Archive for the ‘Year Round Things to do’ Category
Sunday, July 13th, 2014
One of the best ways to see Kauai is from above. In fact, about 90% of the island’s waterfalls can only be seen by embarking on a helicopter adventure. Those who have enjoyed the privilege of flying over all of the Hawaiian Islands say that the Garden Isle cannot be surpassed when it comes to which has the most spectacular beauty to fly over. Experiencing the magnitude of the Na Pali Coast and its jagged cliffs that drop down to the edge of turquoise waters by air is something that can never be forgotten, even in an entire lifetime.
Mid-morning may be the best time to fly with optimal lighting and generally the least cloud cover, remember that Kauai is the wettest island and Mt. Waiale’ale is the very wettest place on the entire planet, which is why the Garden Isle is so lush and has so many waterfalls.
A helicopter tour is ideal for vacationers of all types, from honeymooners and those celebrating an anniversary seeking a romantic adventure to families with small children and everyone in between.
Blue Hawaiian Helicopters
Blue Hawaiian offers the latest and greatest when it comes to helicopter adventures. They fly the Eco-Star, a luxury helicopter that’s considered the “Cadillac” of Kauai touring helicopters with lots of room, comfortable seating and large windows to take in sweeping views.
The journey begins with a flight to Hanapepe Valley, a fertile river valley that once housed a community of taro farmers. It continues to Mana Waiapuna, also known as “Jurassic Park Falls,” and up to Olokele Canyon and the magnificent colorful Waimea Canyon, famed as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” and the home of many hidden waterfalls. Along the Na Pali Coast, you’ll see the Bali Hai Cliffs and the vivid blue waters of Hanalei Bay. If the weather allows, a visit to Mt. Waialeale and the heart of an ancient volcano will also be on the itinerary.
If you visit between December and April, you might just spot humpback whales in the sea below. The pilot may even bring you down for a closer look. Visitors who have joined Blue Hawaiian have often stated that joining this adventure was “the best decision” made during their vacation and it was “well worth the splurge” to see the most picturesque views of Kauai.
Island Helicopters offers a unique waterfall landing tour where you’ll have the chance to land at the internationally known “Jurassic Park Falls,” which was made famous by the Steven Spielberg film. This once in a lifetime experience is a 75 to 85 minute tour available only through Island Helicopters.
Visitors can actually feel the power of these incredible falls, landing just 400 feet from its base. The pilot will then guide you along a jungle path near a stream at the base of the falls where you can take pictures and learn about the interesting history of the area and amazing geologic formations.
The waterfall tour also includes a circle of the island with highlights that include Waimea Canyon, the Mt. Waialeale Crater, the Na Pali Coast, and more. Those who have embarked on this journey have commented, “It was so beautiful and amazing I was moved to tears,” and “an experience that will last in our minds forever… worth every dime.”
Sunday, January 5th, 2014
Top 5 Hikes on Kauai
Nearly nine-tenths of the Garden Isle is inaccessible by road, which means getting out and hiking is practically a must for Kauai visitors. The island is filled with natural wonders just waiting to be explored, from the rainforest of Kokee to the hanging valleys of the Na Pali Coast. There are trails to suit just about every age and ability.
The Kalalau Trail is one of the most challenging hikes on Kauai, but also one of the most spectacular. It can be hiked in several different ways. It’s best accomplished early in the day to avoid bumping elbows with others as well as the intense mid-afternoon heat. The trail follows the footsteps of ancient Hawaiians along an 11-mile stretch of coast, originally used by Hawaiians who lived in Kalalau Valley and the surrounding valleys on the Na Pali coast.
The first two miles of the trail of the Kalalau end at Hanakapi’ai Beach. This four mile round trip hike is considered moderate. Do not go in the water at this beach as it is not safe and there have been many drownings. Also, after a period of heavy rain, crossing the stream just prior to the beach should not be attempted. Hikers have been swept out to sea under these conditions. When the stream is calm, hikers can cross and go off the Kalalau an additional two miles to Hanakapi’ai falls. The falls top 100 feet and are breath taking.
If you plan to hike this additional two miles, take a picnic lunch and take a swim in the pool below the falls. These additional two miles are much more difficult than the first two miles of the trail, making the eight mile hike to the falls challenging.
The entire eleven miles of the Kalalau can be done in a day but be prepared. The Sierra Club gives this hike its most difficult rating. You will also need to camp overnight, as there are not many that will be able to do the 22 miles round trip in one day. Camping requires a permit and the campsite is checked by rangers, so be sure and apply for a permit before coming to Kauai.
It is also possible to arrange for a rubber raft to drop you off at the beach at the end of this eleven mile hike. Then you can either have the raft pick you up in a couple of days, or when the raft comes back, gie them your gear and then hike out the eleven miles back to the trail head.
The trail provides the only land access to this breathtaking part of the wild coast. It traverses five valleys, ultimately ending at Kalalau Beach; the trail is almost never level, crossing towering sea cliffs and through lush valleys, dropping to sea level at the beaches of Kalalau and Hanakapi’ai.
Nounou East Sleeping Giant Trail
The Nounou East Trail is often referred to as the Sleeping Giant trail as the shape of the mountain has a profile that appears to be a giant lying down. This 3 ½ mile round trip hike is fairly easy, although it does have a rapid elevation gain of 1,000 feet. The trail ascends through forested mountains and gorgeous views, including of Kapa’a and Waipouli. This is a great hike on a warm, sunny day as the trail is shaded throughout much of the trek.
