Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Blossoming Lotus is Closing!

It is with great sadness that I announce that Blossoming Lotus, one of Kauai's greatest restaurants, is closing its doors. This vegan organic eatery will be missed.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Why We Love Rain

It is a popular saying on Kauai that we wouldn't have rainbows without the rain. There's a reason that Hawaii's lisence plate has a rainbow on it; why "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" has become sort of a Hawaiian anthem; and why the islands are so green. Rain happens. Often at the most undesireable moment: just when you arrive at the beach or right before you set out to hike the Hanalau Trail.

Coming from the mainland in winter, it is tough to accept the rain. We want sun, beach and to wear a skimpy dress at night. But the rain is part of the allure. Over the years, I have come to accept and even love rainy days on Kauai. What better excuse to curl up with a book on my lanai (it's not like it gets cold), play games with the family, and just relax. Often when we go on vacation, we feel the need to fill our calendars up with constant events and it is nice to have a reason to stop, slow down and just be. Try watching the rain land on a banana leaf; hearing the birds sing just before a storm; hunting for rainbows over the sea; smelling the wetness as it feeds the trees and even taking a little walk in a downpour. What better way to experience nature.

And my little packing tip: make sure to take a good book, a deck of cards and an affable attitude towards the rain. Kauai wouldn't be as beautiful without it.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Winter Specials Abound

So a quick look at the Kauai Visitor Bureau website and I found some deals that should be illegal. See for yourself: http://www.kauaidiscovery.com/winterspecials/.

Here are some that you should surely take advantage of...

Whalers Cove (http://www.whalers-cove.com/resort.php/WHALERS_COVE/SPECIALS) offers your fifth night free. This is one of the finest condo resorts on the island, perched over the cliffs, you can watch whales migrate from your balcony.

Outrigger's Kiahuna Plantation (OutriggerKiahunaPlantation.com.) has oceanfront condos at $219 a night. Though the property stretches over acres and acres, if you are on the water, you won't feel like you are in a condo complex in Orange County.

Waimea Plantation Cottages (www.WaimeaCottages.com) has 1-bedroom garden view cottages for less than $200. This is one of the better properties on the island; you stay in a renovated plantation cottage, with views of some of the largest banyan trees I have ever seen.

Hanalei Colony Resort (www.hcr.com) is offering 15% off rooms, spa treatments and the Mediterranean Gourmet restaurant in the winter. Want to get away from it all? This is the spot. Your own condo on a beach, yet away from the bustle of any town. This is my choice for a romantic or family getaway.

Grand Hyatt Kauai (www.grandhyattkauai.com.) is offering your fifth night free, a complimentary buffet breakfast and a free room upgrade. This is the granddaddy of Kauai luxury. Get in while you can.

Plus you'll find a slew of activities and other accommodations at a seriously slashed price. If you can get to Kauai, you can stay for less than you've stayed in over a decade.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Perfect Day in Hanalei

7am: Have a latte at Java Kai.

8am: Surf Hanalei Bay.

10am: Eat loco moco, eggs and nori or banana pancakes at Bali Hai in Princeville.

11:30am: Hike Limahuli Gardens.

2pm: Have a snack and cocktail at Mediterranean Gourmet.

3:30pm: Go for a snorkel at Kee Beach or Tunnels.

5:30pm: Watch the sunset, while listening to slack key guitar on the Hanalei Pier.

7pm: Dine at Bar Acuda or Postcards.

9:30pm: Have a nightcap at Hanalei Gourmet.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Update on Hale Puka Ana B&B

I just heard from Patrick and Jules, the owners of Hale Puka Ana B&B (www.westkauaisunset.com.; info@kekahakauaisunset.com; 808-652-6852; 8240 Elepaio, Kekaha) that they have made ome changes to their lovely B&B
in Kekaha. Patrick says, "We’re starting to limit the access to the upstairs and it’s resources. In response to this, we have made the suites more self sufficient and added many amenities.  We still plan to have the guests upstairs for breakfast and our world class concierge service!!!"

Patrick and Jules still offer guests the only bed and breakfast located oceanfront in sunny Kekaka (one of the most private white sand beaches, with some of the best sunset views). With Hawaiian framed pictures accenting simple white (600 threadcount) bedding and hardwood floors, guests find rooms comfortable, yet decorated with high-end touches. The suites each have a TV, refrigerator, fresh flowers, and a private bathroom (with lovely lotions and soaps). Patrick and Jules built a communal outdoor grill/kitchen area with views of the ocean. There is also an outdoor shower surrounded by fruit trees. When guests arrive, they are greeted with leis, a smoothie, and lots of assistance from the kind owners (who are great resources about where to surf). Each morning guests sit on the large lanai, staring across the Pacific at Ni‘ihau, to eat a continental breakfast.

