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Planning a visit to Kauai? We regularly add news and information about events, activities, and places to see on The Garden Isle.

About The Author

Sheila Heathcote has lived in Hawaii since 1986. She's a published author on the topic of Kauai and the owner of Hale O Nanakai Bed & Breakfast.

Kauai's Sights, Activities, & Events


Lighten Up, Seven Ways to Kick the Suffering Habit by Deborah Duda

Need a new book to read? Well, here is one that is sure to get you thinking!

A practical guide to increasing the joy in our daily lives by healing the suffering habit.


KAUA’I, Hawai’i: Ask yourself, “When was the last time I felt joyful?” If the answer is not “Today”, reading Lighten Up, Seven Ways to Kick the Suffering Habit will open a door in your life. 

Part memoir, part exposé, Lighten Up is not a book for sissies. It takes courage to acknowledge the sadness and losses in our lives, let them go, and reclaim our joy.

Suffering is the least recognized, most widespread, most pernicious addiction of our time, according to the author. We live in a world where angst is prevalent and, for many, even fashionable.

Most of humanity believes suffering is inevitable. While feeling emotional pain is unavoidable as we make peace with the often-profound changes in our lives, suffering –- pain prolonged -- is optional. Lighten Up exposes the severity of the suffering habit and shares practical, and often fun, options for changing our limiting ideas and behaviors so we can live more light-heartedly.

“We are hardwired for bliss, both physical and divine,” concluded Candice Pert, Ph.D., after thirty years of research as a Georgetown University School of Medicine research professor and a National Institute for Mental Health section chief.

Lightening up is the greatest gift we can give to our families, our communities, and our world.  Being a profoundly contented person who feels a joyful kinship with all of life is the major work of a lifetime. 

Lighten Up is available on Amazon and Kindle, at http://www.amazon.com/Lighten-Up-Seven-Suffering-Habit/dp/1475263783


Jim Denny -- For the love of Kauai's Birds

Jim Denny, an avid bird watcher and photographer has been hiking into the Alakai Swamp for more than 30 years  to get the award-winning photos of native bird featured on a multitude of media about Kauai. 

I worked with him at Kauai Veteran's Memorial Hospital, when I was a traveling nurse and he was a lab technologist. In fact I burned up the brakes of his old station wagon on one of my first trips down the mountain coming from Koke'e State Park.

Denny offers birding tours of Kauai that are unsurpassed, and I can not recommend anyone better to take the avid bird enthusiast to the far corners of the island.

All photos are by Jim Denny 

Excerpted from Jim Denny's website http://www.kauaibirds.com/index.htm  ALL PHOTOS BY JIM DENNY

The Hawaiian island of Kauai offers the visiting birder many opportunites to add species to his or her life list. More than 80 species of birds are present on this Garden Island. In addition to Hawaii's famous native forest birds and wetland birds, there is a great variety of easily seen introduced birds and seabirds.

This site (http://www.kauaibirds.com/index.htm) is designed to help you identify the birds of Kaua'i as well as birds you may encounter on visits to other Hawaiian islands. The images on this site were photographed with a Nikon D2H and D300. The video on this site was filmed with a Canon GL2 and XHA1. All are the work of videographer & photographer Jim Denny and may not be used without permission.

Jim has been photographing the birds of Hawaii for more than 35 years. His articles and images have appeared in many outstanding publications, including Audubon, Smithsonian, and National Geographic magazines.

Jim is available to guide small groups (4 or less) in search of endemic forest birds. He is a 40 year resident of the island. In addition to numerous birding groups, he has served as a guide for BBC London, NHK Japan, and National Geographic photographers/videographers. He has a 4x4 vehicle for easier access to trail heads that comfortably seats 4 passengers. Please contact for availability and tour details. For those not interested in securing his services, he is happy to give birding suggestions.

Jim has written two books and produced two videos about Kauai's birds.

For tours and additional information, contact Jim Denny at 









What guests are saying about Hale O Nanakai B&B

I have never posted an actual review about the B&B on my website, but the review below was so incredibly special and uplifting to me, I decided to share it with the world.

A million thanks to my guests, my employees, my website readers and everyone who has had a hand in helping me make Hale O Nanakai what it is today!

"The perfect place to get away!”

5 of 5 stars
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 27, 2013 on Trip Advisor

"We took a two day hiatus from our resort up in Pinceville to stay at the Hale O Nanakai B&B. Located on the south side of the island in a neighborhood with sweeping views of the coastline, it doesn't get any better or closer to home than this! If you're looking to tour the National Tropical Botanic Gardens, the Waimea canyon, take advantage of the unique, artisan shopping in Hanapepe, or spend some time at the south's incredible beaches, Hale O Nanakai is ideally situated in the middle of the goings on. You can even zip up to Lihue very easily. 

