Beautiful Kapalua

Kapalua Resort on Maui is a truly beautiful place with beautiful beaches, luxurious resorts, comfy condos, great restaurants and championship golf courses.

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 In my previous post, I shared about our nice condo in Maui on our trip back in May, and one of the aspects that made this particular condo experience one of our nicest ones to date was beautiful Kapalua resort itself, where our condo was located.

Kapalua Logo Sign
Kapalua logo sign

Kapalua is the last resort area in the northwest corner of Maui, past the popular Kaanapali and Kahana resort areas.  While those last two areas are more densely populated, Kapalua is further out and away from most of the heavier traffic, and it also sits in one of the prettiest areas of any of the Hawaiian islands we’ve visited.  Various sites and places in Kapalua have won awards for quality, and we understand why now.  Kapalua is a special place of conservation and preservation, not just a tourist destination.  The Pu’u Kukui Preserve at Kapalua is one of the largest nature preserves in Hawaii, and unfortunately, we did not make it there on our trip.

Kapalua Resort Cook Pines
Beautiful Cook pine trees line the entrance at Kapalua resort with the Bay Course on the right
Kapalua Cook Pines
More Cook Pines
Kapalua Villas
Ridge Villas at Kapalua

Kapalua has so much to offer, including truly fabulous beaches, beautiful natural scenery and amazing landscaping, golf courses, two luxury hotels and condos/villas in two different locations – Kapalua Accommodations, good restaurants in varying price ranges in both the resort and the hotels, a nice store for groceries and souvenirs, concierge services, a free resort shuttle and a more upscale store for clothing and other items.  There are also a couple of small churches, including one that was quite picturesque on Mother’s Day morning.

Kapalua Church
Scenic church at Kapalua on Mother’s Day morning

While other resort areas on the island have activity until well after dark, Kapalua is more peaceful and quiet, since most everything shuts down early in the evening, except the nicer restaurants.  I should mention that the five-hour time difference from home, for us, was actually a great thing.  While we adapted a bit to the time change, we had no problem getting up early in the mornings, relatively speaking, which enabled us to have the entire day without feeling like we actually got up early.  Coming home?  Well, that was a different story as far as jet lag!

Beaches of Kapalua

We visited the three beaches in at Kapalua for the first time, D. T. Fleming Beach, Oneloa Bay and Kapalua Bay, and on a previous trip, we also went snorkeling at nearby Honolua Bay with friends.  Honolua Bay is just north of the resort area and is a little harder to access, but it is a gorgeous place.  Honolua Bay and Mokule‘ia Bay, both Hawaii State Marine Life Conservation Districts, are amazing places and with ancient lava formations, coral formations and great marine life.  It is a must see place, in my opinion, but on this trip, we opted to see new beaches and forego snorkeling.   We also visited Napili Beach on this most recent trip, which is not far from Kapalua Bay and is very nice.

We chose D. T. Fleming Beach for our one afternoon at the beach during our trip, and we had so much fun playing in the waves there.  It was nice to also have big shade trees, picnic tables and public restroom facilities nearby there.  If we return to Maui sometime, we will try to spend more time Kapalua Bay, if possible.  Oneloa Beach is a bit rough for swimming with no life guard on duty, but it is amazingly beautiful with its beautiful protected sand dunes.  We had a great view of Oneloa Bay from our condo, too.

All beaches in Hawaii are public beaches, even the beaches that front the nicest hotels, and we liked the beaches at Kapalua better than any other beaches we visited on our previous trips to Maui.

D. T. Fleming Beach
D. T. Fleming Beach, near the Ritz Carlton Hotel
D. T. Fleming Beach Park
Pretty public park at D. T. Fleming Beach
D. T. Fleming Beach
Scenic spot at D. T. Fleming Beach with beautiful pine trees
Oneloa Bay
Scenic Oneloa Bay
Oneloa Bay with Lanai in the distance
Oneloa Bay with Lanai in the distance. Note the beautiful sand dunes here.
Kapala Oneloa Beach
Natural Beauty at Oneloa Beach
Kapalua Bay
Kapalua Bay, America’s Best Beach in 1991 – the Montage Hotel is also nearby
Napili Beach
Napili Beach, next to Kapalua Bay and just outside the Kapalua resort

Kapalua Golf Courses

The two golf courses at Kapalua, the Bay Course and the Plantation Course, are amazingly beautiful, and the Plantation Course is a PGA course where the Hyundai Tournament of Champions is played.  But not only are these courses beautiful, they are both certified sanctuaries by Audubon International, “protecting 23 species of birds and helping preserve native plants and habitats,” according to Kapalua.com.  The tall Cook pine trees lined most all of the courses in both locations and are quite a sight to see.

