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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


Friday
Sep282012

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

Saturday
Sep082012

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


TICKET INFORMATION:
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:
bslm07@yahoo.com

DATE

EVENT

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

 

 

Friday
Aug242012

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.

Friday
Aug102012

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!

Monday
Jul022012

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!

 

Wednesday
Jun062012

"O Bon Festivals" a Japanese summer cultural tradition

When I was a malahini (newcomer) to these Hawaiian Islands back in the '80s, I remember coming aross a spectacular night time festival at a local Hongwanji (Japanese church or temple) in the town of Paia, Maui. Was it the scent of jasmine incense drifting on the evening breeze? Or the beautifully adorned women in Kimono dancing in a circle to strange plunking strands of music? The lavish fruit baskets and full bottles of beer and harder spirits on grave sites? Whatever it was I was intrigued.

I had come upon my first O Bon festival, a summertime Japanese cultural celebration for the ancestors who have passed on. This 500 year old Japanese tradition was brought to Hawaii by Japanese immigrants who came to work in the sugar cane fields. 

Knowing that they could not leave their culture and history behind, they celebrated O Bon to link the living with their deceased relatives, by honoring theses spirits with dance, incense, favorite foods and preferred alcoholic beverages.

I also enjoyed watching the making of traditional mochi, rice that is pounded until it becomes a thick paste, which is then combined with sugar for a sweet and tasty treat.

At this particular event, a taiko drumming troupe performed a riveting and rousing set of traditional warrior drumming on replicas of ancient drums and other instruments.

Dressed in their black slacks and black karate-like jackets, these musicians adorned their heads with brilliant orange and white headbands to soak up the sweat produced by their enthusiastic drumming. Literally, taiko means "fat drum," although there is a vast array of shapes and sizes of taiko. Reputedly, one of the first uses of taiko was as a battlefield instrument; used to intimidate and scare the enemy.

At some O Bon celebration the Lantern Ceremony will take place. A candle is lit for a recently deceased loved one and placed in a decorative bag or open-topped lantern and set adrift on the ocean or on a body of water. The Kapa'a Lantern Ceremony I witnessed at the Wailua River several years ago was solemn and included a religious service and ceremony. The drifting lanterns were a beautiful way to remember someone.

On June 8 and 9 the Kapa'a Hongwanji Buddhist Temple will hold its annual celebration on temple grounds at 4-1170 Kuhio Highway, Kapaa. June 15 and 16 brings the O Bon to the Waimea Hongwanji at its temple at 9554 Kaumuali'i Highway, Waimea. The weekend of June 22 and 23 the Kauai Soto Zen Temple will hold its O Bon dance at 1-3500 Kaumuali'i Highway Hanapepe. Finally, on June 29 and 30 the Koloa Jodo Mission will honor the ancestors at it's temple near Koloa Big Save at 3480 Waikomo Road, Koloa.

 

 

Thursday
May242012

End of Kauai's wild chicken population in sight?

According to a report on KHON 2 News, the first live mongoose to be captured on Kauai was trapped at the Marriott Kauai Lagoons on May 23, 2012.

Could this mean that active colonies of mongoose established on Kauai, could knock down the feral chicken problem? Kauai is the only Hawaiian Island where  colorful roosters and chickens can be found in every park, parking lot, back yard and beach.

Originally brought by the ancient Hawaiians as "canoe food", the wild chickens teamed up with caged white farm chickens after several hurricanes on Kauai. The result is history in the form of brightly plumaged roosters and chickens, well, everywhere!

Kauai is the only island where mongoose were not intentionally introduced, which is why there has been success in building populations of ground-nesting birds like nene geese -- an endangered species.

Mongoose eat eggs and chicks, so they can have a devastating affect on wildlife, domestic fowl and game cocks. The Indian Gray Mongoose and others are well known for their ability to fight and kill  venomous snakes, particularly cobras.  They are adept at such tasks due to their agility, thick coat, and evolved  acetylcholine receptors, which render them resistant or immune to snake venom.

Mongooses were brought to Hawaii by the Sugar Industry in 1883 in a failed attempt to control rats in the sugar cane fields. They prey on turtle eggs, birds and other animals, and they can also carry deadly diseases like leptospirosis. Mongooses have no natural predators in the Islands to keep their numbers in check. They are not only a threat to bird populations but also to domestic pets including dogs and cats.

