Archive for the ‘Around The Island’ Category

The Most Visited Attraction on Kauai

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

Visiting Kilauea Lighthouse is one of the most popular activities for travelers to Kauai. It was recently renamed the Daniel Inouye Lighthouse in honor of the late senator, so you may hear it referred to by either name.  Visitors have been coming to Kilauea Point, where the lighthouse has been situated since 1913, in order to enjoy its stunning surrounding beauty and explore the light that served as an important navigational aid for ships that sailed the Orient run.

The lighthouse is part of the 203-acre Kilauea Point National Refuge which includes expansive views of the breathtaking, rugged coastline, a seabird sanctuary and a National Marine Life Sanctuary.

This is where you’ll find the biggest colony of seabirds across all of the main islands in the Hawaiian archipelago. Just some of the brilliant and unique birds you might see include:

  • Red-footed boobies
  • Great frigate birds
  • Laysan albatrosses
  • Wedge-tailed shearwaters

By visiting Kilauea Lighthouse you’ll have access to an incredible vantage point to view the incredible marine mammals in the area including humpback whales from December to April. The dazzling surrounding waters are also home to Hawaiian monk seals and green turtles year round, while spinner dolphins can sometimes be glimpsed as well.

Explore the visitor center

The Visitor Center sits high atop the bluff above the surging swells of the Pacific at the site of the refuge. Here, travelers can learn about native ecosystems, wildlife and the history of the refuge as well as Hawaii through a number of exhibits.

At the Contact Station, you’ll find more exhibits on the history of Kilauea and Light Station and find the opportunity to view daily videos about the area.

Pick up a “Watchable Wildlife” brochure at the entrance and embark on a self-guided tour along a short ¼ mile walkway enhanced by interpretive panels on the birds as well as marine mammals, native plants and geology.

Borrow a pair of binoculars at the Visitor Center to get a better view all that the area has to offer. Visiting Kilauea Lighthouse is sure to be one of the highlights of your time on Kauai.

What you should know

  • There is an entry fee of $5 per person for those 16 years of age and older.
  • Pets, food and beverages other than water are prohibited.
  • The Visitor Center is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, except on major federal holidays.
  • To get there, turn off of the Kuhio Highway at the entrance to the town of Kilauea and follow the signs to the lighthouse.
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The History of the Hula in Hawaii

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

Hula dancing is a traditional art of movement with smooth body gestures as well as vocals. The movements are extremely fluid and are said to tell a story with its chants preserving epic tales, myths, history and philosophy. Movements often represent nature, such as fish swimming through the ocean or trees blowing in the wind.

Before westerners arrived, hula was danced to tell stories as well as for social enjoyment.  The dancers’ rigorous training was taken quite seriously and was paid for and supported by the ruling class. It has been a part of Hawaiian culture since ancient times, with some believing it began even before there were people living in the islands who are now called Hawaiian – the multiplicity of traditions of its origins may confirm this.

The Hawaiian Goddess Lake is prominently associated with hula and symbolized in hula school, or halau, as a block of lama wood placed on an altar and swathed in yellow kappa. She separated her dancers into two groups, including the Olapa, or Agile ones, representing the younger generation of dancers with more energy, and Ho’o-paa, or Steadfast ones, representing the elders who sang and played musical instruments.

The beginnings of hula

There are many tales that tell the mythic beginnings of hula, with one of the most common featuring Pele and her sister, Hi`iaka. In this story, the dance is born when Pele begs her sisters to dance and sing for her with only Hi`iaka stepping up to perform, dancing using movements that she had practiced with her friend Hopoe. Of course, this is just one of many tales representing the ancient people’s attempts to answer where hula came from with efforts to decide which is correct considered a waste of effort – to some degree all may be the right answer.

Hula dances originate from a series of just six traditional moves with a wide range of interpretations and different ways of using those basic movements to create unique and beautiful performances.

After Captain Cook’s arrival in 1778, several of his crew wrote about the hula performances they had seen. The expedition artist drew a male dancer wearing possibly a kupe’e made from dogs’ teeth that used a single uli uli. The english translation of kupe’e and uli uli needs to be added in parenthesis after each word.) The accounts are said to be the first and only records of hula that were made by outsiders during their first contact with Hawaiians.