Kapalua Bay Course at Pineapple Grill
Our view of the Bay Course at Pineapple Grill on Mother’s Day morning
Kapalua Bay Course
The Bay Course on Hubby’s golf day
Kapalua PGA Plantation Course
Our view of the PGA Plantation Course during dinner at the Plantation House one evening
Kapalua Plantation Course
Plantation Course

I hope to share about the Kapalua Coastal Trail in a separate post soon, as it was a great hike along the ocean.  It is not your typical hike, and we truly enjoyed hiking the entire trail twice during our stay.

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A Weekend in Point Reyes

I made a solo trip to see our California kids last weekend, since my hubby had to make a long trip to Europe, and it was a good weekend for me to visit them.  My daughter mentioned the possibility of us visiting the Point Reyes area together for the weekend, so after spending a little time exploring options for lodging on the internet, I found a great place for us to stay on Saturday night.  It was also one of the few hotels that did not require a two-night minimum on that weekend.  Lodging is quite limited in this entire area, so an advance reservation is definitely required on a weekend, or a least a spring weekend when so many people seem to be in this area for wildflowers and whale watching at the point.

On Wednesday, I shared some of the many beautiful flowers I saw on this trip, both at the hotel and inside the national park, Wordless Wednesday – The Flowers of Point Reyes National Seashore.  We saw some gorgeous flowers, to be sure.

I included details of the entire weekend in this post, making it a bit longer than what I normally share.  I haven’t been on much of a writing roll lately, so I felt it better to share the entire trip here while I had the time to do so, rather than possibly dragging it out.

This was my first time to fly out of a different airport in my part of the state.  I saved over $200 to simply drive two hours to this airport, and I was able to get better connections as well, even though it is a smaller airport.  On my second flight on Friday evening, I flew into the Norman Y. Mineta International Airport in San Jose, and it was a beautiful sunset flight across some of the most spectacular scenery in the country.  I always love the flight from Denver to the bay area, but it is especially scenic from the air with snow still on the Rocky Mountains.  Seeing this sight just before sunset on this trip was extra special, too.

Flying Over Denver at Sunset
Flying over Denver at sunset
Flying Over the Rockies at Sunset
The Rocky Mountains at sunset

Daughter picked me up at the airport, and we enjoyed a few hours together before her hubby got home from a late meeting.  We also discovered that my airbed had a small leak in it, so after debating some options, we found ourselves at Target just before midnight buying another airbed.  It was actually a delightful and fun time, and we “made some memories.”  They are now the proud owners of a brand spanking new Coleman airbed that has a built-in electric pump for added convenience.  I have to say it was very comfortable, too.

On Saturday morning, we all dropped by a local Starbucks for a quick breakfast and coffee before hitting the road to Point Reyes, and I always enjoy visiting some of the stores that they frequent.  That may sound odd, but it’s just interesting to see these places that are a regular part of their daily lives now.  The drive to Point Reyes took about 1.5 hours, and many people were out on their bicycles as we arrived in the area on a perfect weather day.

The Point Reyes Seashore Lodge was a nice place for us to stay.  It is only a few miles from Point Reyes Station, and it is one of very few lodging options in the area with close proximity to the main areas of the national seashore.  We found it to be a delightful little place with a good restaurant on the property where we dined on Saturday evening.  The grounds were immaculate with a beautiful stream on property, and we were able to just hike to the Bear Valley Visitor Center in the national park, which was only about a half mile away on a nice trail.  We also enjoyed a good complimentary continental breakfast at the hotel on Sunday morning, too.  The rooms are heated and cooled through radiant heating and cooling in the floor.  Yes, the floor.  If this might not be for you, think twice prior to staying here.  I only got a bit warm late in the afternoon when we had full sun on the windows, and I slept with one window cracked open just a bit for some fresh air.

