Family Hike up the Sleeping Giant, Kauai

View from top of Sleeping Giant

View from top of Sleeping Giant

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.”
~ John Muir, The Mountains of California

Beginning of West Trail

Beginning of West Trail

Adding to the “Travel Fit” section of our family travel blog ~ hike the Sleeping Gaint! Get out and get moving with the whole family.

Looking for a great family hike to do on Kauai? The Nounou Trail, AKA Sleeping Giant, is a fun, family friendly, scenic hiking trail with  two access points (east & west) leading to the top of the mountain. Hike two miles up and two miles back through the Nounou Mountain Range between the towns of Wailua and Kapaa on the island of Kauai. Hike among the Norfolk and Cook Pines that were planted in the 1930′s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Stop to observe and take pictures of the breathtaking overlooks of Kauai’s lush interior and coastal views. Why is it called Sleeping Giant? According to Hawaiian legend,the giant was tricked by villagers into eating a rocks hidden in fish and poi. After consuming the large meal, the giant took a nap and has never woken.

This blog post and pictures are all from the West Trail of the Sleeping Giant.

How to get there~If you are not familiar with the area, it is important to take note as to which entrance of the trail you park at the East Trail or West Trail. The East Trail is accessible from Hwy. 56, turn west onto Kuamoo and drive 2.4 miles, the trail head marking will be on the right. For the West Trail, follow the same directions but continue on past the East trail head, turn right on Kamalu Road, drive 1.3 miles and the trail head will be on the right in a rural neighborhood in the Wailua Homesteads. All state trails on Kauai will have a metal sign (pictured above) at the trail head that states the name of the trail.

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“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity…”  ~ John Muir

IMG_4182What to expect on the way up~ we started about 8:30 a.m. which is nice and cool in September. Ideally, we could have started sooner as it heated up drastically by 10 a.m. My first tip~ hike at your own pace. It’s not a race, take in the beauty of it all and enjoy yourself. As you make your way up the mountain, it is pretty well shaded. In the picture above, it felt as though we were walking through a foggy mist of trees. It was quiet, peaceful and smelled of fermented cherries. Warning~ there are a lot of fruit flies! Be sure to plant your feet with each step as the smashed fruit on the ground can be slippery. Our son enjoyed picking up walking sticks along the way. Sleeping Giant is a pet friendly trail. There are a lot of dogs. Be sure to have your pet on a leash and bring bags to pick up poop. Some people run the trail, so expect to step aside and allow others to pass. This happened to us frequently along the trail. One trail runner actually passed us three times. The trail is very safe, people are friendly and most of them will say “Aloha” as they pass. Please respect the trail and trees, pick up your trash and be mindful of others.

Roots, roots & more roots

Roots, roots & more roots

We took our time on the trail as it was our first attempt and we weren’t in a rush. We completed the entire trail, up and back, in two hours with many stops to take pictures and drink water. If you are an avid hiker, I would imagine you could make it up in 30 minutes time. As you approach the large rock formation towards the top, there is a stretch of the trail with drop offs on either side. Be sure to take your time, not pass others or take pictures in this area. It is a little deceiving as there are bushes on either side of the trail, but when you look closely, it becomes apparent that it is a cliff. I would not recommend that young children hike to the top. There are a couple of spots where we had to climb on large rocks and/or roots. I used my hands while climbing down in a few tricky spots. Wear good shoes, preferably hiking shoes. If you don’t own hiking shoes, wear tennis shoes. Do not wear slippers (flip flops), sandals, brand new shoes or anything with a slight heel. The trail would be an easy place to turn an ankle if not wearing the proper footwear.

IMG_4110This was the first large rock that we came upon and of course, we had to take a picture. What kid doesn’t love to climb on a great big rock? In this area of the trail, it feels as though you are hiking in the Northwest of the United States rather than on a tropical island.

Picnic Area

Picnic Area

Lookout area

Lookout area

The east and west trail of Sleeping Giant both end up at a picnic table area toward the top. There is a large open grass area. It is an ideal place to take pictures, rest and to stop and eat lunch.

Picnic table area

Picnic table area

There are two covered,  picnic tables. Celebrate your climb by enjoying lunch with a fabulous view. The breezes up high on the mountain felt so refreshing after sweating during the climb. There is also a lookout area with a bench, which is a wonderful spot to take a picture. You can set your camera on the timer, put it on the bench and snap away!! The photo above is from the lookout area. We had our own photographer present that day.

 

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Rock Formation towards the top

“Every mountain top is within reach if you just keep climbing.”
~ Barry Finlay, Kilimanjaro and Beyond

Tips: Let me preface by saying that I tend to be over-prepared in most situations. There aren’t any restrooms or water stations anywhere on the trail. If you plan to hike alone, tell someone when and where you will be. Be sure to bring water, sunblock, snacks, wash cloth or small towel, hat and cell phone. We hiked in September when it can be very hot and humid, so be sure to bring at least 3 water bottles per person in a small backpack. Some hikers will advise holding the water bottle in your hand as a reminder to drink often. However, I think you should have your hands free on this trail. Due to hiking in the morning, we didn’t pack a lunch; however, always bring snacks! You never know if/when you or someone you are with may need food. It’s great to snack on healthy food items such as dried fruits, trail mix, granola bars etc. for energy as you hike. We bring a small towel or wash cloth which can be multifunctional. Use the wash cloth to wipe off sweat or to clean off scratches or scrapes which may occur during the hike. It is always best to have a small towel in the event someone were to get injured. It’s wonderful to be one with nature and practice technology-free family time!!!! So turn your cell off if you wish, but don’t hike without it. Keep at least one charged phone with you in the event of an emergency. Lastly, we froze our water bottles which turned out to be a huge relief as I was getting really hot and feeling nauseous at one point and the ice, cool water over my head really made me feel better. Bring your inhaler, Motrin or whatever you usually carry with you for emergencies. Hike safe, be smart and have fun.
View from top