In Captain Cook’s journal he wrote, “Their dances are prefaced with a slow, solemn song, in which all the party join, moving their legs, and gently striking their breasts in a manner and with attitudes that are perfectly easy and graceful.”

Missionaries attempt to eradicate hula

Unfortunately, not all foreigners appreciated the dance like Cook. When Protestant missionaries and English settlers arrived in 1820, they believed it dangerously promoted old heathen beliefs and celebrated physical enjoyment.

Hiram Bingham, the leader of the first group of missionaries to introduce Christianity to the islands wrote, “The whole arrangement and process of their old hulas were designed to promote lasciviousness, and of course the practice of them could not flourish in modest communities. They had been interwoven too with their superstitions, and made subservient to the honor of their gods, and their rulers, either living or departed or deified.

The missionaries did the best they could to eradicate hula and were even supported by some of the most powerful rulers who had converted to their religion. Traditionally, men and women wore knee level skirts made of palm leaves as well as flower leis around their arms, lower legs and heads. Prior to 1820, women wore skirts that were much shorter and men simply wore loin cloth. .  With the arrival of the missionaries, they were forced to wear a less revealing wardrobe.

Ka`ahumanu, who was the wife of Kamehameha I and regent after he died, was accepted to the church; in 1830, she forbade public hula performances. After her death in 1832, some chiefs ignored the ban but the hula continued to be hidden for many years to come. Public hula performances became regulated in 1851 with a licensing system that required a steep fee for each performance.

Evolution of hula

Through the 19th and 20th centuries under Western influence, hula evolved quite dramatically. In the early 20th century it began to be featured as a tourist spectacle such as in the Kodak Hula Show as well as being seen in Hollywood films. A more traditional hula was still maintained in small circles.

A revived interest in the dance took place in the 1970s, with two main types of Hula performed today, the hula kahiko, or ancient hula, and the hula auana, or modern hula. It still remains an incredibly beautiful dance to watch and perform, with its ancient roots seen in the movements symbolizing nature and all of its contrasts.

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Ziplining on Kauai: Top Outfitters on the Island for this Thrilling Activity

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

Ziplining is an exhilarating experience that provides the rider with a bird’s eye-view of the Garden Isle and the sensation of flying at speeds of up to 35 miles an hour across the canopy of lush rainforest, streams and valleys.  This is a must-do activity for adventure seekers on Kauai with the opportunity to speed down some of the world’s most magnificent courses while taking in the breathtaking scenery.

The island offers a wide range of ziplining opportunities with each outfitter offering a unique aerial perspective of the diverse terrain.

Outfitters Kauai

Outfitters Kauai is located in Koloa and offers several different zipline tours including the Nui Nui Loa – “Nui Loa” means big, long, and a lot, while “Nui ” (second Nui deleted) means to enlarge; this latest zipline adventure is aptly named.

The tour allows guests to soaring through jungle valleys, waterfalls and rivers found at famous Kipu Ranch featured in the film, “The Descendants.”  Take the “WaterZip” and sail across a mountain stream-fed natural pool where you can let go and jump into the clear, deep waters.

The Safari tour starts with a two-mile kayak journey across the Hule’ia River while listening to tales about ancient Hawaii as well as numerous tropical birds. A hike from the riverbank to swimming holes and waterfalls culminates with a swing into a freshwater pool.  Then enjoy a 90+ second zipline tour soaring a quarter of a mile above the wild forest canopy plus two additional zips.

Just Live!

Just Live! is just a few minutes from the airport in Lihue. Now in their tenth year, this company offers a variety of zipline tours like the Wikiwiki tour launching from atop sugar cane fields and zipping past eucalyptus and bamboo, landing in a beautiful Norfolk pine forest.

The Treetop tour was the very first tour of its kind on Kauai, allowing rides to zip from aerial platform to aerial platform like “Tarzan and Jane” and cross canopy bridges in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” style. The ultimate tour is an especially adrenaline-packed adventure combining three ziplines, two sky bridges, a 60-foot rock climbing wall, 60-foot monster swing and 100-foot rappelling tower.

