Thursday, August 27, 2009

A day of highlights

Thatboy and I awoke one morning and headed out on our own. The rest of Thatfamily isn't as curious or adventurous as us, so we made some plans to split up so we could do what we wanted and leave them other suckers by the pool.

Right down the street from our hotel was Queens Bath and Thatboy and I had been dying to check it out since seeing and hearing about it months ago. Queens Bath is a pool surrounded by a lava rock beach. Because of it's location, it's protected from the ocean, but offers a fantastic view. Kind of like the first tropical infinity pool.

We parked at the top of the trail and slid down the trail to the bottom. Summer is usually a drier time in Kauai, but because there was a hurricane right before we arrived we were greeted every day by rain throughout the day. All this rain made the island VERY muddy. We didn't actually slide down the trail, but we did have mud all over our calves by the time we reached the bottom. On our way back up, we encountered a couple who was not so sure footed and probably would never be able to wear those clothes again.

Aside from being treacherously muddy, the trail down to the beach was gorgeous, meandering beside a river, complete with waterfall. At one point, Thatboy got annoyed that I kept stopping to take pictures, but he was afraid to run ahead in case I came tumbling after.

Finally we reached the bottom. Does this make you nervous? It made me a little nervous. I made Thatboy promise to to let me get swept out to sea.

This is what we saw just past the sign. The beach made of lava rock. Not a great place for sunbathing, but a really unique sight nonetheless. It was absolutely deserted along the rocks, so we just had to trust we were going the right way, and we were! Before too long we came to Queen's Bath.

From up here you can see how the pool is sheltered from the ocean by the lava rock. The waves crash against the rocks, which is actually a pretty neat view when you don't have to worry about being pulled under or crashed over. What you can't see from up here is a way to get down...because there isn't really one. Just a matter of climbing down the rocks and into the water. Or you can take Thatboy's route, which involved jumping right off the rocks and into the pool.

Because Queen's Bath is sheltered from the ocean, it's a fantastic place for snorkeling.

I call these guys mackerels as in "holy mackerel - there are fish ALL around me." They were super friendly and curious, literally swarming around me anytime I stood still. I named one of the more adventurous ones "Harold" and Thatboy thinks Harold snacked on his leg hairs. Anytime I'd put my camera under the water they'd all swim up to me like "take my picture! take my picture!" SUCH attention whores.

Do you see how one of the mackerels snuck into this picture?

This beautiful guy on the other hand wanted NOTHING to do with me. I spent a good amount of time following him around Queen's Bath trying to get a good picture while he tried to avoid me. "GEEZ lady, if you want pictures, speak to my agent!"

As I mentioned, Queen's Bath is no place for sunbathing, so when we had our fill of swimming and jumping and fish stalking, we headed back up the trail and on to a destination that would afford more sand. For both Thatboy and I, Queen's Bath was the highlight of our time in Kauai.

Our first stop was Ha'ena Beach. I employed my panorama so you could get a full view of what there is to offer. The middle section is Ha'ena Beach proper. The left hand side is the home of Cannons, a popular surf spot, but the waves were breaking too far out for lazy Thatboy. The right hand side is Tunnels, an excellent snorkeling spot, but since we had just come from snorkeling we didn't bother fighting the crowds trying to get a peak at fishies.

Across from the beach is Manini-holo dry cave. According to the legend, Manini-holo, chief fisherman of the Menehune dug this cave in search of the supernatural beast he thought had been stealing their fish. We didn't see any supernatural beasts or Menehune, but Thatboy thought it would be fun to take a picture of us in a cave....a dark cave....just in case you wanted to know what we looked like in the dark. To recreate this shot at home, go into your basement and turn off the light.

Because Thatboy didn't get to go surfing at Cannons, he wanted to hit up one more beach on the way home to catch a wave or two. We had seen the waves breaking on Waikoko beach on our way to Ha'ena, so we stopped there on the way back and NO JOKE climbed down a tree to get to the beach. With a surfboard. I'm such a soldier. It was absolutely deserted on the beach, I was the only one there. Thatboy grabbed his board and headed towards the surf to join up with a couple other surfers who were already enjoying the waves. His first wave was just as fun as he thought it would be, until his leash snapped and his board went up up and away. After he caught up with it that was the end of surfing at Waikoko. We picked him up a new leash on our way back to meet with the others.

UDubb is half Hawaiian and has spent a fair amount of time on the islands. Because of that, she had a huge request that we do plate lunch one day. Always one to accommodate, we headed down to Pono Market.

Pono Market is supposed to have a good plate lunch, but what keeps people coming back is the warm and welcoming attitude of the people who work there. I cannot say enough wonderful things about the men behind the counter - especially since one of them shares and Alma Mater with Thatbrother.

