here. To the right of the wading pool is perfect for boogie-boarding and surfing out past the reef. Each time we have been here, there seems to always be a monk seal or two! Our con to this beach is that its always really crowded unless you go late in the evening or early morning. Great beach if you don’t mind the crowds. There are restrooms and outside showers available to use too.

Beach Location- South shore at Poipu Beach Park

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• Shipwrecks Beach- So this beach is not quite a snorkel beach, but its great for boogie/body boarding, and more advanced surfers. We don’t have much surfing experience so we don’t bring our surf boards with us as the shore break is short and there are a bunch of lava rocks we’d have to watch out for,  but we do bring our body boards and catch a few waves that way. Its also great for swimming and there is the widely known cliff to the left that many people jump off of into the deep blue, (please do research on that before going out or ask someone who has done it before). But we want to mention that this beach has a bunch of lava rocks in the shallow parts of the water so you have to be careful, we have both left here with our fare share of battle wounds 🙂 The waves and current here are also pretty rough at times so just be weary of your limits. In between swimming and body boarding, we love to just sit back and watch the surfers and the amazing body borders who show off there tricks! Parking can be a little tricky but if you don’t mind walking a few minutes you can park along side the road.

Beach Location- Located in front of the Grand Hyatt Hotel, parking is just beyond the hotels main entrance.

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• Polihale Beach – Longest beach in all of the Hawaiian islands! Beach is pretty secluded and odds are you will only see a handful of people on this beach. They do have some good camping right near the beach which is a big plus. Amenities include outdoor showers, restrooms and a couple pavilions. No lifeguard on this beach! In winter time there are massive waves with crazy rip tides so be sure to swim with caution. Great beach to just walk around on and hang out with friends. Great spot to watch the sunset. Also known for great fishing! Main issue with this beach is the road getting there is ROUGH and seems to go on forever.

Beach Location– As far west as you can drive on the highway, past Kekaha. Dirt road on the left that says Polihale State Park. Long bumpy dirt road but well worth the drive.

As you can see we love spending our spare time on the beach when we are not out hiking and exploring! We have also been to many more beaches on this island besides the ones we listed, but these seem to be the ones that draw us back  so we thought we’d share them with you.

 

Hihimanu Ridge Trail, Kauai

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The view from the top!

“It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” – Edmund Hillary

Hihimanu Ridge. This hike has been on our list since we first landed on Kauai, we have crossed off every other hike on our list (minus 2 at the moment), putting it on the back burner because of my fear of heights. When i first saw pictures of this trail and the view at the top, I knew without a doubt I HAD to do this trail, after all it was my idea to put it on our list to begin with. But every time Lucas brought it up, “Hey what about Hihimanu today?” I would find another trail and another excuse to keep putting it off. Finally I agreed it was time. What was I waiting for?

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Those two sharp peaks you see, we hiked that! 

Lucas has done the Okolehao Trail dozens of times through his work, its the first part of the Hihimanu Ridge Trail, but this trail was completely new to me, I was excited, nervous, but ready to overcome the fear that had been holding me back all this time. We loaded our packs, made sure we had plenty of water, and we were off!

The Okolehao Trail begins in Princeville off Hanalei River. Take Ohiki Road, a one-lane road skirting the taro fields at the north end of Hanalei bridge, and drive about  0.7 miles to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service parking area. Across the street is a small bridge marking the trailhead.

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The first lookout 
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Our view from the second lookout

The first part of the trail is typically one of the muddiest sections mainly because it sees the most wild pig activity and foot traffic. After the fist one-eighth of a mile you will ascend a few hundred feet in elevation (this section is VERY slippery and fairly steep). The first lookout point is off to your right near the power lines it gives you a good view of Hanalei Bay and the beginning of the Napali coastline. It would be a picturesque view if the power lines weren’t in the way of the picture. After stopping there for a brief minute to take it in and drink some water we continued the trek up the trail. After a few hundred more feet of elevation gain and a little less than a mile up we get to the first major lookout of the trail where the Aloha bench is. This is where MOST people stop it gives you a great aerial view of the Hanalei river and Hanalei Bay. The Hanalei river is great to paddle board or kayak and is very calm and typically quiet. Over half of the river is actually in the Hanalei wildlife refuge so the wildlife and fish are abundant! At this point you have about another mile before the trail starts getting sketchy.