Sheila is a fantastic hostess - prepared for anything and has all the knowledge you need to do any of the magnificent activities on the island. She promptly greeted us when we arrived, and showed us our rooms on the second floor - explaining the breakfast spread, and all of the amenities available to us such as umbrellas, beach toys and really, anything that you could ever possibly imagine you would need for an outing on the island - rain or shine, beach or rainforest. She also spent some time with us, offering us a hiking book and some really great maps, with personal advice as to the activities we had planned. Going further, she even printed out the menu for both The Beach House restaurant which we had expressed interest in, as well as a local gluten-free bakery for my Mom. Personal attention to the details? Check!

As I mentioned, we stayed on the top floor and booked the Kahili Suite and the adjoining Maile Room. We were fortunate enough to have the entire floor to ourselves which included an extra bathroom in the main area, beautiful living room, dining room and kitchen, as well as a huge porch with lots of places to view the fantastic view of the sea. The Kahili Suite is an intimate room with incredibly soft linens and pillows - plenty of room to stretch out. With a private bath and vanity, it was perfect for my husband and I. The adjoining Maile Room was perfect for my Mom - a single bedroom, also with plenty of room to stretch out, very comfortable. We were all very happy to finally have great showers, as our resort up north did not have the greatest showers with water pressure - no problems here, though! The main areas of the top floor are stunning, with many unique and interesting accents such as trinkets, fresh flowers, (heliconias) and local books galore. We really enjoyed sitting at the couch and flipping through the many books Sheila has - from botanical books to Hawaiian history, to hiking, to Hawaiian inspired comics. We also enjoyed eating breakfast with the fabulous view, and playing cards in the evening at the dining room table. I would also like to mention a very important point, free internet access. Not just free internet access, but GOOD internet access. Yay!

The morning breakfasts were more than ample for the three of us - offering almost everything you can imagine or ever want. Bagels, bread, cream cheese, butter, juice, milk, *amazing* coffee, teas, 3 different kinds of cereal, fresh fruit accented with flowers, (white plumerias) yogurt...I could go on. As an added touch, because it was noted that we were staying for our anniversary, Sheila and her staff provided champagne and a very nice card to my husband and I, it was wonderful! We also really loved the dishes - very Hawaiian, featuring red Anthuriums and bamboo accents. Neat!

There is a reason that Hale O Nanakai is rated highly not only on Yelp, but on Trip Advisor as well. Sheila has created a simple, elegant, comfortable balance of accommodations that are truly a pleasure to enjoy. I can only hope that one day I will come back to
Kauai, and if I do, I will certainly spend some time here again, as it was one of the highlights of our vacation. Thank you for everything Sheila!





Upper photos show the Upstairs Traditional B&B; last two photos depict lower level "Laka's Garden" 2 room apartment with full kitchen and Welcome Basket 


Ni'ihau Day at the Makauwahi Cave, April 6

A treasure trove of science, ecology, discovery and wonder on Kauai's South Shore

Some of the greatest living artisans of the fabled Ni`ihau shell lei will be at the cave Saturday, April 6, including Mama Ane Kanahele and her many descendants.

If you’re on Kaua`i, plan to spend Saturday 9-2 at the cave with our friends from Ni`ihau. In support of the Makauwahi Jobs Program, the Ni`ihau community on Kaua`i will mahalo the volunteers and visitors to Makauwahi Cave with a day of traditional music, crafts, and food. Come learn how to make a lauhala mat with the people who make some of the best in the world!

Proceeds from the event will go to support the jobs program for unemployed Native Hawaiians at Makauwahi Cave Reserve. Bring your lunch and picnic with the staff, volunteers, and visitors at this unique site that combines research into the past with futuristic restoration strategies.

The Makauwahi Cave is located on Kauai's South Shore , accessible throughn CJM Country Stables on the dirt road past the Hyatt.Tours of the Cave are conducted every Sunday from 9 AM - 2 PM.

At the center of its many attractions is Hawaii`s largest limestone cave, the richest fossil site in the islands, and a uniquely preserved archaeological site.

It's a living museum dedicated not just to the past, but also to experiments in native species conservation. On abandoned farms and quarry lands surrounding the cave, native plants and animals have returned in response to innovative restoration techniques. Acres of restored forest land, dune vegetation, and wetland habitat feature almost 100 species of native plants, including many endangered species, as well as endangered waterbirds and even an underground ecosystem of blind cave invertebrates.

Field School Has a Few Openings

We have been receiving applications for this summer’s field school at the cave, slated for June 15-July 14. There are still a few slots left, so get in your application for 9 units of UH credit in Archaeological Methods and Natural History of the Hawaiian Islands.

Makauwahi Cave Reserve is a non-profit organization with Garden Island Resource Conservation and Development, Inc. as a fiscal sponsor. The property is owned by Grove Farm Company, and managed by Lida Pigott Burney and Dr. David A. Burney, with the help and support of thousands of volunteers, students, and visitors from the local community and around the world.

Makauwahi Cave Reserve P.O. Box 1277, Kalaheo, HI 96741
(808) 482-1059


"Around the World of Plants"; NTBG Spring Lecture series

Around the World of Plants

A public lecture series by the National Tropical Botanical Garden and Kaua‘i Community College

• Tuesday, March 5, 2013 5:30 pm: The relationships between plants and indigenous people are not only about how they use them, but also how they protect them. Professor Prance will discuss the intimate relationship this group has with its environment, describing the challenges they face, and the lessons we can learn.

