Quest for perfect picnic
By Sharri Markson
Photo: A Baltoboy Scan
A WATERFALL spilled down the mountainside, ending in a freshwater pool at the depths of 1550m high Kauai peaks.
In the tropical Hawaiian heat we alternated between warming ourselves in the sun and jumping into the pond to cool off, clinging to floating rubber tyres, before settling down to a picnic of pita bread, cheese, cold slices and vegetables.
It was a peaceful moment in an otherwise strenuous day, but to reach this perfect picnic spot was no easy feat.
It involved soaring 62m above the treetops from cliff to cliff in a flying fox.
The only flying fox I’d been on was the 2m-high variety in a children’s playground. This was quite a different experience.
Our guides, Parley and Kimo, from Princeville Ranch Adventures, were intent on showing us Hawaii’s adventurous side.
A waiver we signed before we started zip-lining had us fearful even before we saw the cliffs we would be flying across.
“I expressly and voluntarily assume all risk of injury or harm while participating in this recreational activity,” it stated.
This was no comfort when you’re trying to gather the will to voluntarily walk off a cliff. The regular-as-clockwork afternoon rain squall and a heavy mist did nothing to soothe anxieties.
The fastest of eight zip lines reaches 48km/h as it crosses the 230m Kali Hiwai valley.
After the terror of running off a cliff strapped only to a harness, the zip line was thrilling and the views of lush valley and streams spectacular.
It was a world away from lazy days sunbaking on Hawaii’s perfect beaches, of tropical fruits and hammocks hanging from palm trees. But Hawaii’s oldest and most northern island is full of surprises. Known as the garden isle, it is one of the wettest places in the world.
But the grand coastline, with its steep 1500m cliffs spilling into the ocean, punctuated by waterfalls and caves, can only be truly appreciated from the sea.
A catamaran cruise around the spectacular Napali coast got us close to the jagged rocks and sea caves, which have been host to dozens of action films.
But it just wasn’t the land that held us in thrall – we were occasionally accompanied by dolphins, playfully gliding under the boat and re-emerging on the other side.
Passengers rushed for their cameras, then repeated the process when turtles came for air near the boat. Snorkelling made me realise how the coral paled in comparison to our colourful Great Barrier Reef, but floating in the warm ocean waters and looking upwards in the shadow of the towering cliffs was wonderful.
After seeing Kauai from above, then from the sea, we headed up river for a guided tour by kayak.
The Hulei’a Stream took us to some of Kauai’s most remote areas and the backdrop for Six Days, Seven Nights and Raiders of the Lost Ark.
We saved the best for last: a helicopter ride over the Waimea Canyon, Hanalei Valley and Mt Wai’ale’ale crater and waterfalls.
A cheaper way to see the island is to hire a car and explore the many beaches.
The drive leads to beautiful Kee Beach, just 50m from a natural cave where black and red roosters roam the beach. It was the location for the film Thornbirds. Bette Midler, Pierce Brosnan, Ben Stiller and Cameron Diaz are some of the celebrities who have visited Kauai, many choosing to stay at the exclusive Princeville Resort.
Princeville has one of the best locations in Kauai, and it is hard to go past mai tais and pina coladas at sunset by the poolside bar or dinner on the veranda with the majestic backdrop of mountains and sea.
Sunday Mail (SA)