As you continue along the trail you will come across your first few ropes that will help you descend and ascend, this will become the norm the rest of the trip. Keep trekking along and they become a bit trickier and you must become more and more reliant on the ropes as the trail goes on. Before you know it your at the hardest rope climb on the trail, a straight up mud wall (roughly 80 degree angle) where you HAVE to rely on the ropes to make it up, if i had to guess it was about 60ft or so to the top, I thought for sure after this ascend we were rounding the tip top and we would be there, but the trail continued. We knew we were almost to the top because the trail became narrower, the drop-offs on each side became more pronounced and the views kept becoming better and better. We finally reached a top platform where we could easily see the two peaks we had to climb, so close! Lucas continued on from here, as I was completely content with the first peak, I had overcome so much and as Lucas put it ” You punched your fear of heights in the face.” I was so overwhelmed with the view and the journey we just took getting here that I just sat in awe while he continued his trek of the final peaks.

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As he hiked ahead I got our binoculars out and watched him complete the hike. What an amazing accomplishment for both of us. The two peaks were not that bad, you just had to be careful of where you stepped as part of the trail was about a foot or so wide before it dropped off on both sides. My views were stunning but his at the end were down right incredible. A completely 360 view, a very rewarding hike! This hike has quickly become our favorite on the island, next time I will push myself all the way to the last peak 🙂

The Kalalau Trail

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” – John Muir

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The Kalalau Trail is listed as one of the worlds most dangerous hikes, of course just the sound of that makes my nerves cringe a little bit but of course for my husband he wants to mark every hike on that list off 🙂 When we both decided we wanted to tackle this hike back in January we each had our different reasons. His of course was primarily because its on the list of worlds most dangerous hikes, but also because its the only land access to Kalalau beach and along the Napali Coast. This hike for me was not about marking a dangerous hike off, it was about facing fears of heights, and knowing that I can do anything that I set my mind to. After purchasing our permits, there was no turing back. So for the following 3 months we researched, planned….packed….unpacked…. and repacked until we had exactly what we needed narrowed down.

March 19 finally rolled around and we were passed ready to experience this highly sought after trail for ourselves. Lucas was extremely excited, so was I, but I also had some nerves growing the last couple weeks leading up to this day. I had a backup plan if I ever HAD to turn around but the second we began the trail, I knew I would be just fine! We had woken up to a beautiful, flawless weather forecast for the two days we would be on the trail, and I knew without a doubt that was God’s way of telling me that “I got this!” Because if we had any chance of rain in the forecast the trail conditions would drastically change and become very dangerous, making the trail even more frightening and technical.

We began the trail at 7:00 am and quickly made it to Hanakapei Beach (2 miles in). We have done this part of the trail numerous times and easily crossed over the river and took a break along the beach for a few minutes. This part of the trail and beach are always extremely packed so one nice thing about leaving out so early is being able to enjoy the trail by yourself.

After we put our packs back on, we ventured up the hill to the next phase of the trail, beginning a new part of the path we have not yet explored. From here on out all the views and ridges were new to us so we took our time and paced along snapping photos and taking breaks when needed. The first few miles until you get to Hanakoa Camp (6 mile mark) are fairly easy, with the trail going up and down along the ridge as well as through the jungle. From mile 6 on it gets a little technical in some spots. Loose rocks, steep cliffs and of course “crawlers ledge”. For a few weeks leading up to the trip i did a lot of research on Crawlers ledge, probably watched way to many videos and kinda freaked myself out. I am not terrified of heights but am bothered by them a little bit so I wanted to be prepared. As we came up to mile 7 and were fixing to face crawlers ledge (actually a little past 7 miles) we quickly realized it wasn’t as bad as its made out to be. Sure its definitely a sheer drop off, and there is possibility of someone easily falling off if your not careful with your footing, but its no where near as sketchy as many make it out to be. I personally felt there were way worse parts of the trail where you could easily have slipped and fell, at least on crawlers ledge its solid rock instead of loose dirt and small rocks. Take it slow and watch where you put your feet, and of course if you want to look around make sure you stop first!

After mile 7 it felt like we were so close to being there, only 4 miles left and we would finally be able to enjoy the majestic Kalalau Beach, we were totally looking forward to jumping into the water! The shade along the trail began to get slimmer and slimmer and we were pretty much out in the open with the sun beaming down on us the rest of the way. As we neared “clay hill” we were greeted in the distance by the beautiful secluded beach we had traveled so far to see. Trying not to get barn fever as Lucas calls it, (where as you get closer to your destination you speed up unknowingly) we made our way closer and closer until we finally stepped foot on the sands! 7 hours of hiking and we made it! The feeling when you finally get there is unbelievable!

