Posted on November 19, 2007
4981 Aliomanu Road, the place we stayed in Kauai. It is a rather largish property of about 2 acres which contains the main house, a garage with a small house and a cottage. The main house is used by the owners when they visit, the garage house is used by the caretaker and we stayed in the cottage. It’s a small place, maybe about 400 sq ft with the main room including kitchenette, living and dining room, a bedroom and a bathroom. There’s a wraparound deck which can be used to sit out in the cool evenings or to watch the startlingly beautiful and crowded night sky. “Oh my god, it’s full of stars”, that famous line from Arthur C Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey can be used here quite appropriately.
Aliomanu Road was apparently a single road that’s been broken by the Aliomanu stream into two discontiguous parts. We’re at the south end of it. It is a very secluded street with mostly local residents though there are signs that a few more places are available as vacation rentals. Around the bend from the road is the Aliomanu beach which connects to the Anahola Beach at low tides and is separated from it by the Anahola stream during high tide.
Quite a few beaches in Kauai have a stream emptying into the ocean which makes the whole place look more scenic, at least to me. It also has the added advantage of providing a safe place for kids to play in the water during low tide. It reminds me of Varkala, that magical beach in Kerala that we visited when I lived in Kerala for a few years of my early childhood. There is a famous temple that is 3500 years old in Varkala that attracted my parents and the beach attracted me. It was probably the only holy place that I enjoyed going. The beach wasbeautiful and uncrowded, and a stream emptied into the Arabian Sea there, which provided a safe harbor for me to wallow in without getting my parents worried sick.
Aliomanu and Anahola beaches are a locals only beach and so are quite secluded. On a weekday, there’s hardly anybody though a few folks gather in the evenings, while on a weekend there are a few more families relaxing and having a good time at the beach, but still quite uncrowded. The waves seem quite rough though we saw quite a few surfers one day braving the ocean. Using an unmarked and hidden trail, we can get to another part of the Aliomanu beach from where we can hike past the Aliomanu stream to the northern part of Aliomanu Road, and continue walking all the way to Papaa Bay.
The property where the cottage sits is mostly grassy with a few coconut, a few betel nut and some banana trees. Cattle egrets and some Hawaiian moorhen (Alae’ula) are a constant presence on the grassy property. There are lots of hibiscus plants as well. Wild chicken which are a constant presence throughout Kauai have also made home on this property. Rising behind the main house, but partly hidden by trees is the famous Kalalea mountain, made famous in the starting scene of “Raiders of The Lost Ark” and which was the location for the shoot of the first King Kong movie. Though the property is on the mountain side, the ocean is across the street. You can hear the surf pound quite loudly and see the ocean from the cottage. From the upper deck of the main house, you can apparently watch whales in the appropriate season.
I befriended one of the locals when I went running one morning and he showed me the lay of the land as well explaining the different flora and fauna around. One of the houses that sits behind our cottage has been beautifully landscaped by its owner, Rene, who has even been contacted by Martha Stewart to profile the place. Rene has the place open for everyone to come and visit as long as they don’t disturb the people living there. She has a small hen house where she nurses injured chickens and roosters back to health or lets them live them till they die. She also has a few friendly cats one of whom paid us a visit a few minutes after we first arrived at the cottage. He appeared at the door and meowed loudly as if to say, “Open the door, I want to see if everything is OK after you guys have moved in”. We opened the door and he walked in calmly and proceeded to sniff and slink his way through the entire house ensuring that we had not damaged anything. He then demanded to be let out and he sat sunning himself on the deck, allowing us to pet him for a while before disappearing.
The place is far enough from the nearest town, Kapaa, to feel secluded, but close enough that you can drive there for eating or groceries. It’s also perfectly located to explore both South and North Kauai as it’s midway between the two. Only Waimea Canyon is on the opposite side of the island from here. Kauai itself is a fairly small island, smaller than its famous brethren of Big Island, Maui and Oahu. It still has a rustic and laidback feel to it, though we have not yet visited Poipu, the most touristy part of the island. When we went for dinner last night at Kapaa, there were even fewer people than usual. I was surprised to see so few people on a Saturday night.
Kauai is not only the Garden Isle, but also the Hiking Isle as there are lots of mountain ranges. The mountains of Kauai look more dramatic than those on either the Big Island or Maui. The mountains of West Maui do look spectacular, but imagine the same thing but spread all over the island instead of being concentrated in only part. There also is nothing like Mauna Kea or Haleakala that overpoweringly dominate the landscape. The tallest mountain is Kawaikini at 5243 feet is little over a third of Mauna Kea and about half the height of Haleakala. But Kauai does boast of the second wettest spot on the planet, the summit of Mt. Waialeale.
We spent much of our time in Kauai in this cottage or in its environs, walking on the beach, catching the sunrise, listening to the surf or watching the clouds and sun frolic behind the Kalalea mountain. It’s probably the most “just chill” vacation we’ve ever had.