Archive for September, 2010

Okay, I can’t help myself. I’m on a roll now, first with the whale watching in Poipu and then with the perfect whale watching rental home. So if you are going to be whale watching on the south shore and maybe even staying at The Tides, here is another site for you to see.

Waimea Canyon is also known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. Why? Well, anyone who has gone to visit this natural wonder can tell you that it is no small hole in the ground. Let’s crunch some numbers:

The Grand Canyon in Arizona is 277 miles long and 6,000 feet deep, right? But the continental United States (which is 3,000 miles across) is quite a large piece of land for a canyon that size, almost dwarfing the Grand Canyon with its sheer bulk. At ten miles long and 3,000 feet deep, Waimea Canyon definitely creates a sizeable landmark on Kauai, cutting deep into this 25 mile wide island and revealing the jagged and exquisite beauty of nature.

Of course, if you really want to see Waimea Canyon, then you need to head to Kokee State Park. Located just north of Waimea Canyon State Park, Kokee has several hiking trails that show off the canyon nicely, from the 1.8 mile Canyon Trail to the 0.1 mile Cliff Trail. Other great canyon views can be found on Iliau Nature Loop (0.25 miles), Kumuwela Trail (1 mile), and Black Pipe Trail (0.5 miles).

So don’t you think the canyon is worth seeing? Well, if you are staying at The Tides or in the south near Poipu, then all you have to do is take Lawai Road north toward the 530 (Koloa Road). Turn west (left) and take the 530 to Kua Road, turning left at Kua to get onto Kaumualii Hwy. Stay on the HWY for 12 miles until you see Waimea Canyon Drive (HWY 550) on your right. This turn will be right before Hapokele Park, so keep that landmark in mind. Go another 7 miles (actually I think it’s a little less) up the road, past the hospital, and out of town. The road will actually turn into Kokee Road, so don’t be worried when the name changes. Continue to follow this road another 3 miles. Waimea Canyon State Park will be on your right and Kokee State Park is another 4 miles or so after that on the same road.

Since we were just talking about a whale watching trip to Kauai, I figured now would be a great opportunity to discuss where you would stay while there: The Tides. Wouldn’t it be great to have a vacation rental overlooking the water, giving you the chance to whale watch from your bedroom window?

I think so.

If you want a great place for whale watching and south shore fun, then The Tides is the perfect vacation home for you. With large windows in every room providing you with ocean views and with a short path down to the beach from the backyard, this home is truly the perfect whale watching experience. Simply bring your binoculars and enjoy the view.

But of course, there is a lot more to this house than a view of the ocean. With three bedrooms, three full bathrooms, and an extra queen-sized daybed in the living room, you can bring your entire large family to the island or take a “couples trip” with a few friends, filling up the house with laughter and fun. The Tides has an open layout and approximately 2500 square feet, which is perfect for a large group. And since the high speed internet is free, you can even bring some work associates along and make it a “working trip” to remember. Talk about a great conference room!

However, keep in mind that, because of the private property location, the wonderful views, the beachfront nature of the house, the beautiful lawn and lanais, and the amazing indoor features, The Tides is pricier than your typical Kauai condo rental. This tropical getaway is going to run you around $429 a night, which won’t be affordable for some families. On the other hand, with several couples or work partners going in together on the expenses, you are sure to have an easy time collecting the money required.

Enjoy your stay!

Okay, here is a plug for all of the tourists out there who want to go whale watching. Did you know that Kauai’s whale watching season is coming up. Late November through early May is the peak season for whale watching around here, since thousands of whales come by the island every year to enjoy our tropical climate and warm waters.

Awesomely enough, you don’t even have to go out on a whale watching boat trip to see them. During the peak season, you can see the whales right from the shore, their water spouts shooting high into the air and their mammoth tails breaking the water. Sure, there is much to enjoy on Kauai during the summer months, but nothing compares to getting up close and personal with a whale during the winter.

If you want a good spot for whale watching, I like to head up to the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge. There are several places along the cliffs that allow a great view of these majestic creatures, and there are many other activities around the refuge for you to do after whale watching. Other good places for whale watching include the Kalalau Trail on the north shore, Kukui O Lono Park at Kalaheo, and Poipu Beach. And don’t forget your binoculars!

However, if you really want to get up close and personal with a whale, go out on the water. There are several whale watching expeditions that you can be a part of, and sometimes the whales come right up to the boat, spouting water and rising up just a few yards away. The Best of Kauai Tour even offers whale watching from the air, so you can see the island in all of its glory and watch the whales from a bird’s eye view.

Yes, if you want to go whale watching, then you should definitely visit in the next few months. Maybe a Christmas trip? What could be better than Christmas on a tropical island?

To keep Sam out of trouble from the sun and the surf, today I decided to take him mountain tubing. It’s something we’d always wanted to do as kids, but we never got the chance. Now that we’re adults, I figured there was no time like the present. So I got Sam in the car and off we went to Lihue and beyond.