Professor Sir Ghillean Prance:

Professor Sir Ghillean Prance FRS VMH was born in Suffolk, England in 1937 and was educated at Malvern College, Worcestershire and Keble College, Oxford where he obtained a BA in Botany and a D.Phil.

Sir Ghillean’s career began at the New York Botanical Garden in 1963. Firstly he was a research assistant and subsequently B A Krukoff Curator of Amazonian Botany, Director and Vice-President of Research and finally Senior Vice President for Science. His exploration of Amazonia included 15 expeditions in which he collected over 350 new species of plants.

He was Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London from 1988 to 1999. He was McBryde Professor at theNational Tropical Botanical Garden in Hawaii 2001-02 and is currently McBryde Senior Fellow there. He is Scientific Director and a Trustee of the Eden Project in Cornwall, U.K. and Visiting Professor at Reading University, U.K.

Professor Sir Ghillian Prance is author of nineteen books. He has also published over 520 scientific and general papers in taxonomy, ethnobotany, economic botany, conservation and ecology. He holds fifteen honorary doctorates. In 1993 he received the International Comos Prize and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.

Sir Ghillean was awarded his knighthood in July 1995 and received the Victoria Medal of Honour from the Royal Horticultural Society in 1999.


• Tuesday, April 23, 2013 5:30 pm

Chipper Wichman

Chipper has worked to to preserve the precious natural and cultural 
resources of Hawai`i where he was born and raised. The National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG) in 1976 where he worked with well-known botanists to conduct botanical surveys of Limahuli valley and the Nā Pali coast where he discovered new species of plants and helped to pioneer methods of rappelling down cliffs to hand pollinate the species threatened with extinction. 

Chipper will present the film showing of "A King in China: The Life of Joseph Francis Rock"

From  Hawaii to China, Joseph Francis Rock was on of the last classic explorers of the 20th Century. He was born in Vienna, Austria, but emigrated to the United States in 1905 and moved to Honolulu in 1907, where he eventually became an authority on the flora there. As the Territory of Hawaiii's first official botanist, he joined the faculty of the University of Hawaii in 1911, established its first herbarium and served as its first curator from 1911 until 1920, when he left the university to spend the next few decades exploring the botany of Asia.

"This carefully crafterd and ostensibly crafted documentary, about a lonely man who finally found his paradise" -- The Sydney Herald 


• Tuesday, May 21, 2013 5:30 pm

Richard Hanna

An illustrator of many publications including the Masterpieces of Botanical Illustration : the Loy McCandless Marks Botanical Library

Presents: Captain Cook's Artists in the Pacific


The artists who traveled with the famed 18th-century explorer brought back tales of exotic plants and people through their beautiful and fascinating illustrations. Learn about these men, who traveled the Pacific working fervently to keep up during these intense expeditions.



Thank you to Margaret Clark, Program Presentation Coordinator, for providing the information about these important lectures provided by the National Tropical Botanical Garden, Kauai.

Mahalo for this fine lecture series.

All talks will be presented in the Cafeteria in the KCC Campus Center
(to the left & behind the Performing Arts Center) 3-1901 Kaumuali‘i Hwy, Līhu‘e

National Tropical Botanical Garden & Kaua‘i Community College: "Sharing a common goal of quality education to change lives."


For more information, please contact: Margaret Clark,NTBG, 3530 Papalina Rd.Kalaheo, HI 96741  Office: (808) 332-7324 x 22:  Cellphone: 808-346-2471;  Fax: 1-800-694-1942

"The mission of the National Tropical Botanical Garden is to enrich life through discovery, scientific research, conservation, and education by perpetuating the survival of plants, ecosystems, and cultural knowledge of tropical regions."



Winter in the Paradise: Subtle, delightful seasonal changes

Waking up to crystal clear skies with crisp morning temperatures in the low 70s (Fahrenheit)-- after a long night of low and chilly 50 degrees -- is what winter in Hawaii is like. Two blankets, cats curled upon and alongside, and the a desire to linger under the covers after the winter sun has greeted the day, are the hallmarks of a Hawaiian winter for me.

A dusting of snow atop Mauna Kea -- the Big Island's grand-daddy of monoliths at 13,000 feet above sea level -- is Winter's official calling card in the Hawaiian Islands. So much so, that the mountain's name, "Mauna Kea", is  Hawaiian for  "White Mountain,"  because of its propensity for an annual dusting of snow.

Similarly,  Maui's Hale'aka'la (translated "House of the Sun") is not immune to the cold, either.  Coupled with high wind advisories, huge surf hammering north and western shores, and winter storm warnings, "Winter" truly exists in Paradise, as evidenced by these typical, but short-lived, seasonal occurrences from late December until early April.

To us it is "chilly", especially on the beautiful, clear nights when the trade winds depart, and the accumulated cloud and sea-breeze, land-heating, late-day congestion above the interior mountains, dissipates into the last rays of the sunset.

