A Piece of Pai, Northern Thailand

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Flying from Hanoi, Vietnam to Bangkok, Thailand we had a bit of a bumpy flight as I experienced my first mild turbulence. The last half hour before landing in Thailand I gripped the seat tightly not letting go for anything. During the landing I let out a big yelp as it felt we were landed wrong, but we made it! Later that day we had a second flight  from Bangkok to Chiang Mai which was a breeze! It felt so nice to finally be done with flying for a few weeks!

We landed in Thailand 9 days ago (can’t believe its already been that long!) and we are ready to take on ALL the adventures the country has to offer. First up is Pai, Thailand!

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After spending a few days in Chiang Mai and meeting back up with some friends we had made in Vietnam (Fin and Emily from England). We all hopped on a mini bus to the highly talked about town of Pai. The seats cost us 150 baht each (around $5 usd) and it took the curves much nicer than a big commercial bus, plus it got us there a lot faster too. When we arrived, the small town welcomed us with…. A BIG RAIN STORM! Quickly reminding us that we have landed with rainy season upon us, but of course we did not let that ruin our day!

As the rain let up a bit we walked down the street from the bus station, settled into our cute hostel/hotel (Hommy Camping Room) and began walking around town scouting out some eateries. We found a nice small local shop, ordered some curry and Pad Thai and chatted the rest of the day away. This was our first real Thai food that we had ordered since arriving in Thailand, and boy was it amazing!! After spending 5 weeks in Vietnam, the thought of Thai food made our mouths water, we sure were ready for some new dishes to try. For just 40 baht each (around $1.21 usd) our taste buds were thanking us!

Our second day in Pai, we woke up, enjoyed a nice cup of coffee and complimentary breakfast from our hotel. Our plan was to rent a motorbike for the day and visit Lod Cave and Sai Ngam Hot Springs. Lod cave was a bit of a drive from Pai, about an hour one way so we headed there first. Lucas, Emily and Fin all went into the cave, but I sat out as my fear of caves got the best of me. There are entrance fees to go into the caves (three caves total) You can just go into the first cave with a guide for 150 baht for up to 3 people. If you want to do the first and second caves with the guide it is 200 baht for up to 3 people. And lastly if you desire to do all 3 caves with a ride on the bamboo raft coming out of the caves it is 450 baht for up to 3 people.

 

 

On the way back down from the cave we took a pit stop at Sai Ngam Hot Springs. Again an entrance fee is needed to go to the Hot Springs. When you first turn on the road you will be stopped and asked to pay 20 baht for each foreigner and 20 baht per motorbike to enter into the Park, when you arrive at the hot springs further down the road you will then be asked again to pay another 20 baht to actually get in the hot springs. So for 40 baht each person, plus the motorbike fee its a nice cheap way to spend some time relaxing together.

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Pai has tons of activities to do, so instead of spending just a couple days like we had initially planned, we ended up staying a total of one week 🙂 Our favorite thing to do was to take the scooters out and to go up and down the backroads finding villages and sights we would not normally see in walking distance of the town. We spent two days just driving around the outskirts of the town taking in all the beautiful scenery.

Another thing great about the town of Pai is the waterfalls! There are multiple waterfalls to keep you busy although some do have admission fees. We hiked to a beautiful waterfall called Hua Chang (Free). The road getting here was absolutely beautiful and the 1 hour hike after parking the scooters was unforgettable! Don’t miss out on Pam Bok waterfall, it is also Free and is just a short 5 min hike or so once you park.

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A couple other main attractions are Pai canyon and the “Land Split”. The canyon was free  and had great views of the mountains. The “Land Split” on the other hand was a great find not because the big crack that was caused by seismic activity but because of the fresh fruit, tea, wine, and other snacks that were brought out by the owners of the land! It was on a donation basis and throughly enjoyed it, especially the Roselle tea!!!

We had planned to go the other Hot spring in Pai called Tha Pai Hot Springs, but when we arrived we quickly turned away after seeing the price for foreigners to enter, a whopping 300 baht per person ($9 usd)! Thai locals can get in for just 50 baht but the huge price seemed outrageous so we decided to spend our money elsewhere.