The B&B is only two miles from Waimea town, yet it feels like you have found a remote paradise, far from the tourists in Poipu, yet with better weather and surf. I can't recommend this romantic B&B enough.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Lights on Rice Parade Tomorrow

Aloha friends,

Just a reminder that the annual Lights on Rice Parade takes place in Lihue on Dec 5 at 6pm. Traffic might be tough, so get there early.

Mele Kalikimaka.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Caretakers of the Earth

Last night I had a dream that my son Kai, looking over the wreckage of the planet, asked why I brought him into the world. Upon waking, I read a quote that appears in most holy books about humans being caretakers of the earth, not masters. And both made me think about Kauai--about those epic sunsets and waves, the reefs (that friends say are bleaching quicker than you can eat a plate lunch), those peaks of mountains, sleeping giant and the Kalalau Valley that has both shielded humans from harm and brought about countless deaths. I imagined the view from the top of Kokee, a hike in the redwood forest, dipping my toes in Kee Beach. Then I envisioned the alii royalty canoeing up the Wailua River from Heiau to Heiau, ignorantly killing off bird and plant species and I realized that it is our time to evolve.

As lovers of Kauai, whether it be inhabitants or visitors, it is up to us to care for this land. And there are so many easy ways to do so. Here are some ways we can all help keep Kauai beautiful:

1. Recycle. OK, so it is a bummer that Kauai places don't automatically recycle, especially since their landfills are filling rapidly. But it is not hard to actually recycle yourself. Here's how to make it worth it. There is a recycle center across the street from Poipu Beach Park--make a day of it: go for a swim, have a drink or a shave ice, go surfing and help save the planet.

2. Even better than recycling: bring your own water bottle and refill it; unwrap your packaged toiletries at home.

3. Limit your driving as much as possible. Rather than staying on the North Shore and driving to the South and West shores a bunch of times, split your trip in half. Even better: Take the Kauai Bus. Talk about a cultural education.

4. Before hiking anywhere, clean the bottom of your shoes. Invasive plants hurt the endemic plants of the island. And since Kauai has one of the highest rates of native plants and animals, it is our job to help sustain them.

5. Buy local. The Kauai farmers markets rock. You'll find head-sized avocados, homemade banana bread and super sweet bananas. And supporting local farmers helps keep locals in business.

As caretakers of this land, we need to govern ourselves, making sure we don't take too much without giving a little back. It's not that hard and using these simple tips, we can experience a side of the island many tourists don't see.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Grand Hyatt Resort Offers Steep Discounts

Just wanted to let you know that you can stay at Kauai's finest resort for a steal. Check the Grand Hyatt resort's website for details, but I have see deals as low as 25% off.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Great Destinations Kauai Hits the Shelves

The first Kauai guidebook to offer readers the chance to be responsible tourists has officially hit the shelves of your local bookstore. When I first started writing this book, I researched all the other Kauai guides on the market. A common theme I found was this idea of showing travelers all the "secret spots" without taking into account the effect of hordes of tourists trampling the land. This trend has upset locals enough to resent tourists. This, of course, is a catch 22, because the main economy on the island is tourism.

So how do locals and tourists negotiate this love hate relationship when guidebooks are constantly telling tourists to go to spots that are privately owned and downright dangerous (I won't even go into the numerous deaths that have occured when a certain colorful guidebook told tourists to visit a very treacherous, unkempt path)? Now, I understand wanting to visit a place and know it like a local, but Kauai is a fragile environment with only 5 percent of the island accesible by car. On this island you can find plants and animals that are not found anywhere else on the planet. And since the people who have lived there lives on the island need the land to continue to thrive, it is imperative that visitors respect their wishes. This is why I took a different route with GREAT DESTINATIONS KAUAI.

Because I love Kauai, because I want my son to experience this island in all its glory, I wrote a book urging tourists to understand the impact of their footprints on the island. So what does that mean? Well, Kauai needs tourists to keep its economy strong. So we mainlanders need to keep returning. But we also need to visit in a responsible way.

Knowing how to be responsible the the first step. In GREAT DESTINATIONS KAUAI I have highlighted locally owned businesses (including hotels and inns, restaurants, and activities), recycle centers (yes you have to drive your bottles and cans to a bin, but most are right near a beach), organic and sustainable restaurants, and hikes that are safe (and legal). I have also explained a bit about the ecology of the island so you understand why you might want to clean off your hiking shoes before and after a trip to Kokee and why you should never attempt a hike at Kalalau during rainy season.

All in all, I want you to have a safe journey and I want you to love Kauai as much as I do. I hope using this book, my love letter to America's last tropical haven, will help you accomplish this.

Please let me know what you think.