Only then do skies blaze with stars that appear illuminated like a thousand, tiny, dancing torches, held in place by the cold and breathless stillness of the Hawaiian winter night.

On these nights temperatures can drop to the low 50s on the Fahrenheit scale. In the absence of wind, commonly the case with "Kona" conditions that precede a trade-wind-blocking cold front, locals pull out several blankets, pile on hoodies and socks, and drink hot Sake, while the family pets keep themselves warm by huddling close.

It is nights like these that the Milky Way appears as a great opalescent cloak flung across the sky, highlighted by a hundred million sparkling diamond-stars, of value only to the eye or the heart.

Shooting stars are not shy as they streak silently across the dark black canopy of the night.

Nights when the rising full moon illuminates the Waimea Canyon and the dwarfed uplands of the Alakai Swamp, the paths and ancient trails of the ancestors are bathed in an incandescent glow.

These scenes are of colors nearly neutral, but with the passing pale, prism-mist hues of a night time rainbow, or "moon bow." This ethereal circle around the moon, portends weather changes in the future.

Other coastal scenes, when a glittering, moon-illuminated path streams like a diamond-studded highway across the surface of the infinite sea, are as hypnotic and entrancing as the strongest witches brew.

In ancient times, natives here in Hawaii worshipped a plethora of "akua," or gods of nature, just as their counterparts in ancient Greece  worshipped Zeus and Neptune, or the Celts in Europe worshipped the mighty Oak, and native Americans on both Continents worshipped their gods of war and prosperity. 

Like ancient civilizations in the farthest corners of the globe, mankind has changed and evolved in similar ways.

Indigenous races in all corners of the world knew that the wheel of the seasons, the changing times of the year, represented death, rebirth, regeneration and reaping of the bounty of the land and their species. That these were closely associated with, and guided by, the moon, the stars and the ocean tides has become lost to many dwellers of modern times. 

Hawaii is a place where we all can reconnect with our ancestors, the old ways and the appreciation of the sun, moon, stars, tide, ocean and cycles of nature and life.

In Hawaii, in this year of our ancestors, 2013, I celebrate Winter.

It is one of the mildest, benevolent, coolest in temperature and psyche and most beautiful winters I have had the pleasure to  experience. So far we have escaped the decimation of global climate change.

We are triply blessed, living in this state, because of its beauty, lovely weather and the kindness and gentle nature of its people. May we remember our roots, one and all.

Mahalo Ke Akua 



Vog: Bad Air from a Beautiful Volcano

Notice a slight sulphuric tang to the air when the Tradewinds cease? A tickle in the throat, a runny nose? 

 It doesn’t happen often – thank goodness – but “vog” is a form of air pollution that results when sulfur dioxide and other gases and particles emitted by an erupting volcano react with oxygen and moisture in the presence of sunlight. 

The reason you are feeling vog some 400 miles distant from the actual eruption on the Big Island, is because of the wind pattern. 

Accounting for 70% of all winds in Hawaii, trade winds are the most common winds over Hawaiian waters. Tradewinds come from the direction of Alaska -- NE to ENE -- and are Hawaii’s natural air conditioning. 

When we don’t have Tradewinds, the wind pattern shifts to a southerly flow. Kona, a resort town on the leeward side of Hawaii's Big Island, is a Hawaiian term for winds that come from the SW or SSW -- the opposite direction of trade winds. 

Since the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island began erupting in 1983, Kona winds can bring vog up the island chain. This makes visibility poor and causes eye and respiratory irritation. Headaches, watery eyes, sore throat, breathing difficulties (including inducing asthma attacks) and flu-like symptoms are commonly reported. These effects are especially pronounced in people with respiratory conditions and children. 

On the Big Island, the gas plumes of Kilauea rise up from three locations: Halemaʻumaʻu Crater, Puʻu ʻŌʻō vent, and from along the coastline where lava flows from the East Rift zone enter the ocean. The plumes create a blanket of vog that can envelop the island.

Prolonged periods of southerly Kona winds can affect islands across the entire state as well.  Lucky we live Kauai! By the time the vog reaches other islands, the sulfur dioxide has largely dissipated, leaving behind ash, smoke, sulfates, and ammonia.

Kona, or vog producing conditions are most prevalent in winter months when cold front move through. These months include October through March. 


Plumes of vog from Big Island volcanic eruptions as seen and photographed from the Space Shuttle "Atlantis".

Please see http://www.konaweb.com/vog/index.shtml



Mele Kalikimaka! Merry Christmas to all!

Hawaii is a special place at Christmas time. Balmy tradewinds and twinkling lights make this a very special holiday for locals and visitors alike.

While you won’t see snow except for rare occasions atop Mauna Kea (Hawaiian for "white mountain" -- for that very reason!), you will still see signs of Christmas on every island.

You may not experience frosty temperatures but who is going to complain about wearing a bikini or a pair of surf shorts on the holiday??

