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EXPLORE KAUAI

KAUAI THE GARDEN ISLAND

Abundant Beauty

This northernmost grande dame of the inhabited islands of Hawai’i is magnificent. Measuring 553.3 square miles, Kauai is the top of an under­sea volcano that blew out of the ocean six million years ago. Ocean voyagers landed in double-hulled sailing canoes on her shores 1,600 years ago and called it home.

Today, visitors arrive in cruise ships at Nawiliwili Harbor to shop and frolic in the resort area of Kalapaki Bay. Eighteen-seat Twin Otter planes wing from the other is­lands of Hawai’i into Princeville Air­port on the North Shore, sweeping past rugged cliffs and the solitary Kilauea Lighthouse. Passengers who prefer jet service land at Lihu’e Air­port in the central part of the island. Their first glimpse of Kauai is of se­rene Kalapaki Bay and the Kauai Marriott Resort and Beach Club, which opened in June 1995. Here, vacationers can indulge in thirty-six holes of great golf at the Ki’ele and Lagoon courses, horseback rides, spa treatments and tours of a fifty-five-acre wildlife refuge via sleek ma­hogany launches. Hundreds of years ago, the legendary little people of Kauai, the Menehune, supposedly built large fish ponds to stock fish. Kayak trips up the Hule’ia Stream

pass these ponds—which are practi­cally next door to the Marriott.

Yet the Garden Island touts more than just splendid scenery and su­perb resorts; its calendar is filled with events. Local folks celebrate every­thing with a festival—from taro, the staple crop of Hawaiians, to a trip that Hawai’i’s Queen Emma once made to the Alaka’i Swamp in Koke’e’s rain forest.

Kama’aina and hotel owners urge guests to connect with the Hawaiian culture, and even provide activities to make it happen. For example, at the Outrigger Kauai Beach Resort, every new employee must complete a Hawaiian-culture based training program. Talented staff members occasionally display their handmade arts and crafts at the hotel, and three times a week, tutu come to share their expertise in Hawaiian quilting, lei-making, weaving and other arts with guests.

Your vacation will mean more if you know a bit about the area where you kayak, swim, surf, snorkel, scuba dive, play tennis or golf, or simply enjoy spectacular views from an over­look. Jumping feet first into Kauai’s history and culture is the best way to experience this extraordinary desti­nation.

Head first to the Kauai Museum,

which has the largest collection of artifacts from the island’s past. Dis­cover how the ancient Hawaiians lived off the land, learn about their cultural practices, and view exhibits on the Christian missionaries, who arrived in the mid-1800s and became catalysts for change. See how the story of sugar production explains the ethnic mix of Kauai’s people today— Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese and Filipino.

 

Magnificent North Shore

Then take your newfound knowl­edge into the community. Pick an area of the island and dig in, visiting archaeological sites while admiring majestic views. At the road’s end on the North Shore, embark on a trek along the famed Na Pali Coast. Only the hardiest of adventurers venture the full eleven miles into lush Kalalau Valley to camp, though all may en­joy coastal excursions by boat or heart-stopping views on short hikes. An ancient hula heiau stands near the trailhead.

Here, too, is Mount Makana—Bali Hai to movie buffs who remember the classic musical South Pacific, star­ring Mitzi Gaynor and Rossano Brazzi. Long ago, Hawaiians hurled firebrands from Makana’s summit, resulting in a spectacular display of ireworks to watchers below. Call the National Tropical Botanical Garden for a reservation to tour its Limahuli Garden in nearby Ha’ena.

Princeville Resort has brought world-class facilities to the otherwise fustic North Shore. Golfers think they’ve died and gone to heaven when they play the twenty-seven-hole Makai Course or eighteen-hole Prince Course. It’s sport sprinkled with history. The luxurious resort proudly points to the time in I860, when the surrounding plantation was named after two-year-old Prince Albert, son of King Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma. These days, the Princeville Hotel observes its Hawai­ian heritage, with a memorable sun­set performance three nights a week replete with throbbing drums, ancient hula and storytelling. During their stay, visitors have the chance to learn how to make Hawaiian quilts and other crafts. Just down the road, you can rent Crayola-colored kayaks, sailboards, surfboards and snorkel gear in quaint Hanalei town. Head to Hanalei River, where you can paddle back in time past emerald green taro fields. Ride waves in Hanalei Bay, or dive un­derwater for a close look at the hu-muhumunukunukuapua’a and other intriguing marine creatures. Book tours of the Na Pali Coast, where hid­den sea caves, colorful legends and awesome sights await you.

