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.

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