A luxurious vacation at The Grand Mayan Los Cabos

I just got home last night from a week at The Grand Mayan Los Cabos. It was very nice. I had a one bedroom unit with a kitchen, large soaking tub, big balcony overlooking the pool area with a glimpse of the Sea of Cortez. The resort staff was very friendly and helpful. The pool activity staff was great fun especially Erika and Juan. Even if you didn’t participate in the physical activities they were fun to watch. One day we were taught how to make ceviche and another day we made Caipirinhas (a Brazilian cocktail).

I ate dinner twice at the onsite restaurant Peri Q. The first night I had braised short ribs with enough leftover for a full dinner the next night. The second time I had sea bass. Both were perfectly prepared. Breakfast at the Grand Café was OK but definitely overpriced. About a 15 minute walk to the south west is Mega which is kind of like a Walmart with a large grocery section. I purchased food for breakfasts, snacks and beverages at reasonable prices.

What I didn’t like was that all food and beverage bills had a 15% “service/tip” added on. I usually tip more than 15% but I would rather the tip be totally in my control. I did order room service one night and I added an extra tip but in cash so hopefully the delivery guy got it.

I took my iPad but could not get internet access for the week. They said that no guest has ever been able to connect to their wifi with an iPad because the iPad antenna was too weak. In my opinion the lack of connectivity because they have no distributed wifi access points. It’s a pretty spread out resort.

A spectacular sunrise

Early morning view of part of the pool area

My view from the pool chair

A little R&R Hawaiian style

When I got laid off a little over a month ago I decided to book a trip to Kauai. I was going to go the end of June but airfare was too high and we ended up having my mother’s memorial service that week. So I wouldn’t say that this trip to Kauai last week was spur of the moment.

I was lucky enough on short notice to be able to use miles on Alaska Airlines. I got to the gate in Seattle and shortly after an agent announced that they had one 1st class paid upgrade available. I leaped to the counter and grabbed the upgrade for $150. It was so worth the money to have a comfy seat and good service for the 5 1/2 flight.

I arrived at the Kauai Marriott about 8:30PM and had excellent service checking in. The woman found a room and told me that she wanted to make sure it was ready. She called housekeeping to double check and told me that it was a really good room and she didn’t want to lose it. It was dark so I couldn’t see anything other than the pool and hotel lights from my lanai. I woke during the night and opened the door and could hear the waves close by. In the morning I could see that I had a fantastic view of the pool and the beach.

The hotel grounds were lush, green with plumeria and palm trees. There is a Koi pond just outside of the lobby.

There were tons of Koi in this pond and Hawaiian Ducks around and in the pond too.

In the large open air lobby there is this outrigger canoe displayed. It was made with a beautiful local hardwood.

My room was very comfortable. It had a love-seat, desk, mini fridge and that fabulous view.

The Kauai Marriott was a great vacation spot. I would stay there again. The bad side of flying Seattle – Lihue direct is that the return flight leaves at 8:00AM. That would be pretty painful if the Lihue airport  was a major city’s airport but it’s not. The airport is small and Alaska Airlines is off to one end of the check in counter all by itself. Unfortunately there  was not a 1st class upgrade for the flight back to Seattle. Trust me, I asked.

I did not take very many photos but this trip. You can see some of my favorite Kauai photos from previous trips over to the left on Flikr or go to the Photos tab to get to my Webshots photo albums. Here’s one album from last summer’s trip to Kauai.

A few more Kauai photos

This sunset photo was taken from the driveway of the condo complex we stayed at. It looked like a fire behind the trees. I wanted to go up to the rooftop of the parking garage, 4th floor to take a sunset photo but never did for some reason.

Hanapepe seems to be having pretty hard times. The small town is so much more run down looking than when I was last there two years ago. There are still art galleries but I think this sign is out dated as I don’t believe there are 16 of them anymore.

A nice welcome sign to Poipu where we stayed. We were just a bit down the road from this sign. Directly across the street is a huge new development with shops and restaurants. According to the concierge at the condos we stayed at the work came to an abrupt halt when the banks started to have problems. So now the buildings are sitting there unfinished with boarded up windows.

My ice tea in a coozie I bought the last time I was on the island.

