Ile des Saintes is a tiny bit of France that happens to be in the Caribbean. There are fast passenger ferries zooming into the harbour at Terre de Haut as the Royal Clipper sets anchor.
There are no excursions on this small French island today, and the beach for our use was supposed to be a pebble beach with a wet landing – not ideal. After the captain checks it out he discovers it has too much weed, so he arranges for a much better beach which has a dock (dry landing), full service hotel, and great swimming and snorkelling from a beautiful sand beach! (See banner image above.)
I’m on the first tender to the beach, and spend the whole morning relaxing in a beach chair, swimming and snorkelling. There are reefs at both ends of the beach, where I take some pretty good underwater video and photos. I return to the ship for a late lunch, a shower, and an afternoon nap. This is the life!
I take the launch into the little town in the afternoon when it cools down a bit. It’s a cute place and another French department, so there are some pretty fancy shops on the main street aimed at high-end travellers. I take a few photos, but I’m on the next tender back to the ship. We are treated to a beautiful sunset as we leave the harbour, bound for the island of Dominica tomorrow.
I get up late and spend my morning spotting Caribbean islands and sea birds (Frigates and Boobys) as the Royal Clipper slowly approaches St. Barts. First is Sint Maartin/St. Martin, then striking Mount Scenery on the island of Saba, and finally the northern islands of St. Barts itself. We anchor near Grande Vigie in Gustavia harbour by 11AM. The 3-masted clipper Stad Amsterdam is anchored in the outer harbour near us. There are the usual complement of super-yachts docked at the marinas in the harbour (see banner image above).
My afternoon excursion today is aboard a charter sailboat, and includes sailing to the leeward side of the island, with a stop at a beach and cove for swimming not too far from Gustavia. I go for a swim in the lovely warm water, and walk the beautiful uncrowded beach. There are snacks and beer served after our swim, as we sail around the windy point back into Gustavia harbour. All-in-all, a sublime and relaxing day!
Saint-Barthélemy is a department of France, and like all of the other French Caribbean islands, it is an expensive place to visit or to live on. That said, all these French islands are also noticeably better off than the other Caribbean islands colonized by other European nations.
I had a good sleep last night, as I recover from the 20+ hours traveling to get here. The resort’s espresso bar isn’t open when I get up shortly after 7AM, so I go across the street to the Starbucks to get my cappuccino – essential to start my day!
I decide to go for a swim at the adjacent Doctor’s Cave Beach, which as Deja Resort guests, we have privileges at. So I change into my swimsuit, put on some shorts and beach shoes, grab a beach towel and get an entry ticket from the front desk. I have a lovely swim in the warm ocean before the crowds descend on the place an hour or two later. After a shower and a change of clothes, I go downstairs for some breakfast, and have a second cup of coffee.
My friends call to say they are going to the beach and invite me to join them. I sit on the deck in the shade while they have a swim, and then we sit and chat for an hour or so after they get out of the water. A Jamaican man at the top of the stairs checking admission tickets seems to want to talk with us about Bob Marley and the start of reggae on the island and overseas. He’s very nice but rather talkative, so we end up staying there a bit longer than we had otherwise planned!
I have a cappuccino in the resort’s espresso bar, and later some lunch downstairs – more delicious fried fish, rice and veggies. I take it easy this afternoon at the resort, alternating between napping, working on my photos and journal on my laptop, and staying cool sipping Jamaican Red Stripe draught lager. Beer and wine, mixed drinks, espresso, and food is all served as part of the all-inclusive service at the resort. This is a pretty sweet deal considering we paid less here for a room than available elsewhere in the area.
After we have dinner at the resort, I finish my journaling and photo work on my laptop before going to bed. We board the ship tomorrow afternoon, so I want to be well-rested and ready to go.
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.
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 strong currents), 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.
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!
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
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
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.