Wildlife managers have long worried that mongoose might get established on Kauai. In 19176 a female was discovered dead on Kaumualii Highway near Kalaheo, but none have been found since then. There have been, however, more than 160 reports of sightings in the last 44 years, with over 70 in the last decade alone. 

Sightings have been reported from Mana to Lumahai, including Kokee, with the highest concentration in the Lihue-Puhi area. KISC and DOFAW have been engaged in active trapping and detection efforts in recent years, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services traps within the airport fence. Rana Biological Consulting Inc., which oversees endangered bird protection at Kauai Lagoons, has been monitoring the resort grounds for avian predators. 


Thursday
May102012

A Taste of Hawaii's Annual Culinary Event set for June 3

The Rotary Club of Kapa'a is gearing up for the 23rd Annual Taste of Hawaii "The Ultimate Sunday Brunch™" to take place on June 3, 2012. Taste of Hawaii was not only the first event of its kind in the islands; it has consistently been a statewide favorite attracting more than 2,000 attendees.

Voted the "Best Community Event" six years running, the event will once again take place at Smith's Tropical Paradise. 

A Taste of Hawaii - The Ultimate Sunday Brunch™ provides the primary source of fundraising for the Kapa'a Rotary's annual operating budget.

A the Taste of Hawaii  began in 1988, as the first event of its kind in Hawaii, and it has grown into the premier culinary event on Kauai and in Hawaii. The finest Chefs from around the state gather to provide our guests with a tasting extravaganza second to none.

Held at Smith's™ Tropical Paradise stunning 30 acre private park, the event will host 40 of the local area's top chefs, 15 beverage vendors, 10 musical groups and a large silent auction to benefit scholarship programs, community services and youth programs on the island of Kauai.

Tickets are available online at the Taste of Hawaii website: http://tasteofhawaii.com/index.php and at various vendors around the island, including Hanalei Surf Company, Jim Saylor's Jewelers, Bread & Deli Connection, Progressive Expressions and Westside Pharmacy.


Wednesday
Apr252012

May 5 is Lei Day at the Kauai Museum

The Kaua`i Museum proudly presents our 32nd Annual Lei Contest and May Day Celebration on May 5, 2012. It's a day dedicated to celebrating Hawaiian culture. Visitors and residents will enjoy the fresh, fragrant and colorful lei displayed throughout the museum and guests are encouraged to try their hand at lei making. Lei masters will demonstrate their art on the steps of the museum.

From 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., guests can wander the grounds and make or buy a lei, watch demonstrators and purchase delicious foods from our vendors.

From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the doors to the museum will be open for viewing. Admission is free for kama`aina and $2 off for visitors.

At 1 p.m., there will be an award ceremony for lei makers on the front porch.

At 3 p.m., the silent auction ends. At 3:30 p.m., a live auction will commence selling all unclaimed lei.

The museum will close at 4 p.m.

In addition to the festivities, the museum is proud to announce the return of the Keiki La Lei Contest. This contest is open to keiki up to 18 years of age.

. . . The custom of weaving and wearing flower leis originated with the Hawaiians so long ago that they have no record of its beginning. . . . When tourists discovered Hawaii, they loved the charming gesture and they spread the word of it until the lei became known around the world.

Lei Day - May first - was the brainchild of Don Blanding. In 1927 he came up with the idea of a uniquely Hawaiian holiday that everyone could celebrate. His editors at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin presented it to the public and the idea was enthusiastically embraced.

Lei Day became an official holiday in 1928. During those first years the event included the selection of a Lei Day queen and court. Lei Day celebrations continue today, marking the first day of May with lei-making competitions, concerts, and the giving and receiving of lei among friends and family. 

The first Lei Day was held on May 1, 1928, and everyone in Honolulu was encouraged to wear lei. Festivities were held downtown with hula, music, lei making demonstrations and exhibits and lei making contests.

Tuesday
Apr032012

The End of the Plantation Era

At the very heart of a popular tourist destination on Kauai’s South Shore rests the old Koloa Japanese Camp – a time worn settlement tucked behind the crowded ranch-style homes along Wailani Street and well out of view of the modern Koloa By-Pass Road. It is perhaps the last vestige of plantation life in the state. It soon will be gone as the camp resident’s remove their belongings from the place they’ve called home for more than a half a century.