A beautiful home  behind this fence across the street from Kalihiwai Bay. Look closely and you will see one of the infamous Kauai roosters

Sunset over the ridge of Waimea Canyon.

This is Lydgate Beach Park. There is a sea wall making a nice safe pool for swimming and snorkeling. It was a bit rough this day so the snorkeling was not good. But we had fun just floating in the pool. To the north is an even smaller shallow pool for the little ones. As with most state or county parks in Hawaii there is a lifeguard, outdoor showers, nice restroom facilities and picnic tables. When Tara was little we spent many days at this park on our annual Kauai vacations.

Tara’s fried ice cream at the Thai restaurant in Nawiliwili Harbor shopping plaza. It looks almost identical to the dish that my friend Ralph had at Om on Isla. The ice cream tasted like a fresh donut only better.

Tara complained about the spot I picked to sit on the beach at Salt Pond Beach Park because it was a shallow area surrounded by rocks. Another sea wall like pool like the one at Lydgate but this one is natural not man made. However once Tara got the snorkel and mask on she floated around for a really long time collecting the tiniest little perfect sea shells.

I just love the look of palms against a blue sky.

Old town Koloa from a moving jeep.

The tree tunnel on the road toward Koloa and Poipu.

Maluhia Road, South Kauai
Walter Duncan McBryde, a Scotchman who began cattle ranching in South Kauai, planted these Eucalyptus Trees over 150 years ago. The trees once formed a beautiful canopy over the highway before two hurricanes damaged the tops of the trees.

The tree tunnel was starting to nicely recover from the damage of Hurricane Iwa (1982) when Hurricane Iniki (9/11/92) hit as a cat 5  and caused major damage again.

Mt. Wai’ale the rainiest spot on the planet. Of course it can’t be seen in this photo because it was covered in clouds.

“A common question is why Mount Waiʻaleʻale is the wettest spot on earth averaging more than 460 inches of rain each year at the summit. The answer is three-fold. Its northern position relative to the main Hawaiian Islands provides more exposure to frontal systems that bring rain during the winter. It has a relatively round and regular conical shape, exposing all sides of its peak to winds and the moisture that they carry. Finally, its peak lies just below the so-called trade wind inversion layer of 6,000 feet (1,800 m), above which trade-wide-produced clouds cannot rise.”

The last photo was taken on the drive to the airport to go home. So it truly is the last photo I took this trip. I am already planning on going back to Kauai next summer.

Kauai July 2009 – Na Pali boat tour

This was a fabulous boat tour of the Na Pali coast. We saw a huge pod of Hawaiian Spinner dolphins, many sea turtles, Tara and Kelly snorkeled, the trip included a good deli lunch and the views were awesome. We only went in two sea caves since it was a larger boat than I planned on going on. I booked a smaller boat tour with Kahana Charters but it turns out that they also book under the name of Liko Kauai Cruises . Since they had too many people for the small boat and not enough others for the big boat we all went on the big boat which only takes 34 passengers max. I think there were about 20 people on the boat. Well worth the $140 per person for over 5 hours of fun. This was the 2nd most awesome thing that I have ever done in Hawaii. The first being the Na Pali tour I took two years ago in a much smaller boat.

I had a hard time selecting which photos to post since after editing I ended up with 89 photos from this day.

Tara, Kelly and I sat in the front row seats. As we got quite aways out on the tour we encountered some pretty big waves that were jarring to the back and butt. As Tara said “it was fun until it wasn’t fun anymore”. On the way back into port Mindy told me she saw whitecaps up ahead and said they were going to stop the boat and get the people off the bow and we should move to the back if we didn’t want a really rough ride. No thanks, been there, done that!!! Even in the last row of seats it was rough. But it was more fun than banging up and down and killing my back and butt.

