The National Tropical Botanical Garden in Lawa'i does guided tours. And they charge a lot for it, $30. We all - well all except my Dad who thought the idea of touring a botanical garden intensely boring - gathered by the open-air bus at 9:00 am. There were three other women on the tour besides our group. They could have taken more. I was told this tour was hard to get on and made reservations before we came to Hawaii, but it seems the early tours still had a few slots.
As we gathered, it started to rain a bit so they put one of the sides down. By the time they had it down and the bus turned around the rain had stopped. Typical Kauai rain. We hopped into the bus and it started off through a gate to their property. It stopped at an overlook to look at the old Allerton home from above, now part of the botanic garden. The home was lovely with a perfect crescent beach. Scientists now use the main house and guesthouse. They stay there and do research.
At the bottom we got out of the bus and they offered us umbrellas, just in case of more rain. We declined. They also offered us bug spray, which we should have taken them up on. Ben got quite a few bites that never disappeared. My bites were little and gone in an hour, but Ben's swelled up and were still with him when he got back to Boston.
The gardens down here are lovely. They don't show off the native plants of the islands, but instead are Allerton's restored gardens. There was a fruit garden and a cutting garden. All were beautiful to stroll through. Many movies have been filmed here, though the only one I remember is Jurassic Park. They showed us where several different scenes were filmed including the big tree that had the dinosaur eggs within the roots.
The Spouting Horn was right across the street from the gardens, so we walked over. The Horn is a blowhole in the lava rock. Each time a wave would crash into the shore, a second later the water would shoot up the hole. It was really quite pretty. There was one man there with his boy. He let his boy run around right at the blowhole and the edge between the hole and the ocean. Though the waves weren't crashing up the rock wall too much at this point, it seemed a little dangerous to me. And Joel was particularly annoyed with them since they wouldn't get out of the picture!
We told Damon and Lori that we were dropping off my Mom at the airport and would meet them on Po'ipu Beach at around 1:30. We didn't know where the airport really was, only that it was in Port Allen. But we finally found it. We shouldn't have turned off at the sign to Port Allen, because the port and the airport are on opposite sides of the bay. But we made it on time and Mom was excited.
Onto the beach! We didn't quite make the beach by 1:30, but we were close. Then we dithered around a while. I wanted to get in the water immediately, because I didn't have much time before I had to leave to pick up Mom. But for some reason we couldn't reach a consensus about where to park our gear. We also wanted to look at the baby seal. A Monk Seal had just given birth the day before (hearsay as to the date, but it was within a day or so) and they had cordoned off a part of the beach so the baby and mother would not be disturbed. We, along with many others gawked, but we couldn't see the baby. It was behind the mother.
It was time to get wet. So I grabbed my flippers and mask and took off . . . then had to come back because I forgot to drop off my sunglasses and sandals. At least I still had about 30 minutes to swim. The fish were OK here but not as good as the Big Island and the water was quite cloudy. The swimmers often feed the fish, so there were a lot of Chub in the water. On the way back Ben kept trying to point something out to me, but I couldn't see it. He persisted in pointing for at least 5 minutes, until I finally saw the eel that he was pointing to. It was spotted black and white and swimming around the bottom. We could also see the baby seal from out here. It was a cute little black speck on the beach.
All the Goulds wanted to take the lunchtime helicopter ride with Inter Island Helicopters as well as my mother. When I made reservations they said their other helicopter was going to be on a different island, so we couldn't go with Mom. The Hughes helicopters only takes 4 passengers. But when I picked up my mother they had both of them on the pad. I was annoyed with them since I would have preferred to have Mom with us. They could have let us know.
Mom told us that her ride was scary. They have the doors off of the Hughes and the wind blows right through. Mom said she was glad to have gone, but wouldn't want to do it again. So we talked to the kids about it, and their eyes lit up and they started fighting about who got to sit in the windiest seats. They thought it would be fun. So we didn't cancel or change tours to an enclosed ride. BTW we originally wanted this one because there are no doors. It makes for better photography.
Anyway, back to the story. I thought we might leave the beach after picking up Mom, but she wanted to go for a swim. So I took her out snorkeling for a bit before we left. In addition the baby seal and mother had changed positions, so we could finally see the baby from the beach. We took too many pictures of course.
We debated food on the way back. I wanted local food. Both Joel and I love to try new foods from wherever we go. But the best place to get it seemed to be in Puhi on the way back at a take out joint. Which means we would be eating a bit early. We decided we were hungry enough for it. So we stopped at Mark's Place, and ordered a variety of dishes. I liked the Chicken Teriyaki the best and Joel liked the Chicken Katsu. All of it was good, well except the Loco Moco. Loco Moco is basically a hamburger and a fried egg smothered in gravy. Which all in all is OK, but their gravy was way too salty for my taste and probably most people's taste. Oh and this place is cheap, cheap, cheap. We ordered 5 dishes and it was just over $20. Best value on the island.
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Text and images © Copyright 2001 Joel and Daphne Gould. If there are any problems or questions email Daphne Gould.