Point Reyes Seashore Lodge
Point Reyes Seashore Lodge
My room with a view
My room with a view
Grounds at Point Reyes Seashore Lodge
Beautiful garden at Point Reyes Seashore Lodge
Stream at Point Reyes Seashore Lodge
Pretty stream on property

We also dined twice at the Station House Café in Point Reyes Station.  We ate lunch there when we first arrived in the area on Saturday, and we also ate appetizers and dinner there on Sunday evening.  That proved to be an especially fun experience, too.  We arrived at the restaurant too early for dinner on Sunday, so we started with appetizers in the bar, then decided to just stay for dinner when we saw a band setting up to play live music.  The group was a fabulous blue-grass band, and the longer they played, the more the locals and visitors started streaming in to hear them.  By the time we left, our table was quite coveted and was quickly grabbed by another group.

There are so many great hiking trails in the national park, and we made three nice hikes in the short time we were in the area.

Our first hike on Saturday afternoon took us on an informal trail from our hotel to the Bear Valley Visitor Center, which was a .6 mile hike with only a small incline.

A short hike to the visitor center from our hotel
A short hike to the visitor center from our hotel
Bear Valley Visitor Center
Bear Valley Visitor Center

We looked around the visitor center for a few minutes, then we opted to hike the Arch Rock Trail for a while.  It is a long trail, and it is also now closed further down the trail after a tragic collapse that killed one person about a month ago.  We hiked to beautiful Divide Meadow, and it was a steady uphill climb most of the way to that point.  Restrooms were available at Divide Meadow, and it would be a great place for a picnic while on this hike.  From this point, the trail starts to go back down toward the ocean, but we opted to turn around and head back to our hotel and get ready for dinner that evening.

Hiking the Arch Rock Trail
Hiking the Arch Rock Trail
Divide Meadow on the Arch Rock Trail
Divide Meadow on the Arch Rock Trail

After dining at the hotel that evening, we decided to play pool in the game room at the hotel.  Daughter beat her hubby in the first match, then I took her on in the second match.  She was amazed that I knew how to play pool, and I regaled her with the story of how I met her dad and smacked him good in a game of pool on that first meeting, long before we ever started dating.  She was pretty fascinated by it all, and I will need to brush up on my pool game for future matches, as she beat me quite soundly.

On Sunday morning, we ate a quick breakfast at the hotel, then drove to the Ken Patrick Visitor Center in the national park.  This is where we were required to catch a park shuttle bus to the drop areas for the two trails that we planned to hike that day.  The shuttle is also $7 per person and exact change was required – good to know if you plan to go at some point and plan to pay with cash.

Unlike the Bear Valley Visitor Center, which was located in a more wooded area, this one sat on a beautiful beach.

Ken Patrick Visitor Center
Ken Patrick Visitor Center
Beach at Ken Patrick Visitor Center
Beach at Ken Patrick Visitor Center
Beach at Ken Patrick Visitor Center
Beach at Ken Patrick Visitor Center with Chimney Rock in the distance
Pathways on the beach
Pathways and flowers on the beach
Shuttle bus
Shuttle bus to the Point Reyes Lighthouse and Chimney Rock trails

Our first hike on Sunday morning took us to the historic Point Reyes Lighthouse.  No doubt, this is the primary sight to see in the national park, too.  While I’m not sure this is technically a hike per se, the trek to the lighthouse is certainly a hike unto itself, since it is a half-mile hike uphill from the shuttle bus stop area to the lighthouse visitor center, as well as an additional walk via 308 steps down and back to the lighthouse, covering a 365 foot vertical drop/climb each way.  A sign nearby shows this to be the equivalent of descending and ascending a 30-story building.  Fortunately, this was our first hike on Sunday morning.  My legs definitely felt that climb back up, but I made it just fine with a few rest stops along the way.  It was worth the effort, too.  The historic lighthouse was a special sight to see, especially for me as I love lighthouses and seldom get to see them in person like this.  I will always remember and treasure seeing this special historic lighthouse, for sure.

The lighthouse area here on the point is also one of the foggiest and windiest places on the west coast, but we were fortunate to have a calm and beautiful day.  This is likely the exception rather than the norm here, too.  I’m not sure how I would have made the steep climb down to and up from the lighthouse if the wind had been blowing hard.  If the wind is blowing 40 mph or higher, the steps to the lighthouse are closed for safety reasons, and I totally understand why.  Whale watching is a big activity here in the spring months, but unfortunately, we did not see any while we were here, even though several had been spotted earlier that day.