Hurricanes and floods have wreaked havoc throughout the years but none were as damaging as the capitulation of the sugar industry in Hawaii and the economic catastrophe of recent years. The final straw came late last year when Grove Farm decided evict the camp residents and tear down the houses. While the residents always banded together, pitched in on repairs, and looked after one another during hard times in the past, they are now adrift. Up to this day of this writing, if an unfamiliar car comes down the dirt road that bisects the camp, residents will come out to see who it is.

“It’s a safe place. We look after one another,” said a resident who came out of his house barefooted to see why I was walking down the road.

Cocks crow and hunting dogs bark, providing a raucous cacophony above the whispered pleas of the ghosts of generations of families who have been born, raised and died in this small area. Catherine Fernandez is a living voice; her deceased husband Cereal Fernandez relies on the wind.

For 56 years three generations of the Fernandez family made Koloa Camp their home. I sit and chat with Catherine Fernandez, age 82 and her grand daughter, Shayda Fernandez, 40, in the shade of one of the largest lychee trees I have ever seen, planted when the family first moved in.

“Grandma would wake up and go pick fresh papaya for her breakfast every morning,” Shayda explains. “It’s going to be really hard for her now that she will have to buy fruit in the grocery store.”

Huge lychee trees and mango – thick with liko, or fresh blooms, indicate a record year for fruit. Papaya, banana and pineapple patches abound in the overgrown garden and yard. Everything grows well in this slightly sunken backwater, which landowner Grove farm plans to bulldoze and elevate to minimize future flooding.

“I have so many papaya trees and pineapple – they take a year to grow, you know -- and this lychee is going to give so much fruit this year, but I won’t be here,” Mrs. Fernandez lamented. 

“What is sad is that each family took care of their home and surrounding gardens,” explains Shayda. “Grove Farm never stepped in to help with repairs or to help us fix up anything on the property. We planted all this that you see. We fed ourselves from these gardens.”

Immersed in the scents of blooming fragrant ornamental flowers and bushes, the Fernandez home has a way of blocking out the hustle and bustle of the modern day world that exists just outside of its periphery.

“This house was separated and brought up here from the mill, “ Fernandez continues. “It used to be a two family farm house.”

The picturesque structure with 3 bedrooms and one bath was home to the 7-member family for 56 years. Two of Fernandez children – now in their middle age – were born in the house, and Grandpa Cereal Fernandez died here.

“Shayda’s mother was born here and Sunita, my other daughter, was born right in this house,” Fernandez reminisces, sadly shaking her head. “ There have been a lot of memories.”

Under a sea of dishwater colored clouds, Fernandez tells me what happened 29 days after her husband – a former supervisor and the last surviving plantation worker in the camp – passed away in September 2011.

 “My husband was the last one that Grove Farm was waiting for.  Within 29 days after he died they called up ad said they wanted to have a meeting with our family so they could discuss the future of the camp”.

Between the last months of 2011 and March 8, 2012 – Grove Farm’s eviction deadline -- residents like Fernandez have been faced with dilemmas such as how to get a mortgage at age 60 and above, or where to find an affordable rental nearby.

“My whole life is in Koloa: my church, St Raphael, my friends. Unless I can find a rental in Koloa, I will have to move in with my daughter in Kekaha, but it is very crowded,” Fernandez says looking longingly at her home.

When asked about the alternative of buying one of the structures that Grove Farm plans to build, Fernandez says that the pre-fab homes Grove Farm has slated for the site are way out of her price range. She also noted that Grove Farm has been no help in assisting residents with a place to go if they can’t afford the alternative.

“This was a good place to raise the family. Everybody knew one another. When one family would roast a pig for a party, everyone along the street was invited. There aren’t many places like that left on the island.”

Asked if she thought there was a chance for a last minute change of heart on Grove Farm’s part, Fernandez was quick to answer.

“Grove Farm is not going to budge. We have to go. It said so in the newspaper. There is nothing we can do.”

Fresh chalk marks adorn the sidewalk that leads to the front door, evidence that her great grand children were visiting over the President’s Day weekend. “The kids will really miss it here,” says Shayda. “Actually 4 generations will miss it if you count us all.”