Princeville Ranch

Princeville Ranch in Hanalei offers the popular Zip N’ Dip tour in which you’ll fly across the interior valleys nine times, crossing a suspension bridge that spans a waterfall with the final line, “King Kong” considered one of the island’s most exciting dual lines. It concludes with the opportunity to take a dip in a deep hidden swimming hole that’s fed by a small waterfall as well as the chance to float across the water on inner tubes.

Zipline tours here can also be combined with horseback riding as well as kayaking and hiking through the serene rainforest valley.

Kauai Backcountry Adventures

Kauai Backcountry Adventures in Hanama’ulu has exclusive access to more than 17,000 acres of former plantation lands and features seven ziplines descending a mountainside allowing the rider to glide over the lush tropical forests and deep valleys.

To get there, a guide brings guests via a four-wheel drive adventure vehicle, sharing information on the island’s history and culture as well as flora and fauna. Following the zipline tour, you’ll have the opportunity to take a refreshing dip in a natural swimming pool.

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History of the Luau

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

If you’ll be traveling to the spectacular Hawaiian Islands, you probably already know that attending a luau is a must.  Not only will you have the chance to try a variety of fabulous traditional dishes, but you’ll enjoy it all while taking in a show filled with Hawaiian music and dance. To appreciate the experience that much more, you may want to know a little about the history of this ancient tradition.

Ancient luau practices

The Hawaiian luau dates back to ancient times, but the first recorded Hawaiian luau was held in 1819 by King Kamehameha II and his stepmother, Queen Ka’ahumanu. This event was said to have been the catalyst for the luau that is known in Hawaii today.

In ancient Hawaii, men and women ate their meals apart due to their powerful religious beliefs that only royalty could eat certain delicacies. Women of all ranks and commoners were not allowed to indulge, so men and women ate their meals separately.

There was a fear that women could steal the men’s spirit, known as mana, while they were in the relaxed state induced by the generous feast. Women ate at what was known as the hale aina, or women’s house, while men ate at the hale mua, or men’s house.

en57The beginning of the modern luau

In 1819, the King enjoyed the feast with women as a symbolic act to end these religious taboos, and the modern luau was born. It is not known why he made this decision, but some feel it may have been due to his recently acquired Christian beliefs. Prior to this date, a Kauai luau, or any throughout the Hawaiian Islands, as it is held today would have been punishable by death under the ancient Hawaiian law that was governed by the kapu system.

The word for this celebration, “luau,” comes from the favorite traditional dish at these feasts. Taro leaves that are blended with chicken and baked in coconut milk are known as luau – today, this dish is called “luau chicken.”

The feast

The traditional feast was eaten on the floor where Lauhala mats were rolled out with a magnificent centerpiece made from Ti leaves, native flowers and ferns that was about 3-feet wide laid across the mat. Some of the foods included the traditional pig roasted in an underground oven, or imu, bowls filled with poi (pounded taro root ground to a consistency almost like pudding), dried fish, salted meats, sweet potatoes and a variety of fresh fruit – all put onto the Ti leaves.

Hawaiians ate all of these wonderful foods with their fingers, which is how poi got its name. Poi of various consistencies was known for the number of fingers required to eat it such as three finger, two finger, or the thickest – one finger poi.

Luaus weren’t held as part of a regular meal but as a large feast with great numbers of people invited. Royal luaus were held on a massive scale. In 1847, King Kamehameha III threw a luau that was said to have included nearly 500 large bowls of poi, thousands of taro plants, more than 2,200 coconuts, over 3,000 salt fish and almost 2,000 fresh fish as well as 271 pigs and a host of local fruits and other fine foods.

King Kalakau was known as the Merry Monarch due to his love of the celebration with over 1,500 people invited to his 50th birthday party – fed in three different shifts of 500 guests served in each.

Luaus today are not as big as they were back then, and utensils are allowed, but they are just as fun and a fantastic way to learn more about Hawaiian culture.

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The History of Surfing in Hawaii

Monday, September 9th, 2013

The warm tropical waters and ideal breaking waves that surround the Hawaiian Islands make Hawaii a true surfing paradise. This ancient sport is deeply rooted in Hawaiian culture with surfers arriving from all corners of the globe to test themselves on the large and challenging waves found throughout Hawaii.

