So this is a bit late coming, but here it is: Kauai, Hawaii. I was there at the end of February for a conference for work, ISSS-8 (International School for Space Simulations). The school kept us fairly busy, but I got a few days to explore the island...and it was amazing.
Chickens. These tasty creatures were introduced to the islands by Europeans (of course). Other than humans, no predators exist on the islands to keep their population controlled, and being the tropical paradise it is, the chickens flourished there. Now they are all over (including the beaches), and despite what every child is told...roosters do not just do their cock-a-doodle-dos in the morning...they do it in the middle of the night too, which is no fun when trying to sleep.
So, Kauai is supposedly the most ruggedly beautiful of the Hawaiian islands. It is no longer volcanically active, but those volcanoes that were there left an amazingly beautiful island. The pics here should help demonstrate that. As always, however, these pictures do little to no justice for the real thing! So this is just one of the random, perfect beaches one can stop at while taking the Kuhio (Kings) Highway along Kauai's north shore. These are scattered all along the side of the road, separated by rugged, rocky cliffs. All of this makes the drive a lot of fun too...just remember to pay attention to the road every once in a while, however hard it may be.
Another beach on the north shore, Secret Beach. Its really not that much of a secret though (as you can see by all the people). Although, I must admit, compared to beaches I have been to on the mainland, Kauai's are quite empty, and it is no problem finding your own massive patch of sand. Secret Beach is famous for its surfing and nude hippies. It is in quite a secluded spot which involves a short hike down a small cliff from a dirt road. Nudists enjoy this beach so much that there are signs posted letting all know that it is indeed illegal to shed your clothes no matter how secluded the beach may be! Pretty funny! The lighthouse on the cliff in the distance adds quite nicely to the whole place as well.
Same beach near Waimea. There was a family of Hawaiians here that were barbecuing on the beach. The people of Hawaii have an amazing place to live, and they definitely seem to know that and appreciate it.
A valley on the northwest shore, part of the famous Na Pali coast. This corner of the island is a massive series of these rugged ridge lines and lush valleys, making it one of the more popular spots for helicopter tours.
One of the many spectacular view from the Kalalau Trail along the Na Pali coastline...a really really awesome hike!
Tunnels Beach....possibly my new favorite beach in the world...definitely tied for first place with my favs from Fiji and Puerto Rico. The water is crystal clear with reefs and tons of tropical fish (nice for snorkeling). The beach is massive and really wasn't that busy while I was there, and I couldn't get enough of the mountainous backdrop...so incredible.
This small mountain is called the Sleeping Giant. Think of the highpoint as the nose with the forehead (even equipped with an eyebrow). You can kind of make out a mouth line before the chin. The rest of the body must be in a sleeping bag or something because it doesn't have the "defined" features of the head. I really see it as one of those ancient sculptured heads from Easter Island turned over and seen in profile...hopefully that helps everyone see it!