 “This is the end of the plantation,” said the elder Fernandez when it came time for me to leave. “Why celebrate Koloa Plantation days when there will be no more plantations? “

And, as a way of life where cultures once intermingled to work the fertile Kauai soil, their descendants now disperse and disappear. The same soil becomes the arena for growth of a different sort -- the lucrative real estate business. And, the “old Hawaii “ that has attracted so many visitors, sinks further into obscurity.

Monday
Mar192012

Giant Land Tortoises are Super Weed-Eaters

For those who love weeding – watch out. You may soon be replaced by a giant tortoise! Giant land tortoises that eat weeds and avoid Kauai’s precious native plants sounds too good to be true, but it is a reality in the Mascarenes, a group of islands in the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar, and is proving to work on Kauai, too.

I had to see this for myself,” said Dr. David Burney, Director of Conservation at National Tropical Botanical Garden, who has introduced two giant tortoises from the Sahara Desert to the native and Polynesian plant nursery at Maha’u’lepu.  “The tortoises don’t touch the native plants. They pull the weeds, apply the fertilizer, and germinate the seeds.”

Burney who has conducted research in Madagascar for more than three decades, learned of reintroducing turtles to island habitats from Owen Griffiths, the biologist and owner of both the La Vanille Crocodile Park and Tortoise Reserve on Mauritius, and the François Leguat Giant Tortoise and Cave Reserve on Rodrigues Island, two places where giant tortoises are clearing weeds so that native species can thrive. Burney, along with his wife Lida Pigott Burney, head of the Makauwahi Cave Reserve landscape restoration project, and Professor James Juvik, chairman of the Geography Department at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, decided the time was right for tortoise weeding in a small, fenced-in portion of the 17 acre reserve where they are growing thousands of native and Polynesian plants.

Juvik, a world authority on tortoises and advisor to the Burney’s, explained why these huge, lumbering reptiles, which have been around for 200 million years and out-lived the dinosaurs, were pretty successful at survival – until humans came around.

“Tortoises have been found in the fossil records of nearly every island and land mass in the world,” said Juvik. “They had a pretty good evolutionary tactic -- having their home on their back and a place to hide in when threatened. Then man came along, flipped them over and their shell became a cooking pot.”

Although the two African spurred tortoises (Geochelone sulcata),  who were brought to Kauai by Juvik, are not a species that once lived on Kauai, they serve a similar function to the Turtle-jawed Moa Nalo (Chelychelynechen quassus) – an extinct flightless duck found in the ancient layers of the Makauwahi Cave that browsed in ways similar to the land tortoises. 

“Kauai never had any land tortoises. So, our strategy is to use these tortoises as a surrogate for this ecosystem,” said Juvik. “The tortoises browse at the same height as the extinct Kauai duck, which probably ate the same plants.”

 Regarding the introduction of another non-native species to Kauai’s ecosystem, Juvik and the Burneys plan to keep these reptilian giants in secure fences – there is no intention to release them into the environment outside their native plant sites.

 "Unlike other detrimental alien species on Kauai -- rats, feral cats and feral goats,” Juvik explains, “the tortoises can be easily recalled if they prove to present some unanticipated negative impact."

 Funding is being sought to bring in additional tortoises of several different sizes and species. For more information or to visit the Makauwahi Cave Reserve emailmakauwahi@gmail.com or call (808) 482-1059.

Take the dirt road that leads past the Grand Hyatt Road,make a right at CJM Stables and park on the grass across from the "Hpwdy Partners" sign. Walk up the dirt road and go left toward the crest of the hill. You will find a marked path, the Makauwahi Cave and Sinkhole, and the foot bridge pictured above. The tortoises are located in the fenced in area of the field just mauka of the bridge. Happy Trails!

Monday
Feb202012

Waimea Town Celebration -- Feb 18 - 25, 2012

The aloha and unique character of the town come together for community events and the largest, held in February, is the Waimea Town Celebration. This year the event is 35 years old and hosts more than 10,000 people in an eight-day flurry of events.