While no one knows for sure exactly when, where and who first tried surfing, it was likely attempted first in the Society Islands but later really took hold in the Hawaiian Islands. When Captain Cook landed on Hawaii in 1778, he documented some of the earliest written records that describe surfing, although ancient Polynesians had been surfing for hundreds of years prior to his observance. Hieroglyphics on lava rocks that depict people on surfboards have been found in Hawaii dating back over 500 years – although Hawaiians were likely surfing many centuries before that.

en51Surfing in Hawaiian culture

Surfers today typically consider surfing to be just a sport, but to ancient Hawaiians, surfing was considered to be part sport and part religion as a significant part of Hawaiian culture.

Surfing was even part of the Kapu system of government on the islands which helped to maintain a sense of order as well as societal classes. Surfboards used were divided into classes by the type of wood utilized as well as the length of the board with the largest and heaviest dedicated only for Hawaiian royalty.

The ruling class, or ali’I, used boards that were 14 to 16 feet long and carved out of the buoyant wood of the wiliwili tree, weighing as much as 175 pounds; this massive surfboard was called an olo and used only by the most exceptional surfers.

Surfing competitions were held to settle disputes including social standing, land ownership and even “who got the girl.” In order to maintain a high standing within the community, the island chief had to be the very best surfer, constantly testing his strength and skill in the waves in order to avoid being ousted by someone better.

Near extinction

In the early part of the 19th century, English settlers arrived on the islands and attempted to take control over the people, prohibiting many traditional practices nearly driving surfing practically to extinction. Hawaiian people endured years of oppression until social reform began at the start of the 20th century and a group of native Hawaiians revived surfing. Its resurgence continued and visitors who arrived enjoyed watching the sport with it eventually finding its way back to the mainland.

Surfing on the mainland

One documented story, according to Santa Cruz, California historian Geoff Dunn, is that three Hawaiian princes, Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana’ole, David Kawananakoa and Edward Keliiahonui visited family friends in Santa Cruz during their summer break from St. Matthew’s Hall, a military school for boys that they attended in San Mateo, in 1885. They were said to have ordered 15-foot, 100 pound surfboards carved from local redwood and paddled out at the river mouth where a large wave was said to have historically broke.

The royal family of Hawaii boosted this claim just a few years ago when they honored the princes who first introduced surfing on the mainland by giving the city a bronze plaque commemorating the event.

Today, surfing is one of the most popular sports along the California coast, although Hawaii is considered to be the ultimate surfer’s paradise, drawing enthusiasts from all over the world to enjoy some of the best surfing the sea has to offer.

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We’re Just Five Minutes From White, Sandy Poipu Beach

Sunday, September 8th, 2013

en49Our seven air conditioned accommodations are a short five minute walk to Poipu Beach.  This is the only beach on the south shore of Kauai that is life guarded and has twice been named the number one beach in the United States.  You’ll enjoy sun bathing, swimming, snorkeling, boogie boarding, surfing and stand up paddle boarding.  Brennecke’s Restaurant is right across the street with a wide selection on their menu.  The hamburger is delicious as are the fish tacos.  Downstairs is the deli, where you can get a coffee and some take out breakfast.  For lunch grab one of their made to order deli sandwiches, some chips and a soda.  Perfect for those hot summer days.

Our video begins at Hideaway Cove and ends at the beach to give you a better idea of just how close Hideaway Cove is to the best beach on Kauai.

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Top 3 Reasons Attending Hanapepe Art Night is a Must While Visiting Kauai

Sunday, September 1st, 2013

Hanapepe bills itself as the “biggest little town” on Kauai, and on Friday nights from 6.p.m to 9 p.m. it really comes alive with a fun and festive atmosphere featuring local works of art, live music and entertainment with local performers, as well as a wide variety of fantastic cuisine.

This charming historic town that is home to more art galleries than any other spot on Kauai was the inspiration for the Disney film, “Lilo & Stitch,” giving visitors the chance to embark on a journey into an era that is long gone in most places. On Fridays, sculptors and craftsmen keep their galleries open late and many local artists arrive to set up kiosks to display their work while local performers play Hawaiian music and other tunes in the streets.