 

This boat was custom built on Kauai for the Na Pali tours
This boat was custom built on Kauai for the Na Pali tours
Fishing boats at the Port Allen marina

Fishing boats at the Port Allen marina

Navy ships loading up

Navy ships loading up

Kauai is home of the Pacific Missile Range which encompasses 42,000 sq. miles of sea and air space and has minimal encroachments. The underwater tracking range extends over a 1000 sq. miles areas. PMRF features a state of the art instrumentation suite & communication network.  About 17 miles of prime beach front property is owned here by the US Military. On our boat trip there was a Navy weapons recovery ship stationed out a ways to block traffic for missile launches. We didn’t see any missiles being launched but the boat crew said unless a missile crashed and burned in the water it really was a non spectator event. Also on Kauai high above the beach in the moutains is the NASA tracking station which can be seen from the ocean.
Here is a view of the bases beach

Here is a view of the base's beach

I love the contrast of the funky old fishing boat and the nice cat

I love the contrast of the funky old fishing boat and the nice cat

Heading out to sea

Heading out to sea

  

The sea was a beautiful blue this day

The sea was a beautiful blue this day

 

 

Off in the distance is the island of Niihau

Off in the distance is the island of Niihau

 

Niihau is the smallest inhabited island in the Hawaiian island chain and it has no roads, no hotels, and no restaurants. It is located about 20 miles west of the island of Kauai. For the most part, access to Niihau is limited to the approximately 300 residents who live there, but a there are a few limited tours available from Kauai.

 

Polihale Beach, the end of the road

Polihale Beach, the end of the road

 

 

Spinner dolphins

Spinner dolphins

This is when I learned that my Flip Video camera has no low battery warning after I was about 2 minutes into filming the dolphins and my battery died. I hadn’t saved the video so I lost it. This was when I got the “practice what you preach” comment from Kelly because I said to Tara the night before to make sure her camera battery was fully charged.

 

I could just post a ton of photos of the beauty of the Na Pali coast but I won’t.

 

 

 

 

More waterfalls would be seen in the winter months

More waterfalls would be seen in the winter months

 

 

Inside one of the sea caves

Inside one of the sea caves

 

 

Snorkel and lunch stop

Snorkel and lunch stop

 

Look at the color of that water

Look at the color of that water

 

 

I did not need to snorkel to see the fish

I did not need to snorkel to see the fish

Kauai July 2009 – The flora and fauna of the island, part 1

TravelWise says “National Geographic has dubbed the Hawaiian Islands one of the most biologically remarkable places in the world. Due to its isolation, it surpasses even the Galapagos Islands for the number and variety of species that evolved from a common ancestor. There are several places on Kauai that are ideal for viewing its biological bounty.”

“Pua Aloalo
Hibiscus brackenridgei

The hibiscus, all colors and varieties, was the official Territorial Flower, adopted in the early 1920s. At statehood in 1959, the first state legislature adopted many of Hawaii’s symbols as part of the Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS, state laws). It wasn’t until 1988, however, that the yellow hibiscus which is native to the islands was selected to represent Hawaii.”

There is beauty everywhere you look on Kauai. Beautiful trees, flowers and bushes, ocean and mountain views. But not all of the plants you see are indigenous to the Hawaiian Islands. This website lists plants and identifies which are Endemic, Indigenous, Polynesian Introduction, Alien,or Naturalized. A great website I am sure if I only knew what the heck the name of most of the flowers and plants I took photos of were.

Here are some of the flowers and plants I took photos of on the Lawai Beach Resort condo grounds. Let me go on record here and say it is really hard to take good photos of flowers that are blowing in the wind with bright sun shining on them. I just love all of the colors.

 

 

 

Bird of Paradise

Bird of Paradise

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was told once by a man who worked at the botanical gardens on Kauai that there are over 1,200 varieties of palm trees

I was told once by a man who worked at the botanical gardens on Kauai that there are over 1,200 varieties of palm trees

 

 

 

 

Tara called this the feather flower but I think it looks more like a tropical fish

Tara called this the feather flower but I think it looks more like a tropical fish

 

 

 

One big leaf!

One big leaf!