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We quickly found a spot to set up our camp and go check out the waterfall to cool off. Afterwards we headed to the beach to walk around and explore the caves! Such a neat place to be! Between the waterfall, caves, amazing beach and diversity of people, our experience will without a doubt be one for the books! We met some amazing people who each had there own reasons from making the trek. We met people from all over including a couple from Victoria Canada who were trail running along the way (totally impressive!), a super funny gentleman from Dubai who no matter what was going to find a way to not have to hike back out (he was hilarious and had such a fun personality!), and a super sweet couple from New Zealand which we hiked out with the next day just to find out they had no idea the trail was on the list of worlds most dangerous hikes, but they excelled on the trip and made it there and back no problem.

Our trip was one we will never forget. It was physically exhausting and mentally trying but the entire time we were surrounded by pure beauty. Every turn, every ridge (I believe there were 5) had its own unique setting, the further we went on trail the more beautiful the Napali Coast became, urging us to keep going, and we’re so glad we did because we will never forget it!

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Onto Lifes Next Adventure!

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10 Days ago our journey in Alaska came to an end. As we packed up the remaining items in the camper we were a little sad to leave such a beautiful, welcoming state. Alaska will always hold a special place in our hearts, as will all the people and friends we met who made our experience there much more memorable and fun!
For now as we say farewell to America’s largest state, we hit the road once more to explore some new territory! The next few weeks we are making our way down the west coast, slowly heading for North Carolina for our upcoming wedding in June.
A few days before we took off from Alaska we were talking to a fellow diesel enthusiast by the name of Josh Blair off of “907 Diesel” Facebook group. He was looking for a group to travel the Alcan (Alaskan Highway) with as he made his way to the lower 48. People have always said it is better to travel with a other travelers than by yourself in case something happened during the commute down. A few days went by and we never heard from him… Long story short we ended up staying at the same Walmart as he did that same night in Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory! From that day on both rigs stuck together, with Josh’s Dodge Cummins being the lead rig and us following. He was pulling a good size trailer loaded down with sporting goods and photography stuff. His payload was about double ours so he was suffering a little with fuel mileage but the stops for fuel was a good break anyways.
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We put in (4) 10hr days while cruising with Josh before making it to the lower 48 plus the previous 12hr drive day before we met up at Walmart. Now folks let me tell everyone right now you’ve never met a funnier or a nicer guy than the one we were traveling with. He has his iPhone on a dash mount and takes videos while he’s cruising but pays complete attention to driving and on the road. Every stop we would ask each other questions about the other persons truck and calculate fuel mileage. He was consistently getting about 10.5-12 depending on how mountainous the terrain was and how often we hit cities with stop & go traffic. We were getting just a hair better at 13.5 to 15mpg but had a lighter load than him. Both rigs in general were some of the best trucks made and proved that with the long haul down the Alcan and other roads we had to take coming down. We hope to stay in contact with him as he is moving to Tennessee which is only one state over from us in North Carolina when we’re not on the road. Josh if your reading this blog THANKS for all the help and advise!
The new-to-us truck camper we bought before we left Alaska seemed to be having several issues while going down the Alcan. First issue we noticed is the roof started leaking up by the bed and front window area when it rained! To fix this we grabbed some “flex seal” and waterproofing duct tape from Home Depot which seemed to fix it for now. 🙂 Next major issue we had was our “black water” tank (septic) apparently had developed a crack from the camper bouncing up and down. We opened the door at a rest area and saw the blue chemicals we put in to break down debris in the tank was all over the floor of the camper!!! Next chance we got we had to empty our black tank and stop using it (still haven’t fixed it yet). After that the final issue we had towards the tail-end of our drive to the lower 48 was the front window by our bed completely SHATTERED while we were driving. It must have been broken for several hours before we noticed because the entire camper front to back was soaked with ice/rain mix and there was glass EVERYWHERE. At first we tried bunji-cording a tarp over the window area which nearly flew off while driving (didn’t even make it 5 miles down the road). Second thing we tried was Cynthia’s idea and ended up working quite nicely was to barricade the front window area with our couch cushions, pillows, sleeping bags, etc (basically anything & everything we could find). That got us to Home Depot just over the Canadian border crossing thank God there was a Home Depot in Bellingham, Washington! We ran inside with just a few minutes before closing time, scouring the aisles for something that would suffice till we got back to North Carolina. We had not one but two guys running around helping us look for something that would put up to 60+mph winds. We checked out Lexan, Plexiglass, Plywood, sheets of metal but nothing was close enough in size or not sturdy enough to work. Plywood was heavy and i had no way to cut it to size. FINALLY we ran across double insulated thick plastic pieces that i could cut with a razor knife. We got some Loctite ultimate adhesive and a tube of silicon for waterproofing and laid it to it. This is still our fix and seems to be working flawlessly and in our opinion works better than the single pane window that we had in it.
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Although Canada is very beautiful, with great scenery, tons of wildlife, Northern lights and a gem of a hot spring that we found! We are glad to be back in the states were fuel is more affordable and the roads are a little bit more maintained. Our camper definitely felt the wrath of the Alcan but is doing just fine for now. We will see how it handles Washington, Oregon and California next! 🙂
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Helicopter Glacier Landing In Denali National Park!!!

