Swimming with Monk Seals in Kauai, Hawaii

Swimming with Monk Seals in Kauai, Hawaii

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Destination: Kauai, Hawaii
Date: November 2008

Our attempt at family a picture on Kauai 2007
 kauaiphoto.com was recommended to us by our hotel concierge for a family photo.  Nick Galante, our photographer was great, reasonably priced, and even gave us our disc of photos at the end of our photo shoot.  I would recommend him to anyone on the island.  We plan on using his services upon our return in November 2013

It’s November… and one of my favorite places to travel during the Thanksgiving holidays is Hawaii. More specifically we love to visit the island of Kauai.  Even as I write this two of my sisters are flying there now.  I am so jealous!

Understand my jealousy 😉
Kauai 2008

 There is a Marriott on Poipu Beach that we can use our timeshare and it is a beautiful property.  We always ask to be on the bottom floor of the resort every time we make a reservation.  I figure this does everyone a favor beacuse it keep my crew off the elevators and the noise level muted to the bottom level.  The great thing about this Marriott is that it has a huge open courtyard with doors leading from the units out to the grassy, waterfall ridden courtyard.  Each unit sleeps eight and that works perfectly for our crew.

Courtyard area of the Marriott where my kids run and play
Kauai Marriott

There is so much to do in Hawaii and if you’ve never been before I highly recommend visiting the island of Oahu first and check off the to do list on that island before going to Kauai or Maui.  On Oahu they have the Polynesian Cultural Center, Pearl Harbor, Punchbowl, Hanauma Bay, the Dole Plantation, Sunset Beach on the North Shore and so many other sites, that are a must for first time Hawaii goers.  However, Kauai is my island of choice and what I sometimes imagine heaven to be like. I guess I prefer the leeward sides of islands.

Map of Kauai

When you get off the plane in Lihue its a matter of driving north toward Princeville or south toward Poipu.  There are lots of hotels to stay in either direction but Poipu is what I love the most.  Actually a few years ago when I was watching the travel channel and packing for a trip to Kauai I was so excited that I had turned on the The Top Ten Beaches in the World feature.  As it went beach by beach I was delighted to see that Poipu was deemed number one as the best family beach in the world.  I couldn’t agree more.

On one of our early morning walks we found this huge sea turtle sunning on the beach
November 2006

One morning after my family had settled into our Marriott, our kids were up bright and early making up for the five hour time difference from Texas.  We felt blessed they managed to sleep until 5am.  So to pass sometime until other hotel dwellers would be up, my husband took the kids for a walk on the beach.  Of course as children are they began getting closer and closer to the water and quickly abandoned their walk and began swimming in the water.  My husband decided to join them and they were all swimming and playing in the water when a monk seal came up and began swimming right along side of them.  It seemed like something out of a Disney movie but the kids loved, and only a tad bit afraid, so they tried to keep a safe distance.  However, the monk seal kept getting closer and closer and so Trent pulled the kids out of the water and they continued playing on the sand.  Later that day when we ventured back out to the water there was a monk seal, (I assume the same one but I could be wrong) sprawled out on the beach sunbathing.  Around the seal the lifeguard had put up a thirty foot perimeter of caution tape to keep the tourists from getting too close.  When we inquired about the monk seal to the lifeguard, he said they can be quite dangerous and it is never safe to swim with one. Uhhh ohhhh.

The most beautiful coastline in the world
Na Pali Coast, Hawaii

Besides the beach, (which most on Kauai are fantastic) there is the great Na Pali Coastline.  This is the most beautiful coast line in the world!  I’m not kidding.  If you are going to spend the money to get to Kauai then spend another $200 to take a helicopter tour of the island.  This will give you the birds eye view of this beautiful strip of land.

Pictures taken from our helicopter on an excursion
November 2006

Once we took a rafting ride to the Na Pali coast and I felt like I was in the “Perfect Storm” movie.  It was a bunch of up and down on the waves especially in November.  Before we knew it three of my kids and my husband were bent over the side of the big raft throwing up their orange Fantas from lunch.  So in the winter months this may not be the best way to see the coastline, however in the spring and summer I hear it is magnificent.  Once you reach the coastline you can explore the sea caves that are located there, which is only accessible by water.

Bailey enjoying the sights from the helicopter
Kauai, 2006

Most people would agree the best way to see the fifteen miles of beauty of the Na Pali coast is to hike the two miles in, on the Kalalau Trail.  Of course, that means two miles in, and two miles back out, so this isn’t the best idea for the old or faint of heart.– or large groups of small kids like we’ve always had with us.  With the black lava sea cliffs covered in beautiful green foliage and valleys cut into this coastline it makes for a slight to behold.  It truly is like a Garden of Eden with so much beauty.  I’ve even heard that there was a nudist colony in here for most of the 70’s due to the inaccessibility of this coast line.

At Waimea Canyon Lookout with the kids
November 2007
Posing along side the Grand Canyon of the Pacific
Waimea Canyon, 2007

Another beautiful sight to see on Kauai, is the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, Waimea Canyon State Park.  Though it is smaller than the Grand Canyon in Arizona it rivals in beauty.  There are lots of different look out points along a driving trail, so this is a fun for the whole family activity.  I will say that there are a lot of switchback the further in you go so be careful of car sick kids. I found this website www.hawaiiweb.com to be very helpful when planning my day excursions on Kauai.