On our way back we stopped by Thom’s Elephant Camp and fed the elephants that were outside. Our first time being so close to an Elephant we were in awe of how huge, strong and beautiful they were!

Since we started planning the Thailand portion of our trip months ago we were dying to get a Thai massage which we did later that day. The four of us were walking around main street in Pai when we noticed a little massage place offering a one hour massage for only 150 baht (about $5 usd)! They happened to have four beds available at that time so we all opted for the traditional thai massage which was excellent and very relaxing.

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Our time in Pai has gone by so quickly, we would definitely recommend a trip over here if you are planning to go to Thailand. There are several foreigners and there is a huge night life/party scene if you are into that sort of thing. Most locals seem to know some english which is nice! The population of Pai is only approximately 4,000 with a big percentage being Expats (foreigners residing in an area). The town has so many creative shops, amazing food and cafes, and a great street market each night. I am sure your time in Pai will be wonderful as was ours!

Off on Another Adventure

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Arriving in Hanoi, it had been 17 days since we landed in Vietnam. When we first arrived in Ho Chi Minh we purchased open bus tickets to get us up to Hanoi, and now that we had used all of our tickets, it was time to plan the next phase of our trip here.

We had been doing some research for the last few weeks and kept tossing the idea of purchasing a motorbike in Northern Vietnam to get us around instead of hopping on the bus. Sleeper buses are nice and all but the routes in North Vietnam are very mountainous and pretty sketchy when traveling at night (most buses are night buses) so traveling via bus just did not appeal to either one of us as it was too much risk. So we searched for a hours and low and behold we are now owners of a Honda Win that we purchased for $175 USD. That same day we packed our bags, loaded our route on Google maps and made our first leg of the trip to Mai Chau.

3 hours into our ride as we were enjoying the wind in our hair and the wonderful scenery we were waved down by a man and his sister who were heading in our direction. Something was not right with our back tire, we felt something was off and stopped a few times to check it out but nothing caught our eye. This time when we pulled off, the man (named CJ) helped us communicate with the motorbike shop to check out what was wrong and help us fix it. So thankful he was able to translate for us.  Turns out the wheel needed to be re-spoked, so we sat and talked with CJ while the work was being done. Turns outs he and his sister were heading to Moc Chau, just a hour or so above our destination in Mai Chau. They kindly waited for our bike to get done so that we could make the forward drive together as it was getting dark (safer to drive in groups especially at night) They offered us oreos, milk and some great conversation making the time that we waited go by really quick. So 150,000 VND later ($7) and a newly spoked rim we were on our way to Mai Chau.

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Our first day in Mai Chau we ventured off and hiked 1200 steps to see the beautiful Chieu Cave, its amazing how much of a temperature change there was from outside the cave to the inside. After walking up and down that many steps we were completely worn out the rest of the day so we caught up on laundry, played some pool, and walked around the village we were staying in. We had planned to stay in Mai Chau longer but we hit the road the next day to meet up with our new friends CJ and Na Pham in Moc Chau for some camping and trekking.

On our way to Moc Chau, we had another issue from the same wheel/tire, this time it was flat! We limped the bike back downhill to the closest motorbike shop, and while we were waiting for that to get replaced Lucas played some soccer with the local kids who were waiting for school to start, and I helped the others with some english words which they were so eager to learn.

We yet again hit the road this time ready to put some miles in between us and Mai Chau but again were faced with another issue with the motorbike. Not even 15 minutes after we left the motorbike shop with a new tire, the bike lost power going up hill! We pulled over to find that oil was leaking out from the top of the motor (crankcase vent tube) We thought for sure our bike was toast and that we’d be hitch hiking our way back down to Hanoi but when we called our friend CJ to let him know we’d be late, he came to our rescue once more, he made the drive to us (about an hour round trip) and helped us translate once again to the shop what we needed and was there for us for any assistance.  A new head gasket was put in and we were on our way, we can not thank CJ enough for all his assistance the last few days with our bike, it made it so much easier to have him there and to help us translate as we would have been surely taken advantage of as most foreigners are but CJ made sure that we were taken care of, a true friend and a genuine good man.