We may not have chestnuts roasting on an open fire,because few homes have fireplaces in the Aloha State! But we sure can roast some Macadamia nuts in the imu.

Christmas really can be Christmas in Hawaii. Hawaii residents begin putting up their holiday lights and Christmas trees as soon as the last piece of Thanksgiving turkey is devoured. There are joyous Christmas concerts, community parades and dazzling Festivals of Light throughout the state.


Christmas wasn’t formally introduced to Hawaii until after 1820, the year Protestant missionaries came to Hawaii from New England.

In ancient times, however, the holiday coincided with a traditional Hawaiian festival called Makahiki. This celebration lasted for four months and included great feasts and games. During this time, wars and conflicts were strictly forbidden. As far as the early Hawaiians were concerned, the Makahiki was their time for “peace on earth and goodwill toward men.”

The first Christmas celebration in Hawaii is believed to have occurred in 1786, when Captain George Dixon, docked aboard the Queen Charlotte in Waimea Bay on Kauai, commanded his crew to prepare a Christmas dinner that included roasted pig, pie and grog mixed with coconut milk. The English navigator then led his men in toasts to their families and friends back home.

In 1856, Alexander Liholiho (King Kamehameha IV) declared December 25 to be his kingdom’s national day of Thanksgiving.

Two years later, Santa Claus made his first appearance in Hawaii, arriving at Washington Place (now the governor’s residence) to deliver gifts for the children. Today, you may see Santa arrive on  surfboard, and witness his elves wearing aloha shirts. 

Today, there’s no bigger Christmas celebration than “Honolulu City Lights,” a favorite holiday spectacle put on by the City & County of Honolulu. Held at Honolulu Hale (City Hall), “Honolulu City Lights” features a 50-foot Norfolk pine Christmas tree, elaborate Christmas tree and wreath exhibits, giant Yuletide displays and live entertainment.

Whether you’re young or young at heart, there’s no better place to catch the Christmas spirit in the islands.

Mele Kalikimaka! Merry Christmas!


Slack Key Festival features "Masters" Nov. 18 on Kauai

A free 'ki'ho'alu" festival will grace the stage at the kauai Beach Resort near Lihue Airport on Kauai on Sunday, November 18 from 12 noon until 5 PM.

Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar (ki-ho'alu) is a truly one of the greatest acoustic guitar traditions in the world.  Ki-ho'alu, which literally means "loosen the key," is the Hawaiian language name for the solo finger picked style unique to Hawai'i.  In this tradition, the strings (or keys)" are "slacked" to produce major chord, or a chord with a major 7th note, or sometimes one with a 6th note in it.  Each tuning produces a lingering sound behind the melody and  has characteristic resonance and fingering.

Many Hawaiian songs and slack key guitar pieces reflect themes like stories of the past and present and people's lives.  But it is the tropical surroundings of  Hawai'i, with its oceans, volcanoes and mountains, waterfalls, forest, plants and animals, that provide the deepest source of inspiration for Hawaiian music.

2012 will mark the 30th anniversary of the festival in Honolulu on the island of Oahu, the 20th anniversary on Kauai and Hawaii and the 21st anniversary on the island of Maui. We continue to be focus and enthusiastic about the music and where we have been and where we are headed. The music is now part of genre known as "World Music" and someday we hope that through the efforts of all of the musicians that perform it, the producers, record companies, the many festivals produced throughout Hawaii and overseas and our loyal Hawaii based corporate sponsors as well as those on the mainland such as Taylor Guitars and Dancing Cat Productions that Ki-ho'alu will be recognized throughout the world as truly a great guitar tradition. Since 2005, a category for Hawaiian Music was created by NARAS or better known as the "Grammy Awards" and Slack Key Guitar has won the coveted award for 4 years straight over some of the best artists from Hawaii. 


Emmalani Festival at Koke'e in 22nd year

Step into history and become part of Queen Emma's entoruage who rode horseback from her summer home in Lawai Valley to the Alakai Swamp in 1871. Since its inception in 1988, Eo e Emalani I Alaka’i (also called the Emalani Festival) has quietly become one of the most authentic and powerful Hawaiian cultural experiences in the State.

Each year, for the past 24 years, Koke'e Natural History Museum has honored the Queen's historic trek with a day long celebration of hula performances and Hawaiian music.Each year,kumu hula (hula masters) and their dancers help to create an event that has touched thousands, many of whom return annually to participate.

Saturday, October 13 is the date for this glorious spectacle. Live Hawaiian music, along with historical displays, begin at 10 am and at 12 noon, “Queen Emma” enters Kanaloahuluhulu Meadow on horseback, led by her guide Kaluahi, represented by a local cowboy. Offering of dance are made by hula halau from across Hawaii. Hula groups from Europe andJapanhave also jouneyed to Kaua ito participate.

By focusing each year on a diferent aspect of the Queen’s inspiring legacy as a humanitarian leader, the Emalani Festival affords participants and audience an opportunity to reflect on values of a great leader who took the land to heart.