Waimea Town, Kauai is the island's most ancient settlement and a capital from ancient Hawaiian days. Its history encompasses the turbulence of post European contact starting with the first landing in Hawaii of Captain James Cook on his extraordinary voyages of discovery in the Pacific, fur and sandalwood traders, to a dramatic stand-off of King Kamehameha superior forces by Kauai's King Kaumualii that lasted decades, Russian empire builders, to whalers and missionaries, and then to the growth of 19th century agricultural pursuits in rice, cattle and sugarcane bringing people from many nations … Asia, Europe and the United States. They all passed through and made Waimea a port-of-call.

Waimea Mill Site Activities -The old sugar mill site is provided by Kikiaola Land Company. Check out the lei contest and cultural demonstrations at the West Kauai Visitor Center across the street on Friday & Saturday.  Don't forget to collect the latest exclusive t-shirt design for the event. Visitors to the islands will find a family-style atmosphere where they are welcome to share and get to know a community that has been well known for its hospitality long before the anchoring of Cook's ships "Resolution" and "Discovery" in 1778.

 

Events are scattered over eight straight days and a two mile area and include an Hawaiian Outrigger canoe race, Hawaiian Cowboy rodeo events, Film Festival and cultural events at the Historic Waimea Theater, a 2k, 5k and 10k Fun Run, a Mountainball Tournament, and a 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament. The purpose of the Waimea Town Celebration is to give West Kauai schools, clubs and non-profits a chance to raise funds. Many businesses and individuals are involved in preparation, manning booths, and participation. It is an event coordinated and put on by community VOLUNTEERS. Proceeds go towards funding WKBPA civic improvement projects, the Waimea Main Street Program and other WKBPA efforts throughout the year.

Kilohana Long Distance Canoe Race - Saturday, February 18, 2011:

Traditional Hawaiian Outrigger Canoe Racing along the Waimea shoreline. One of the signature events of the WTC and the first event of the Garden Island Canoe Racing Association season. Start times for the races Saturday morning - 9am for women, 10:30 am for men. Finished around 11:30. Visible from the shore at Waimea near the Pier. Race course determined by ocean conditions that morning. Sponsored by American Savings Bank. Hosted by the Kilohana Canoe Club of Waimea. Free for spectators.

Waimea Theater Heritage Days Activities: 2/ 20-23                                                                    This year's focus will be upon the Japanese heritage within our community, with a Japanese Film Festval throughout the day on on Monday, Japanese Dance Performance on Tuesday evening, Japansese storytelling on Wednesday, and a Japanese music recital on Thursday. Live demonstrations of cultural significance will be coordinated at the Waimea Hongwanji Temple and at the Waimea Plantation Cottages. 

12th Annual Waimea Round-Up Rodeo: Friday thru Sunday,  February 24-26, 2012         Events take place behind the old Waimea Dairy (between Waimea & Kekaha, look for signs makai off the highway).Saturday Grand entry and flag ceremony with recognition of the Hall of Fame Cowboys starts at noon and features many of our revered paniolo. Fun events from Steer Roping and Po'owaiu to Barrel Racing. Refreshments available. Bring sunscreens, hats and enjoy the family fun for the afternoon. Admission is $3.00 / under 12 free to benefit the Kaua'i Keiki & High School Rodeo Association. 

Saturday, Feb 25, 2012: 35th Annual Captain Cook Caper Fun Run

10, 5, & 2k Run with a start time of 7am, Saturday morning. (Pre-Registration available at information booth near the stage area Friday night between 4:30 & 10:00 pm. ~ Late registration at 5:30am Saturday at the Waimea Plantation Cottages) Shuttle service to start lines from Waimea Plantation Cottages. Last bus leaves at 6:15 am so be there well in advance to check-in/or register for the race. Race takes place on the Hwy with the start line for 10k race at the Navy Housing Gate, 5k at Kekaha Neighborhood Center, and the 2k at Kikiaola Boat Harbor entrance. Entry fee includes t-shirt. Hosted by the Waimea High School Track Team. Free for spectators. 

Friday & Saturday, Feb 24 & 25, 2012: 13th Annual First Hawaiian Bank Hat Lei Contest    Creativity reigns as children and adults show off their lei contest entries exhibited Friday from noon to 9pm and Saturday, 9am-3:30pm at the West Kaua'i Technology & Visitor Center. Awards ceremony at 3:30pm Saturday.  Entry forms for lei contest available at the Visitor Center. Event sponsored by First Hawaiian Bank, Kaua'i Economic Development Board, County of Kaua'i and the West Kaua'i Business &

 Professional Association. 

