Kauai: Queen's Bath and a Heavenly Haku

Wednesday, May 20

Holy smokes, we’re getting married tomorrow! I checked my email this morning and saw a note from Kelvin, our officiant, proclaiming the weather outlook looked good. That’s what I like to hear.

We had actual tasks to take care of today, not just aimless exploring, so after our usual morning coffee and island breakfast (what I’ve come to call my overflowing plate of bananas, berries, and macadamia nuts), we were off north again. This morning was the first that the weather was slightly rainy. We stopped off at the Kilauea Lighthouse before it opened and explored a bit before continuing on to Princeville

Once we turned off of 56, we weaved in and out of developed roads until we came upon the little parking area (about 6 cars worth, I’d say) for Queen’s Bath. There was only one car there given the time and the rain, and we were pleased. One look at the path to the right of the parking area and I knew sneakers were in order. This was one of those times where this adventure seemed like a Disney resort- curated and cultivated to bring you this insanely rich experience-but it wasn’t. Instead it was the experience that inspires or provides the setting for the movies and the rides and it is just that awesome.

We wandered down the path, relatively easy compared to the paths to come, but a bit slippery at parts. As we walked we passed a beautiful little waterfall before the baths and sea opened up before us. At first we were startled at the ferociousness of it all; despite the warnings that demanded you heed them and signs of fatalities all around, I heard there was an area that during times of very, very calm seas was swimmable. What we saw was decidedly not. I was disappointed, truthfully. But moments later another couple walked by and advised the swimming spot is over there! and I was pleased to say the least.

We walked on for a bit, careful not to be tempted by the cliff-side overlooks, and came upon the most startlingly beautiful scenes. We did a bit of boulder-hopping and reached the end of the accessible trail before turning back to reach Queen’s Bath.

There were only a few pairs of visitors there, so we found a spot away from the crashing waves and stored our belongings. The water was perfectly calm, the tide just right. I couldn’t resist jumping right in, though it was indeed colder than the perfect waters days earlier. How incredible! You don’t even need snorkeling gear (while I was bummed I forgot mine in the car) it’s so clear, and the water so dense with salt that it’s effortless to stay afloat. Fish gather around your feet and there are crabs scattering here and there. I was in heaven. We chatted with a family from Southern California and I couldn’t resist blurting out our news of our impending nuptials. Next, I struck up conversation with another young woman who had just gotten engaged on their trip to Kauai. LOVE I tell you… It’s rampant on this island.

The crowds started pouring in and we took that as our cue to depart this paradise, but not before spotting sea turtles swimming about in the area outside of the pools. We wandered back up the path, more difficult now with obstacles (of the human variety), and arrived back at our car only to find a line of cars waiting as patiently as they could for a spot. Come early.

Back on the road we finally made the quick turnoff we’d been eying each visit: Jurassic Ranch. Oh, how beautiful! Worth a quick stop over and nothing more (or allowed), but it was such a trip. Further down the road we made one last stop at Hawaiian Hardwoods where Randy makes simultaneously powerful and dreamy sculptures out of driftwood and fallen trees…art out of waste. He met us to give us an overview, then was off to take care of his farm while we perused. It was incredible and is a total must-see.

Once back at the cabin as we had business to take care of in the form of going through our vows a bit more…independently, of course. Before that, however, was the task I’d been most excited about since we arrived–hunting for flowers for my bouquet. My original plan was to put together a bouquet from finds at the farmers market, but what was available in the wild as well as on the farm was more than I could have dreamed of.  I made my way down the drive, picked a few, decided to return in the morning to preserve the freshness of others, and ended piling them in a cooler and filling it with water from the outdoor shower.

After lunch, we set off on our adventure down to Poipu to fetch my haku lei (a floral headpiece for the big day). This was our first experience driving anywhere south of Lihu’e. The scene is far different, much more arid, the further down you go. Amazingly, it suddenly turns to desert complete with vast, open spaces, and all types of flowering cactus.

We passed Koloa town and promised to return in the days that followed as this time we were on a mission. A few minutes early, we kept going on the road towards Sprouting Horn and pulled off for a minute to get a glimpse of the site at which the ocean speaks. Pleased with our quick view (it was beautiful, just not necessary to linger), we headed back to the Gourmet Market at the Shops at Kukuiula.

It was far more crowded than what we were used to up north and far more geared towards tourists, but really beautiful and bursting with vendors of all kinds. In addition, there were food and drink specials and live music. We wandered a bit before finding who we came to see at the booth on the other end: Heavenly Hakus.

Immediately I recognized Elvirne from her video on the Kauai Home Grown website. We introduced ourselves and immediately clicked. She shared her story about how she arrived here, marrying her husband after only two weeks of knowing him! She also shared beautiful insight about what brought her to create hakus the desire to create something beautiful out of nothing using what is around her in the most creative way possible and all the while respecting the source. She inspired us both so much with her you just have to go spirit in reference to adventure (sound familiar?) and I was truly sorry to have to leave. She handed me my beautiful haku, I put it on, and she proclaimed me a bride. Another person I will us to cross paths again on our future travels. Until then, I treasure my priceless haku.

Once out of Poipu, our last errand was a hair appointment in Lihu’e. I was welcomed by a sweet woman, Lauren, who proceeded to place my hair in pinned up curls with the instruction to simply let it down in the morning. That I could do. Midway through her sister and her sister’s friend arrived and they all created the kindest environment I could have asked for. Before I left, they advised me of must-do hikes and places to eat while we were on the island, writing each down on a small piece of paper.

Before falling into bed back at the cabin, we had to run back to Walmart where we proceeded to have our picnic “rehearsal dinner” on the roof of our car.

Once home, I gathered our marriage license, vows, and other odds and ends and placed them in our bag that would accompany us to the beach. And by the beach I mean our wedding.

Tomorrow!

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