It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best — Ernest Hemingway
You cannot suppress your big, goofy grin. Wind fills your mouth, your hair flies, and the Hawaiian sun warms your cheeks. You feel as one with the bicycle; out in front of your family, soaring along the curved road maybe a bit too fast. On your right is lush, tropical flora and palm trees. On your left is nothing but glittering ocean, rolling waves and endless blue sky — the colors somehow heightened by your unexpected rush of well-being. Giddy, you lift your feet off the pedals for a moment, splaying your legs out to the sides. It feels like freedom . . . though you surely look like a clown.
“Mom! Don’t!” yells your son from behind you, and you grin all the wider as you lower your feet back onto the pedals, stifling a giggle. He eventually pedals up closer and looks at you with his brow furrowed like you’re being too mischievous. You slow down (ever so slightly) and flash him a happy thumbs-up.
What a ride!
You and your family made a long list of adventures and activities you hoped to cover while vacationing here on gorgeous Kauai South Shore: ziplining, chasing waterfalls, hiking Waimea Canyon Trail, spotting monk seals, but you hadn’t guessed what a fun excursion you’d have on rented bikes. Your concierge at Koloa Landing Resort had suggested them and all your peeps were game. Now you think that this just may be your family’s best day on the island yet. And it’s not even noon!
This morning, you all checked out the map together at the rental shop and agreed that the best route would be Lawai Road along the coast up to Spouting Horn and then back again in the opposite direction for a picnic at either Poipu Park or on Shipwreck Beach. You had hit the farmers market for fresh fruit and other goodies the day before and packed up the sandwiches you made in your villa’s gourmet kitchen. No need to bring any dessert because you hoped you’d be stopping for some ridiculously indulgent treat along the way.
“I hope we see a monk seal!” your daughter had enthused over banana pancakes at breakfast. She is writing a paper for school on seals and figures her own photo would be a boon and delight her teacher.
After being outfitted with helmets, locks and some pretty nice Hawaiian road bikes [at Kauai Outfitters], you’d headed down Poipu Road, past the Shops at Kukuiula and onto Lawai Road.
Now you’re gliding along, soaking up this glorious day. Though the sky is dotted with puffs of white clouds, no real rain is forecasted (yet) as this is the sunny South Shore.
The ride up the coast toward Spouting Horn Park is only a couple miles — roughly ten minutes — but it is packed with sweeping beach views and spectacular scenery. Chickens scatter as you zip past the sprawling green lawns of Prince Kuhio Park, past idyllic Lawai Beach and then Keiki Cove. Deviating a bit off Lawai, Kukuiula Bay soon appears on your left with copses of palms, bobbing outriggers, and a gaggle of paddle boarders. You love the great wide openness of it all and have to fight the urge to belt out “Born to Be Wild” at the top of your lungs.
Now at Spouting Horn you lock up your bikes to check out this beloved landmark. The unique lava tube formations release a whale-like geyser of seawater that shoots into the air. Your kids strain to hear the roar from inside to decide for themselves if the huge lizard living in there is a myth or not. Just below the lookout to the right in a little cove you point out several sea turtles munching on sea grasses. But no monk seal.
Time to hop back on the bikes!
Now it’s back down Lawai all the way to Hoowili Road to head toward Kauai’s southernmost beach, the perfectly picturesque Poipu. Once crowned “the best beach in America” by the Travel Channel, Poipu is loved for its cozy snorkeling cove, wading pools teeming with sea life, swaying coconut palms, grassy park, and world-famous sunsets. Stop here for lunch? Everyone agrees they have more fuel in the tank and want to keep riding. You soar past Brennecke’s Beach to Pe-e Road and a mile or so later you end up on Mahaulepu Heritage Trail that takes you smack onto Shipwreck Beach Trail.
“Glad it’s not called ‘Bikewreck Beach,’” your husband says, winking.
You find a cozy spot in the sand amid palm trees that look straight outta Lost, unfurl the blanket and unpack your picnic goodies. You all toast your water tumblers to the biking life.
You don’t remember pineapple ever tasting this good.
Suddenly your son is pointing to the water’s edge and nudging your daughter. There dozing on the sand like an overgrown puppy is a young monk seal. Your daughter grabs the camera and moves just a little bit closer but not so close to disturb his slumber. She zooms the lens in and grabs her shots before trudging back up the beach, euphoric.
“He’s perfect,” she says cradling the camera.
On the return ride, you stop short on Ho’one Road to park, lock up and file into the rockin’ Brennecke’s Beach Broiler for a plate of “Bob’s Favorite Ice Cream Pie,” an extravaganza of coffee ice cream, macadamia nuts and coconut. Hot fudge heaven — Kauai style. The ride back home is as pleasant as the breeze.
Beaches, hills and foliage come to life when you’re on a bike — unlike with a glassed-in car. You can cover ground more swiftly than walking, but it’s still slow and gentle enough to take in the scenery, hear the sounds, touch the foliage, feel the elements and experience all the smells of land and sea. You have loved every minute of it. After all, you were born to be wild.
— Erica Karlin, Koloa Landing Resort
For more info on biking adventures, check with the concierge at the most-fun resort on Kauai, Koloa Landing. Book a resort room today! Note: The South Shore offers all types of biking terrain. Always ask for the safest routes and latest local rules of the road. Mahalo.