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Kauai: Walking from Poipu

May 18, 2011

Normally a place like Poipu isn’t really high on my list of priorities.  The resort area on the south coast of Kauai serves an admirable function, however, in that it segregates vast numbers of tourists from the rest of the of island.  Designed as kind of an all-inclusive stretch of beaches, Poipu offers condos, hotels, stores, and restaurants.  There is even a small shopping mall for those on vacation who just have to thrust their credit cards at expensive vendors.

1) Poipu’s stylish architecture, from Shipwreck Beach

But from one end of Poipu, at the above Shipwreck Beach, a trail begins that follows a magnificent stretch of wild coastline. Given the thousands of tourists that typically haunt Poipu, the walk is astonishingly free of people.

2) The hike begins: you climb up a bluff from the beach (below) and continue to the east

3) Movie fanatics will recognize this as the spot where Harrison Ford and Anne Heche jumped off the cliff in Six Days Seven Nights.

The hike passes all manner of hidden coves and strange rock formations.  This one looks like something from the set of Planet of the Apes.

4) Strange rocks at left almost look like a giant statue of an ape with a helmet

Lots of flowers and grasses line the path.

5) Multi-colored wildflower

6) Grass (I think)

The vistas are great no matter where you look.

7) To the north

8) A small beach to the west, back toward town

But then again the path is small and sometimes you get lost in the thickets.

9) That’s me: photo by Diana Herring

At one point the path follows a golf course – and what a course!  Although I don’t play golf and have little patience for the water-sucking, fertilizer-ridden constructions, I had to admit this one had a heck of a view.  To my lasting regret we took no photos of the golf course, but the wall that shored the thing up from the bluff was interesting.

10) Old wall – but how old?

I thought, hello, what is this?  Sure enough, just downhill was the distinct remains of an ancient Hawaiian path, such as those used ceremonially by royalty.

11) Pre-contact Hawaiian path

Peculiar stone structures came into view around the next corner.

12) Other ruins

We also chanced upon an old fish pond, nearly exact in shape and style to the ancient ones we’d seen in the Cook Islands.

13) Fish pond

We continued walking for about a mile. to the end of the point shown below:

14) The furthest we went, to the end of this point on the right hand side

Although it remained out of sight, beyond lay Gillan’s Beach, another trackless beach where you can get away from the crowds.

15) Gillan’s Beach – another day, another excursion – note the lonely house

Oddly, we heard voices over a loudspeaker that reminded me of a Mexican fiesta or perhaps a rodeo. So we turned around, not wanting civilization to intrude and spoil our hike.

16) At the end, the shade of the Australian pines near Poipu was a welcome sight: photo by Diana Herring

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