A typical plate lunch consists of a meat, two scoops of rice, and a scoop of macaroni salad. Which is what I got with lau lau (pork wrapped in ti leaves and steamed). Everyone else skipped the macaroni salad and went for variations of a poke salad that was offered. Thatboy thinks the original poke salad was the best of the bunch.

After lunch we did some more pool time before heading back to Hanelai for shopping and dinner. This restaurant was Thatmom's pick. She had read that Bar Acuda served tapas and was intrigued. She had never had tapas before and loved the idea of sharing several small plates, which is her perfect size anyway.

The menu at Bar Acuda changes every Tuesday, and capitalizes on local and seasonal foods. Everything looked so good on the menu, we decided to just order one of almost everything.

We began with the roasted tomato bruschetta - which was quickly declaimed the best bruschetta Thatmom had ever eaten. She would have ordered two or three orders of this for herself if we'd let her. Salty and sweet thanks to both the tomato and balsamic vinegar. UDubb and I dissected it to determine how to make our own version at home.

Next came the Kilauea salad - Kilauea greens topped with Kilauea goat cheese. I don't think I've talked about this goat cheese yet, so let me drool here for a bit. Thatmom and I had heard something about goat cheese on Kauai, but we didn't pay much attention until we happened upon it in the supermarket and brought it back to the hotel to try it out. Now, I'm a big fan of goat cheese to begin with, but even if you're not into the slightly sour goodness this is definitely the cheese for you. I have never sampled a milder, more mellow cheese than the Kilauea goat cheese. Thatmom doesn't love goat cheese as much as I do and she thinks this is the best she's ever had. We began looking for it on menus and anytime we saw it as an ingredient, that item was ordered.

Another specialty of Kauai is their honey. So we had to get a plate of the honeycomb. In most places, the cheese takes the main point of honor on a plate, here it was most certainly the honey - with the cheese added as an accompaniment.

Because it came with goat cheese, we had to order the roasted beets. It was a new experience for UDubb who had never had golden beets before and Thatbrother who had never had fresh beets before. Both loved the taste of these roasted beets and as for me, I seem to have gone from "never eating beets" to finding them on my plate on a weekly basis. By the way - know what's better than goat cheese? Warm, melty goat cheese.

Shrimp salad with frisee, radichio, green beans, and hard boiled eggs. Not necessarily a combination I would have thought of, but pretty good nonetheless. Thatmom thought the shrimp were excellent.

The Banderillas were a table favorite - grilled flank steak with honey and a chipotle chili oil. There might have been fights over the last stick.....

I didn't have any of the scallop over mashed potato, but those who did seemed to enjoy it. Remember, scallops are as close as you can get to steak.

I also skipped the Mahi Mahi, but if you believe Thatmom it might have been the best fish she ate so far on the trip.

Another all-around winner was the pizetta with roasted red pepper and corn. We were all a little surprised by how much we liked it given the corn - which Thatboy informed me he doesn't usually like on pizza. (Usually? How often does he get corn on pizza?)

My favorite, along with a couple of other table members was the housemade chorizo with a grilled apple. It was UDubb's pick and I'm so glad she picked it since I am definitely in a chorizo phase right now. Thatbrother was disappointed in the apple, mainly because he thought it was a pineapple, but when he bit into it, it didn't taste anything like pineapple at all.

We ended the night with rice pudding, topped with blueberries, cherries, and coconut. Thatboy has been putting coconut on just about everything he eats in Kauai.

The dinner was fantastic, and the food lived up to the reputation. Thatmom thought it was the most fun she's had at a dinner. She wants to do Tapas all the time - she loved the sharing, the small portion sizes, and the ability to order practically the whole menu. The meal might have been the highlight of the entire trip for her.


  1. I had a plate lunch yesterday, but it was in the San Gabriel Valley and probably not as good as one in Hawaii.

  2. It looks like you guys are having an awesome trip! I feel like I didn't see ANYTHING on Kauai compared to all these places you're going.

    Ohh plate unhealthy but just so good. I love the mac salad!

  3. This Hawaii trip wounds so nice and love all the fish pictures. Aah I miss the ocean and warm water.

  4. So so so so cool. That lava rock beach/pool/coastline/whatever is just the neatest thing ever. Loved the fish shots.

    Now I want to be there when 2 minutes ago I was relishing my cool weather fall is approaching making soup Sunday.

  5. mine boy grows a lot of facial hair in Hawaii too.

  6. obviously that was supposed to say "my." my proofreading skills were left in the office.

  7. We went to Queen's Bath and it's really something else. It, um, took me quite some time to get down the rocks and actually into the water (what can I say, flip flops don't make very good climbing footwear), but it was great once I got in. There is a similar place that you guys should go to if you're ever on Maui - same crazy trail to get to it, same amazing views. :)