Mountain tubing is a weird adventure, definitely different than you would expect. You see, over a century ago the Lihue Sugar Plantation hired a bunch of laborers to build the Hanama’ulu ditch system. This means that a series of canals and tunnels were cut from the rock and designed to bring irrigation water to the plantation from the waterfalls and streams on the other side of the mountain. Many of those tunnels are carved right through the mountain, so it’s kind of like spelunking but with water!

Using giant inflatable rings, tubers can follow the flow of water through the mountainside flumes and tunnels and finally emerge at the plantation. Along the way, you get to see many unique sites and remote locations on the island, which was definitely a lot of fun. I mean, I thought I’d seen the whole island by now, but Kauai is always surprising me. We had a grand time swapping stories with other tubers and laughing our way through the island, though Sam forgot to take off his watch and it got pretty wet. As I write this, he is in the bathroom with my blow-dryer trying to make it work again. Luckily for him, I remembered to bring the bug repellent, so at least he doesn’t have to use his Surfer’s Salve again.

If you are planning to visit Kauai, I can now beyond a doubt recommend mountain tubing to you as a great activity. Anyone over the age of 5 can go, though I wouldn’t recommend taking children who are afraid of the dark. And remember that you are going to get wet! So remove your watches and where a swimsuit. If you want more information, you can visit Kauai Backcountry Adventures online.

September 28, 2010 by, Emily

My brother, Sam, came to visit this week and he’s going to stay with me for a while. He went to school in New York and learned to love it, staying to find a career there and start a family. So it has been several years since he’s come back to the island. I figured he would adapt quickly and turn back into his formerly tan self within a few days. I think I was wrong!

Today, he comes walking out of his room completely covered in Surfer’s Salve! Okay, for those of you not from the island, Surfer’s Salve is a lotion made by Island Soap & Candle Works, a business that started up here on the island in Kekaha and now sells all over the island chain. They opened a factory store in Kilauea in 1997, and tourists love to visit this shop, watching the candles and soaps being made and purchasing specialty gifts for their friends and family.

Surfer’s Salve is an all natural skin lotion made from aloe, rosemary, comfrey, lavender, and other soothing plants. While it was made originally to sooth a surfer’s dry, wave-beaten skin after a day out on the water, it is also great for sunburns, minor rashes, bug bites, chapped lips, and a number of other topical conditions… all of which my brother seemed to have developed after only a few days back on Kauai.

He had a rash from falling asleep on the sand, a sunburn from that same day, dry skin from trying to surf the day before, and bug bites from who knows where. I have seen random tourists who have never been to our island before come and stay a full week without any of these problems, but he got them all in a few days. I just couldn’t believe I was related to this man, especially since he was so different as a kid. When he walked out in Surfer’s Salve, I couldn’t help it. I laughed, long and hard and for quite some time. To think that my island-loving, surfer brother has gone mainland. Wow.

On Kauai, there is a lot to do, which is helpful on a small island. With so much going on and so many new experiences to have, a person can never really get bored. That’s how I feel anyway.

So yesterday, I decided to get out of the house for something more than food. Since I didn’t feel quite up to a hike or a beach trip, I did the next best thing: trail riding. I’ve been trail riding before and have always enjoyed it. The horses are well trained, the trails are well maintained, and the guides are all wonderful. Plus, I knew that the horse would do all of the work and I wouldn’t have to deal with my ankle at all!

In my opinion, the best trail rides take place at Silver Falls Ranch. I’ve gone personally a few times, but more importantly I’ve taken my niece and nephew along once or twice. The ride was a great family activity, and I didn’t have to worry about the kids getting into trouble along the way.

According to my niece, the best ride is the waterfall ride and I tend to agree with her. Traveling through the beautifully landscaped trails is a treat all its own, but there is a break for food and swimming at the waterfall. The kids loved that.

On the trail, you can view the lush vegetation of the area and witness some spectacular views, especially of the mountains. And you don’t have to worry about watching where you are going because the horse does that for you! This is truly a great activity and I think everyone should experience it at least once.

September 23, 2010 by, Emily

Okay, I realize I have written a lot about food lately, but my ankle isn’t quite done healing, so I can’t be as active as I was before. This means that “going out” for me often involves food, and there is no better place to get a great fish cooked to perfection than on Kauai. We are an island, after all.

So this blog is a shout out to my favorite place to get lunch. On the north shore in Kilauea, there is a fish market that serves the best Seared Ahi Wrap in existence. Well, at least it’s the best wrap I’ve ever had, and I’ve been to quite a few restaurants on the islands.

For those of you who don’t know your fish, ahi is a type of tuna and it is very common around here. Ahi are popular catches for fishermen since they are numerous and can weigh up to 200 pounds, which makes the fishermen a pretty mean profit. Also, they are downright yummy when cooked just right, especially when seared.

I often find myself craving these fish market wraps, and I find excuses to head that direction around lunch time. I run errands or I invite someone over for a fish dinner, requiring me to head to Kilauea and find that stone surfaced building with the big blue sign. You see, the fish market is one of those two-in-one places, where you can buy fish to cook yourself or order some food to eat right then. So, while I’m picking up dinner ingredients, I can also pick up a great lunch.

