Grant's and Bill's
2012 Hawaii Scrapbook
Page 3 of 4
- Kauai -
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Wailua Falls Kauai
Page 3

Waimea Canyon - view to north



Kauai locator map

Kauai is pronounced 'cah WAH ee', which usually comes out of my mouth more like "cow EYE ee". It is the farthest north of the main Hawaiian islands, and, of the 5 major islands, it is the least populated with only 60,000 people. It was also the first one formed, created over 5 million years ago from a single shield volcano which collapsed catastrophically, then refilled with lava, then became deeply eroded. The landscape is now the most varied of all the islands, with lush, green areas on the east and north sides and the center, and with much drier areas on the west and south sides. It's hard to say which is the most beautiful island, but IMHO, Kauai has the most spectacular scenery.


Helicopter tour

Okay, never mind the hotel, let's get right to the helicopter tour because this was the biggest and longest adrenaline rush I have ever had. My heart was racing the whole time, which had something to do with the blustery winds, but more about the incredible thrill!!! I doubt the pictures or even the videos will do it justice, but let's give it a go.

As on Hawai'i, we did a Doors-Off tour. But this one was twice as long and went all over and all around the island for an hour.

Inter-Island Helicopter for Doors Off flight   Dry canyon waterfall looking straight down

Our helicopter flight first took us up the large valley just left of the vertical line of clouds in the center, That's Hanapepe Valley. Then we cut across the ridge to the west into the next big, deep valley which appears as a very deep, dark scar on the map. This valley/canyon had even more waterfalls than the first.

Then we headed west to the biggest valley, Waimea Canyon. We then went further west and out over the ocean at which point we then turned north and east and flew along the very steep and rugged Na Pali coast (too rugged for roads.) Then we headed inland to see the waterfalls in the north-facing valleys. When we ran out of those valleys, we headed into "the crater" of Mt. Waialeale at the center of the island, which is almost never clear of clouds. Then we headed south to the coast and back to the airport.

Okay, it's time to learn how to pronounce that mountain, Waialeale.
why ah LAY ah LAY.

And the canyon, Waimea is pronounced why MAY ah.
my map of Kauai
There are waterfalls everywhere on the island. The label "Waterfalls" I put on the east side is to locate the 2 waterfalls we drove to later in the trip.

This was our little airport, obviously not Kauai's international airport.
Notice the beach just above the airfield and ponds. We spent a few hours there. It's a beautiful beach and kind of a secret with the locals, no tourists. (And we didn't hear one plane or helicopter.)

Port Allen Airport & Salt Pond Beach

This is a coffee plantation, the largest on the islands. Even though Kona coffee from the Big Island is more famous, Kauai grows more coffee than all the other islands put together.

coffee plantation, southern Kauai

Entering our first valley.

Helicopter shot - entering valley

Buckle up and
click here for the 1st video

Heli pilot's view of valley and waterfall

Some valleys we flew into from the south and west started out looking quite dry, like this.....

Dry canyon cliffs and trees blooming at bottom

...and further up the valleys we saw scenes like this....

Dry canyon vertical wall

....and when we got to the heads of the valleys, they looked like this >
Their heads were in the clouds. :-)

The reason for that is -- Most of the large valleys cut all the way to the center of the island, which happens to be the wettest place on Earth.
And that is why, even if it's a perfectly clear day elsewhere on the island, the center of the island will likely be shrouded in clouds, resulting in the rain that forms all these waterfalls.

The scale of these cliffs is huge. It's impossible to capture the entire height of the cascades. Some of then start hundreds of feet above the cloud level. In this shot, we can just make out an upper section of one of these falls in the cloud level way above the two middle falls. This particular valley is over 2,200 feet deep. We saw other valleys with a 3,000 foot drop.
Valley with the most waterfalls - upper shot
If you look for the twin falls (above left and below right) you can see how these two shots (above and below) connect.

The following two shots are almost vertical of each other.
Valley with the most waterfalls - middle shot
Valley with the most waterfalls - bottom shot

Click here for Helicopter Video 2.


Waimea Canyon

We drove here twice because the views are stunning. This shot is just a small part of the largest valley, and the most colorful. It's in the driest part of the island and looks somewhat similar to the Grand Canyon. Some refer to it as "The Grand Canyon of the Pacific". But the layers here are not sedimentary rock as in Arizona; they are successive lava flows.

The road goes along the ridge in the background and continues all the way to where you can look down on the ocean on the other side of the island.

Waimea side canyon - heli view

Click here for Kauai Helicopter Video 3
( Caution: This video may cause vertigo.)

Dry canyon with waterfall - straight down



This shot is where we came over the last ridge out of the dry canyons and BAM!, just like that we were zooming down and out over the ocean. What a rush!

This is the remote section of northern Kauai called the Na Pali Coast. In the photos, you can see why no roads can be built here.

This is the windward side of the island, so it often rains here. And on our day, it was also quite blustery, which made for an even more exciting ride.

In the second picture here, the black bar at the top of is the rotor blade of the helicopter. (In case you were wondering.)
Na Pali Coast 1

Na Pali Cliffs 2

This is looking down at some sea caves. The roof of the biggest cave collapsed and formed this nice round hole you can only see from above. Love those colors in this photo!

Na Pali collapsed sea cave - vertical shot

When the helicopter descended, we could see the huge sea cave close up.

Na Pali collapsed sea cave - lateral shot

This beach and sea cave are where the 1970's King Kong movie was filmed (the one with Jessica Lange). There are 3 shots of it from different angles as we circled it.

King Kong beach and cave from east

King Kong cave vertical shot   King Kong beach and cave from west

More shots of the Na Pali Coast.
Checking the larger photo on the left -- The farthest ridge is the one used as "Bali Hai" in the movie "South Pacific". (The borrowed small photo below that one is to remind us of the view in the movie.)

The photo on the right shows a giant sea cave, and, in the background, you can see the next valley we were about to explore.

Na Pali Cliffs 3 to Bali Hai ridge

Bali Hai ridge from east - beach level

Na Pali Cliffs - cave at east end of cliffs

The last bit of the North Coast we saw before we headed into the north shore valleys and south from there was picturesque Hanalei Bay, which, on a clear day has one of the most beautiful beaches anywhere..

Hanalei Bay banking heli shot



Not far from Hanalei, the main northern resort area, is the biggest valley on the north side. It is very long and deep, culminating in this awe-inspiring waterfall which cascades directly down from the summit of Mt. Waialeale As you can see, this waterfall is not one single drop, so it's not considered among the highest single waterfalls, but it is easily among the highest cascades in the world, over 3,000 feet.

The summit, as usual, is being rained upon. The pilot said there are only about 5 days a year when rain does not fall somewhere on Kauai, usually on the summit which is not a peak, but a flat area of swamps, sort of like a lost world.

Tallest waterfall

Even though the cliffs are almost vertical, the climate allows almost every inch of slope to be covered with vegetation. This photo is the outside edge of the central crater and the photo below is from inside the huge crater, now millions of years extinct. It is impossible to hike here due to the heavy rains and wet ground. The only possible way to see this central crater is by helicopter.

Sheer cliff at entrance to crater

When the helicopter circled inside the crater with walls thousands of feet high and surrounded by waterfalls, it was a real-life "Avatar" (movie) moment!

It was an amazing climax to the helicopter tour.

We would love to do this tour again!

Kauai crater from inside with waterfalls

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