Saturday, November 29, 2008

Why Kipu Falls is Not For You

Another mainlander has critically injured herself at Kipu Falls, reinforcing once more why tourists should not attempt to go to this waterfall. Sure, every guidebook tells you how to get there, making it sound so wonderful that it is impossible not to put it on your itinerary. However, so many tourists have been injured at this locally favored swimming hole that I decided not to include the falls in my book. Well, sort of. Rather, I included a zip line tour that takes you to the falls with a local who understands the water flow and moods of the falls. If you want to come here, sign on with the zip line adventure tour at Outfitters Kaua‘i (808-742-9667;
Here’s the issue: locals have been trekking on private property to get to the falls for years and it turned up in a particular blue covered guidebook (one that has locals reeling) and suddenly heaps of mainland tourists followed the worn path to the waterfall. Now, locals are mad because this was one of their favorite secret spots to escape the masses. But more than that, imagine if you were chilling at a waterfall with your family, drinking beer and lazing in the shade and suddenly some silly tourist jumped into the water below at the wrong spot, hitting his back on a jagged rock and totally wrecking your buzz. That happens about once a month at Kipu Falls.
Ultimately it is for your safety that no one, not locals, not the folks who own the property, and surely not little ole me, wants you to find this waterfall. There are so many great spots to swim on Kauai—Lydgate Park, Salt Pond Beach, Kee Beach, Hanalei Beach—and much lovelier waterfalls, so why chance a trip to the hospital?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Book Release Party

Great Destinations Kauai comes out December 1, 2008--just in time to take advantage of all those killer flight and hotel deals on Kauai.

To celebrate the release of the book, I am having a party at Red Hill Books (401 Cortland Ave, San Francisco) on Friday December 5 at 7pm. Wine and refreshments will be provided. And no, you won't have to eat poi.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Whales Have Arrived!!!

Kauai is one of my favorite places to see humpback whales. Besides being surrounding by the most astounding natural beauty in the US, you can spot these massive beasts at a number of locations around the island for free.

Here are my top 5 places to whale watch without getting sea sick...

1. Limahuli Garden.
2. Kalalau Trail.
3. Princeville Hotel.
4. Sheraton Bar.
5. Poipu Beach Park.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Kauai Coffee

In the tropics, coffee is a serious subject. You might be thinking, "It is pretty serious around my house come 7am." But us lucky mainlanders get to press a button and have that black gold percolated in minutes, rarely do we consider where those beans come from and how they get from the plant to cup. A visit to Kauai offers visitors the chance to learn about coffee in detail with visits to two working coffee plantations.

Just south of Poipu, in Kalaheo, is the Kauai Coffee Estate. Besides being the best place to taste a number of freshly roasted local blends for free, you can also tour the estate and see how the coffee bean is processed (also for free). Afterwards, with views of the coffee trees and the ocean beyond, you'll sip vanilla mac nut flavored coffee and probably buy some beans to take home. Visit for more details.

For people who want to explore a working organic coffee plantation, Blair Estate, offers guided tours of their farm and processing plant. You'll need to make reservations in advance through their website:

Finally, for the best espresso on the island, visit Small Town Coffee in Old Town Kapaa. The owner consistently wins barista awards--and they use Barefoot Coffee Roasters--a NorCal favorite. Visit

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Perfect Day in Kilauea

7am--Get a coffee and bagel at Mango Mama's.

8am--Take a stroll down Moloaa Beach.

9:30--Explore the Kilauea Lighthouse, making sure to ask a ranger about the nexting albatross's.

12pm--Have an ahi or tofu wrap at Kilauea Fish Market.

1:30--Hike down to Secret Beach.

4pm--Have a coffee at Kilauea Bakery and Pau Hana Pizza, then wander through the shops nearby.

6:30--Dine on pasta at Lighthouse Cafe, then head to the bar for a cocktail and some local music.

9pm--Stargaze from your lanai.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

New Moonlight Zipline Tours

Besides being the island choice for folks training to trek Mt Everest, Kauai offers a number of adventures for the mere mortal outdoor-lover. The newest attraction is a full moon zipline tour for $125. For four hours you get to experience the innards of a Kauai pine forest, zipping over the tree lines. Contact for more information.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Inexpensive Dining Fit For Alii

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.
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). Or if you want a real treat, on weekends, brunch at Blossoming Lotus (808-822-7678; 4504 Kukui Street)
can’t be beat; here you can dine on vegan delicacies like dal or buckwheat pancakes and a smoothie for half the price of big hotel brunches. Up on the North Shore, surfers head to Hanalei Wake Up CafĂ© (808-826-5551; 5-5140 Kuhio Highway) for a mouth-watering mac-nut cinnamon roll or breakfast quesadilla. Finally if you are staying on the South Shore, 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, 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. When you are on the South Shore, 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.
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.
For dinner, most tourists head to those candlelit seafood restaurants around the hotels. And while many of them are worth the hefty price tag, you can eat just as well for a quarter of what they will pay. Locals and surfers testify that pizza and burritos are the best ways to fill a hungry belly after a long beach day. On the North Shore locals favor the fresh (and huge) slices at Kilauea Bakery and Pau Hana Pizza (808-828-2020, Kong Lung Center, Kilauea). While South Shore folks head to Brick Oven Pizza (808-332-8561; 2-2555 Kaumuali‘i Highway, Kalaheo) for huge garlic-crusted pies in a lively setting, smothered with fresh veggies. Around Kapaa, Monico’s Taqueria (808-822-4300: 4-356D Kuhio Highway, Kapaa) does the trick, dishing up authentic Mexican delights in a strip mall in Wailua. While in the know locals and tourists head to Kauai Pasta (808-245-2227; 3142 Kuhio Highway, Lihu‘e) for pasta that will make you want to continue eating well past your finish line.
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.

Stay at Aston Islander on the Beach.