 

 

 

 

Kauai July 2009 – Heading to the North Shore

As Willie K sings North Shore Reggae Blues –
Under the Mango Tree, waiting for the sunrise, headed for the North Shore
Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa

My body’s aching for a freedom ride, My brothers calling me to join them

The party’s jamming on the other side, over on the North Shore

The Myna Birds are leading all the way, they’re telling me how to get there

I’m concentrating on my early drive, driving to the North Shore

Under the Mango Tree, waiting for the sunrise, headed for the North Shore

Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa

I hear the surf calling me, singing a new song, headed for the North Shore

Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa

I wipe my hair away from my eyes, I like to feel the wind on my face

The salty air begins to make me breath, down in the North Shore

I lay my mistress on the surface swell, and as I move she starts to mile at me

Ooh, Ooh, Ooh, Ooh, Ooh, Let it ride much higher and higher

Ooh, Ooh, Ooh, Ooh, Ooh, Take me now Im your’s take me

Ooh, Ooh, Ooh, Ooh, Ooh, Look at me Im higher than a mountain”

There is something about the north shore of Kauai that makes me feel like I have come home again everytime I visit there. Years ago when I thought seriously about moving to Kauai I would have been perfectly happy settling in Hanalei on the north shore. Oahau has its Haleiwa and Maui has Paia. These three cities have a lot in common. They are surfer towns and laid back hippieish, new age feeling places with a strong sense of community and ohana (family).

And of course now there is all of the controversy about the meaning of the song “Puff the Magic Dragon”.   Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea, And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called honah lee”. When Tara was little I used to sing this song to her everytime we went to Hanalei. That was every year until from age 9 – 16 and at least 3 or 4 times a trip. She hated me singing the song especially as she got to be a teenager. At dinner one night Kelly brought up the drug reference and Tara said “Nu Huh! You used to sing this song to me all the time when I was little.”

Tara and Kelly drove beyond Hanalei to the end of the road. The plan was for Tara to take Kelly to a couple of her favorite places, Lumahai Beach and the Blue Room. However it was so busy that Sunday that there was nowhere to park. So they came back to Hanalei Bay where they had dropped me off a couple of hours earlier.

Kilauea Lighthouse

Kilauea Lighthouse

During the winter months Kilauea is a good place to spot whales who have migrated south for the winter.

First stop on the way to Hanalei

First stop on the way to Hanalei

Kalihiwai Bay – summer months it is a great family beach
Kalihiwai Bay , water looked like glass this day but during the winter this is a popular surfing spot with big waves

Kalihiwai Bay , water looked like glass this day but during the winter this is a popular surfing spot with big waves

This has always been one of my favorite Hanalei Bay homes.

This has always been one of my favorite Hanalei Bay homes.

Fabluous views of Na Pali from Hanalei Bay

Fabluous views of Na Pali from Hanalei Bay

Hanalei Bay pier

Hanalei Bay pier

I want this great beach house. Problem is I dont have the millions of $ it would take to buy it.

I want this great beach house. Problem is I don't have the millions of $ it would take to buy it.


Shop in Hanalei

Shop in Hanalei

Heading back from the north shore we make this stop at a scenic overlook. Those are taro fields in the valley.

On the way to and from the north shore we pass the Sleeping Giant. “Legend states that this giant once roamed the land and was much loved by the Hawaiians.”
I took this photo from a moving vehicle so it’s not real good.
Sleeping Giant

Sleeping Giant

The end of a great day on the north shore. Goodbye North Shore until next year when I plan to return again for a summer vacation.

Spouting Horn, Southshore Kauai

Yesterday afternoon we took the short drive up to Spouting Horn. The view is fabulous from here. There are about 15 booths selling everything from tacky touristy items to jewelry, local hardwood items and masks. Tara bought a couple of Hawaiian style magnets, Kelly bought a ring and I bought nothing. I have on many previous visits purchased jewelry for myself and gifts and other cool things.

Spouting Horn
Water, forced into a lava tube by the surf, gushes into the air making an eerie hissing noise. The ancient Hawaiians believed that Kaikapu, a lizard god Spouting Horn
Water, forced into a lava tube by the surf, gushes into the air making an eerie hissing noise. The ancient Hawaiians believed that Kaikapu, a lizard goddess, was trapped by a clever fisherman in the lava tube and the hissing is the sound of her angry roar. Click here and here for additional images by: Poipu Beach Resort Association.ess, was trapped by a clever fisherman in the lava tube and the hissing is the sound of her angry roar. Click
here and here for additional images by: Poipu Beach Resort Association.

Tacky  touritsy stuff for sale

 

P7040035

Tacky door stiops

Tacky door stops