Finally making it to Moc Chau after a full morning of mishaps, we were ready to take a break and spend time with our new friends. We had plans to camp in Pine Forest the first night which was such an amazing time. We drove out to the forest, set up our tents and hammocks, cooked dinner over the campfire and sat talking the night away. What a wonderful break from hotels and hostels!

We woke up from camping really early (5am) packed up everything and had big plans for the day to visit Pha Luong Mountain, which was from the pictures had an amazing lookout at the peak, and the scenery would be to die for! It is a natural boundary between Vietnam and Laos so you need to do paperwork at the station to be able to make the trek. But what we didn’t know is that since we are foreigners they do not allow you to go up there, unless you have the right paperwork, and that could take you up to 2 months! Sadly we were not prepared this time, we didn’t realize it was so hard to get the correct paperwork and the time it took to do so. The roads throughout the villages going towards the station were pretty rough especially on a motorbike I believe it took about an hour to go 2km. Sadly we had to turn around at the top but the drive out there was breathtaking and so much fun! When we came back down, we stopped by two waterfalls (Chieng Khoa & Ban Yem waterfall).

As we made our way to the hostel for the night, we all decided that our last night in Moc Chau we wanted to go camping again, we had such a wonderful time the first go around so why not at the beautiful waterfall we had just seen a few hours before! On our way back to the waterfall to set up camp the next day, we took a detour and visited a small village outside of Moc Chau. Even one of the buffalo were so surprised to see us, he kept starring at us and making these odd looking faces, it was hysterical!  It was a perfect end to a wonderful trip to Moc Chau. We had such a great time with our new friends, we will definitely miss them and all our CRAZY adventures 🙂

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Hoi An, Vietnam

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When we researched Hoi An, what caught my eye were the beautiful lit up lanterns that lined the streets at night and the bold history of the ancient town. It just looked like a really neat, cool vibe city.

When we arrived on our bus at 6:30am we walked around scoping out a place to stay for the next week. We found a nice family run homestay on a “quiet” street with a private room and A/C for just $8 US per night. (We negotiated price down $2 per night). What we didn’t know at the time was that the traffic would wake us up at 6:30am each morning, there was construction going on across the street, there was no blanket offered (just a flat sheet), we would be offered the same breakfast each and every morning (which after the second day the baguette, fried eggs and same fruit got kinda old) and the large family was pretty loud at night downstairs, especially their son who constantly cried (we were on the top floor and still were able to hear him with our door shut). One of the first days we were there we took a mid day nap and woke up to one of the ladies opening our door to clean the filters out of the A/C. No knock, just came right on in 🙂 And from what we were told by the room next door, they had suspicion someone was coming into their room and turning off the ac each time they left the home because it would always be off when they returned. After that we took our personal gear with us each day and kept just our clothing and basic stuff at the homestay. The hardest thing about our stay here was the language barrier with the owners, only one lady spoke english and seemed to be gone most of the time so when we had a question or needed something we had to wait for her to come back. We tried to use our translator app on the phone but they didn’t want to use it and insisted we wait for the lady to return. We planned on staying a week here but after a few days we were ready to move on, I don’t think Lucas would be able to deal with another morning of fried eggs, baguette and dragon fruit.

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Even though our homestay wasn’t everything we were hoping, the city ended up being really neat, especially at night when the town was lit up and the air was filled with the aroma of street food cooking. The center market was always in full motion throughout the day and night, and it hosted some of the cheapest food we could find in the area so we spent each day walking down there at least once as there was so much to see there.