View from top

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Verde ~ Fresh Mex on Kauai

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Garlic Shrimp Tacos

“Food is everything we are. It’s an extension of nationalist feeling, ethnic feeling, your personal history, your province, your region, your tribe, your grandma. It’s inseparable from those from the get-go” ~ Anthony Bourdain
Verde

Verde

 

House Margarita

House Margarita

Verde opened five years ago in Kapaa and has been bringing fresh, original, and authentic New Mexican food to Kauai ever since. Verde is just a little, hole-in-the-wall in a strip mall in Kapaa located on Kuhio Hwy, but don’t let the outside fool you ~ many locals believe that it is the best Mexican food on island!!!!

Often times, Mexican restaurants fill the plate with refried beans and rice which can leave you with that heavy feeling of over eating. At Verde rice & beans can be added  to any entrée for just $2.50, but you won’t find refried beans nor rice taking over your plate. If you enjoy sauces, you will love Verde! Everything we ordered was full of flavor and served with lots of sauce. In fact, their sauces are so fantastic that you can find Verde’s Red Salsa and Escabeche (pickled vegetables) at Kauai’s Costco in Lihue!!!R&P

 

Cali Burrito

Cali Burrito

The lunch or dinner begins with complementary chips and salsa that keep coming all night! Gotta love that, as we know there are some restaurants that charge per salsa. The prices are extremely reasonable with entrées ranging from $8.95-$15.95 and drinks from $5-$9. The House Margarita is amazing with rock sea salt on the rim. Don’t miss Happy Hour from 3-5 p.m. daily with $3 house margaritas and $3 16 oz draft beers. Where else can you get drinks on Kauai for $3??? NOWHERE! Verde also has a Keiki (kids) menu available with vegetarian options for #3.95-$5.95. Meat can be added to any Keiki meal for $1.95.

Ahi Tostada

Ahi Tostada

IMG_3679If you can’t select just one menu item, order several and share with friends, highly recommended. On the menu choose from salads, tostadas, tacos, burritos, enchiladas, and quesadillas. Order the burrito “wet style” for an extra $1.95 which includes red or green chile sauce or both cheese, lettuce & pico de gallo.

The Garlic Shrimp Tacos (pictured) are served with a spicy sauce of roasted garlic-chipotle aioli, guacamole, cornmeal-crusted shrimp, cabbage, guacamole, and pico de gallo. In addition, the menu has seared rare ahi, fresh catch, pork, ultimate chicken, carne and vegan tacos. The Ahi Tosatada (pictured) is probably one of the prettiest dishes served at Verde. It’s more of a salad than a traditional, heavy tostada served with two sauces, the red chile sauce & aioli. The ahi is seared rare and served with guacamole, pico de gallo, and local greens on a corn tortilla. This is a light dish but large enough for sharing.

Verde is a fabulous place to celebrate a special occasion. The restaurant is pretty small, with a great use of space. We recently celebrated a birthday at Verde with a party of 5 people.

 

Chicken Stacked Enchilada with Green Chile Sauce

Chicken Stacked Enchilada with Green Chile Sauce

Carne Tacos

Carne Tacos

 

Look for Verde’s signature dishes on the menu, including Stacked Enchiladas made with pork/beef/chicken/fish (pictured), Veggie Stacked Enchilada, Huevos Rancheros, and Chicken Posole. Posole (pozole) translates to “hominy” and is a type of stew/soup made with maize and typically some meat such as pork, chicken or turkey, chili peppers along with garnish.

Sopaipillas & Honey

Sopaipillas & Honey

Don’t leave without ordering sopaipillas & honey for dessert!!!! What are sopaipillas? The word (Germanic) actually translates to “bread soaked in oil”, better described as a fried puffed pastry dough similar to that of a doughnut. Sopaipillas are commonly served as a dessert with honey in Texas, Colorado and New Mexico. In Peru they are larger and thinner, known as cachanga and often served at breakfast sprinkled with cinnamon.  Sopaipillas are served in Chile (sopaipas), Bolivia, Argentina (sopaipa/supaipa/torta frita, Kreppel), and Uruguay. In Chile, pumpkin is added to the dough and served with a sauce of onion, tomato, garlic and herbs. In New Mexico, sopaipillas may be served in place of bread with dinner or stuffed with ingredients similar to that of a taco.

Verde serves sopapillas either as dessert with honey or as a meal stuffed with meat or veggies, cheese and sauce. We ordered them for dessert,  served hot, light and airy, not greasy. The picture says it all ~ no words needed.

Verde is open daily from 11am-9pm
Verde“Sometimes the greatest meals on vacations are the ones you find when Plan A falls through” ~ Anthony Bourdain

Fam pic

Family Time at Verde

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