Come early and stay late. Bring a beach chair or blanket and camera. This is the real deal. You won't see hula like this unless you go to the Merry Monarch Festival.

For more info call (808) 335-9975.




Makauwahi Cave hits You Tube

On a wind blown shoreline on the south shore of Kauai is an interesting cave and sinkhole where paleoecologists and archaeologists have excavated.

What they found was a fossil picture of how Hawaii looked 10,000 years ago.

Local Kauai resident and student at Northern Arizona University, Mary Coulombe, served as an intern at the cave this past summer for college credits toward he degree in environmental science. 

Here is the excellent video that Mary produced during her internship: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2L4sluOb-o&feature=colike

Only on Sunday from 9am to 2 pm can visitors tour the cave and the beautifully landscaped trail and surroundings, which have been planted with native and endemic trees, shrubs and foliage.

Drive to Po'ipu and go left toward the Hyatt. The road will turn into a dusty and bumpy dirt but don't worry about the rental car. I used to take my Honda Civic to Mahau'lepu often and never encountered a problem or any sort of damage to my car.

By the way -- don't forget to check out the giant tortoises who are weed eaters "extrordinaire". They don't seem to liket the native plants!

For more information visit this website: http://cavereserve.org/index.php


Kauai's Aloha Festival brings history to life

Close your eyes and listen to the solemn beat of the ancient drums. The sweet scent of tropical flowers swirls around the hula dancers and royal court. Imagine you are standing in the Hawaii of centuries ago -- before the "discovery" of these Hawaiian Islands. A time when Hawaiian culture, life and the people lived in an organized, sustainable society and worshiped many gods.

On Kaua'i, the Aloha Festival events take place between August 25th and October 20th.   Come help celebrate Kaua‘i's Hawaiian cultural heritage at any or all of the upcoming events that are part of Kaua‘i Aloha Festivals. You will enjoy Royal Court presentations and experience outstanding cultural entertainment, food and traditions.

Aloha Week began in 1946 to celebrate Hawai'i's unique cultural heritage and our sense of Aloha.  In 1991, the name was changed to "Aloha Festivals" with events slated during the months of September and October - the traditional time of Makahiki (a time of peace and celebration).

 The events showcase Hawaiian music, dance, cuisine, arts and cultural practices. All feature presentation of Kauai's Royal Court, with the investiture of the court on August 25th. Each event is found at different locations around Kaua'i. Some, like the Mokihana Festival and the Na Lima Hana Festival, include multiple days of activities.

Event locations include Smith's Tropical Paradise, Kapaa First Hawaiian Church, Kaua`i Beach Resort, Kaua'i Marriott, and the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa. Kauai residents and visitors will be able to observe time-honored protocol and traditions in association with the Hawaiian culture as well as experience a broad range of Hawaiian dance, music and food.

 *   Friday, Sept. 21st, Mokihana Festival, 808-651-1868 - Maka Herrod. The 28th annual Kaua'i Mokihana Festival celebrates the year of Na Kamali`i (year of the child).  This seven-day event is filled with Hawaiian culture, experiences of hula, Hawaiian and contemporary music, Hawaiian language, crafts, lectures, history and more, in support of the Malie Foundation and the Malie Scholarship. The Royal Court will be part of the festivities as well, at the Kaua`i Beach Resort for the group hula competition from 6pm - 9pm.  Public is welcome. Malie Foundation contributed photo; Joe Olivas photographer.

Kaua'i Mokihana Festival is a week-long celebration, Sept. 16-22, 2012, of Hawaiian culture and includes educational lectures, music and hula competitions at locations around the island of Kaua'i. This year's theme is Year of Na Kamali'i

TICKETS available beginning August 20th at these TICKET OUTLETS:
Vicky's Fabrics Kapa`a (808)822-1746
Kaua'i Beach Resort, Lihue (808)246-5515
Kaua‘i Music and Sound, Kapa‘a (808)823-8000

Call (808) 652-4497 and ASK FOR IWA DAWBARN
$10 children ages 6-17; free for children under 6 at most events.

MOKIHANA PASS: The Mokihana Pass was created for those who desire to support the Kauai Mokihana Festival and allows any person to utilize the pass at events listed below. If you are unable to make one or more events, you are welcomed to pass on your MP to someone else. The Mokihana Pass is available for sale at $60.00 per pass. Purchase in advance. The Mokihana Pass is good for admission to all of the below listed events. For event information call Maka Herrod (808)651-1868 or email:



Sunday, Sept 16

Hawaiian Church Service

Monday, Sept 17

The Kaua'i Composer's Contest and Concert

Tuesday, Sept 18

Children's/Youth Music Competition         

Tuesday, Sept 18

Under the Palms at Wailua

Wednesday, Sept 19

Presentation – Featuring Kealoha the Magnificent Poet

Thursday, Sept 20

Hula Competition:
Solo/Group Kahiko Nei

Friday, Sept 21

Hula Competition:
Group `Auana

Saturday, Sept 22

Hula Competition:
Solo `Auana & Finale




Kauai County Farm Bureau Fair is in full swing

The Kaua‘i County Farm Bureau Fair opened as hundreds of people poured through the gates starting at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Vidinha Stadium Fairgrounds.