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Doug Hagle (manager at Denali Tundra Tours as well as a good friend) and myself (Lucas Freimuth) pulled into the parking lot of ERA helicopter tours on May 27th, 2015 hoping to get a spot on their 2hr glacier landing tour! The company was scheduled to take their whole fleet of helicopters (3 to be exact). We went through the safety briefing video and laced up our snow boots they loaned us, which enabled us to have good footing and grip on the slippery ice. Everyone had to leave any purses and\or backpacks behind due to safety reasons, which was weird for me not having my “go bag” (3 day survival bag) that i carry everywhere. The helicopters swooped in one after another, seeming to come out of no where. I had only been on one other helicopter with my families long-time friends the Vanderwouldes. This one was bigger but also much louder! Although Doug and i were unable to fly together because of weight restrictions he was able to fly in a different helicopter. He had been waiting for several years to get an opportunity like this one to do a tour with ERA. We took off after meeting with the pilots which were much younger than you would expect an experienced pilot to be (30ish years old). The ride was very smooth to the glacier which was roughly 100 miles out. Nothing but beautiful greenery, white snow peak mountains, and tons of lakes\streams below! The pilot landed us about 25 feet from a sizable glacial lake (about 100 square feet) which was super cold and as blue as the deep blue ocean! On our flight back we went a little different way and got to check out some Dall Sheep which were up high in the mountains for breeding (first and only wildlife of the tour). Overall the tour went very well and was well worth the money! Hope to do it again with my one true love (Cynthia Ryon). 🙂

P.S.- Terra Hagle has helped Cynthia and i get onto some great trips since we’ve been here. She has done so much for us over the past few weeks and we can’t thank her enough! THANKS

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20,000+ ft up in the air!

Me and Airplane © 2015 cynthia ryon

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“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” – Neale Donald Walsch

The moment I walked onto the 11 passenger plane my heart was already beating out of my chest. For one, I am EXTREMELY claustrophobic, two, my fear of heights were already starting to overwhelm me. As I buckle up and realize there is no turning back, I grip my seat tightly with my hands, close my eyes and say to myself… ” You are fixing to do a once in a lifetime experience, you are one of the few people that actually get to see Mt. McKinley up close and personal. Its totally going to be worth it, so suck it up and get over your fears, even if its only this one time.”

As the plane lifts off the ground, my heart absolutely drops and at this point I realize there is no turning back. This is it. Here i am up in a plane above Alaska of all places, and on my way to see the top of the highest mountain in North America, is this for real? I snap some pictures and just sit there in a blank stare at the beautiful scene outside the window in front of me. I was at a  complete loss of words for the image that is now forever burnt in my mind. Experiencing Alaska on the ground has been, up to this point, fantastic, and now getting to get a birds eye view on such a beautiful stretch of land is just breathtaking.

As we get close to the mountain, we were instructed to put on our oxygen masks ( if you know me, at this point I’m freaking out inside, trying to stay calm. Here we are so far up in the sky we need oxygen masks, what the heck have i gotten my self into!)

Here I am trying to control my breathing in this small oxygen mask, freaking out, when the pilot says ” There they are!” referring to a group of climbers that he has been documenting since their departure. As he gets closer to the top, he points out their camp where they stayed the night before and then pointed to their current location. As we all take a closer look, we see 10 people waiving and making themselves noticeable. Here I am facing all of my fears, sitting in a small plane, wearing a oxygen mask, looking out a plane at Mt. McKinley (at 20,000+ ft up in the sky) at a group of 10 people fixing to summit the top. Completely blown away would be a understatement. To be able to witness this group so close to an amazing goal was such an amazing feeling.

The whole ride back i just kept thinking to myself, how lucky we were to witness that. What an experience for myself. Facing my fears and reaching outside of my comfort zone was the best thing I could have ever done, now i have such a amazing memory to look back upon.

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