The Hawaiian Islands
A Dream Vacation
Aloha! Looking for a Dream Vacation? Travel Kauai. The most Northern of the Hawaiian islands this island is widely known as the "Island of Discovery." The natives call it the "Real Hawaii" because its natural landscapes have remained far from the reaches of commercial development.
On Kauai you will find an enchantment of natural beauty as well as rich culture and history. From the first Polynesian settlers to Russian, Japanese, British and American influence this island holds fast to the traditions of its first inhabitants the Hawaiians. To visit Kauai means that your soul will be immersed in a peaceful still like manor surrounded by the sweet fragrance of tropical flowers that drift through the air. They are like pockets of heaven that lend you their angelic aroma of relaxation. Once you breathe in the freshness of the tropics you will notice the surreal landscape. The lush mountains, the bright green folage and orchads at home in most every tree. Let's not forget the sandy beaches with green blue crystal shore waters that gently fade into a deep sapphire ocean. It is the place where every sunrise brings a new adventure. Where every sunset is perfectly orchestrated. Where every night time sky is filled with so many stars, so close you feel as though you could reach up and touch them. It is truly an unforgettable destination.
Planning Your Trip to Kauai
1. Save. If you really want a dream vacation and funding is tight then start saving for your trip. Make it a goal. Create your own vacation budget. Start by opening a free checking account and determine how much you will need and put aside a designated amount from each paycheck. You will be surprised at how quickly you can save for something you truly want.
2. Hotel. Determining the perfect place to stay at the right price will depend on what you desire to do while on the island. Shop around. Kauai is a small island with only one crescent highway. Seriously, it does not circle the island. So you will have a hard time getting lost. Keep in mind what you want to do with your time. If it is spending the majority of time at the beach then look for a place on the beach. If it is more activity driven then consider an inland rental. There are around 65 hotels and plenty of Island Rentals on Kauai.
There is only one hotel where you cannot book a reservation and that is the Coco Palms Hotel This hotel was featured in the 1961 film "Blue Hawaii" starring Elvis Presley, Joan Blackman and Angela Lansbury. The Coco Palms hotel was operational until 1992 when hurricane Ininki struck the island with category 4 force and is still known as one of the Pacific's most destructive hurricanes. It inflicted 1.8 million dollars in damage and killed 8 people. Actual footage of Hurricane Iniki's force as it approached Kaua'i was shot by the Jurassic Park film crew. The footage was later incorporated into the movie Jurassic Park as the opening scene. When Iniki hit, the Coco Palms hotel was heavily damaged. Consequently, the hotel was deemed to costly to repair, sold then left abandoned.
Today, the grounds are haunted by its once majestic splendor and fame as it sits in quiet disrepair rotting away. But even if the grass and weeds have overgrown the brick and banisters and the pool plays host to the multitudes of frogs the charm of this old broken down hotel rests not in its past grandeur but in its timeless secrets. Yes, it has secrets. I'll let you in on some of those secrets in a later post. If you are interested in visiting The Coco Palms Hotel tours are regularly given and you can book the reservation with your hotel's conseriear.
3. Airfare. No doubt airfare fluctuates just as much as gas prices. So if you don't work for an airline or have a friend who can get you a free or discounted fare then start searching and tracking the fare. Airfare to Hawaii goes down in the off season. The islands have a consistent climate of 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit all year round. The trend in flights looks to be that in October is when you can get the best deal. There are plenty of sites for finding a flight or use a search engine and type in Side Step. Side Stepping flights can get you a good deal, however, it is based on different legs of a flight and passenger load.
4. Kaua'i Visitors Bureau. You will also want to e-mail the Kaua'i Visitors Bureau and request their free travel guide. It may take a few weeks to get to you but it has a wealth of useful information. As a bonus, you can cut out the pictures and stick them on your refrigerator as a "I'm going to Kaua'i," reminder. It helps to keep you on the savings track.
5. Also read my article on "Summer Sun." Tips on protecting yourself from intense sun as you will experience on the Hawaiian Islands. It is no fun getting burned on the first day of your vacation.
Things to do on Kaua'i
The Beaches. You have 18 Kaua'i beaches to choose from. Here are the Top Five.
Hanalei Bay (North) One of the best beaches on the island is at Hanalei Bay. Especially, for surfers or those wanting to take a lesson. But note this is not a snorkeling beach as it has better waves than a marine life supporting reef.
Makua Beach (North) is life guarded and a snorkeling beach. This is the same beach where Bethan Hamilton meet with a tragic experience. However, through courage and inspiration continued to live her passion of surfing and is the story line of the movie "Soul Surfer." Other movies, such as, the 1958 classic "South Pacific" have been filmed at this location.
