So we checked off the northwest in Seattle, lived the beach life of the southeast in Clearwater, and now we explored the true paradise of the southwest in Hawaii! On the island of Kauai, we found fresh fish, swam with sharks, and hiked to nearly 5,000ft of elevation. In other words, it was a pretty legit vacation. Oh and we also got engaged at Waimae Canyon…more on that later…either in this blog or a future one…we will see how my mind goes today.
To try and stick with the travel blog theme let’s first run through the island of Kauai, known as the garden isle, Kauai is a luscious green landscape with a huge volcano/mountain in the middle of it. It is a magnificent sight when you first fly in because they take you by one of the major outlooks and you get to see the beautiful green scenery with a mountain back drop from a bird’s eye view.
Kauai is one of the lesser populated islands and is not nearly as westernized as the big island from what I have heard. With far less people, you get to interact with the locals and the aloha spirit a little bit more. On top of that, the food is all mom and pop shops bringing you locally grown ingredients and the farmers markets are fantastic!
We can start with a story of our first farmers market I suppose. After wondering around to find our first hiking trail (ended up having to drive on a dirt road with trees on each side and contemplated turning around several times but didn’t think we had the space) we decided that on our way back we would stop by the farmers market we drove past on our way to the hidden beach. After trying some fresh mango, papaya, cacao tea, and coconut, we sat down to what I am still convinced was the number one grandma in charge of Hawaii. This wonderful woman in a bright red dress sat down next to us under an umbrella and struck up conversation.
While the conversation was great, it was very interesting to hear she had made a lot of money on Kauai and never left the island…I would guess a half dozen of the vendors came up to her to interact and as she brushed them away thankfully, this La Madrina ended the chat telling us that with our sunburn we should come over to her farm and she would concoct us her special aloe rub for burns…if Heidi wasn’t there I would have potentially ended up a casualty or a rich man by making friends with this gangster of a grandma…the world will never know.
Outside of great people in the farmers markets, the hiking trails were a spectacular place to embrace the solitude of the island. Daily I found myself on a hiking trial while my soon to be fiancé was busy at work. It for sure was less fun without her by my side, but I made it through…somehow ;). My favorite of the hikes was the Waimae canyon trail. It was a hike that took you up past the Waimea canyon outlook through the jungle and right up next to a waterfall that cascaded the side of the mountain. You’re able to get so close that you could actually put your hand in the water right before it plummets several thousand feet…not that I did that mom because that would be dangerous and silly.
If hiking isn’t your thing but you want to do something outdoors while on the garden isle, I would recommend signing up for some surf lessons. There are several small shops around the island but I found my instructors at Poipu beach surf school. Tips for surfing lessons, use lots of sunscreen and don’t forget the back of your calves. The instructors floated out in the surf with us and gave us some guidance and an extra push as we carved some sick barrels…just kidding we road waves in that I didn’t even know you could surf on. Overall the experience was addictive if you have the type of personality that hates failure and loves the serenity of the ocean. For a small fee of $75 I was able to experience something that most of the population will never get to enjoy…moral of the story, if you are in any part of the world that offers surfing, try it.
Okay now just some quick pitches for restaurants and then I’ll get into the engagement. First off you have to go get a macadamia nut latte from Java Kai. We started the majority of our mornings trialing their Acai bowls and various coffee concoctions. Overall 4.8/5 stars. Next, for a cool vibe and reasonable prices, check out lava lava beach club. There is just something special about having a drink on the beach while sharing some poke with friends. For you classy people, I would recommend Keoki’s Paradise. This place is pricey and that is why we ended up just getting an appetizer, drinks and dessert here…for sure not trying to spend $50 on an entrée but I got a drink served in a pineapple so that was pretty cool. Last but not least, if you have time in the middle of the day, go check out Gaylord’s at Kilohana for a drink. Sitting right next to the Koloa rum factory, you will get the chance to trial some of the freshest as most well balanced cocktails on the island. While I was there the bartender used a sugar cane press to freshly squeeze the sugar cane for the juice in my Mai Thai….talk about something special.
We got coffee, food, and drinks, okay now let’s get into this engagement that happened during our trip. I got down on a knee and she said yes and it was pretty cool.
Alright, alright I’ll go into a little more detail. So we were at the Waimea canyon outlook and I was shaking like a leaf. I hadn’t planned hardly anything but I had the ring in my pocket and it was about game time. As we walked up to the outlook I noticed this 50-60yr old gentleman with two professional cameras trailing up behind us. After staring out into the canyon I asked Heidi if she wanted me to ask the guy to take our picture and see if he would email it to us…naturally she looked at me a little weird, but luckily I am the kind of person that doing something like this isn’t actually that out of the norm so she said sure. I ran up the stairs to where this guy was taking some shots of the canyon and asked if he would be willing to take our picture because I was about to propose…he stared at me and said, “What?? Sorry I am a little hard of hearing”. I leaned in and said “I am about to propose can you take our pictures?” Naturally, he said “Sorry son you’re going to have to speak up I can’t hear you”. A little taken back I tried one more time because I didn’t want to be too loud with Heidi down below unsuspecting.
We finally got on the same page and he agreed to take some shots for us. First we just smiled at him and then I asked her to turn away and face the canyon for one of those cute pics. Then I reached into my pocket and got down on one knee. Of course she was taken by surprise and her natural first words were “Wait isn’t this a big liability and not an asset???” -_- Note to self…do not discuss real estate or financial planning on your way to propose. After 10-20 seconds of her crying and getting down on the same level as me, I asked, “soooooo is that a yes then?” To which she said of course!
People we didn’t know started clapping, someone got a video of it, and good ol’ Brian, the professional photographer as it turns out, captured it all.
Talk about perfect timing. We happened to meet up with one of the most genuine people on the island who also knew how to take some badass photos and professionally edit them. Lucky? Probably. But I like to think of it as most things in life…it never hurts to ask someone for a favor because the worst they can do is say no…and honestly who says no to taking pictures of an engagement in real time.
After the engagement, we headed out for a snorkel tour and while there are several on the island, we had a great experience with holo holo boat tours on their 7hour journey (we also heard good things about Captain Andy's as well). While on the snorkel tour we got to dive over a reef and actually had the experience of seeing a reef shark pass not 10 feet from us. It was a heck of a day to say the least!
So much information in one blog…if this was all TL;DR then I’ll wrap up with go to Kauai, explore it all, and if you happen to be planning an engagement, ask the professional guy who randomly happens to be there to shoot it for you. Oh and Poke/fresh Ahi is so much different than Illinois sushi.
Thanks everyone for reading and sharing in this special blog with me! I’ll see you back next month for another blog about who knows what. Have a great rest of your weekend! Until next time J
I am a new graduate DPT and am interested in personal growth and becoming a connector within my profession.