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One of the top things in Hoi An that we wanted to visit was the My Son sanctuary, it was definitely one of the highlights of our trip here in Hoi An. We rented a motorbike for the day and drove an hour and a half one way to see the amazing abandoned hindu temples that were built. The scooter ride there was definitely a little more scary than our last rental in Da Lat as the drivers here in Hoi An are so much worse! 🙂  A lot of history there between the Vietnamese and the Americans, as thats were a few bombs landed during the war in 1960. You could still see one of the bomb craters on site and the ruins and exhibits are really fascinating to walk around. At one time, the site encompassed over 70 temples as well as inscriptions in Sanskrit and Cham languages which were showcased in the exhibition hall.

One of the best things about our homestay was it was right on the river, so a night walk on the boardwalk was a great way to end each night (minus the humidity which made you sweat 5 min into your walk!) But overall our stay in Hoi An was a good mix of things, from relaxing at the homestay (when it was quiet) to site seeing during the days to nice strolls along the river at night.

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Our Experience in Da Lat, Vietnam

 

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As I sit here on this sleeper bus traveling from Nha Trang to Hoi An I’m supposed to be sleeping but my mind is racing a mile a minute while my eyes are glaring out the window at this full moon thats producing a mirror image on the ocean below it. I can’t help but to think of our time here in Vietnam already. Only one week has passed but we have gained a lifetime of memories and have met many new friends.

Two days ago in Da Lat I had the privilege to sit down and talk to a young man from Hanoi who was visiting Da Lat with his girlfriend. He was eager to learn some new English words to add to his vocabulary (he spoke some english very well already!) As the hours passed he showed me how loyal Vietnamese are to there country, the love he has for his country was beyond beautiful and you could hear in every word how much Vietnam meant to him. But also in his voice was sadness as he told us how he felt stuck knowing he would never be able to afford to travel outside of what he’s always known.

Right now Vietnams exchange rate for the US dollar is $1USD to 22,500VND. For them to travel to America or any other country it would be very difficult to get anything for their money in exchange. My heart breaks for the ones like him who dream of seeing the world but know that it is just that, a dream. But it makes me so happy that they see know just how beautiful a country they live in. People come from all over the world to experience what they see everyday.

Our time in Da Lat was incredible we initially wanted to spend a 2-3 days there but ended up extending our trip 2 more days because we fell in love with the family who was hosting us in their hostel. Da Lat is a much cooler and breezier part of Vietnam than what we were experiencing days before arriving, going from 85-90 degrees Fahrenheit in Ho Chi Minh to a cool 70 degrees during the day in Da Lat.

Our first two days in town we walked around trying different street foods and getting to know our way around town. We picked up some amazing BĂşn thit nuĂłng (Barbecue Noodles) for just 20,000VND per person, along with a few other cheap street foods. The vietnamese sure can cook and if you wait to walk around during peak eating hours you will be sure to find the local favorite spots!

Speaking of cooking, at our Hostel, Da Lat Happy Hostel, we were greeted each morning with a full home cooked breakfast, and took them up on their offer of dinner each night for 40,000 VND each. For the money each night we were given so much food that we always went to bed full and our bellies happy. (Quick side note, Lucas is already missing their Banana Cake! which was SOOOO good!) We even were able to try some fresh strawberry and avocado smoothies free of charge as well as some new fruit that we had never tried before like dragon fruit, lychee and green guavas! We spent 4 days there and left feeling like we had grown into part of their family. We instantly fell in love with their hospitality and how clean the hostel was, they treated us like one of their own and always made sure we were comfortable! The hostel had everything we needed and more for a comfortable stay including the option to rent a scooter for the day, which we took advantage of to go to Pongour Falls one day on our own. They also had tours available that they could call and arrange which we also signed up to do, after pricing all around town we could not beat the price given to us so we took a tour of the countryside of Da Lat seeing the beautiful Elephant waterfall, stopping at a silk production factory (which was a highlight for us both), visiting the Linh An Pagoda & Happy Buddha and a few other really neat places throughout the city.

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Pongour Waterfall
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Elephant Falls

Im not going to lie, I shed a few tears when we hugged goodbye on our last day, we truly enjoyed every minute spent with them and if we are able to make it back down to Da Lat this go around we will for sure visit them once more!

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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