The four-day event continues Friday from 6 p.m. to midnight and on Saturday, gates open from noon until midnight. Sunday hours are from noon.

During the fair hours, the commercial and nonprofit booths will close at 11 p.m. Friday and  Saturday and at 6 p.m. Sunday.

Today’s events include a Tropical Floral Design Show, a floral design contest, chef demonstrations, a petting zoo, Las Vegas hypnotist Ralph Maxwell and performances by the Maltese Family Circus.

Check out this video for a real glimpse of the action!   http://kauaifarmfair.org/

Admission is $2 for keiki ages 4 through 12, $4 for seniors 65 years and older and $5 for adults.

Visit www.thegardenisland.com and click on the Kaua‘i County Farm Bureau Fair 2012 special section for a complete schedule of events as well as featured sections of the fair.


Where do people from Kauai go on their vacation?

I recently had a friend visit Kauai and had the opportunity to be a temporary tourist. While I planned things I knew she would enjoy, I really had an enjoyable time visiting places and doing things that I don't normally get to do.

'Anini Beach Park  - this picturesque stretch of beach and lagoon inside a fringing reef has a variety of activities to offer including camping (see County of Kauai website for permits), snorkeling, windsurfing rentals and lessons, a great place to lean paddleboard, beach combing for Ni'ihau and sunrise shells, picnicking, and kayaking. We also caught sunrises, sunsets and a full moon! It is an ideal place to stay if you are planning a Na Pali coast kayak trip (that starts at 6:30 AM), and is close to Hanalei Bay, Limahuli Gardens and Ke'e Beach -- the beginning of the Kalalau Trail.  

Wings Over Kauai Air Tours - there is no other more personable business owners and employees than this family-run light airplane sight-seeing operation. Excellent narration of Kauai's cultural, historic and scenic highlights is authentic and accurate, not to mention appreciated while gliding along the coastline and over the emerald peaks. Customers get a beautiful kukui nut lei, a photo of themselves and a video of their tour all for one low price. Don't miss Wings -- it is a fraction of the cost of a helicopter!

Pakala's, PK's and the Waiohai surf spots were highlights of my surf buddy's visit to Kauai. I had never been to Pakala's before, even though I've lived here for 20 years. In addition to some of the nicest waves on the island, Pakala's has a beautiful bay, palm-lined shore, monk seals and turtles. Just watch out for the kiawe!

Four-wheeling on Koke'e's fire break roads, and  along the newly opened Hanapepe to Makaweli dirt road for fishing access on G&R property. Incredible views of Ni'ihau and Lehua, and pristine, rocky fishing spots describe the former and latter.

Biking on the Bike Path from Kapa'a to Anahola. Cooling trade winds pushed our pedals  along as we checked out the waves at Kealia Beach and the fools playing in the surf at Donkey Beach. Donkey is not a safe swimming spot. The Path is a very gentle grade and pleasant at anytime during the day, however, sunset is my favorite time.

Captain Na Pali Adventures boat tour of the Na Pali coast. Exhilarating coastal ride from Kikiaola Harbor -- between Waimea and Kekaha -- along the 3,000 - 4,000 foot spires and cliff sculptures of Na Pali with a few detours for waterfalls, snorkeling, dark sea caves and the "Eye of the Shark" roofless cave. Hang on with your feet and hands as Joe Clark chases dolphins between the white caps.

Maha'ulepu Beach, Maka'uwahi Cave and Lida's Garden - Sundays from 9am - 2pm, the famous Makauwahi Sinkhole is open for tours with guides providing info about the 10,000 year history of Kauai. Hike the trail above which has been replanted with native and endemic trees and shrubs, making the area appear as it might have before human habitation. Be sure to check out the giant tortoises!

CJM Stables Rodeo just happened to be in session when we left Mahau'lepu after our coastal hike. Some really talented cowboys showed us how to rope calfs and cattle. Also heard that CJM does some awesome trail rides along the beach!

Friday Night Art Night in Hanapepe - The mango pie stole the show. Passed dinner and went straight to the "Pie Lady". Great music, snacks and delicacies in the galleries, awesome art and great artists like Giorgio and Robin McCoy -- don't miss their galleries! Also, Talk Story Bookstore has the best selection of books in the islands!


Summertime in Koke'e State Park - Escape the Heat!

Up beyond Waimea Canyon State Park is a place the locals like to call "The Mountain" or "Koke'e". Also a state park, this area is marked by thick forests, sinuous trails, rutted and muddy 4 wheel drive roads and scenery that is without equal. Don't worry, your cell phone will not work up past Mile Marker 10, forget about "On Star" and kiss the Internet good-bye. There is one pay phone -- guarded by a flock of hungry chickens -- in the vicinity of the Lodge and that's it.

