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Pre-cruise review 5 days in Kauai


Murphy

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Aloha! This is my review of our pre-cruise stay on Kauai prior to boarding the Legend of the Seas on May 7. We were celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary. Thought those of you who don't know what you want to do in Kauai might like to see how we spent our time.

We left Chicago on May 1 and flew 1st class to San Francisco using FF miles. We checked into the Marriott at the airport using Marriott points. The vacation was off to a fabulous start as we were upgraded to a King-suite sitting room. We had a light dinner in their lounge and called it a night. Our flight to Kauai left at 9:00am, which was on time. Again, we were in 1st class using FF miles. The two highlights of this leg were the Mai Tais (which believe it or not were the best we had on the whole trip!) and the fact that I came in second in the “guess the Half-way to Hawaii” contest. I won a 6-ounce bag of Macadamia Nuts that I had to redeem at any Hilo Hatties store. Our flight landed at 11:20am Kauai time. We claimed our luggage, rolled our bags across the street (which looked easier that it was since the sidewalk was narrower than our rolling suitcases and we had a hard time maneuvering around the fire hydrants and electrical poles) and took the shuttle to the Alamo rental counter where we picked up our convertible for the 5 days. The Marriott Lihue was a short drive from the airport. We settled into our King suite. One room had a living area, TV/VCR set up, dining table for 6, mini bar with fridge, microwave and coffeepot and a full bath. The other room was a typical King-size bedroom with a full bath, another TV and coffeepot. Both rooms had balconies with 2 chairs and a table and overlooked the swimming pool and Kalapaki Beach. Our package included breakfast, which we could redeem at the full breakfast buffet, at their continental lounge or through room service. Nice options and we tried all three during the stay! We crashed by the pool for the afternoon and got to know the resort grounds and options. The Carnival Spirit had been in port that day, and we watched her sail away from the port from our balcony.

May 3
No cruise ship in the Kauai port today, so we ventured out to see Waimea Canyon. The drive to get there seemed longer than I thought it should be, but we were staying in Lihue, not Poipu beach as I had last time. The early morning was overcast, but cleared up by noon or so. We meandered up the canyon taking Waimea Canyon Drive, which is not marked very well and is not the “suggested” route by the road signs, but was the suggested route by my travel guide. I’m glad we did it that way, it was prettier I think. We stopped at every turnout and took lots of pictures. We stopped at the Kokee Lodge and had lunch (chowder soup) and bought a few things and then continued to the end of the road. Although the earlier turnouts were pretty and the waterfalls were nice, the view from the end of the road overlooking the Pacific and the start of the Na Pali coast was breath taking. If you take the time to drive the canyon, be sure to go all the way to the end. You won’t be disappointed. On the way back we stopped in Hanapepe town and shopped for Aloha clothing and had a great ice cream at Lapperts! The MacNut is great. We got back to the resort with several hours of pool/beach time and made a reservation to have dinner at Dukes. The fish dishes were fabulous here and dinner included a pretty extensive salad bar. We split a dessert of Lava flow cake!

May 4
The Legend of the Seas was in port today, so we tried to do some things that wouldn’t put us in the crowds from the cruiseship. I took the 7:30am Helicopter tour (too early for cruise passengers to make this flight) using Ohana Air. Their office was within walking distance of the resort. We had 6 passengers, but one was an infant, so I was lucky enough to end up with the front seat with the pilot alone. It would have been quite squishy with another person up there! Our pilot Nick was GREAT! It was an overcast morning and we did hit some periods of rain, but Nick warned us when he was expecting some bumps and it was a very smooth ride considering. The rain only hampered a few pictures, but was welcomed when it caused rainbows overlooking 3 different waterfalls! It was an awesome experience. I took a 50-minute flight and can say it was more than enough. They offered a 75-minute flight, but although it was a pretty smooth ride, I was ready to get off after 50 minutes and was glad I hadn’t booked the longer one. This is probably my recommendation for what to do if you only have one day. Afterwards, I shopped a little and went back to the resort to lounge.

My husband, however, had a much more active day. He took a ½ day deep-sea fishing excursion, which left port at 7:00am. He caught a 40 lb. Mahi-Mahi and one other person caught a smaller one. They had some rough seas, however, and most onboard got sea sick. He returned to the resort a little after noon and then booked a 1:00pm tee time at the Kiele course at Kauai Lagoons. This is the course you can see from the cruise ship as it docks. It was absolutely beautiful and had several very challenging holes. We had dinner at JJ. Broilers. Nothing to write home about and our only fair meal of the entire trip.
May 5
Today we decided to drive to Wailua Falls (the falls that were shown on the opening segments of Fantasy Island) and then drive up to Princeville. The falls were quite impressive, but more impressive was looking at the path we would have had to take to see the bottom of the falls. It literally went straight downhill. We had no intentions of doing so, but we figured we could have made it down, but would probably still be there trying to get back up! There was a vendor selling hand weaved palm items, even though there were signs posted that no vendors were allowed. Leaving the falls, we headed north to Princeville. We first saw the Kilauea Point Lighthouse at the entrance to the bird refuge. Since we were supposed to come back here with our friends during our cruise stop, we skipped going into the sanctuary and proceeded on to the end of the road at Kee Beach and the start of Na Pali coast. Although the sites were pretty, we were rather disappointed and I thought the sites of Waimea Canyon were much more impressive. Hanalei Bay and the crescent beach were nice to see, but unless we were staying in Princeville or wanted to golf, I wouldn’t spend my one day in Kauai riding up here. We ended up having lunch at Bubba’s burgers in the little town past Princeville and drove back to Lihue. Our wedding anniversary was actually the next day, May 6, but since that would be our last night in Lihue and we would be packing to go to Honolulu, we opted to celebrate tonight at Gaylord’s for dinner. It was a very leisurely dinner on the outside portico and a very nice although pricey way to celebrate our 15th anniversary.

