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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


"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.




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. 


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.


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.


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!


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.  


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.



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



"Ki ho'alu" -- Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar

Hawaiian slack key guitar (ki ho'alu) is one of the world's great acoustic guitar traditions. However, due to Hawai'i's isolation (the islands lie furthest in the world from any major land mass) ki ho'alu remains one of the least known traditions. Ki ho'alu, which literally means "loosen the key," is the Hawaiian-language name for this unique finger-picked style. The strings (or "keys") are "slacked" to produce many beautiful tunings, almost always based on a major tonality and often containing a full major chord, or a chord with a major 7th or 6th note. Each tuning produces a characteristic resonance behind the melody, and each has its own characteristic color and flavor, like a beautiful basket of fruit.

Many Hawaiian songs and slack key guitar pieces reflect themes, such as stories of the past and present, and aloha for loved ones. Hawai'i's tropical surroundings, with its ocean, volcanoes, mountains, waterfalls, forests, plants and animals, provide other deep sources of inspiration for Hawaiian music.

These currents run deep in slack key guitar playing, as accompaniment to vocals, as instrumental compositions, or as instrumental interpretations of vocal pieces. Drawn from the heart and soul out through the fingers, slack key music is sweet and soulful.

Slack key's unique sound comes partly from techniques such as the hammer-on, an ornament produced by plucking a note and immediately fretting that string to produce a second higher tone; and the pull-off, produced by plucking a fretted string and immediately pulling the finger off that fret, sounding a second lower note that is either open or fretted by another finger. For a great example, see Ray Kane's Punahele from his album of the same name. These techniques mimic the yodels and falsettos rooted in ancient chants and common in Hawaiian singing. Other techniques include harmonics ("chimes"), produced by lightly touching strings at certain frets, and slides, in which one or two treble notes are fingered and then slid (usually up in pitch) to sound another note. A beautiful effect is sometimes created when a guitarist is singing and the note or notes on the top pitched strings sound like a second voice. These techniques all enhance the expressions of aloha, joy or longing--sometimes all in the same song.

Like blues guitar, the slack key tradition is very flexible and can have great emotional depth. A guitarist will often play the same song differently each time, sometimes changing tempos, or even tunings. As guitarists learn to play in this very individualistic tradition, they find their own tunings, techniques, arrangements and repertoire.


Today there are four basic types of slack key guitar. Some guitarists play more than one style. The first is simple but profound, most evident in the older playing styles, such as that of the late Auntie Alice Namakelua. The second is a sort of "slack key jazz" with a lot of improvisation and is used prominently in the music of Atta Isaacs, Cyril PahinuiLed KaapanaMoses Kahumoku,George KuoOzzie Kotani and Peter Moon.

The third type creates a unique sound using ornaments like hammer-ons and pull-offs. These techniques are featured on Sonny Chillingworth's Ho'omalu Slack Key, Ray Kane's Punahele, and George Kuo's Kohala Charmarita. Guitarist Manu Kahaialii uses another technique called "Hei Kuikui" on his song So Ti in Eddie Kamae's documentary film THE HAWAIIAN WAY and on Manu's out-of-print album KAAHAIALII MAUI STYLE. In this technique, the left hand holds the chord normally while the right-hand index finger produces a beautiful and unique sound by hammering down on the string and pulling off very rapidly, rather hand plucking it. (The late George Kahumoku, Sr. called this same technique "Ki Panipani.")

The fourth slack key style is performance-oriented and features entertaining visual and sound techniques. These include playing with the forearm, playing with a bag over the fretting hand (as performed by the late Fred Punahoa and his nephew Led Kaapana) and the intriguing needle and thread technique, where the player dangles a needle hanging from a thread held between the teeth across the strings while otherwise playing normally; this creates a sound a bit like a mandolin or a hammered dulcimer. It can be heard on the fourth verse of the song, Wai Ulu, on Sonny Chillingworth's recording SONNY SOLO. This technique can also be seen in two great slack key films: Susan Friedman's KI HO`ALU, THAT'S SLACK KEY GUITAR on the song Kaula 'Ili by Sonny and in Eddie Kamae's THE HAWAIIAN WAY on an improvised piece by slack key guitarist Fil Secratario.


