Stunning Kauai from the Sea and the Land

Day 9, South Pacific, Australia and New Zealand Cruise

Monday, Oct. 10, 2022; Nawiliwili, Kauai, Hawaii

Kauai truly is the garden island. Its striking mountains are covered in lush greenery. All that vegetation requires a good bit of rain, resulting in the island’s status as one of the wettest places on earth. Much of that rain falls around Mt. Waialeale, near the center of the island. In one 24-hour period in 2018, 49.69 inches of rain fell!

Years ago, I flew over the center of the island in a helicopter, where the heavy rain results in dozens of towering waterfalls. It’s really the best way to see the interior, as well as the stunning Nā Pali coast.

During that vacation, I saw most of the highlights. So today I took a smaller tour to see the island’s beauty up close, to the Allerton & McBryde Tropical Gardens. National Geographic rates the Allerton Garden as one of the world’s 50 must-see destinations, so how could I pass? (Actually, this tour was my second choice. I originally signed up for “Hollywood in Hawaii,” a tour of movie filming locales, accompanied by video clips of each movie. Sadly, not enough people signed up.)

Allerton Gardens, a congressionally chartered botanical research organization, covers 70 acres with outdoor “rooms” featuring fountains, sculptures and rippling pools. We visited the sites where Steven Spielberg filmed parts of Jurassic Park and even discovered some dinosaur eggs left behind.

Our guide Michael described the various plants and flowers, calling some “canoe species” that the first Polynesians brought to the islands of Hawaii. More recently vegetation has come from all over the world, some adapting well and others becoming undesirable invasive species. The Allerton Gardens are formal in the sense that each area was planned and planted to achieve a certain look.

Next, we moved on to the adjoining and much larger McBryde Garden, where botanists are protecting rare and endangered plants from tropical regions around the world. Our tour included a bento-box luncheon amid the beautiful plants and towering trees.

We were accompanied throughout the tour by the ever-present wild and colorful chickens that populate Kauai.

On the way to the gardens, we stopped at the Spouting Horn, said to be the second most popular stop on the island. Locals will tell you that the most popular stop is the Costco, where today’s gas price is $4.99 – significantly less than anywhere else on the island.

On Sunday, we had a sea day, even though Kauai is only about 100 miles from Saturday’s port on Oahu. Perhaps that was because cruising has returned to Hawaii, and all the ports were busy.

Norwegian’s Pride of America joined us in Honolulu. Also visiting the islands while we are here on the Westerdam is our sister ship the Zuiderdam; Royal Carribean’s Radiance of the Seas, Quantum of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas; the Viking Orion; Princess’s Sapphire Princess and Grand Princess; and the Seabourn Odyssey.

Holland America filled our sea day with scenic cruising around Kauai, mainly admiring the Nā Pali coast. You can only appreciate its beauty from the water or a helicopter. Hiking the 13-mile trail into the dense and mountainous terrain would give you a different perspective, while requiring much more energy than I have at this point in my life.

Capt. Wouter van Hoogdalem steered us up the east coast, past Princeville and the fabled Hanalei Bay to the north and then down the west side past the Nā Pali coast. Cruise and Tour Director Rachel Coffin provided a commentary on the sights. I took advantage of my verandah on the port side to enjoy the leisurely sail. There also were lots of public viewing areas, including the bow of the ship. After a couple of hours, the captain reversed the course so passengers on the starboard side would get the same view.