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Driving Kauai
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Driving Kauai
  Kauai Travel Tale

by Lorry Patton ...

A drive along the northeast shore of Kauai, ripe with dark emerald fern, giant philodendra, taro leaves and kilometres of brilliant t beaches, will show you why this Hawaiian paradise is called the Garden Isle.

In the lush green foliage of the northern Hanalei Valley, a rainbow almost always decorates the blue sky. The curve of white sand contrasts sharply with the dark bluffs at Lumahai Beach on the north shore. One-lane wooden bridges cross sparkling streams that tumble off the flowering cliffs on the road to Haena.

One major highway loops the island in an almost complete circle for about 120 kilometres, except for about 40 kilometres on the northwest coast.

The jungles, waterfalls, rugged cliffs and hidden beaches of the spectacular Na Pali Coast are beyond the motorist's reach. The only land route--strictly for experienced hikers--is the risky Kalalau Trail, which begins at Haena near the end of Highway 56 on the island's north side.

Kalalau Lookout, with its 1,200 metre verdant cliffs that plunge to the ocean, is a stunning place to view the green Kalalau Valley. It's also about as far as you can go by car if you're driving from the south.

A less strenuous way to see the scenic Na Pali Coast is leisurely cruise. Several boat excursions are available. Or take a helicopter flight for an exhilarating bird's-eye view of the craters, jungle foliage and secret coves.

At Menehune Fishpond, just south of the airport town of Lihue, you'll learn the legends of Hawaii's little people. The magical Menehune were supposedly the first settlers on Kauai.

Just two to three feet tall, these people liked to play during the day and work at night--at remarkable speed. According to legend, whatever they undertook had to be accomplished in a single night. It's said that the 270-metre-long stone walls enclosing the fish pond, still in use, were built in one night by the Menehune.

The Sleeping Giant, about 2 1/2 kilometres northeast of Wailua on Kauai's east coast, another source of Menehune legends. One day, the story goes, the Menehune needed the giant Puni's help to thwart a hostile canoe invasion. But Puni was asleep. They tried to waken him by tossing rocks, some of which fell into his mouth; he swallowed them and died on the spot. You can see his rocky profile on the mountaintop.

Just south of the Sleeping Giant are the Wailua Falls. If you've ever watched the television series Fantasy Island, you may recognize them. In ancient times, Hawaiian chiefs of true royal blood demonstrated their courage by diving over these twin falls into the pool below.

North of Waimea is the multi-coloured Waimea Canyon, a 16-kilometre expanse of gorges decorated with ribbons of fresh water. The gorges are so awesome and deep--nearly 1,100 metres--that the canyon has been dubbed the Grand Canyon of the Pacific.

Depending on the time of day, the canyon's colours change from earth tones, golds and beiges to deep purples, blues and greens. You can drive to the principal lookout point along the spectacular Rim Road.

Most visitors fly in from Honolulu, rent a car, tour the island in a day and return to swinging Waikiki. A few are touched by the incredible beauty, the calm and peaceful air and the friendliness. They rent a hotel ( there are eighty-five with over half condominiums ) and stay for a week or two.

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