May 6
Our last day on Kauai and we finally made it to Poipu Beach! I was surprised at the lack of directional signs to get there and was glad I had my Wizard Press’ Ultimate Kauai guidebook with maps or we would have had to stop for directions! The beach was pretty and had lots of fish to see for snorkeling, but I think we’ve snorkeled in the Caribbean at lots of places that were more impressive as far as corals and fish colors. We spent about 2-3 hours here then packed up our gear and drove to see the Spouting Horn. Unfortunately, we were not there at high tide and the spouts were minimal, but the moaning sound it makes was still impressive. We then crossed the street and walked through the Botanical Gardens. Finally, I saw some beautiful flowers and plants. To be honest, up until this stop, I was a little disappointed in the Garden Isle. Yes, it’s green and lush, but I was expecting fushia, violet, red and yellow foliage that we didn’t really come upon in the wild. Back to the resort for one more hour of sunning poolside. We did some laundry, packed and ordered room service so we could enjoy a leisurely night before another travel day.

May 7
Today, we had our first truly negative experience. I wish I could forget it, but feel I need to write about it to warn others who may be flying out of Kauai. Our flight on Hawaiian Air (FF mile through AA) was scheduled to leave at 10:15am. We left the resort about 8:00am, thinking this was plenty of time since we were only 5 minutes from the airport. Dropped off the rental car and they called over a porter to roll our luggage to the checkin counter. We had e-tickets, which the porter took over to a self-checkin desk to get our boarding passes, then pushed our cart to the security line and the nightmare. Since the Hawaiian Air interisland terminal is so small, they don’t have X-ray machines to check all the baggage, so a TSOA agent checks EVERYTHING in EVERY bag. Because you are there during the inspection, they make you unlock your bags, even if you have the TSOA approved locks on them. The agent told me they only have the master keys at the larger terminal where they do have an X-Ray facility and only have to open suspect luggage. Thank goodness I had all our clothes in Ziploc bags. They took every Ziploc bag out of every suitcase and emptied every bottle of suntan lotion, shampoo, etc out of our overnight bag. I watched the line next to me in disbelief as people’s shoes; socks; undies and more were dumped onto the table. Because we had gotten there so early, we didn’t have any trouble making our flight, but the security line when we were done had to be at least 100 people or more long. All I can tell you is if you ever fly out of Kauai, be to the airport AT LEAST 2 hours before your flight and use Ziploc bags as much as possible. The TSOA agent actually thanked me for using them! While I appreciate the safety these folks bring us, there has got to be a better way to handle the luggage checking!

I am so glad we took the time to relax in Kauai precruise. Our days were full of sightseeing, with plenty of relaxing to help us adjust to the 5 hour time difference.
Stay tuned for the cruise review and feel free to ask me any questions about our adventures.

8 previous cruises, Celebrity, Carnival and RCI, Panama Canal, Hawaii and all Caribbean destinations. Enchantment scheduled Oct 2004
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Thanks for the precruise review, Murphy! Through our travels so far in the US, I'd say that Hawaii airports are actually one of the more stricter airports as TSA security goes. While I agree that it's humbug to deal with as a passenger, I'm grateful that they pay such close attention and somewhat apprehensive about some of the larger airports in this country where the security has been noticeably more lax ...

Spleen

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Carnival Conquest - W. Caribbean - 10/03, Celebrity Infinity - Alaska - 6/03, Ocean Princess - Alaska - 7/02
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Spleen, I agree that these people do a great job and I appreciate them keeping me safe, but I've never been through such an experience and meant to comment on the process as a warning to get to the airport early!

CoasterBob, I am not familiar with the Pride's itinerary, but since you say 1.5 days, can I assume you will have a rental car from Day 1 and be able to leave early in the morning on Day 2 to see the Canyon? If that is so, yes, I think you can do it, but only if you leave before 8:00am.

8 previous cruises, Celebrity, Carnival and RCI, Panama Canal, Hawaii and all Caribbean destinations. Enchantment scheduled Oct 2004
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Murphy - agreed. Definitely need to get to the airport early to make sure you clear security.

Spleen

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Carnival Conquest - W. Caribbean - 10/03, Celebrity Infinity - Alaska - 6/03, Ocean Princess - Alaska - 7/02
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