Po'ipu Beach Park (South) Is life guarded and one of the more popular family beaches. It is known to have won awards for its safety as well as its beauty.
Polihale Beach (South) Ke'e Beach (North) Both are known for their dramatically romantic sunrises and sunsets. Polihale Beach has cascading sand dunes and is not a snorkeling beach. Ke'e Beach has only seasonal snorkeling and swimming due to strong currents. However, It is not highly recommended for either year round but if you are looking for a quiet stroll and a picturesque sunset then either Polihale Beach or Ke'e Beach is the place to be.
The North Shore near Princeville has the Kilauea Lighthouse and National Wildlife preserve. This c.1913 lighthouse with its breathtaking view once had the largest lens in world. Guiding ships ashore until the 1970s when the lens was replaced with a modern beacon.
Botanical gardens are plentiful on Kaua'i. The most intreguing garden is Na ‘Āina Kai. This garden's diversity of both native and imported plants and trees is beyond amazing. Each area, carefully architected, holds a story depicted in a copper statue. You can tour one garden or all gardens. Hike the trail or ride on the open tour bus but bring extra memory or film for your camera because you'll leave with hundreds of pictures.
Na ‘Āina Kai Botanical Gardens
The real story behind these gardens begins with a woman's love for the Hawaiian culture, children and the future. The gardens began when Joyce Dody, the first wife of Charles Schultz (Peanuts Cartoonist), purchased the property with a vision of creating a self staining preservation combination of nature and art. Joyce designed the gardens herself. Through her passion, she devoted many hours going over detailed drawings, most her own, and selecting each statue personally. When the gardens were complete they were formed into a non-profit organization. By design this endeavor is to give back to the Hawaiian culture. The gardens are their own trust with the expectation of selling some trees while planting new ones. This self-sub-staining rotation is also for the preservation of the land and for future generations to enjoy.
On Kaua'i there are plenty of shops, helicopter tours, boating tours and sunset cruises to enjoy. Visit the Island Soap Candle Works where they make all of their products right in the store. The Plumeria Soap is my personal favorite. (Another one of my items I now order online). These make great exotic gifts. But if you are more the outdoor adventurer, hiking the Fern Grotto (see fern grotto pics) or kayaking down the Wailiua river is a great escape. There have been mixed feelings about the river boat tour down the Wailiua river. Upon reading the reviews and it seems a 50/50 mix of those who hated it and those who loved it. So use caution when thinking of taking this tour. My favorite was horseback tour. There are about 5 ranches that offer horseback riding. The best way to find them is to do a search on "Kaua'i horseback riding". Each location has something different to offer. If you don't know how to ride they will give you lessons. The horses ride the trail a couple times a day so they know where they are going and how to get back. You just think you are driving. It is very safe even if you aren't an experienced equestrian rider. It was worth riding through the brush and side of a mountain to overlook the lush green valley, river and ocean.
Of course a trip to Hawaii wouldn't be complete without going to a luau. If you have never been to a luau here is what to expect. Don't be surprised if you have to sit on straw mats, as well as, eat at a ground level table with 10 other people. It is all part of the experience.The main course will consist of a roasted pig that has been covered in spices wrapped in banana leaves and cooked in a rock sand pit for hours. It is the Hawaiian version of what we Southerners call a "Pig Pickin." When the pig comes out It is extremely juicy and deliciously flavorful. You will also get to experience "Poi." Poi is made from the taro root which is similar to a potato. Hawaiians smash the taro root in order to make the Poi which has a texture similar to hummus. Poi is an acquired taste some people like it, some don't. "Poke," said like "Poke-EE," is another dish served at luaus and is best when made with seafood. It is a mixture of dried seaweed, spices and sea salt. If you try it and really like you can find the dry mix at their local grocery store. It is extremely hard to find on the mainland so get it while you can. For dessert it is customary at luaus to serve "Haupia." This is a coconut tasting jelly like square that is actually very good...if you like coconut. Then sit back and enjoy the entertainment, music and beer which will lighten your spirits and if you are lucky you'll get pulled on stage to learn a hula dance. It is very fun.
Worth mentioning and you may not see it at the luau is the "Hawaiian Hula Papaya Seed Dressing." This dressing is AMAZING!!! The best one to purchase is Hawaiian Hula Papaya Seed dressing in the silver package found in local stores on Kaua'i. Below is a link to order it if you care to try a taste of Hawaii without traveling the distance.
Original Hawaiian Papaya Seed Dressing Mix
Now that you know a little more about Kaua'i you can be underway to start planning your next vacation. The Hawaiian culture is very warm and friendly so expect much Aloha (Love) when you visit. As well as, relaxation, adventure and a lot of fun. You will never want to leave. Aloha!
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