There truly are so many things to do in Kauai another great site to look at when planning day excursions is http://adventureinhawaii.com  Since this is the Garden Isle there is so much beauty to behold.  Whether you decide to take a zip line tour, go kayaking, surf lessons, horseback riding, charter a boat, or even tube.  However, I will remind you that this island receives a lot of rainfall and while discussing this post with my little sister “C” she wanted me to mention that tubing sounds fun but you get rained on a lot in the tubing areas of the island so it can get a little cool and uncomfortable.

On the mud buggies with Grandma and Grandpa
November 2007
Grandma and Bailey ready for their adventure
November 2007
Clay was exhausted from this wild ride through the mud
November 2007

My family’s favorite activity was going in dune buggies through mud and to see caves.  The excursion also provides lunch and a small swimming hole with a little waterfall to clean off.  It was by far the kids favorite activity. It was called the Waterfall, Picnic, ATV tour on Kipu Ranch Adventure found on  http://www.tombarefootshawaiitoursactivities.com

Trent with Grandma, Grandpa and the three older ready to jump in this waterfall and clean off after a muddy ride
November 2007
Hard to keep these munchkins contained and I can never resist the Hawaiian wear
November 2007

One other small attraction I will mention is the Spouting Horn.  It isn’t much besides a hole in a rock off the coast that spits water very high when the surf is right, however it is fun to see.  Plus the bonus is that it is one the way to my favorite restaurant, The Beach-House Restaurant. http://www.the-beach-house.com  The tuna and fish and ceviche served here makes my mouth water just thinking about it.  Its right on the beach, so call ahead and make a reservation so you can get a table with a view.  Make it a sunset time so you can be there when it is light  and look at the beautiful ocean as the sun sinks beneath the waves.  Then the tiki torches are lit and that just adds to the ambiance.  I would suggest this to any man looking to create a special night for his sweetheart.  I can’t recommend this restaurant enough.

My favorite restaurant on the island
Kauai, Hawaii

Once when we were visiting the island with my little sister “L” we spent a lot of time on the beach.  “L” had just returned back from an 18-month mission for our church and her skin hadn’t seen the light of day for at least that long.  Little did we know our days on the beach had caused her to get a terrible sun burn.  So bad in fact, that she had blistered up and was suffering greatly.  I gave her some medicine and got her situated in bed.  Then I put all my kiddos to bed and Trent and I realized this would be our last night to get out for a romantic evening at The Beach house.

Bella, 10 months
Kauai, November 2007
Cute hawaiian twins! Lexi and Leah posing for mom
November 2007
Clay posing pool side
November 2007

I figured since my kids were all in bed and there was an adult there to call 911 if necessary we were good to go!  I just tip toed into “L”s room and whispered we were going out and to call me if she needed anything.  Trent and I were so excited to get to the restaurant and have a wonderful meal and when we thanked “L” the next day for watching the kids while she wasn’t feeling well, she mentioned she had no idea she had even babysat for us the night before.  She still holds it against me to this day for having her babysit when she was so ill.  Of course I rationalize that I couldn’t have gone all that way and missed my night at The Beach-house.  It really is that good.

This group loves the beach
Kauai, November 2007

Now I feel like I should mention that in Kauai there is only one road that gets you from one side of the island to the other.  If you choose to stay up on the windward side of the island towards Princeville it will take you a little while to get up there.  From Poipu I remember it taking us almost two-hours to get up to Princeville.  These literally are two lane roads with very minimal space for passing.  However, it is worth a drive up to Princeville if you are an avid golfer or just want to see what the other side of the island looks like.  Believe me it is all beautiful.

Some old pics from previous trips
Oahu, November 2006

Also while you are there you will probably want to pick up some gifts for friends back home and the ABC stores are all over the place.  I have found that the small drugstores like Long’s have a great selection of gift items at a much cheaper cost.  Hopefully this will help you save a little cash.

Bailey at the PCC on Oahu
November 2006

Obviously traveling with kids can be expensive but try to feed the kiddos at your hotel room before venturing out for the day.  Always try and pack a light lunch to take with you or at least run to the grocery store and grab a loaf of bread and peanut butter and jelly.  Its a lot of fun to picnic on the beach and kids hate sitting down for a lunch at a restaurant when there is so much to do.  Splurging can be saved for your dinner meal.  By the time five o’clock rolls around it will be hard to keep any of your kids awake at the table.  Mine always seem to fall asleep at their plates.  Try and keep them up later and later every night so you can somewhat get them closer to the right time zone.  I also think this is a great way to break kids of some nasty sleep patterns from home too.  I’ve always believed that if my child starts getting up every night at 2am… a trip is necessary.  I’ve realized we don’t even need to change time zones.  Usually we just need to change where we are sleeping, and that can usually break my kids of some of those bad sleep habits.

When there was only seven of us
November 2005

Traveling with small ones can be hard but worth every minute.  Being together as a family and creating these memories that will last a lifetime is priceless.  As always be safe, keep an eye on those little ones at the beach, and always laugh at the spilled milk.  It really isn’t that terrible.  Just know that at our house someone spills their drink every single meal.  It’s inevitable!!

Best memories are always made with these guys
Bella, 10 mos, Leah, 3, Lexi, 3, Colton, 10, Clay, 5, and Bailey, 8
Kauai, Hawaii November 2007
Had to include this old time pic of Colton 6, Bailey 4, and Clay 8 months
During this trip all the Japanese tourists couldn’t keep their hands off of Clay, it was like having a celebrity with us
November 2002
A little blurry but this pic does show Trent with his Bee Gee’s hair so I had to post it 😉
November 2002

Be Safe and Have fun!!

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