There are different theories about the beginnings of slack key guitar in the Islands. Music is one of the most mobile art forms. European sailors around the beginning of the 19th century possibly introduced Hawaiians to the gut string guitar--ancestor of the modern nylon string guitar.

Mexican and Spanish vaqueros (cowboys), hired by King Kamehameha III around 1832 to teach Hawaiians how to handle an overpopulation of cattle, brought over guitars. In the evenings around the campfire, the vaqueros--many of whom worked on the Big Island, especially around the Waimea region--probably played their guitars, often two or more together with one playing lead melody and the other bass and chords. This new instrument would have intrigued the Hawaiian cowboys, or paniolo, who had their own strong, deep-rooted music traditions. Given the long work hours, however, the Hawaiians probably didn't have time to learn a lot about this new music.

The vaqueros returned to their homelands a few years later and some gave their guitars to the paniolo. Geniuses of assimilation, Hawaiians wove what they had learned of the Mexican and Spanish music into their traditional chants, songs and rhythms and created a new form of music that was completely their own. Unique Hawaiian musical traditions were the dominant force in this guitar music, as they have historically been with other musical influences that have come from the rest of the world. Hawaiian music never stops evolving, and yet it always remains in touch with its deep roots and inspiration.

From the start, slack key guitar became a significant part of the music that the paniolo played after work or with families and friends at gatherings, and this paniolo tradition continues today on the Big Island and Maui. Many guitarists choose to play just for family and friends rather than playing professionally or recording. George Kuo, reflecting on his slack key mentors, points out, "Sometimes the older players would lock into a groove (keep the same tempo and feeling) and stay there all night." This can sometimes be heard in the playing of Ray Kane and Ni'ihau guitarist Malaki Kanahele.

At first there may not have been many guitars or people who knew how to play, so the Hawaiians developed a way to get a full sound from one guitar. They picked the bass and rhythm chords on three or four of the lower-pitched strings with the thumb, while playing the melody or improvising melodic fills on three or four of the higher-pitched strings with the fingers. The gut string guitar introduced by the vaqueros had a very different sound than the steel string guitar, which arrived later, probably brought in by the Portuguese around the 1860s. By the late 1880s, the steel string sound had become very popular with the Hawaiians, and slack key had spread to all of the Hawaiian Islands. To this day the steel string guitar predominates, although slack key artists Keola BeamerOzzie KotaniMoses Kahumoku and Bla Pahinui have also prominently used the nylon string guitar.

Until the mid-20th century, vocals were the most important element of Hawaiian music. The guitar was relegated mainly to a backup role, often grouped with other instruments. Played in a natural, finger-picked style with a steady rhythm, guitar was used as an accompaniment to hula and singing. The guitar usually did not play the exact melody of the song, but played a repeated fragment with improvised variations, often using ornaments such as hammer-ons, pull-offs and harmonics. In the latter half of the 20th century, however, slack key guitarists increasingly played an instrumental verse between some of the vocal verses, sometimes called the pane or answer verse, which had previously been played by the steel guitarist.

Since the 1960s, and especially in the 1990s, Hawaiian slack key guitar has evolved into a highly developed instrumental art form, in both solo and group formats. When played solo, the beautiful and unique intricacies of the slack key guitar can be most fully appreciated, as the music of each master has great depth and individuality.


The slack key tradition was given an important boost during the reign of King David Kalakaua, who was responsible for the Hawaiian cultural resurgence of the 1880s and 1890s. King Kalakaua supported the preservation of ancient music, while encouraging the addition of imported instruments like the 'ukulele and guitar. His coronation in 1883 featured the guitar in combination with the ipu (gourd drum) andpahu (skin drum) in a new dance form called hula ku'i. At his Jubilee in 1886, there were performances of ancient chants and hula. This mixing of the old and new contributed to the popularity of both the guitar and 'ukulele.

