May 9, 2013

Kauai, Day 6: Our last day. Don't even make me talk about it. Okay, I will.

Our last morning in Kauai, we woke up to true paradise. No rain. Only a few wispy clouds dotted the azure sky.

This was the weather we'd been hoping for all week! It was the first morning we were able to see the tops of the mountains from our bedroom window, and we decided to get our snorkel gear ready as soon as possible and head back down to Ke'e Beach.

We arrived mid-morning, and it was stunning. I mean, this was the first day that the water had really looked like the pictures you see in magazines!

The tide was out, so most of the reef was above water at this point. That made it a great time to snorkel! You may notice that this is probably the first time you've seen little kids in my pictures ... that's because the tides in Kauai are really dangerous, so unless it's a reef-protected beach at low tide, you don't see young children in the water very often -- at least not in the late winter/early springtime, when the ocean is at its roughest on the North Shore.

I have no idea what our visibility had been on the other days of our trip, but on that last day, it was unlimited. You could see all the way to the horizon, and it was amazing.

I can't tell you how happy I was that Sarah Ellen and Melanie finally got to see the island in this light, because there's just nothing like it. (Caroline had been once before, so she knew.)

We waded into the crystal-clear water ...

and here's what it looked like facing back toward Hanalei, or East.

Turning around and looking West, toward the NaPali coast, it was even more beautiful. I know I'm gushing, but you just have no idea how relieved and happy I was to finally have a gorgeous day -- even if it was our last!

One of the girls even said, "How on Earth can I ever snorkel anywhere else after I've snorkeled HERE?"

It's not that you see the best tropical fish, or that Kauai has beautiful reefs. It's that you get to swim and snorkel at the feet of the most majestic mountains that literally fall right down to the sea.

I mean, there ARE fish. Lots of them. Here's a whole school of them, as a matter of fact.

And I don't know if you can see it, but I tried to get a picture of what I think is a gar or some related fish ... see that long pointy nose thing it has?

You guys stop me if I get too technical with the marine biology terminology.

These fish were really big, maybe a foot long or so? And they kept making me flinch because you'd be swimming along, and all of a sudden one would just dash by, literally four inches from your mask.

 As the tide started to rise, it became easier to swim out over the reef and explore a little more.

I had to pop my head up every few minutes just to soak in the scenery a little more. Honestly, I just couldn't get over the beautiful day.

Originally we didn't have any water activity planned for Friday, because Mel and I flew out at 10:00 that night and I thought we wouldn't want to use up a lot of energy that day swimming and snorkeling.

But when this weather popped up, we decided red-eye flight or not, we were going to seize the day!

I'm so glad we did.

If we hadn't, we would have missed swimming with the cutest little turtle!

And meeting some rainbowy fish.

I could have spent 12 more hours swimming through the reef, exploring all the nooks and crannies.

Just to put it in perspective, here's Anin'i Beach, where we'd been just a few days before. When we were there, it looked like this:

And it had the POTENTIAL to look more like this:

Here are me and Mel at Anin'i that day ... note how hard it is to see much in the water, and how it almost looks brown in color:

And here we are at Ke'e in the sunshine ... the water was over our heads there, but you can clearly see our fins way down there.

It was a glorious note to leave on ... I'm so glad we got to experience that day together!

When we got "home," it was time for me and Mel to pack our bags and get ready to leave.

We had reservations at the nearby St. Regis Princeville for supper before we left, so we loaded our luggage into our rental car and drove the quick mile to the hotel.

It almost seems insulting to refer to the St. Regis as a "hotel." Quite frankly, I don't even think "resort" does it justice.

When we walked out to the terrace to be seated, I think it took our collective breath away.

I know you all come here for fashion tips, RACHEL, and I feel like I've been really remiss about that in these Kauai posts.

So I feel like I should definitely give you this tip (fashion AND travel-fashion tip -- a twofer!):

In a pinch, you can fold your 100% cotton swimsuit coverup halfway down your torso to rest at your waist, and it becomes a skirt. The only downside is that it increases your waist size by about two inches, but who's counting when it fits the bill for dinner and three consecutive plane rides? (Oh, yes! I'm glad you asked. Please leave fashion questions for me in the comments. I'm sure I have a solution for your every dilemma.)

Mel had no such dilemma, since she'd come with a full array of dresses from which to choose. And here she is basically rubbing that in my face.

In addition to the dearth of fashion tips thus far, I've also probably been remiss in mentioning that this was first time I'd ever met Caroline, one of my sister's closest friends. She was terrific!

And of course a real highlight of the week was getting to spend so much uninterrupted time with my sister, who has lived in Wyoming for more than five years now ... and I miss getting to see her more often!

Here are the four of us and my waistband on that beautiful patio ... this picture reminds me of a fabulous, fabulous evening.

As they had every other night (and day) of our trip, the other three girls got sushi platters to share. (Look at the wasabi leaf!)

I got a six-ounce filet mignon, which was delicious. We all pronounced it among our top-10 dinners of our lives. It wasn't just the food, although the meal was amazing.

It was the setting, and the breeze, and the company, and the laughter ...

And as the sun completely set over the horizon, the sky got inky and the mountains' peaks turned black.

Our last Win! of the trip was that Mel gave the waiter an actual credit card to cover her bill ... not her Triple-A card, as she'd done when we were so delirious and sleep-deprived during our first meal on the island less than a week before. You go, girl.

And thus ended our time on the island of Kauai ... a trip we'll never forget! And one I'd love to repeat someday. Who's in?

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