Why should you attend Hanapepe Art Night?

en46The Food

There is an amazing variety of tasty and affordable food to be found on Friday nights in Hanapepe. Mele’s Kusina offers local favorites for just $7 a plate such as the Longanisa Plate with homemade vinegar pork sausage deep fried to a juicy golden brown and served with two scoops of rice and potato salad.

You’ll also find roadside truck vendors like the Monster Taco Truck and the Silver Elephant with Thai food. Little Fish Coffee not only offers coffee, but some of the best shaved ice on the island.

Many come to Hanapepe on Friday night just for the pie; the “Right Slice” offers heavenly slices of to-die-for pies.  Bobbie’s is known for some of the best Hawaiian barbecue on the island and delicious plates including Korean fried chicken, kalbi short ribs, breaded mahi mahi, teriyaki beef, Spam, loco moco and much more.

The Music

The musical entertainment here features everything from string trios to solo ukulele to slack key guitar and more. Westside Smitty is a favorite, belting out rockabilly tunes with a guitar slung in front and a harmonica propped near his mouth – you can’t miss him. He plays well-known ballads as well as outstanding original songs such as “Kekaha Rooster” and can often be found in front of the Storybook Theater or the Talk Story Book Store.

The Art

Of course the main feature of Hanapepe Art Night is the art! Located across from the Monster Tacos truck and the Talk Story Bookstore, Amy-Lauren’s Gallery is a favorite of many. Her collection is considered a “must-see,” featuring some of the most unique originals that showcase local artists.

Camille Fontaine is just one of the artists with works found here; she is the daughter of the famed local artist, James Doyle as well as the half-sister of the gallery owner, Amy-Lauren Jones. Her paintings are often comprised of vibrant colors complemented by an impressionist style similar to her father’s. Gallery manager Michael Sieradzki notes her work is like “Van Gogh with a twist of Mardis Gras.”

Friday nights in Hanapepe will also give visitors the chance to meet with some of these wonderful local artists and gallery owners. Don’t miss it!

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The Old Koloa Mill Marks the Beginning of 172 Years of Sugar Cane Production on Kauai

Monday, August 5th, 2013

In 1835, the first successful sugarcane plantation was started at Koloa, Kauai with the Old Koloa Sugar Mill. William Hooper cleared 12 acres, planting the first sugar cane ever in the Hawaiian Islands.  Its first harvest in 1837 produced 2 tons of raw sugar and was sold for $200.

While sugarcane had been raised by ancient Hawaiians previously, it was done on small individual plots; it was the first large-scale commercial production in the Islands.

The sugar era also opened the door to a wave of immigrants that are today part of the Islands’ multicultural population.

en33172 years later, on October 30, 2009, Kauai’s last sugar cane company, Gary and Robinson made its final harvest on the island. With the end of sugar production on Kauai, there is just one producer of sugar cane left in Hawaii, Maui’s Alexander & Baldwin’s Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar co. Many feel that Hawaii’s sugar industry may be entering its final chapter and that within only a few short years it will be a thing of the past.

What remains of the very first sugar mill can be seen today in the grass park of historic Old Koloa Town. The mill began with large stone sugar grinders with plantation cut-cane hauled here by ox-cart until 1882 when the train tracks were built.  All that is left is part of its foundation and a 30-foot stone brick smoke stack, representing the rich history of sugar cane in Hawaii.

In 1912, the old mill was replaced by a much larger one to the east, with management changing hands several times, becoming a part of the Grove Farm Company in 1948. That plantation was shut down in 1996.

The site of the old building and its remains was designated a National Historic Landmark on December 29, 1962 with a plaque erected in 1965 stating that the site “possesses exceptional value in commemorating or illustrating the history of the United States.”

Koloa was developed as the company town for the sugar mill with a number of informative signs throughout the town describing the history of the area with most of the architecture refurbished while still remaining unique to a typical sugar plantation town.

Every year in July, Koloa Plantation Days is held to commemorate this rich past. For nine or ten days, depending on the year, the festival celebrates the ethnic groups that came to Hawaii to work the sugar plantations as well as the Hawaiians who welcomed them through music, dance, costumes and food. In 2013, the event takes place from July 19-28 with the 2014 festival to be held July 21-29.