At the seaside Kilauea Point Na­tional Wildlife Refuge, you can learn about Kauai’s protected bird popu­lations. Thousands of red-footed boo­bies, wedge-tailed shearwaters and more then a dozen other species thrive here, and from December through May, humpback whales spout and twitch their flukes as they migrate past the historic lighthouse. If you’re lucky, you may also catch a glimpse of spinner dolphins cavorting in the waves, and rare Hawaiian monk seals lounging on the beach.

Parading along the east side of Kauai are groves of graceful coco­nut palm trees that give the area its name—the Royal Coconut Coast. Several hotels can be found here, along with condominium properties and bed-and-breakfast cottages.

High on the bluffs overlooking the Wailua River, informative signs ex­plain the history of this sacred re­gion, where a system of Hawaiian temples once marched over the mountains and down to the west side. Tucked on the banks of the river is pretty Fern Grotto, a popular wed­ding site; you can get there by tak­ing a leisurely boat cruise three miles up the Wailua River.

Kauai’s south shore is drenched in sunshine. Here you’ll find the Po’ipu resort area and its condomini­ums, bed-and-breakfast operations and fine hotels. The architecture of the Hyatt Regency Kauai is reminis­cent of old Hawai’i, and going hand-in-hand with this, activities such as historic dune walks, “talk story” ses­sions with a kupuna, and poi pound­ing, coconut leaf weaving and lei-making demonstrations are offered free to the public.

Rent kayaks in Po’ipu and plunge into the ocean to view Spouting Horn, the famous blowhole, then kayak to a secluded beach, Lawa’i Kai, for a picnic lunch. Or bike along the craggy Maha’ulepu coastline, where rugged dunes and cliffs and secret caves beckon.

Adjacent to Po’ipu, Lawa’i and Allerton Gardens, managed by the National Tropical Botanical Garden, is a breathtaking tribute to nature. You’ll be delighted by the symphony of sound created by fountains, wa­terfalls and water gushing from fresh water springs, and by the “rooms” created by plants. The Thanksgiving Room, for example, features walls of panax hedge and a ceiling of spread­ing monkeypod.

While you’re “down south” on Kauai, don’t miss KOloa town, whose historic storefronts recall Kauai’s plantation days. During the last two weeks in July, the entire community gathers to celebrate Koloa Plantation Days, featuring a bike race, parade, competition of ancient Hawaiian games, cooking demonstrations, hula performances and a ten-kilometer run.

 

West Side Wonders

On Kauai’s west side, surrounded by emerald fields of cane, is the vibrant artists’ colony of Hanapepe. Consider a stay at sleepy Waimea Plantation Cottages, some of which actually housed immigrant sugar workers in the early 1900s. In neighboring Waimea, you can explore a fort built by Russian pioneers in 1815 when the Russian-American Company signed a treaty with Kauai’s Chief Kaumuali’i.

Salt ponds in Hanapepe are still harvested. Each summer, members of the families who are descendants of those who have inherited the rights to these ancestral plots can be seen working them. The salt workers mix the salt with red earth called ‘alaea. The resulting red salt is highly prized.

Uphill from Waimea lies resplen­dent Waimea Canyon and Koke’e State Park, where camping, hiking, sunsets, birds and spectacular wilder­ness await you. Start your visit at Koke’e Museum, whose exhibits on wildlife, meteorology, history and culture do a superb job of introduc­ing you to the park’s offerings. Gaze down into Kalalau Valley, and at sun­set, if conditions are right, you may see yourself reflected in the glory— a circular, reverse rainbow.

A jewel in the middle of the Pa­cific, Kauai—the Garden Island—is waiting for you. Come, and leave a piece of your heart forever.

Kauai Important Phone Numbers

Kauai Hotline: (toll free) 1-800-262-1400

Police, Ambulance, Fire: 911

Coast Guard: (toll free) 1-800-552-6458

ASK-2000 Information & Referral Service:

(toll free) 275-2000

Weather Forecast: 245-6001; Hawaiian waters,

245-3564

Time of Day: 2450212

Wilcox Memorial Hospital: 245-1100

Kauai Visitors Bureau: 245 3971

Governor’s Liaison: 274-3100

Mayor’s Office: 241-6300

Lihu’e Airport: 246-1400

Park/Camping Permits: 274-3444

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