As you may recall, this was the vacation for which I didn’t do much advance planning, the “fly by the seat of our pants”, low pre-planned activity vacation – at which Steve, as we near the end of our trip, scoffs. But the fact is many of our activities weren’t scheduled until a week or two before the trip and there were several “free” days that got filled in after we arrived. Today was such an activity.
I saw an ad for Kauai Photo Tours in one of the plethora of visitor guides we picked up at the airport. A professional photographer will drive a small group to particularly photogenic locations around a section of the island, and provide pointers on the best way to take the shot. They have a few different tours; we chose the Drive and Hike version for the East and North Shore. This tour sees slightly fewer locations than the Drive and Walk tour, but it gets a bit more off the beaten path to locations it was less likely Steve and I had been to.
We started the day with a hike to Ho’opi’i Falls. It turns out Steve and I actually had been to this waterfall before, but it was on our first trip a decade ago and we barely remembered it, plus better photographic equipment and experience now. The hike down was mildly steep and quite slippery. It wasn’t a problem for the guide, Steve, or me, but the other three people on the tour were of a slightly older set. They were absolutely mobile and in decent shape, but they were much less sure of their footing and a minor tumble was taken.
Once at the waterfall, the group set up to start taking photos of the waterfall from the trail side. The guide mentioned that, due to the orientation of the falls, the best shot would be as close to the falls as they felt comfortable getting.
I commented softly to the guide that it seemed to me that the best shot would be from the other side of the falls. He agreed quietly and said he only rarely took groups to the other side because the crossing was rather slick, but pointed out a decent crossing point. Me not being even 40 yet, I had to prove I was still capable of a younger woman’s game, so I walked the short distance up-river and started across.
No, this doesn’t end with me taking a flume ride over the waterfall. I got across and back with no calamities, not even a minor dunking, but the river rocks were quite slick and I was glad I had the small waterproof camera with me rather than the big machine, just in case.
After the trek back up from the falls, we spent the rest of the day along the coast, stopping first at Anahola Bay.
In addition to the bay, this was a good place to view one of Kauai’s two Sleeping Giants. This is Kalalea, the sleeping woman. From left to right you can see her head, bustier, pregnant belly, and the slope of her legs down to the point of her toes.
From there we headed to Moloa’a Beach, which Steve and I have driven past many times without even knowing it was there. Unless you know which side road to take and there’s a reason to go there, a lot of these beaches can be easy for a tourist to miss. Now that Steve and I have been to Kauai a few times, I think it’s going to be time for exploring the side roads a bit more next time.
The guide was also kind enough to take our photo at this beach; unfortunately, the breeze was doing a number on Steve’s hair at the time, but we didn’t know it until we looked at the photo later.
Next stop was an overlook of Pila’a Beach, another beautiful spot that you need to leave the main drag to get to.
Our last real stop was Waikoko Beach.
It was an all-round enjoyable day and Steve says he picked up a few new tips. I asked Steve at the end of the day if he liked it enough that he’d want to do a similar tour next time, and he said yes. They have a South Shore tour we may consider for our next trip to Kauai.
The only real suggestion I would make to the company for these tours is to divide them differently. When I called to schedule the tour, they asked what kind of camera we were shooting because they divide the tours into Nikon and Canon groups, trying to pair you with a tour guide who uses the same type of equipment. This made a lot of sense at the time. However, I think some sort of age or mobility or hiking experience question might make for a more effective division. I’m not quite sure how they’d frame it exactly, especially since I know some people well older than us are in better shape than we are, but I did feel like we probably went to a few less sites than we could have if we’d had slightly more nimble companions with us. The other folks were definitely game, and never complained, but the slow hike down to the first waterfall likely set the tone of the stops for the rest of the day.