We got off to an early start this a.m. heading west with our destination to the furthest point we could reach. We stopped for a nibble on the way and still found the rains spitting and misty, but not too bad! Had been told the western part of the island receives the least amount of rain and is the driest part of Kaua’i, so we all felt we should take advantage of that advise to best enjoy our day. This is also called “The Wild West” and where dreamy, seemingly endless beaches of tropical heaven begin and end at the Na Pali Coast – and having the four wheel drive Jeep made this all the more attractive for us to head out and explore.
An absolutely beautiful drive the entire route. We drove by orchards or groves of coffee trees. Stopped by the overlook at the beginning of Waimea Canyon (a place we’ll be visiting later on during our stay) and thoroughly enjoyed the scenery and the multiple flowering trees and plants along the entire route.
Our first stop was at the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF). We wanted to check out the Navy Base, get some supplies, check out the facilities and see what the cottages were like located on the base and are available for rent. Wow, how does one get stationed here? It’s located on a long strip of beach blessed with large sand dunes, surfing waves and also popular with the natives, and the beach also known as Barking Sands. It’s truly a beautiful and long stretch of beach – but read the swimming gets dangerous when the waves are anything but small and lots of signs located near the beaches providing caution warnings.
PMRF is run by the U.S. Navy, but all sectors of the U.S. military utilize the base. This area is basically a training facility for sea warfare. Its range covers 42,000 square miles to the west and south with another 1,000 square miles under the sea. The base was chosen by NASA officials because the Kaua’i weather provides 360 clear days each year, creating perfect flying conditions in unobstructed air space.
We all found lots of individual goodies to purchase in the Navy Exchange (NEX) along with some liquid refreshments and snacks to take to our next destination. We visited the Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) office to pick up some literature and information on the cottages available for rent and wanted to check them out as well. They were wonderful – a total of 20+ self-contained cottages, located right on the beach, incredible views, and the prices were incredulous! Talked to some folks staying there only to find it was their eighth year of coming there! The area was stunning!
We proceeded west and now the road took a northerly turn toward Polihale State Park and the end of the road on the western shore and arrived at Na Pali Coast and Barking Sands. Local lore says Barking Sands got its name from the noise the vast sand dunes make if you slide down them, resulting in the friction of sand and coral making noise similar to a barking dog.
Beaches stretched for miles and miles – we even could see the distant island of Ni’ihau – also known as the Forbidden Island (more on this later, or in another post). We arrived at Polihale and got out to enjoy the scenery and managed to snare an empty picnic table and enjoy the sights of the tall sacred cliffs of the beginning of the Na Pali coast and discovered we were now on Echo Beach. Not too many surfers were out in the water due to the riptide warnings and strong winds. We didn’t stay too long as the winds were less than pleasant.
This is also the location of the Polihale Heiau (temple) – a sacred spot where the souls of the dead leapt off the cliffs to the land of the dead, a mythical underwater mountain a few miles off the coast.
Reluctantly we began our return trip, but not before stopping at the Grove Café – this is a former plantation turned into a café and also had rental cottages available (also featured in many top magazines as one of “thee” places to visit on Kaua’i. The building had high ceilings, naturally ceiling fans, hardwood floors and it all served to enhance the breezy environment. The menu was varied and we opted to share a nacho “pu pu” (appetizer) of nachos with the wonderful island kulua shredded pork – it was delicious and VERY filling. We walked the grounds a bit enjoying the lush vegetation and unusual plant life – and walked out Driftwood Beach.
A tidbit about the roosters as shown on our first post – they truly are EVERY where; beaches, restaurant grounds, parking lots, shopping centers, golf courses and well – pretty much everywhere. There are two stories about the Kaua’i feral roosters and hens. Some say the chickens multiply and roam free because there aren’t any mongooses (rodents who eat chickens) on the island and others say that Hurricane ‘Iniki set the chickens free from their cages and they just haven’t been contained since. And truly, we have seen them all over the place and they definitely are human and auto savvy!
We returned to our room tired and weary from such a fun day of exploring and started going through lots of the various literature we picked up at various stopping points to check out some of our other planned destinations.
P.S. The map is a bit deceiving because the program only showed the last city versus where we actually drove to "the end of the road" at Barking Sands Beach.