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Luganville, Vanuatu

Port of call on a 2010 South Pacific Cruise from Vancouver to Auckland aboard the Volendam

Oct 14, 2010 – Thursday – Luganville, Vanuatu

I go on my first shore excursion this morning. We are driven to a nice private beach, however it is pouring rain. I go snorkelling anyway, as do most of the other people…after all, how wet can you get? I take some photos of a small WW II aircraft that is sitting on the bottom just offshore in a couple of metres of water. The old WW II US airfield is only a short distance away, so obviously the pilot didn’t make it! After taking a few photos, my underwater camera packs it in. I try to get it going again, but no joy. Our next stop is a Blue Hole, which is an upwelling of fresh water over limestone. This causes dramatically blue coloured water. Several in our group go swimming, however I don’t bother since it is raining again, and the water is not too warm. We drive past the nearby abandoned WWII US airfield, which can still be picked out despite being seriously overgrown.

We drive through Luganville on our way back to the ship. This is not a particularly nice looking place…in fact it is a rather run down little one street town. The ship is docked at an industrial wharf which is covered in oil. The passengers tramp all this gooey stuff throughout the ship. The poor cleaning staff spend days cleaning the carpets aboard the ship!

My friends and I go casual for dinner this evening aboard ship, dining at the Lido buffet restaurant. I have a New Zealand salmon dish that is really nice – tartar sauce, veggies, and rice complete the meal.

North Coast of Kaua’i, Hawaii

January 17, 2001 – North Coast of Kaua’i

Kilauea Point, Kaua'i

Kilauea Point, Kaua’i

Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, is north of Kapa’a on the Kuhio Highway. Watch for the signs and turn right to get to Kilauea Point and the little community. There is no entrance fee, but please drop a donation in the boxes provided. The lighthouse grounds can be home to wildlife. We found an Albatross on a nest, and the nearby cliffs are covered with nesting Shearwaters, Red Boobys, and Laysan Albatrosses. Kilauea Point is the most northerly point on Kaua’i, and Kaua’i is the most northerly of the Hawaiian Islands, so I assume this why the birds find this a good location for nesting. I also spotted a flock of about 6 Nene Geese (native Hawaiian goose).

When the Trade Winds are high, this area around Kilauea Point experiences huge surf, causing some spectacular wave action. Moku ‘Ae’ae Islet and blowhole is a sight to see just off Kilauea Point. There is a small community at the turnoff to Kilauea Point, and I would recommend Kong Lung – a funky store filled with unusual gifts some might be interested in. I also recommend the Lighthouse Bistro for lunch or dinner (located beside Kong Lung). You can’t go wrong ordering their fresh fish of the day. Very good food – highly recommended.

Just past Kilauea Point is Anini Beach County Park. This is a good spot for a picnic lunch, and the fantastic white sand beach is rarely crowded. Anini Beach would make an ideal destination for a whole day’s outing, since it one of the safest for swimming (not too common on Kaua’i due to the offshore reef), and it has good picnic facilities. Another good beach just past Kikauea Point is Kalihiwi Bay. As you can see by the photos, the surf was up while I was visiting in January 2001, so no swimming was possible. The surfers were certainly out there riding the waves, although the emergency rescue was called while I was there, so it was even a bit too rough for some of the surfers!

Princeville is the next community along the North Coast. It is one of those planned communities, which are so common in Hawaii. Everything revolves around the superb golf courses, and yet I find all of them so sterile and cold. No doubt the exclusive properties are very expensive to purchase, and yet they hold no appeal to me whatsoever.

Hanalei Valley

Hanalei Valley

Past Princeville is the Hanalei Valley, which is very picturesque. Hanalei is a small community located on a superb little bay with the same name. The valley is rich and fertile, and many crops are grown here, including lots of taro. Needless to say, there is a great deal of rainfall in this area. Hanalei Bay can experience spectacular surf when the winds are high. If you rent a kayak, stick to the inland waterways.

Ha’ena Beach (aka Tunnels Beach) is normally calm and is a good beach for swimming and snorkelling, but as you can see by my photos, the surf can get very high. Ke’e Beach is much smaller than Tunnel Beach, but it is the end of the north shore road. While you are there, have a look at the Waikanaloa Wet Cave.

Near the end of the North Shore road is the Limahuli Gardens, but they deserve their own article!

East Coast of Kaua’i, Hawaii

January 16-21, 2001 – East coast of Kaua’i, Hawaii

As mentioned on the main Kaua’i page, I stayed at Kakalina’s Bed & Breakfast for the week I spent on Kaua’i in 2001. Kathy still runs this B&B, and it continues to get high ratings.

Wailua Falls, Kaua'i

Wailua Falls, Kaua’i

Before leaving Lihue, take the Ma’alo Road (near the old sugar mill) and drive the short distance to see Wailua Falls. Afterward, proceed northward along the east coast of Kaua’i along the Kuhio Highway. First stop is the spectacular Opaeka’a Falls, and the view of the Wailua River across the road from the falls lookout. If you continue driving up the road to the end, you will find the Keahua Arboretum. I would not recommend taking the boat cruises along the Wailua River. The fern grotto and other sights along the way are underwhelming, although Tripadvisor gives these cruises high marks, so some may like it. The best way to see the Wailua River and falls is to drive to the lookouts on the hills surrounding the river valley (easy), and ideally take a helicopter tour of the whole island (expensive).

The Poliahu Heiau is adjacent to Opaeka’a Falls. Heiaus (or temples) are holy places for Hawaiians, and were used extensively by the ancient Hawaiians. Most heiaus consist of rock walls, and platforms made of rock. Spiritual leaders ensured that the mana (spiritual power) was respected by all, and they also enforced the kapu (sacred rules of life). For more info on Hawaiian sacred places, please refer to a more extensive discussion off my Big Island page which highlights Puuhonua o Honaunau.

Next up the highway, is the town of Kapa’a. This is a good place to pick up snack food, fruit and drinks, all at reasonable prices.

  • Pono Market – hot & cold food to go & sushi – inexpensive & good – where the locals shop for takeout! This place continues to be a must-try according to the enthusiastic Yelp reviews.
  • ABC Store – best place to buy cold beverages and snacks, and the best prices on the standard Hawaiian souvenirs.
  • Farmers’ Markets – If you want the freshest food, and delicious local snacks, you need to find a local farmers’ market!
Wandering an east coast beach

Wandering an east coast beach

There are some restaurants scattered along the eastern shoreline of Kaua’i, and they are worth finding and trying out, since many cater more to the locals than tourists. There are resorts along the east coast, but they tend to be more modest than those you will find elsewhere on Kaua’i. There are also many public beaches along the eastern shoreline. They are well worth exploring, since they are less crowded than other areas of the island. In particular, Anini Beach is a great spot to spend the day after picking up your picnic lunch in Kapa’a.