Wind and fog at the lighthouse
Wind and fog at the lighthouse

One point of interesting trivia about the Point Reyes Lighthouse is the fact that the movie, The Fog (1979), was filmed here.  That movie is one that my family enjoyed and my hubby still likes to watch on occasion even today.  For more information on those filming locations, check out Film Location for The Fog.  I’m not much for scary movies, but The Fog was a good one.

Point Reyes National Seashore at the lighthouse
Point Reyes National Seashore at the lighthouse
Point Reyes Lighthouse Hours
Point Reyes Lighthouse Hours
Hike to Point Reyes Lighthouse
Hike to Point Reyes Lighthouse
Point Reyes Lighthouse National Register of Historic Places
Point Reyes Lighthouse National Register of Historic Places
Point Reyes Lighthouse
Point Reyes Lighthouse
Point Reyes LIghthouse
Point Reyes Lighthouse
Fresnel Lens - Point Reyes Lighthouse
Fresnel Lens dates back to 1867 – Paris, France – Point Reyes Lighthouse
308 Steps - Point Reyes Lighthouse
308 Steps at Point Reyes Lighthouse – a challenging climb

After hiking to the lighthouse, we then caught the shuttle bus to the trailhead for the Chimney Rock trail.  It was the easiest trail of our trip with only a slight incline on part of the trail.  While the Arch Rock Trail was wooded with quite a bit of shade, the Chimney Rock Trail was wide open on a peninsula with ocean on both sides of us, and it was so neat to see a large group of elephant seals sunning on one of the beaches along the way.

Hiking is such a great activity for the body and soul, especially when you have the opportunity to hike in such beautiful places as this.  Hikes like these inspire me to stay in good shape so that I can try to keep up with my kids on such fun adventures in the future, too.

Elephant Seals
Elephant Seals sunning on a beach near Chimney Rock
Historic Lifeboat Bay
Historic Lifeboat Station
Chimney Rock
Chimney Rock
At Chimney Rock
Near Chimney Rock
Beautiful Point Reyes National Seashore
Beautiful Point Reyes National Seashore

After our hiking was done, we took the shuttle bus back to the visitor center, ate dinner in Point Reyes Station and started our drive back to San Francisco via a drive across the Golden Gate Bridge.  My hotel for the night was near SFO, so it made sense to take this route on the way.  Garmin also surprised us by taking us on a new little road that was populated with some beautiful redwoods, which was quite a surprise for us.

Redwoods
Surprised by a patch of Redwoods on our drive

I always enjoy seeing the Golden Gate Bridge again.  It is such an awesome sight.

Golden Gate Bridge, driving into San Francisco
Golden Gate Bridge, driving into San Francisco

While my quick little weekend trip was too short, as always, I’m glad to have spent some quality time with the kids again, seeing some of God’s fabulous handiwork and enjoying their company, especially right now.  We had some really deep conversations, such as why some eggs are white and some are brown, and what exactly the distinction is between a brook, a creek and a stream.  We coined a new word to just make it easy and cover them all – a brook-creek-stream!  You heard it here first.

Sadly, my times with them are few and far between, for sure, but this quick visit definitely helped to brighten my spirits as I continue to maneuver my way through this first hard year after losing my mother, our last living parent, back in January.  I found myself fighting back tears on a couple of occasions on the trip, especially as I recalled bringing Mom along on our first trip to the bay area a few years ago.  I’m so glad we took her with us on that memorable trip now, too.  While memories can be a little hard at times like this, they are still bright lights that make our lives better if we look for them and treasure them.  They are kind of like lighthouses, I guess.  That is one reason I like to photograph and write about times like this now.  I want to hang onto these special, beautiful memories that are such blessings in my life.

In a post just a few weeks ago, I lamented on how I needed Spring to get here.  I got a great big dose of it on this trip, not just in the sights I saw but especially the company I had with me.  I also got a beautiful dose of it a couple of weeks ago in the Texas bluebonnets, too.  I am blessed – so blessed indeed.  Life goes on.

I highly recommend visiting Point Reyes National Seashore, but keep in mind that the lighthouse is closed on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.   Just be sure to keep that in mind and visit on a day that it is open, since it is the primary sight to see here.  Visiting on a good weather day with calm winds would be a bonus, too.

D
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