If you follow the reef to the RIGHT from Kaloa landing out to the second set of buoys across from a small beach, then you’ll have the dive site to yourself! It’s quite a swim, so you will want your snorkel and your dive flag floaty with you (avoid boat traffic).
The topography turns from flat lava rock bottom into bouldery enclaves of reef harboring all sorts of cool fish that are hiding from the crowd down the coast.
A pattern in the reef caught my eye as I slowly swam over it. A puffer fish (porcupine) lay squished against the rock, his eyes saying “Youuuu doooon’t seeee meee… youuu think I’m coraaaal….” ! Hehehe 🙂
After swimming the 1.5km back to shore from the lava tubes we relaxed and ate a well-earned lunch on the perfect little beach next to the Sheraton hotel (very close to Koloa Landing). When we were warmed back up, we donned our dive gear and hopped back into the water. As we explored the reef, turtles began to appear everywhere!
One after another turtle showed up. Later we learned that almost one hundred of them rest during the day along the mouth of the stream, and then swim back into the ocean at the end of the day!
There were turtles everywhere! Small groups of make-shift families: big ones, sleepy ones,curious small ones, skittish ones bearing scars and chips in their shells, and even one with a strange bubble fungus growing out of its eye, perched there like a strange cold compress.
Turtles turtleseverywhere! (video, 43 MB):
My Love enjoying the turtles!!
We used up every drop of air in our tanks playing with the turtles. We even shared air in the end (always good to practice)! When our air was out we came up to the surface to snorkel and enjoy the sunset. We snorkeled with the turtles as long as there was light, sharing our excitement over the turtles with another snorkeling couple.
There are underwater lava tubes off the southern coast of Kauai that are just waiting for you to dive them!
If you follow the reef out from Koloa Landing on the left side, and surface swim for about a 1.5km (bring a dive flag buoy to warn passing boats), then you’ll find the dive boats’ mooring buoys for the lava tubes about 5m under the surface!
Luckily for us, we saw the dive boat offshore and had a reference point to swim to. It was quite a swim, however it was a fun challenge and was really worth it! We actually saved $300-400 by swimming out ourselves, instead joining the dive center’s trip. Plus (the best part) we could explore the dive site by ourselves in peace!
Swimming slowly through the tubes we disturbed the not-so-skittish fish in the dim blue light.
Turtles had made the caves their home too. I had a slight feeling that we were being watched…when we rose out of the tubes my suspicions where confirmed! A huge turtle appeared from within a crevice, and rose to the surface to take a breath! Another turtle really wanted to say hello. He came right for us!
We enjoyed a windswept sunset from the sacred sacrificial site of the ancient Hawaiians on the cliffs above Ke’e beach. Having visited the site as a kid, I was able to make out the only slightly visible trail up to the open area amidst the otherwise jungle.
What a beautiful site, tranquil, and unfortunately slipping into anonymity as the locals have obscured the pathway up to the site. The site itself, once maintained, has now almost completely melted into the jungle.
We made our way back to through the parking lot in the after-sunset glow and spotted these wild chickens that were getting ready for bed in the TREES! 😛
They even had their chicks with them, hidden well in the foliage!
We had heard about secret beach and wanted to check it out despite the strong surf…
The entrance on the side of the wildlife refuge wasn’t open so we were forced to go around.
However, while there we got to see the albatross that had just arrived that week to start their arduous breeding season. As one parent sits on the nest, the other makes the three day journey up to Alaska to fill their stomachs with fish and fly back. Leaving the cliff, they have been observed to only make ONE FLAP of their wings, and then proceed to glide the REST of the way! The traveling mate makes this journey countless times over the following months until the chick is big enough to leave on its own. Then BOTH parents make the journey to feed the chick! Sheesh…
Using google, we tried random small roads and finally found a very sneaky passageway between houses down to the beach!! The surf was NOT to be messed with.
It was several meters in height above the level of the sand! One group walking on the nearby rocks (not smart) were caught in water up to their waist and almost got swept away!
Lukas was living life on the dangerous side and escaping the waves as they broke, which later on after talking to a lifeguard we found out just how dangerous that can be (several people have been swept out to sea)! No more of that…
Here’s a clip of him evading the enormous waves. Click on the blue link to see the video (15sec, 30MB): dscn7891
The harsh waves dragged the black sand from within our footprints and smoothed them out in one wave, leaving geometric patterns behind:
Luckily we left the beach unscathed that day. Never turn your back on the ocean!
Noni, an apparent cure-all fruit, was chosen by the ancient Polynesians to be one of their few precious boat plants when they took to the seas to settle new islands. The ancients ate it raw as a part of their normal diet, contributing to the relative nonexistence of inflammatory-related health conditions recorded for that culture. Traditionally eaten fermented these days, the raw version is very potent, with well over 160 chemicals present.