A number of public camps, like Boy Scouts of America, the Methodist Camp, the Hongwanji and Camp Sloggett are also available through various churches and organizations. State cabins can also be rented through the Koke'e Lodge or State Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Although camping is available, and there are a few remote cabins for hunters -- free if you can get to them --, most trails in Koke'e can be accomplished in one day. Beautiful treks and bike opportunities can also be found on the contour roads that lead out to the end of the finger-like ridges that loom over the Na Pali coast.

Beginning at the picnic area just before Mile Marker 13, "Polihale Ridge Road" is a rough dirt contour or fire break road that descends along the ridgeline to its end just above the spectacular Polihale Beach and State Park. Breath-taking views of Ni'ihau and the 13-mile Barking Sands Beach can be viewed from this location.

A short distance past Mile Marker 13 is the Pua Hina Hina Lookout. Views of the Waimea Canyon, Koaie Canyon and Po'omau Canyon serve as eye candy and allow the viewer to watch hikers on the Waimea Canyon Trail far below. Accessible from the back of the lookout's parking lot is a trail that leads down to another viewpoint and the trailhead of the Waimea Canyon and Black Pipe Trails. Few people use this convenient trail and park, instead, at the intersection of Halemanu Road, another 4 WD road that winds down to meet the trailhead of the Canyon Trail. Several loop trails and connectors can be accessed from this area including a loop trek around the Canyon Trail, up a dirt road to the Kumuwela Trail, which then leads to the Halemanu Koke'e Trail, and back out on Halemanu Road.

Continuing on the Koke'e Road toward the Lodge and Koke'e Museum, the Nualolo Trail departs from an area just past the state cabins. This trail can be hiked down and back, or in a broad 11-mile table and circuit loop. Starting at the Nualolo Trail head, traversing the Nualolo Cliff (Bench)Trail and ascending the Awa'awa'puhi Trail is a strenuous hike that involves hitching a ride back to your car, or hiking the road to return to your point of origin. (I recommend taking the Nualolo Trail down and the Awa'awa'puhi Trail up because it is much easier than doing the opposite. Trust me!)

The Koke'e Lodge in the center of the great meadow is a spot....the only spot... for food and drink on the mountain. They serve great breakfasts and lunches but close at 3 PM on weekdays and 5PM on Fridays. The neighboring Koke'e Museum is a pleasant Natural History Museum and bookstore with great information about the park and trail conditions.

Leaving the Meadow area, the Camp Ten - Mohihi Road, leading to Camp Sloggett and far beyond is the gateway to the Alakai Swamp and Sugi Grove. This is a serious 4 WD road and make no mistake about it. If it is rainy, don't even attempt it! The primary way to the Alakai Swamp Trail leaves this road on the left across from a picnic area that overlooks Sugi Grove. Continuing down the hill to Sugi Grove is another state camping area and the remote campsites of Sugi Grove. The picturesque Kawaikoi Stream beautiful gurgles along the camp this picturesque area and the Kawaikoi Stream Trail -- a pleasant walk -- trail loops around the stream or joins with the Pihea Trail.

While in this remote area, don't miss the Po'omau Canyon Trail, the Kohua Trail and the Mohihi Wai'alae Trail.

If you don't have 4WD, continue along the paved Koke'e Road past the Lodge and come to a sharp bend in the road with a grassy parking area to the right and a gate across a gravel road. This is the trailhead to the Water Tank Trail and the Pu'u Ka'ohelo (Berry Flats) Trail where wild pigs can be seen grazing on black berries on this easy hike.

Further along Koke'e Road is the Awa'awa'puhi Trailhead and parking lot on the left. This trail has a pleasant descent and ascent and affords supreme views of the Na Pali coast at it's end. It is a short  2-3 hour hike down and back. Another easy trail in the area is the Kaluapuhi Trail. Park at the Awa'awa'puhi Trailhead and walk a short distance up the road. You will see the beginning of the Kaluapuhi Trail on the right. Mostly flat, this trail leads through dry upland forest and affords a gentle hike through the woods.

Back on Koke'e Road the Kalalau Lookout is the postcard photo op and the most breath-taking and spectacular view on the mountain of Kalalau Valley more than 3,000 feet below. If the valley is occluded by mist or clouds, be patient. The mist often clears in about 15 minutes!

Finally the Koke'e Road leads to the very end of the pavement and the final Kalalau Lookout where some seriously construction-challenged folks tried to build a road to Hanalei and failed miserably. The first slope bears most of the destruction, but pass this area with blinders on because the trail that awaits has the highest concentration of native birds and plants in the park. This is the Pihea Trail and it leads into the Alakai Swamp, or up to the Pihea Lookout. The Alakaia Swamp Trail boardwalk commences here and the Pihea Trail can be descended to the Kawaikoi Stream area and Sugi Grove for those without 4WD.

Be careful because this park does not have rangers or sign-in and sign-out stations. Always let someone know where you are going and when to expect your return, whether you leave a note in the hotel room, tell another camper or let the ladies in the Koke'e Museum know. For weather and trail information call (808) 335-9975. 

Please do not throw away lit cigarette butts. Don't start camp fires or burn toilet paper. Forest fires are an ever-present danger!