No visit to Kauai would be complete without a drive along Kauai's North Shore.
Guidebooks differ as to where the North Shore of Kauai actually begins. Some maintain that anything north of the town of Kapa'a is part of the North Shore. Some say it begins in Anahola and some, based strictly on geography, insist it begins in the Kilauea. I say, it really doesn't matter. We'll begin our journey in Anahola and proceed through Kilauea to Princeville. From Princeville we'll drive down the bluff to the town of Hanalei and then along the coastal road all the way to Ke'e Beach in Haena State Park.
Folks who stick to the highway, first Highway 56 which then turns into Highway 560, don't see much of the actual shore until they pass Hanalei Bay. We're not going to do that. We'll be pulling off the highway along the way and driving towards the ocean. Along the way we'll see some of the real hidden gems of the North Shore of Kauai.
Driving north from Kapa'a on Highway 56, we enter the Anahoa area of Kauai. If you don't see a town center, it's because there really isn't one. The area is a small (under 2,000) residential area where much of the land has been designated for those of Hawaiian descent. You'll pass a general store, a post office and there's a really popular roadside burger stand called Duane's Ono Char-Burger which has some of the best hamburgers on the island. There's also a lovely beach park which is very popular with the locals.
As you pass mile marker 14 glance to the mountain to your left or the mauka side of the highway. This is Kalalea Mountain. The second peak from the left was once referred to by Hawaiians as Mano (Shark) Mountain since it resembled the fin of a shark. More recently it has been referred to as King Kong's Profile, since it also resembles the head of the great ape featured in the 1976 remake of King Kong which was partially filmed on Kauai. This peak was also featured in the opening credits of Raiders of the Lost Ark. The Kalalea Mountain Range certainly does inspire one's imagination. In this very range you can see not only a gorilla's head, but also a bust of George Washington, a tortoise, a hippopotamus and a pregnant lady. See if you can see them all. You may need to pull over to take a look.
Back on the highway our net stop will be just past the 21 mile-marker at Na 'Aina Kai Botanical Garden.