I did some planning before we left for Kauai this month.  A lot of planning, actually.  A whole lot more than I typically do.

I’m usually a pretty laid back, go-with-the-flow girl on vacation.  (I know some of you are probably a bit confused by that description, but I like to escape the type A ‘me’ on vacation whenever possible.) We’re talking a “book in hand, breeze by the pool, afternoon naps” kind of girl.  We usually line up an excursion or two once we get to our destination, but that’s often the extent of our “pre-planning” the week.

But Kauai is different.  Kauai is filled with possibilities, beauty to explore and adventures to have, and being there in the summer gave us so many more options.  I didn’t know when we’d be back, and I certainly didn’t want to spend the week at the hotel pool.

So we didn’t.


Midweek we drove up the coast to the north shore ready to swim, snorkel, hike, and explore.  We started off with Tunnels beach, which was supposed to offer outstanding swimming and snorkeling due to a reef that’s so big it can be seen from space.  Check it out:


Snorkeling isn’t on my One-and-Done list but I try to avoid it whenever possible.  Something about putting the mask on and breathing through a tube makes me incredibly claustrophobic, an experience that’s not very conducive to the whole “relaxing vacation” concept.  BrightSide, Bear, and T-man were going it alone on this one.

I started out in the water with the three of them and was immediately grateful for the water shoes we brought along for the trip.  There’s a whole lot of stuff besides water in that water, and the shoes were key to not cutting our feet on the rocks.  Once you got used to the uneven walking surface, though, it was absolutely breathtaking.

Tunnels Beach
Tunnels Beach

The water looked so peaceful and calm, but once you were standing in it you could feel the ocean’s power swirling around your legs.  I saw some beautiful fish just by walking around near shore; there was one especially unusual rainbow fish, a kaleidoscope of bright, neon colors that brought joy to Bear’s face.

I settled myself on the beach while BrightSide took the kids a little further out, figuring I’d enjoy some peace and quiet while they explored.  It was only a short while later, though, when the three of them joined me in the shade.  They’d seen some amazing fish while snorkeling but apparently also came upon an eel that completely freaked Bear out.  There was no way she was getting back in that water so we packed up and moved on.

On a side note, while watching my family snorkel I also got to watch a kite surfer playing in the water.

Tunnels Beach
Tunnels Beach

After lunch we visited Queen’s Bath, a really cool tide pool in the lava rock on the north shore.  It’s a bit of an adventure to get there.  You have to hike down a short trail (though “short” is a relative term when you’re exhausted and hiking back up to your car) and then walk a couple of hundred yards along the shoreline to find it, but once you do…wow.

We wanted the kids to see it so we visited during the winter, even though we knew we wouldn’t be able to swim.

Queen's Bath, January 2015
Queen’s Bath, January 2015

This time around it was an entirely different story, though the locals still want you to be serious about the ocean.  This is the sign that greets you at the bottom of the trail:

In the running for Parents of the Year right here...
Yep. We’re definitely in the running for Parents of the Year here…

You do actually have to be careful about avoiding it at high tide, even in the summer.  They’re not joking about people being sucked out to sea, and there was no way I was ending up as some kind of tourist tragedy, so we checked the tide report before hiking down.

It was absolutely gorgeous.  A short rain shower passed through while we were swimming, which BrightSide loved, and we even spotted some sea turtles swimming near shore before leaving. BrightSide and I got to swim in Queen’s Bath on our first (pre-kids) visit to the island; we were so happy that T-man and Bear experienced it, too!

Queen's Bath, July 2015
Queen’s Bath, July 2015
Eel #2 spotted for the day.
Water Boy was in heaven.
Our sassy girl.
These kids are looking so grown. (And when did I start looking short?!)

It was a busy day and we were definitely tired at the end of it, but this was so much cooler than spending a day at the pool.  With the bonus of making some seriously priceless memories.