This trail located in Kokee State Park, is a moderate 8-mile round trip hike that is also known as the Alakai Swamp trail, crossing over bogs on a wooden boardwalk along the swamp. Shortly after the trail begins, hikers are rewarded with incredible inland views that stretch to Mount Waialeale from atop a land bridge that straddles 4,000 feet above the Kalauau Valley and the Alakai Swamp.
The swamp is the highest in the world, with its location susceptible to quick moving weather. On a rare, clear day Wainiha Valley, Hanalei Bay and even the Kilauea Lighthouse can be seen.
Canyon Trail to Waipoo Falls
Kauai is blessed with activities that reap great rewards with just a small effort, and this is one of those. The Waipoo Falls Trail, also in Kokee State Park, is an easy 3.6 mile roundtrip hike that culminates at this magnificent 800-foot waterfall, featuring panoramic views of the canyon and the fragrant scent of an Awapuhi Ginger-lined stream.
The trek also includes views of the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” The awe-inspiring canyon features an ever-changing array of colors that are illuminated at sunset. Along the trail you’ll enjoy breathtaking views into the 3,000-foot deep chasm. Be aware that the cliffs along the way have extreme drop-offs, if you’re afraid of heights you may want to rethink this one. Be sure to wear good hiking shoes with lots of traction as the trail can get quite muddy and slippery.
This meandering two mile trail (four miles round trip) gets its name from the many berry bushes along the way. Although there is an easy uphill climb at the beginning, the majority of the trail is level. You’ll also pass through a grove of Sugi Pine trees, which were brought to Kauai forty years ago and planted here.
The Kokee Museum is the place to go for a trail map, that will include Berry Flats. A private non-profit funs the museum, so be sure and make a small donation when you go in. They’re supported entirely by donations and volunteer efforts.
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.
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 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! 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 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.
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?
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 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.
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!
Monday, August 26th, 2013
The Koloa Heritage Trail is a self-guided 10-mile walk, bike ride or drive that will take you to some of the Poipu and Koloa region’s most significant cultural, historical and geological sites. Along the way you’ll find informative plagues describing the importance of each of the 14 spots.
This is a pleasant walk on fairly flat terrain, making it doable for most all ages and fitness levels.
Spouting Horn Park is home to the awe-inspiring Spouting Horn blowhole. This is one of the most photographed spots on the island. Here the water rushes into the narrow opening of a natural lava tube, releasing a huge spout of water as the ocean swells. The hissing and roaring sound gave birth to a Hawaiian legend of a lizard that was caught in the lava tube. It is said to be the lizard’s roar and her breath that sprays from the blowhole.
Next you’ll see the site of Prince Kuhio’s birth. Prince Kuhio Kalanianaole was the last royal heir to the throne and as a delegate to Congress he worked diligently for the rights of native Hawaiians. The foundation of his royal home remains can be found here at Prince Kuhio Birthplace & Park.
The third spot, Hanakaape Bay & Koloa Landing, was the site where as many as 60 ships were anchored each year during Hawaii’s 19th century whaling boom. At Moir Gardens you’ll see what began as a hobby garden and was transformed into one of the best in the world of its kind, featuring water lilly-filled rock ponds, orchid, a variety of cactus and more.
Just east at stop number five, the ancient temple that once stood here, Kihahouna Heiau was dedicated to several Hawaiian gods, including Kane the god of creation. The temple was 130 feet by 90feet and today, three hala-lihilihi-ula trees mark the heiau perimeter.
Poipu Beach Park is a popular attraction with the opportunity to see the endangered native Hawaiian monk seal as well as Green sea turtles. From December through April, this is also a good spot to view majestic humpback whales.
Keoneloa Bay is the home to some of the island’s oldest occupied sites, dating back to 200-600 AD. At stop number 8 you’ll come to the Makawehi & Pa’a Dunes and one that many feel is a highlight on the trail. The sand dunes are made up of fossilized bird bones, plant roots, crab claws and other substances. You’ll find many birds nesting and roosting here, especially from March to November.
Next, the Pu’uwanawana Volcanic Cone is one of the younger cones that make up the 5-million-year-old island. Number 10, Hapa Road was utilized as a supply and emergency evacuation route during World War II and there is also evidence that Hawaiians have lived in the area since 1200 AD. The Koloa Jodo Mission is a Buddhist Temple built in 1910, providing Japanese immigrants a place to worship, study their language, learn martial arts and take part in social events.
Finally, the Sugar Monument commemorates Hawaii’s first sugar mill, opened here in 1835 and just across the street is the Yammamoto Store & Koloa Hotel which was a booming establishment during the region’s sugar-plantation area. The last stop, number 14, is the Koloa Missionary Church, the first congregational church in Kauai and part of a homestead once owned by medical missionary Dr. James W. Smith.
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.
172 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.
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.
The 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.
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.
Tuesday, October 26th, 2010
Hanapepe Art Night
|Every Friday night from 6 – 9 p.m. is Hanapepe Art Night and is unique. Participating galleries take turns being the weekly host gallery, offering original performances or demonstrations which become the theme for that art night. All the
|galleries are lit up and decked out, giving the town a special atmosphere. Enjoy a stroll down the streets of quaint, historic Hanapepe Town and meet the local artists. This is also the only night the Hanapepe Café is open (it’s otherwise open for breakfast and lunch) and it is a wonderful restaurant serving vegetarian fare. For Art Night info, call Lew or Annette Shortridge at (808) 335-0343.