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Kauai, Hawaii

In 1991, we made our first trip to the Hawaiian Islands.  The island of Kauai was our destination.

My initial impression was that of color.
Blue skies, blue seas, red earth, tan bodies, brightly colored flowers and fruits.   Everything else is green.

The Kalalau Valley

Waimea Falls
Waimea Falls

In California, the drought years had burnt the earth to a dull brown. I hit the shores of Kauai like an alcoholic falling off the wagon, and got blindingly drunk on the colors of this island.

The island is so full of beauty that it's hard to pick a favorite.

The beaches are perfect. 
The underwater life is as good as it gets.
The Na Pali Coast is a jaw-dropping site.  Carry lots of film.
Hulas are fun, as well.

Still, there are two absolute "must-do's". Pass on these at your own risk.
1 - Hike into Waimea Canyon.
Take the Kumuwela Trail through rain forest and thick green swamp (there was fruit everywhere, we munched raspberries), then Kumuwela Road to the canyon overlook. It's a spectacular view of the 3600 foot deep canyon.

Now take the Canyon Trail along a knife edge ridge that gifts you with vertigo-ripe views into the heart of the gorge (resist the temptation to jump).
Continue to Waipoo Falls. Here you can swim in a cool pool of water, at the top of a thousand foot waterfall.  I did, because this, after all, is the Hawaii we dream of.
Hike back to your car via the Hanamalu-Kokee trail.
Do yourself a favor.  If you see any coconuts, don't break them open by throwing them against trees.  I did, and rancid coconut milk exploded all over me. King Kamehameha's Revenge? Maybe. Anyway, every time the breeze stopped, I'd get a whiff of myself and almost vomit.
Still didn't ruin the hike.

2 - Save all your pennies and take the Full Helicopter Tour. We flew up Waimea Canyon, through the spires of Na Pali, around the coast to Hanalei, then into Mt. Waialeale, one of the wettest spots on earth.

Kauai Beach
East Coast of Kauai

Hawaiian Girl
Local Scenery

The helicopter hovered into the crater of this volcano, then rotated in place. Surrounding us were the steep sides of the volcano, completely covered in mosses and ferns, dripping with moisture.  The only way to describe it is that the walls are literally weeping. It's a positively haunting scene.

Okay. I know what you're thinking.  You have an uncontrollable urge to.....
wipe the sand off this woman's' foot. 

Go ahead, if it makes you feel better. That's what vacations are for.