Realizing the potential benefits, Steve Frailey decided to start a noni farm on Kauai. Using data on rainfall and sunny days from the military (that surveyed the whole island once upon a time) he picked the perfect spot on the island, with optimal growing conditions, for this fast-growing tropical fruit.
We were lucky enough to meet Steve at a local farmers market on the island and he invited us to visit his family’s farm for a tour, which he occasionally gives in smaller scale!
On the farm, we not only learned about the benefits of the fruit leather they make (substantial since it remains RAW), but also about the benefits and cornerstones to organic farming. Let me know if you’d like some more details!
He showed us the three cornerstones:
-1. Mulching (to hold moisture) to the edge of the ring of branches
-2. Composting (adds extra nutrients and organic material to the soil, feeding the worms and the microorganisms in the soil, who even mix it in for you)
-3. Making compost tea, to spray lightly on the underside of the leaves at late afternoon or dusk, when the leaves open up to take in the nitrogen rich moisture from the air
Steve has a great website where they explain the benefits and uses of noni, as well as have a large collection of scientific studies backing it all up! Here is his website:
You know us, so you know we were looking for a great place to dive on Kauai! As it turns out, the weather in the Hawaiian winter season stirs up the seas, and creates powerful currents and undertow all along the costs of the islands. For this reason, many of the worthy summer diving sites on Kauai are inaccessible during the winter months. After checking around, we concluded that Koloa landing was the safest and best dive spot for us (and just about the only easily accessible one). For anyone interested, we rented tubes and weights for cheap from Fathom Five Divers; we had to remember to ask them to switch to DIN since we were using our own European equipment.
After our first dive at Koloa landing, we were hooked! We did the rest of our dives there, swimming left, then right, then further right to the buoys, and even 1.5km out from the beach point to the lava tubes at 12m down! Great sea life, some larger coral, cool topography, and lots of turtles!
Bonus with the location: Spouting Horn and its craft market is right down the road!
Plus, you can spend your surface time at the nice beach in front of the Sheraton resort, in the sun and 80s degree weather.
This turtle had major hide-and-seek skills… it was not-so-successfully trying to hide from the flopping newbie divers (taking PADI courses from the local dive shops) above.
Big coral pieces all over:
Spotted this little guy hiding in the middle of that huge piece of coral when I passed over.
Morish Idol, I love these guys:
Found a HUGE lobster carapace drifting along the sea floor among the rocks. It even turned out that it was lobster hunting season while we were there!
If a passing fish or your swimming hands manage to disturb the water next to these spiral fan guys sticking out of the coral, then you’ll get a surprise! Flustered, they quickly suck back into their tubes embedded into the coral, protecting their delicate fans specialized to catch plankton and other micro sea life drifting by.
Very beautiful, but shy, blue and yellow spotted boxfish:
Weird-o spiky sea cucumber:
Mini puffer fish!!
Giant mountain coral!
Even simply breathing for an eel can be intimidating!
Driving up the 550 on Kauai to Waimea Canyon State Park gave us some fantastic views of the canyon.
The dirt exposed by a small stream on the side of the road was the REDDEST I had ever seen!
We had lunch with a view from the side of the road! The boogie boards we had in the trunk for later were great makeshift picinic blankets. Lukas even thought about trying them out downhill! 😛
The waterfall from the Jurassic park movies!
View from the lookout over the Kalalau Valley:
This is the valley where they filmed King Kong, Mighty Joe Young, and Jurassic Park, just to name a few. This beautiful valley hasprovided for generations of native Hawaiians, and we even found the entrance to the small hunting trail that wild boar hunters use to descend down into the valley.
We even got to look out over the location previously known as the wettest place on earth (without it raining on us)! Scientists set up a collection system in Maui that has recently collected even more rain, stealing the title of the wettest place on earth.
If you’re looking for a challenging beautiful hike with killer views of the Napali coast, a bit of mud, delicious fruit along the way, and a breathtaking waterfall, then the Hanakapiai trail is for YOU! Plan for it to take all day, and take PLENTY of water and sunscreen. The trail begins at the parking lot at Ke’e beach (the end of the road on the north shore of Kauai) and goes out along the Napali coast to Hanakapiai beach. This beach has dangerous surf during the winter season, but during the summer its fun to cool off and explore the small cave at the far side of the beach before starting up the valley to the waterfall. From Hanakapiai beach, the trail continues up to the Hanakapiai waterfall.. Along the trail to the waterfall you’ll get a great work out and find tons of different kinds of fruit (guavas, mangos, avocados, and mountain apples), and huge stands of bamboo. When you arrive to the waterfall, you really deserve that swim in the chilly waters of the giant pool!
View of a windswept Ke’e beach from the trail:
After a long and hard hike, we got to watch the sun sink into the sea!