If you aren’t fortunate enough to be in Kauai for this fun celebration, you can find out more about the history of sugar here by visiting the History Center in Old Koloa Town. The center allows visitors to trace the history of Koloa, the sugar industry and life in the plantation era through artifacts and photographs.

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Kauai’s Scenic Coastal Path: Yet another Reason to Visit the Garden Isle

Monday, July 8th, 2013

There are many reasons to choose Kauai over Hawaii’s other islands, including its spectacular landscape filled with an abundance of waterfalls, lush gardens and picturesque beaches.  The opportunity to participate in nearly an endless number of outdoor activities can be found here, and just a few years ago yet another was added to that already long list.

kauai-coastal-path-kauai-attractionsThe Kauai Coastal Path offers the opportunity to take a gentle stroll or a casual bike ride along the island’s spectacular shores with expansive views of the dazzling Pacific. The path begins at Kappa town north of Wailua on the island’s east side and heads north past Kealia – it continues to be extended each year.

While there are opportunities for more thrilling, challenging bike rides such as through Wailua Canyon, this path is fairly flat with few hills, making it ideal for people of all ages and abilities who want to get out and cycle

Walk, ride or run and experience breathtaking scenery as it stretches the coastline for miles. From December to May, when the magnificent humpback whales are in the area you might just see these gentle giants put on an exciting display as they tail slap or breech through the water.

is a prime place found along the Kauai Coastal Path for whale watching while dolphins and turtles can be seen year round.

Don’t forget your bathing suit as well as a picnic lunch. Kealia Beach is a beautiful crescent shaped beach over a half-mile long offering sheltered picnic tables. This is also a popular place to swim when the surf is calm. You might remember this beach from the film “The Descendants.”

Along the entire Kauai Coast Path you’ll find numerous pavilions with the opportunity to enjoy outdoor dining and stunning ocean views.

At the end of the path, be sure to take the short hike to Secluded Cove, a beautiful spot filled with brilliantly-colored fish among black lava rock and coral formations.

Bike rentals

You’ll find a number of bike rental shops in the area, including Coconut Coasters. Rent a classic style cruiser starting at $8.50 per hour, with special deals for a half-day, full-day or even an entire week. For a romantic ride, check out the bicycle built for two!

Those with small children can rent a trailer that attaches to an adult bike, while kids ages six through 12 can choose from bikes meant especially for their size.

Kapaa Beach Shop is another great place to rent bikes.  Most shops require you to return your bikes by 4pm, which means having to miss the beautiful sunsets at the beach.  Owner Janie and her husband live behind their shop, so bringing their bikes back after the sun sets is no problem.  Just let them know when you leave that you’ll be coming back after dark.  If you are going to watch the sunset and ride home afterward, please be sure and bring a flashlight as the bike path does not have lights and is very dark in places.

Come to Kauai and see for yourself why so many travelers return to the island again and again.

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Kauai Tsunami Update March 25, 2011

Saturday, March 26th, 2011

Photo by Peter Liu-Maui                       Maui damage                                       Maui home

To get a better idea of the extent of damage to the Hawaiian Islands and Kauai specifically by the recent tsunami, it is helpful to look at the damage estimates for each island.  According to the State Civil Defense, the preliminary damage estimates from the tsunami that hit Hawaii after the Honshu earthquake in Japan totals $30.6 million.

An estimated $2.3 mission of damage was incurred by public infrastructure on the Big Island.  Maui suffered $2.7 million in public damage while Honolulu had $3.4 million.  Kauai had $60,400 in damage to its public infrastructure.  The damage to businesses and private property was estimated separately.  Big Island businesses suffered $13.5 million in losses and $2.5 million in damages was reported to Big Island homes.  On Maui, the damage figures were $5.5 million to private property, including boats and $600,000 to private homes.

As can be seen by these numbers, the largest amount of damages were on the Big Island, representing under 60% of the total losses in the state.  Maui had the second highest total of damages followed by Honolulu and Kauai.

I reported in an earlier blog that the tsunami had been a non event here on Kauai.  These loss estimate numbers bear that out, at least in relation to the damages to the other major Hawaiian islands. This in no way is meant to minimize the losses by Kauai residents who suffered some flooding and damages to their boats.  Fortunately those losses did not include any loss of life.

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