Kauai was lovely.

The trip started with a
helicopter tour of the island.

Kauai has a
lot of different ecosystems for one little island — hot dry plains
with cacti; a mini Grand Canyon; the wettest place on earth, a huge green, waterfall filled canyon; and some of the most gorgeous jungle vegetation
we’ve ever seen. Lots of movies were shot there, including Jurassic
Park; Ben Stiller is shooting one now.

Shave ice is an island fave — basically a finely ground rainbow flavored slushee over ice cream with toppings like fresh coconut.

We spent a day riding ziplines and swinging on rope swings into a jungle pond; I got a nasty bruise from the latter.

And inner tubing down an old sugar cane irrigation ditch was way more pleasant than it sounds. A cool , gentle stream took us through some pretty jungle scenery, and our headlamps lit the way as we floated through tunnels dug through the mountains. Apparently Chinese immigrants dug some of the (extremely accurate) tunnels by hand. Incidentally, the land we tubed through is now owned by Steve Case.

And we returned to scuba diving for the first time in a year. During boat dives off the south shore, we saw brilliant schools of yellow tailed fish and a few sharks. On shore dives from the north shore, we swam through lava tubes and caverns with eerie skylights, and a turtle swam over our heads.

Later, I dove with a boat at Ni’ihau, a small, privately owned island near Kauai. Looking down, on my first descent, I almost landed on a big monk seal. After averting said seal, I watched him frolic; he was really performing for us. The water was quite clear, and the seascapes were massive, dramatic, and a little haunting. Some of the diving was along a giant cliff that extended so far down that we couldn’t see the base. Fish included the Hawaiian turkey fish, octopus, sharks, etc. On the last dive, my group swam simultaneously through a wide cavern, with air at the top where past divers had exhaled.

I took my first underwater pictures on these dives. View my not so professional shots here.