Friday, May 7, 2010

Kauai Cheap Food

Ancient Kauai royalty (alii) dined on fresh caught ahi and taro. Today most dining establishments want you to think that regal dining in Kauai means forking over 40 dollars for toenail sized serving of fish more reminiscent of a Kandinsky painting than a meal. However, if you know where to look, you can enjoy the freshest seafood in the state without having to take out a second mortgage.

Kapaa and Lihue:

Often when people imagine breakfast on the island, their reveries feature melting ice sculptures surrounded by crab, heaps of pineapple and plates of banana pancakes, accompanied by a $30 a person tab. Instead, follow the locals. In Kapaa, you won’t find a better banana pancake, smothered in homemade piping hot coconut syrup than at Ono Family Restaurant (808-822-1710; 4-1292 Kuhio Highway).

For lunch, it’s hard to avoid a trip (or three) to Hamura’s Saimin Stand (808-245-3271; 2956 Kress St, Lihue) for huge bowls of noodle soup, lilikoi pie and grilled meat for well under ten bucks. However, if you look a little farther, you’ll find many local favorites. In a little shack on the ocean side of Highway 56 in Anahola, locals line up at Duane’s Ono Charburgers (808-822-9181) for tetherball-sized burgers, addictive fries and marionberry milkshakes.

Stay nearby at

South Shore:

For South Shore breakfast, you are in luck. Here you’ll find the best traditional breakfast on the island at Joe’s on the Green (808-742-9696; 2545 Kiahuna Place). On Sundays locals crowd the patio along the golf course to eat the most authentic loco moco around.

For lunch and pupus, don’t miss the hole-in-the-wall Koloa Fish Market (808-742-6199; 5482 Koloa Road). They serve up the best poke on the island, fantastic seaweed and macaroni salads, and massive plate lunches to go.

Stay nearby at

North Shore:
A trip to Kauai is not complete without a visit to Kilauea Fish Market (808-828-6244; 4270 Kilauea Lighthouse Road, Kilauea). Locals line up out the door for lunch or an early dinner. Serving up the freshest sustainable fish on the island, you can’t go wrong with an ahi or tofu wrap enjoyed on picnic tables overlooking a meadow.

Locals and surfers testify that pizza and burritos are the best ways to fill a hungry belly after a long beach day. North Shore locals favor the fresh (and huge) slices at Kilauea Bakery and Pau Hana Pizza (808-828-2020, Kong Lung Center, Kilauea).

Stay nearby at

Dining like alii shouldn’t break the bank and with a little know how, you’ll find that food at inexpensive restaurants often outshines the pricy offerings of traditional sit down places, leaving you plenty of cash to take that helicopter tour, and return to Kauai next year.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Tiny Waves for Tiny Feet

Picture it now, the swaying palm trees guarding crystalline sand, leading to the United States’ most clandestine stretch of the Pacific. The sun beats on your back, the water beckons. Then crash. An epic swell—one that has lured daredevils to Kauai since the Tahitians introduced surfing—crushes your hopes of letting your tot (and if you’re really honest, even your timid swimmer of a partner) touch more than a toe in the warm seas.

However, moms and dads (and weak swimmers) don’t scratch Kauai off your safe swimming vacation lists yet. There are enclosed swimming areas on Kauai, safe enough for you to let Little Amber snorkel while you stick your nose in the latest Dan Brown novel and enjoy your vacation too.

The Kauai people have a long held respect for the ocean, so in order to give their little keikis a way to cool off in the rough seas, they constructed enclosed swimming areas (with that oh-so-useful lava rock). While you may want to admire the rough seas of Ke’e Beach and Polihale Beach from afar, you can schedule a day (or three) of lounging in the warm waters of the following kid friendly beaches.

Quite possibly the crowning glory of the Kauai community, Lydgate Beach Park promises plenty of safe swimming opportunities. Strewn along the eastern shores of the island, this park attracts joggers and dog walkers (the beachside trail stretches for miles), picnickers, sunbathers and oodles of kiddos. Chalk up the attraction to these strands as part of the community spirit (Kauai people designed and then spent a weekend constructing the magnificent playground just steps from the sand). Plus, the lava rock enclosed swimming hole makes nascent swimmers, teeny tots and tropical fish spotting snorkelers feel both safe and warm. It’s like a pool in the ocean! Stay nearby at the Castle Kaha Lani Resort.

Probably the most crowded beach on the island, the ever sunny Poipu Beach Park has plenty of fans for a good reason. Her reputation for being a sunbather’s spot du jour (What more could you want? Great weather, a shave ice truck, close bathrooms, a playground, a restaurant and even some decent surf) is deserved. Throw in a warm enclosed swimming area where you can watch waves pass and swim within feet of monk seals and you surely understand her allure.

Further south and west, on the sunny side of the island hidden in a salt harvesting region is the aptly named Salt Pond Park. Popular with resting monk seals and sea turtles, plus local picnickers and lap swimmers, this shady (and grassy) beach proves to be a lovely spot to spend a day. As long as you stay away from the monk seals, you can have most of the lava rock enclosed swimming area to yourself. Stay nearby at Koa Kea Resort Hotel, Sheraton Kauai Resort, or Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa.

If you find yourself tempted to brave the swells at other beaches, be sure to check the surf report. And follow the local mantra, If in doubt, don’t go out.
Happy swimming!

For more information visit

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Tidal Wave of Thoughts--Tsunami Musings 2010

Throughout centuries, Kauai and her sister isles have had to endure plenty of Mother Nature's whippings. Hurricanes, earthquakes, disease, invasive plants, and of course a less environmental beating (but no more painful) colonialism. And time and time again, she has bounced back, stronger, more humble, and more enriched because of it.

As I sit in my living room today, three thousand miles from the Garden Isle, watching CNN coverage of the tsunami destined to wash Hawaii's shores, I imagine the people of Kauai as I know them: sitting near Sleeping Giant, banding together, sharing papaya, talking story, and marveling in the power of nature.

If any people know how to embrace natural happenings (I won't say disasters, it's too early for that), it is island people. After Iniki, the locals gathered together to help rebuild. After the tourist slump, the people hunkered down and tried innovative ways to lure visitors back, and the list goes on.

I write this not only to send love and strength to all people affected by the Chilean earthquake this morning, but to also remind us all that the power of nature pales by comparison to the power of people in great numbers working together. If there is destruction, we will rebuild. Together.

Friday, December 11, 2009

United Slashes Winter Flights to Kauai

Get it while it's hot. I just heard that United has slashed winter fares to Kauai (and all islands) to hover at just around $500 round trip from San Francisco. The past couple of years found winter fares to be closer to $600-$700.

For more information click here.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Wintertime Deals to Kauai

OK friends, time to start surfing the web to score some of the insane flight deals to Kauai. At last glance on both and, I saw round trip flights to Hawaii hovering around $300.

Get your flights now! They'll go fast.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Kokee blaze mostly contained

A brush fire torched 10 acres of Kokee forest in the Waimea Canyon State Park this weekend. As of Sunday morning, the blaze was 75 percent contained, with a few hot spots still burning. The fire started along Makaha Ridge Road and has burned over 2 miles of pine forest. Though it threatened a few cabins, no one had to be evacuated.

For more information, click here.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Great Destinations Kauai review

Just wanted to share my recent interview and book review. To read it, click here.