I highly recommend this place to anyone staying on the island.

Do you have a couple of kids who have never seen Hawaii? Well, there is a Princeville Plantation rental waiting for you on Kauai.

This plantation house is located at 4771 Pepelani Loop in Princeville. That means it’s on the north shore near several beaches, from Anini Beach to Hanalei Bay. With beds enough for four, the accommodations couldn’t be more perfect. And, if your family is larger than four, there is also a sofa that folds out into a queen sized bed, giving plenty of space for everyone.

This home rental also has air conditioning, so the humidity of our tropical environment won’t bother you while you sleep. With a large, fully furnished kitchen to make meals, a full sized washer and dryer in the home, and a plethora of beach toys located in the garage, this truly is the perfect getaway for a family with kids. Plus, it is priced well at only $125 a night. With Hawaiian hotels charging just about as much for far less, you would do well to put your money into this rental home instead.

And in case you’re worried about getting bored, you should know that this home is only a short walk from the Princeville Resort, the Princeville shopping center, the Princeville spa, and the Prince golf courses. There is also a public library and a children’s park not far away. So you’ll never run out of things to do and places to visit.

Don’t wait until your kids are grown and out of the house to take a dream vacation. Bring them along and enjoy the best accommodations that Kauai has to offer.

I’ve been itching to get out of the house lately and do something fun. I hurt my ankle back at the end of August, and so I haven’t been out much. Well, that’s not true. I went to the doctor to get checked out, and I went with a friend to game night the other night. But I haven’t been out in the fresh air since the 26th.

Anyway, today I didn’t want to just sit around and do nothing, so I got up early, picked up the book I’ve been reading, and drove to Kountry Kitchen in Kapaa. I know what you’re thinking and yes, that is a long way for breakfast. But apparently you’ve never had their macadamia pancakes or their Loco Moco. For a breakfast lover, Kountry Kitchen is the way to go.

In fact, if you do want to go there, let me give you some quick directions. First it depends on where you are coming from. I live on the north side of the island, so I had to go east. I took State HWY 56 (known as the Kuhio HWY) southeast to Kapaa. But if you’re staying in the south or you’ve just flown into Lihue Airport, then you need to come north on HWY 51 (Kapule HWY) and merge onto HWY 56 (Kuhio HWY) until you reach Kountry Kitchen, on your left just past Lydgate State Park.

After a lovely breakfast at Kountry Kitchen, I went to Lydgate and sat on a bench, enjoying the cool breeze and the warm weather. I finished my book that afternoon and drove back home, feeling refreshed and revitalized. It’s amazing how much you miss spending time outdoors when you’re stuck in the house for a few days.

Isn’t September a lovely month? I’ve always loved the back-to-school season, though I haven’t had to attend school in some time. Perhaps that’s why I enjoy it so much – I feel the freedom of not being stuck in a classroom all the more during the month of September.

Usually, once all of the kids have gone back to school and most of the vacationers have left, I can go to all of my favorite places and just relax. The temperature here in September is usually between 70 and 80 degrees, so I never have to worry about it being too cold or too hot. Of course, it does rain around here because of the tropical climate, so sometimes I have to worry about it being too wet.

That doesn’t stop water activities though. Today I think I’ll take a walk down to the beach and go swimming with some friends. (It’s never a good idea to swim in the ocean alone. Plus, swimming with friends is much more fun!) The water is still a constant 80 degrees, so it’s almost as warm as the weather. And, if I’m already planning to get wet, a bit of rain won’t spoil anything.

Have I mentioned lately that I love it here?

Here’s some news for the tourists! Well, I’d better start at the beginning. Whenever someone comes to visit me who isn’t from Kauai, I always take them to Hanalei Bay Resort for lunch. It’s a tradition with me, as a meat eater, to order a hamburger from the resort whenever I can, and visitors give me the excuse I need to drive there. Plus, the hamburgers are only $5.

Anyway, the resort itself is an oceanfront getaway overlooking Hanalei Bay. Since it is right on the beach, visitors to the resort get great food, a view of sunsets over the ocean and mountains rising up in the distance, and wonderful ocean breezes. Plus, the resort has gardens, waterfalls, swimming pools, and the beach! My friends and I have often sat in the pool area watching the waves and munching on our juicy hamburgers.

Well (and here comes the exciting part for tourists) the Hanalei Bay Resort has recently been recognized by Fodor’s Travel as the Best Hotel Pool in the US! In fact, they were given the Fodor’s Choice Gold 2010 award. Why? Well, if you’d ever seen the pool with its authentic lava-rock waterfalls, open-air hot tub, kids area, sandy “beach” by the pool, and all of the amenities included, you would know.

So what does this mean for tourists? Well, it means that Hanalei Bay is the best place to stay and bring your family. Apparently, the pool is fabulous, and I’ve already mentioned that the burgers are low-priced and juicy-good. Then there’s also the fact that it’s right on the beach. What more could you ask for?

In my opinion, it’s about time that the resort got recognized for its excellent out-door activities and pool area. Scott (the general manager) should be proud.