Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Waimea Brewing Company

Looking for a place for a brew and pupus? Head over to Kauai's only brewery for a dash of tropics with your hops. Though the food isn't the best on the island, and to be frank, the beers won't trump most of California's microbrews, the experience of sitting on a wooden deck, surrounded by banyan trees, hearing the call of native birds and feeling the warmth of a sunny afternoon can't be beat. Add to that some live music on weekends and you'll probably try and figure out how to stay overnight at the lovely Waimea Plantation Cottages.

Waimea Brewing Company
Waimea Plantation Cottages
9400 Kaumualii Hwy, Waimea

Thursday, February 19, 2009

San Francisco Chronicle Review of Great Destinations Kauai

Here's the link to Jeanne Cooper's review of GREAT DESTINATIONS KAUAI.


Weddings on Kauai

Dream of exchanging vows on a white sand beach, with the golden sun setting over the crystal blue sea, and the palms gently swaying in the distance? You can be like many others before you and get married on Kaua‘i. Though most locals head over the Las Vegas to exchange vows, heaps of mainlanders have made Kaua‘i the wedding destination of choice. Since this is an already paved road, there is a big business set up to help with wedding plans—from coordinators to florists, DJs to luau organizers, folks who will marry you in the sky, underwater, as well as sunrise weddings along the Coconut Coast. Basically anything you can imagine has been done. For a price. Like with any other popular destination wedding locations, when people hear weddings, the dollar signs pop up in their eyes.

For a traditional wedding package, organized through any of the major resorts, expect to pay a lot, but not have to do much work. Each resort has a variety of packages, including intimate affairs of candlelit dinners on the sand to blow out parties for every person you know. The resorts that specialize in weddings are the Waimea Plantation Cottages, Grand Hyatt Resort, Princeville Hotel, Hanalei Bay Resort, Hanalei Colony Resort, Sheraton Kaua‘i, and the Lihu‘e Marriott.

Many of my friends have chosen to stitch together an affair on their own. Unless you are local (or plan to live on the island until your wedding), most people recommend getting a wedding coordinator. The Kaua‘i Visitor’s Bureau (808-245-3971; www.kauaidiscovery.com) has a comprehensive listing of wedding service providers both online and in their travel planner. Some coordinators popular with tourists are:

A Vow Exchange: (800-460-3434; www.vowexchange.com).

Island Weddings and Blessings: (808-828-1548; www.weddings-kauai.com).

Rainbow Weddings and Celebrations: (808-822-0944; www.rainbowweddings.com). They also perform commitment ceremonies for gay and lesbian couples.

If you choose to skip the whole coordinator thing, you might want to explore the Kaua‘i Wedding Professionals Association (www.kauaiwedpro.com) website for information about locations, caterers, florists, photographers, carriages, tent rentals, etc. The Yellow Pages offers comprehensive listings of wedding services, including the above-mentioned information, officiates, churches, rehearsal dinner locations, musicians, and more. It is important to note that if you want a friend or family member from the mainland to perform your ceremony, you must also hire a locally certified officiate to preside over the event (and make it legal).

So what happens if you arrive here and are swept away by the romance of the isle and decide at the last minute to get hitched? Plan to stay a few extra weeks because Hawai‘i has some strict licensing requirements. Though no blood tests are required, both parties need to be present (with cash in hand and valid ID) before the date of the wedding at the Kaua‘i Governor Liason’s Office (808-274-3100; www.hawaii.gov/health). You must make an appointment (and often they only accept them two weeks prior to the event) with an agent to sign the appropriate papers. Note that licenses only last for 30 days.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Polihale State Park--Closed for months

Because of storm damage, this beach park has closed for renovation--for months! Other alternatives for a mellow place to watch the sunset include Kekaha Beach and Salt Pond Beach Park.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Kalalau Trail: The Trek of a Lifetime

There is a reason that people training to trek Everest head to the north shore's Kalalau Trail. It's tough. It's ridiculously beautiful. And did I mention that it is tough?

Yesterday I read that a tourist, who was attempting to hike the whole way, got seriously hurt 3 miles in and had to be airlifted out. Now, you might read this and call it a fluke, but there is a reason that lepers hid out here; why locals rarely trek this treacherous path; and why the visitor's bureau is struggling with what to do about this major tourist destination. People keep getting hurt here and yet people keep flocking to the trail.

Connecting Kee Beach and Kalalau Beach, passing epic waterfalls, and winding above the Pacific along the Na Pali Coast sounds like the perfect dreamy hiking adventure. But throw in rain (and there is a lot on the north shore) and an unkempt trailhead and you have the recipe for a lot of haoles heading to the hospital.

Why only haoles? Because we don't seem to understand (and often we don't respect) the moody weather and land of Kauai. Rather, we pack our vacation chock full of adventures with only one day scheduled for the Kalalau Trail and end up going on a hike regardless of weather, timing, or your health.

Now, I have never completed the entire 11 mile (each way) trail. The last time I attempted, I was 6 months pregnant, made it 2 miles in, and decided to head back. I recommend this shorter length for day use hikers. But if you insist on going the whole way, here are a few tips that will save you an unlucky hiking experience:

1. Plan to arrive at the trailhead no later than 6am. If you get there later than 8am, you will be hiking in the full sun and have a higher chance of meeting rain. Plus, the masses arrive around 9am and any essence of privacy will be lost.

2. If it rained the day before (or if there is any chance of rain in that day's forecast) DO NOT HIKE.

3. Bring plenty of water and food. There is no snack stand at the end of the trail. And it is 11 miles back too.

4. Pack out all of your trash.

5. Wear sunscreen and mosquito repellent.

6. Go with a hiking buddy.

7. Wear good hiking shoes--this is not the spot for flip flops.

8. Go slow. The views are spectacular and worth the extra time of negotiating those unstable tree roots.

9. Be ok with turning back earlier than you would on a hike at home. Most of us are not used to the tropics and might push ourselves past the point of safety. As I am told, it is just as beautiful at mile 1 as mile 11.

10. Pat your self on the back for whatever part of the trail you accomplished. It is a tough one that most locals won't even do anymore.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Beach House Restaurant

One of Kauai's finest restaurants, both in location and cuisine, makes the ideal stop for that romantic meal. For folks on a budget, head to the bar to watch the sunset over the south shore, with a glass of fine wine and a collection of divine pupus.

If you can swing it, this is the spot for dinner with your sweetheart. Enjoy creative seafood followed by desserts so enchanting you won't be able to say no.

Both casual and classic, the beach house restaurants deserves its recent Hale Aina award for being the finest restaurant on Kauai.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Limahuli Garden

Even if wandering through greenery isn't your idea of a relaxing vacation, a trip to the one-of-a-kind Limahuli Garden should be on your radar for a Kauai vacation. Not only is it located on an ancient heiau (sacred space), but they also specialize in native plants to Kauai--a rarity on the islands. On a recent trip through this collection, I learned more about nature than I ever have on a trip to the islands. Consider this: if a plant flowers, it is not native to Kauai. I told you it was informative!

Plus, there is no better place to whale watch and space out on the ocean that spread below this dramatic landscape.

Though the cost can be steep ($15 for a self guided tour and $30 for a guided tour--which I highly recommend). It is worth every penny.

Just make sure to bring mosquito repellant and good walking shoes.

Limahuli Garden: www.ntbg.org.