Saturday, Feb 25, 2012:15th Annual Ukulele Contest Amateur strummers show their stuff with Hawai'i's favorite stringed instrument on the main stage at the Waimea Town Celebration. Starts at 1 pm. Grand Prize includes a brand new Ukulele! Sign up at the information booth Saturday. Sponsored by Scotty's Music.

Saturday, Feb 25, 2012: 13th Annual Lappert's Ice Cream Eating Contest    Age groups from young to old compete vie for the title of the fastest ice cream eaters in the west in front of the Waimea Town Celebration Stage starting at noon. Sign up at 11:00 am next to WKBPA Stage on Saturday. Limited seating in each category. Contest starts about noon.  

Sunday
Feb052012

Humpback Whale Season is in full swing

LIHU‘E — While taking off from the Lihu‘e Airport on Friday afternoon, a tour pilot and his guests spotted a whale inside Hanama‘ulu Bay.

Ellen Coulombe of Wings Over Kaua‘i responded after being notified of the 1 p.m. sighting and called Mimi Olry, the Kaua‘i Marine Mammal Response Specialist for the Division of Aquatic Resources, Department of Land and Natural Resources.

“The mother and baby whale were moving slowly in the waters just out the jetty, staying on the surface, bobbing up and down, but never diving,” Coulombe said in an email. “Rob Thayer, who moved to Kaua‘i just two years ago, said he had been filming the pair and noted they had moved in and out of the bay at least once, but had remained on the surface most of the time.”

Jean Souza, Kaua‘i Programs Coordinator for the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, said mother-and-calf whales are known to visit areas of shallow water, and during these visits, are not known to dive. She was notified by Olry and was at the Ahukini State Park parking lot observing the crowd that had gathered to view the whales.

“Whales, especially mothers and calves, sometimes visit shallow water,” Souza said, “but to have a visit at Ahukini is rare.”

Olry said several of the viewers were concerned something was wrong with the whales.

“After observing them, it was clear they were not in distress,” Olry said. “They were resting. Mother humpback whales with calves often prefer shallow, protected, near-shore areas and as a result, we’re seeing them resting in places like Hanama‘ulu, or Koloa Landing.”

Olry said the pair stayed for a couple of hours, sometimes submerging for a time and resting.

“The calf entertained all who were viewing. It was playing and slapping its pectoral fins, breaching and rolling onto the top of the mother,” she said.

She estimated the calf to be about 15 feet long and the mother to be about 45 feet.

“Since the mother’s topline was almost all which was observed, everyone was amazed when she ‘pec slapped,’ and ‘pec waved’ her large white 15-foot pectoral fin, people getting an idea of how large she was,” Olry said.

Coulombe said she joined Olry in watching the calf and mother at the Ahukini site.

“We watched them until 4 p.m., at which time the pair returned to the bay and a large crowd formed,” Coulombe said. “At that time, directly in front of us, the mother began slapping the water with her pectoral fin (pec slapping), the baby started breaching followed by the mother breaching. For more than five minutes, they put on a glorious show together, breaching one after the other as if a game was being played, the keiki on the jetty laughing and calling to them. The baby whaled appeared to respond, breaching even higher in what looked like pure delight.”

Olry said she left around 4:30 p.m. to check on a reported seal sighting and Coulombe said people pretty much left about 5 p.m.

The whales were still in the vicinity.

All whales, dolphins and seals are protected by NOAA Fisheries Service under the Mammal Protection Act of 1972. Humpback whales, sperm whales, monk seals and sea turtles are further protected by NOAA Fisheries Service under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 and by the state’s DLNR under Hawai‘i State Law.

Federal regulations prohibit approaching humpback whales within 100 yards when on or in the water, and 1,000 feet when operating an aircraft. This regulation applies to all ocean users year-round throughout the Hawaiian Islands.

So the best way to see whales is by taking a ride on the Wings Over Kauai fleet of aircraft, which will get you up close and personal with these amazing leviathans Call (808) 635-0815.

 

Tuesday
Jan242012

Secret Treasures of the Maha'u'lepu coastline

..."Pass into this ancient world of fossils, artifacts an history, a unique opportunity to experience passage of time and the changes that one area has undergone over the millennia. Learn about extinct creatures, lost landscapes and ancient Hawaiians...."

