This morning we went with the "if it ain't broke don't fix it" philosophy so we had apple-banana Macadamia nut pancakes for breakfast again with the addition of some dragon fruit we picked up at a farmers market the day before. Then it was down to the cove for some morning turtle watching. One turtle had large white growths on its neck and flippers, sad to see that.
We had a doors-off helicopter tour scheduled with Mauna Loa at 11:30 so we had to bid the turtles a temporary farewell.
We checked in and met our pilot Fabrizzio. He gave us the mandatory safety instructions as there are some additional considerations regarding the wind force when flying with the doors off. We put on our life vests boarded the chopper and waited for clearance.
We gently lifted off the ground and turned south-west over Kalapaki Bay.
We hugged the southern mountain peaks for a short time before turning just inland to view Manawaipuna falls which was flowing brilliantly.
Fabrizzio is a very skilled pilot and did a wonderful job maneuvering the helicopter so we could both get pictures of the major sites.
We passed over the tree tunnel which we had already driven through numerous times but this gives you a whole different perspective. We then turned in towards Waimea canyon where we encountered some rain squalls and low level clouds. Even with these less than optimal conditions the views were still spectacular.
We then turned west towards Polihale and the start of the Napali coast. We encountered a couple of rain clouds as the Kalalau valley came into view but the weather improved as we made our way towards the cathedral and Honopu valleys
The balance of the Napali from Honopu through Hanakapiai falls and beach is an awe inspiring sight which photos never seem to be able to do proper justice.
After viewing Hanalei bay we turn in land and enter the crater where the walls are weeping and you are surround by torrential cascading waterfalls in every direction.
It's almost indescribable. Your head swivels left - then right and with each turn your eyes focus on a newly spotted waterfall. You raise your camera to capture the majesty and before you can even snap the picture an even more spectacular waterfall catches your eye.
Now is the time to surrender to the moment. Put the camera down, breathe deeply and take in this natural wonder for what it truly is. A remarkable ecosystem that exists nowhere else on the planet. Mother nature is creating life all around you. There are no words.
As you exit the crater you have a fantastic view back towards Hanalei and in front of you are cattle ranches and the odd lava cone or two.
The final turn south east towards Lihue can give you the opportunity to catch a glimpse of Wailua falls and sleeping giant but all too soon you helicopter touches down and the whine of the rotors begins to wane.
60 minutes have never gone by so fast, yet I know it's been 60 minutes because I saw Fabrizzio start a 60 minute timer on the instrument panel as we departed and it now reads zero as we wait for the rotor to stop spinning.
I am so glad we decided to do the door off option and to go with Mauna Loa because having just the two of us in the chopper ensured excellent views for both of us.
Since we had been sitting for over an hour it just stands to reason that we'd be hungry right?
We decided to try a local lunch option so it was off to Puka Dog. Now I am no hot dog guy. I have similar feelings here as I do towards ice pops but this seemed like a concept worth trying.
They take a large hot dog bun and ram it down on a spike that looks like with was removed from a medieval iron maiden torture device. The spike is heated so it creates a hole "puka" for the dog and condiments while also toasting the bun. You can choose a polish dog, or a veggie dog, levels of spice for the mustard and then some tropical flavored relish options. They fill the puka with you selections put it in a bag and hand it to you. Bizarre and a but funny to watch but the flavor combinations (if you don't think too hard about what you are about to do to your GI tract) actually work. The Puka dog when combined with the lemonade is quite nice. This isn't a culinary tour DE force but I am glad we had the Puka Dog experience.
After lunch we strolled around the Poipu shops before heading back to the house.
We then walked over to the Kukui'ula shops for the "Gourmet Farmers Market" This is a little more upscale than the average tailgate farmers market but I'm not exactly sure that's the point. Farmers markets should be downscale if you ask me.
We did pick-up some local grass fed ribeye, some spice rub, and more apple bananas.
We also found the "Right Slice" pie lady. I recall reading excellent trip advisor reviews so I get in line while Cori continues to seek out more goodies. I pick up a Mango Lilikoi baby pie considering the length of the line I am hopeful that the reviews are on track. We took our treasures home as we had to get ready for dinner at Kauai Ono 560 at 6:30 and we had to drive to Hanalei.
Kauai Ono is a catering service that does an open air sit down dinner two nights a week. We got there at 6:25 and chose a table. This is communal dining so you are going to meet new people and if you're lucky maybe some new friends. It is also BYOB. i would estimate there were 45 people in attendance. Our table had eight. The tables are set under a white tent.
At the start things were a little buggy but once everyone used a little spray the bugs were of no further concern. The 5 course tasting menu is based on ingredient availability and changes each seating
I learned quickly that the chefs style is to combine flavors so you should try your best to mix the ingredients with each bite to get the flavor he is going for.
First course Uli cake with marinated beets and starfruit
Second course Peasprouts with corned beef and santol
Third course: Mixed salad with ginger
Fourth course: Walu with kale
Fifth course: Chocolate torte with bananas
I thought this dinner was fantastic. I love the outdoor setting and the communal seating. We met great people, had great conversations, enjoyed very good service and food. This is a very good deal for $50.00pp. I hope they continue to do this and keep it outside. The outdoor venue is part of the experience and it's really good fun.
At this point we bid goodnight to our intrepid table mates and began our drive home.
This was an awesome day..