Though the Hawaii state senate denied LGBT couples the right to civil unions (a bill that is rumored to be revisited soon), gay and lesbian travelers should not despair. Aside from California, New York and Massachusetts, Hawaii is one of the most welcoming vacation destinations for same sex couples.
There are a number of gay-owned inns, restaurants, and shops on the island. For more detailed information on this, pick up a copy of GREAT DESTINATIONS KAUAI (Countryman Press, 2008).
And so the story ends. Superferry, once a way to travel between the Hawaiian islands without getting on an airplane, has met its demise.
After protesters on Kauai camped out in front of the vessel on surfboards, halting its passage, this ship has not been running between Oahu and Kauai. Now the State Supreme Court stopped service between Oahu and Maui, siding with environmentalists.
Locals are rejoicing. Tourists and airplane-ophobes are bummed. But flights are still cheap.
A heiau is a temple built of rectangular lava rock, fit together so adeptly that many walls still stand today. They used to be filled with palm leaves, wood, grasses, and sacred objects. Though they may look like a pile of rocks to you, often overgrown by brush or seemingly forgotten, remember that these are religious sites, sacred to Hawaiians. They are fragile and cannot be replaced. So please honor the suggestions listed below.
▪ View the heiau from the exterior. Do not climb on or over the rock walls, they may collapse.
▪ Do not excavate, destroy, or alter any historic site on state land or you will be fined $10,000.
▪ Do not leave offerings or trash at a heiau structure. Coins, candles, incense and similar items cause long-term damage.
Just in time to take advantage of those springtime deals to Kauai (have you seen the $400 round trip from the west coast to Lihue on United???), I will be sharing photos and talking story about my favorite Hawaiian island.
Please join me this Saturday March 21 at 6pm at Traveler's Bookcase 8375 West Third Street Los Angeles, CA 90048. 323-655-0575. Refreshments will be served.
Nothing creates intrigue like hearing a place is off limits. Ni‘ihau, 17 miles away from Kaua‘i, is an illusive and forbidden land. This privately owned island houses over 200 Hawaiians.
The majority of the population lives in the community of Pu‘uwai. This is the only island where Hawaiian is the primary language (though children learn English in grade school). Rumor has it this is the only place where some full-blooded Hawaiians still exist. Though a notable irony since the people who own the island are non-Hawaiian.
Unlike the rest of the archipelago, there is no electricity (but people use power generators for their televisions and refrigerators); no cable TV, phone service, indoor plumbing, wireless, or paved roads.
For work, the residents farm and create shell necklaces and craftwork that sells for big bucks on Kaua‘i. Unfortunately, the economy is suffering from draughts, hurricanes, and a lessening of ranch activities. There is talk of a bigger military presence on the island to subsidize the economy, and maybe a high-end resort. But as of now, the land and its people are a pristine example of life without outside influence.
As a tourist, the only way to visit is by invitation from a local. Otherwise, you have to settle with diving off shore or taking a helicopter tour over the uninhabited edge of the island.
It seems to this traveler that there is something special about the isolation of Niihau. No other Hawaiian island has been able to retain its soul in quite the same way--and for that we might be able to appreciate the fact that we are not quite wanted there. Don't some places have to stay sacred?
The majority of lodging opportunities in Kauai are condos. Spread throughout the east, south, and north shores, you’ll find a condominium option for nearly every price range. However, finding the right unit for you, might take a little research.
There is no central booking agency for any one particular condominium complex and décor is all over the map. For the most part, each condo unit is individually owned and operated, which means two condos right next to each other will be entirely different.
Another consideration is that some condo complexes are “resort condos” which means that they are a condo with resort benefits (often this means that the company will charge a resort fee; this will be noted if it is the case), like maid service, wireless, etc.
An easy way to negotiate the condo conundrum is to contact a rental agency, tell them exactly what you are looking for, and then ask to see specific pictures of the units they suggest.
Below are the vacation rental companies that I like most:
Castle (808-822-7700 or 800-367-5004; fax 808-822-7456. www.castleresorts.com).
To help inspire Bay Area folks to travel to Hawaii, the Hawaii Visitors Bureau has funded a number of free Hawaiian concerts throughout March in San Francisco. Last Friday, I attended Brother Noland's show (because my friend Verge was playing) and was reminded of why Hawaii is such a unique place.
Prior to the show, we were all sitting upstairs nursing our drinks, when Brother Noland commented that in the end music will bring us all together--it has in the past and will carry us through the current cloud hanging over us all.
And it dawned on me that we all need to offer ourselves a dash of goodness, especially now, when the newspapers are filled with doom and gloom.
So when I looked around Gordon Biersch, I noticed that most of the people in the lofty restaurant were smiling--something you don't often see on the Muni or BART. And my Hawaiian friend Verge said, maybe we need to give people leis more often, reminding them that the Aloha Spirit can exist, even when we are not in Hawaii.
So here's my little call to you all: After reading the Sunday paper, or after not sleeping enough, or losing your job, or, heck, after a crappy day at the office, even if you can't afford a trip to the islands, allow yourself to honor the aloha spirit for a few minutes each day. Basically--be nice to yourself, listen to Hawaiian music, and treat yourself to a lei from a local flower shop. Your psyche will thank you.
OK, Beatles fans, here's your chance to visit the only Beatles Museum in Hawaii for a steal.
After working in the film advertising industry for 17 years, Mike and Martina Hough moved to Kauai, and created their own work of art, the Kauai Country Inn (808-821-0207; www.kauaicountryinn.com; 6440 Olohena Road, Wailua). The five suites and cottage are decorated with exotic tiles, Hawaiian motif furniture, hardwood floors, murals, and have big windows overlooking the valley, plus kitchenettes. Soaking in the hot tub, surrounded by guava and starfruit trees, will enable you to embrace the solace of these undulating hills just a few minutes drive from Kapaa town. A major perk here is access to Mike’s private Beatles Museum, which showcases Brian Epstein’s Mini Cooper. Suites run $129-$169; 3-bedroom cottage is $249.
Check last minute specials for some pretty good deals.
I had to share this deal with you all--United Airlines has a $265 (all-inclusive) deal from SF to Lihue, Kauai through the beginning of April. Now is the time to book those flight deals. Nothing takes the edge off the winter like the tropics.
Michele Bigley is the author of GREAT DESTINATIONS KAUAI (Countryman Press, Dec 08) and NORTHERN CALIFORNIA: AN EXPLORER"S GUIDE (Countryman Press, Spring 09). She is also the author of the iPhone apps Family Friendly San Francisco and Napa and Sonoma With Kids. Her work has appeared in the SF Chronicle, Islands, Away.com, Triporati, Tripvine, Student Traveler, Examiner, Moxie, Girls Life and more.