 

Some have heard of it but many have not. Find your way past the Hyatt and embark on a dirt road. Turn right at the sign for CJM Stables. Make a left at the next dirt road where a sign says "Howdy Pardners".Follow this road until you think you might get stuck, then park. Next, hike along the ridge toward the spectacular Ha'upu Mountain, where the ocean will be at your right and the mountains beyond your left. Pause at an overlook called Pila's Point where views of the coast will steal your breath away.

From Pila's Point you can see all of the Mahaulepu area, the quarry that destroyed one of the largest heiau in all the Hawaiian Islands, and the volcanic spatter cones of Koloa, the last eruptions on Kauai. Midground is the abandoned Koloa Sugar Mill, one of the first plantations in the state.

The Makauwahi Cave Reserve is a 17 acre park created by Dr. David Burney, Director of Conservation at the National Tropical Botanical Garden, and his wife, Lida Pigott Burney, Head of Conservation at the Reserve. Excavations on the cave began in 1992 and restoration of the area's vegetation to pre-human contact times was started in 1999. Since then more than 5,000 native and Polynesian plants have been re-introduced to the landscape, using the fossil record here as a guide to plant choices.

The Sinkhole Overlook is a bit further along the path. A natural amphitheater carved by ground water and carved by the elements, the Makauwahi Cave sinkhole is a collapsed room of this unusual limestone cave, formed from Pleistocene dune sands.

The triail is SELF-GUIDED has 15 markers and begins near CJM stables. The end of the trail meets the only opening into the Makauwahi Cave. Brochures are available at the trail head and give excellent descriptions of the flora and fauna, as well as the many points of interest. Be sure to bring your camera!

Every Sunday, year 'round -- except when a major holiday falls on a Sunday, docents are available to provide GUIDED TOURS of the CAVE from 9 AM - 2PM. 

For more information call (808) 482-1059 or email Lida and David Burney at makauwahi@gmail.com

 

Saturday
Jan072012

Kalaheo Yoga's Ellen Wagner: Entrepreneur with a Heart

Ellen Wagner breaks the mold when it comes to yoga. As the owner of Kalaheo Yoga – a successful yoga studio that caters to students of many yoga traditions– she employs some unusual methods to achieve success in both her business and personal life. 

Work-study scholarships for students who can’t afford class fees, classes offered for donations that are given to charitable causes, in addition to a litany of regular yoga classes – Iyengar, Vinyasa, Kripalu, Yin Yoga, Kundalini, Tai Chi, and African-Inspired dance, taught  by a variety of instructors, are ways that Kalaheo Yoga stand out from the crowd.

Wagner explains that she runs her business based her yoga practice and philosophy. 

 “Yoga philosophy is centered on five ethical guidelines, called yamas which are universal and demand deep self- exploration. With precepts such as restraint, honesty, lack of greed, and non-violence, these teachings are manifested in the yoga postures, and over time allow an awareness to develop that changes the practitioner from the inside out.”, Wagner explains. “This in turn leads to a more joyful and generous heart.” 

With certifications in the 1,000 hour ‘Yoga Instructor” course, and the 500-hour Yoga Alliance approved Integrative Yoga Therapy, Wagner is currently studying to become a First Level Iyengar Instructor. Called IYANUS board certification, it requires two years of study with a mentor and is completed by passing a board exam. 

Wagner, who opened the studio in 2009, also has a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts and is currently teaching 8th grade English at Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School full time. For that reason she says opening and keeping Kalaheo Yoga flowing has been a team effort.

The yoga studio is the culmination of Wagner’s life experiences, and she strives to meet the needs of her students, especially those with physical limitations such as chronic pain.

“The great thing about healing through yoga is that it gives the student a way to heal themselves,” says Wagner who also suffered from a back injury at age 23.

In addition to a lending library in the studio, private sessions and upcoming workshops with Senior Iyengar Instructors, Mary Obenforfer and Eddy Marks on January 13-17 and February 17-21, Wagner explains why she offers a variety of traditional yoga styles rather than ones that cater to the latest fad.

For more information and Kalaheo Yoga class schedules visit www.kalaheo.yoga.com