Friday, October 31, 2008

The Perfect Day in Poipu

Watch the sunrise at Mahaulepu Beach.

Enjoy loco moco and banana pancakes at Joe's on the Green.

Tour the Allerton Gardens.

Lunch on Greek salad and tapas at Casablanca Restaurant.

Take a dip in Poipu Beach Park.

Watch the sunset with a cocktail at the Sheraton.

Dine on traditional Hawaiian seafood like laulau at Plantation Gardens.

Have a nightcap at Stevenson Library at the Grand Hyatt.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The First Research Trip

We were used to the fast paced life of our California cities, so getting comfortable with slow internet connections, spotty cell phone service and waiters chatting up the table next to ours, while we sat with empty water glasses and growling stomachs, took a couple days.

By day three papaya and banana yogurt breakfasts on the lanai of our condo wasn't a rushed affair, especially as we got to know the various birds hanging out in the garden. Our day usually consisted of me visiting hotels in the morning while mom worked, meeting for lunch and then having some sort of an afternoon adventure--a walk to a waterfall, a trip to Waimea Canyon, a visit to the botanical gardens. So when I asked my mom if she wanted to join me on a trip out to Polihale Beach, a little known tourist destination, yet one of the most stunning beaches in the state, she readily agreed.

Let me preface that with our rental car, we probably shouldn't have considered a trip to Kauai's outback. But we were troopers (and ignorant Californians--one pregnant and the other just happy to be in Hawaii again). We decided to pull over near a beach before making the trek to Polihale so I could take a picture. So mom drove our Cutlass into the sand where a number of 4 wheel drive trucks were parked. When I indicated that I wanted to go in another direction, she tried to reverse the car but the wheels were stuck in the sand.

At this point, the local dudes drinking beer by their trucks had started paying attention (read: pointing and laughing). I got out of the car, red faced and shamed, not sure what to do. With every attempt to get the tires free, my mother was getting the car stuck deeper in the sand.

I couldn't bear walking up to the locals to ask for help, since I know many locals disapprove of haoles (white folks) over-visiting their land. But my mom stuck her acrylic nailed hand with the giant diamond on it our the window and said, "Excuse me, can you help a poor LA lady?"

No less than ten bare-chested tan Hawaiian men strolled slowly over to the car. Split into equal camps--of supportive, "Well done ladies" and annoyed "Stupid haoles"--the guys started to plot how they could help. At first a couple started pushing the car while my mom reversed. After getting mouthfuls of sand, a guy grabbed a chain from his truck and strapped it on the wheel, pulled his truck over and clipped it on the back and swiftly towed the car our of the sand.

Mom and I cheered like knock-kneed school girls. Effusive in our praise, we promised cases of beer (which we later brought) and good karma to come their way. Of course as we drove away, we could still hear them laughing at us silly gals. But one thing is for sure, I have been in trouble in major US cities, waiting for someone to pull over and help and no one ever did. Yet Hawaiians get a bad wrap for being territorial (wouldn't you be?), but these dudes didn't think twice about getting sand up their noses, grease on their hands and a sore back to help tow two women they had never met before.

You'll be hard pressed not to find kinder, more giving people than those on Kauai--even if at first glance they aren't doing cartwheels when they first meet you.

Monday, October 27, 2008

This just in...

At 8am it was 70 degrees in Kauai this morning.

The winter deals have arrived. You can actually fly to Hawaii for less than $500 RT from the west coast! HAWAIIAN AIR ( has a decent sale going on. Just make sure you are traveling mid-week, over a weekend and returning on a Tue or Wed. and you are not trying to go over the holidays. Because of the economy, major hotels are offering some sweet deals.

If you don't mind an air/hotel package, the Hawaii Visitors Bureau ( directs you to deals at, Hawaiian Connection,, and Hotels included in the packages include Outrigger (which is one of the best condotels in Kapaa), the Grand Hyatt (the nicest hotel on Kauai), Marriott (great for kids), and Resortquest (if you can score a deal at Waimea Plantation Cottages you're in luck!).

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Who am I and Why You Should Read This

The week I was offered the gig of writing Great Destinations Kauai (Countryman Press, Dec 08), I found out I was pregnant. So as all about-to-be rotund women do, I freaked. I started calculating how I could possibly write a book and be a spaced out breeder at the same time. 

I should clarify with this aside, I do not live in Kauai nor in Hawaii. Rather I abide in San Francisco. But I have traveled to over 30 countries and spent a ridiculous amount of time on the Hawaiian islands. It is fair to say that a good writer can capture the essence of a place, without living there. In fact, some of the best guidebooks I have read come from folks who travel to a place more than they have lived there. 

That being said, I assure you that I researched the heck out of Kauai--and aside from a couple guidebook writers who I won't mention, I know more about Kauai than my little brain can handle. Which is why I am imparting my knowledge to you. 

I also want to clarify that my book is not one of those how to reap the benefits of the culture books and see every secret beach. Instead, because I love Kauai, I wrote a book that actually guides people to understand the impact of their footprints on the island. Without preaching, I want to encourage visitors to respect this fragile environment, so that my son can enjoy it as much as I do. This means you won't read about secret beaches or waterfalls in my book. Rather you are led to the best safe locations around the island. 

Next post: The First Research Trip.