King Kalakaua's conviction that the revitalization of traditional culture was at the root of the survival of the Hawaiian kingdom became a major factor in the continuity of traditional music and dance. His influence still shows. This was a great period of Hawaiian music and compositions, when traditional music was actively supported by the monarchy. Kalakaua, along with his siblings W. P. Leleiohoku II, Miriam Likelike and especially Lili'uokalani, composed superb songs that are still well-known today.After King Kalakaua passed away in 1891, he was succeeded by his sister, Queen Lili'uokalani, who was Hawai'i's last monarch. Among her classic pieces areAloha 'OeSanoeKu'u Pua I PaoakalaniPau'ahi O KalaniAhe Lau MakaniHe Inoa No Ka'iulaniManu KapaluluQueen's JubileeQueen's PrayerKa Hanu O Ka Hana KeokiNinipo (Ho'Onipo)TutuHe Ai No KalaniKa Oiwa Nani and many other beautiful songs. These compositions are still deeply part of Hawai'i's music today.

One of Hawai'i's greatest and most prolific present-day song-writers, Dennis Kamakahi, has been deeply inspired by Queen Lili'uokalani. He says, "Queen Lili'uokalani and I have one passion, that is, the passion to write what we see and hear around us and transform these images into music. She has been the inspiration for me to write in the most poetical way, using the Hawaiian language she knew so well." With this inspiration, Dennis has composed many beautiful songs and Hawaiian standards such as Koke'eWahine 'IlikeaPua HoneKe Aloha Mau A MauKaua'i O ManoLei KoeleE HihiwaiE Pupukanioe and Ka Opae.


The most influential slack key guitarist in history was Philip "Gabby" Pahinui (1921-1980). The modern slack key period began around 1946 when Gabby, often referred to as "The Father of The Modern Slack Key Era," made his first recording. Gabby was the prime influence that kept slack key guitar from dying out in the Islands. His prolific and unique techniques led the guitar to become more recognized as a solo instrument. He expanded the boundaries of slack key guitar by creating a fully-evolved solo guitar style capable of creatively interpreting a wide variety of Hawaiian traditional and popular standards, original pieces and even pieces from other cultures. Gabby's beautiful, expressive vocals, especially his incredibly soulful falsetto, have also inspired many musicians.

The Gabby Pahinui Hawaiian Band of the 1970s is a good example of the complex sound that slack key can achieve with multiple guitars. Along with Gabby, this band featured the late great slack key guitarists Leland "Atta" Isaacs, Sr. (1930-1983), Sonny Chillingworth (1932-1994), and Gabby's sons, Cyril and Bla Pahinui. On the band's recordings, each guitarist usually played in a different C tuning (and Bla and Cyril played in D tunings tuned down to the key of C), providing a thick, multi-textured sound.

Gabby's five earliest recordings from the 1940s (78 rpms on Bell and Aloha Records) are especially impressive: Hi'ilawe (twice), Key Khoalu [sic], Hula Medley and Wai O Keaniani. (These have been reissued on THE HISTORY OF SLACK KEY GUITAR.) These recordings inspired and astounded many other slack key guitarists, given the level of Gabby's playing and because each song was in a different tuning. He also made more great recordings in the 1950s for the Waikiki label, which were mostly issued on three different albums: HAWAIIAN SLACK KEY - VOLUME 1, HAWAIIAN SLACK KEY - VOLUME 2 and THE BEST OF HAWAIIAN SLACK KEY. In 1961 the late Dave Guard of the first Kingston Trio, who grew up in Hawai'i and was inspired by Gabby, produced the beautiful album PURE GABBY, which was eventually released in 1978.

The release of several great slack key albums in the 1960s by Leonard KwanRay Kane, Atta Isaacs and Gabby Pahinui on Margaret Williams' Tradewinds label further increased the awareness and popularity of slack key guitar. These four artists, plusSonny Chillingworth, recorded in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, and influenced all the younger slack key guitarists. The next generation's three most influential slack key guitarists issued their own first recordings in the 1970s: Keola Beamer (solo and with his brother Kapono), Led Kaapana with his trios Hui 'Ohana and I Kona), and Peter Moon (with his groups The Sunday Manoa and the Peter Moon Band). Leonard, Ray and Sonny (until his death in 1994), continued to record and influence many others into the 1980s and 1990s.


Since the early 1970s (often called the era of the Hawaiian Renaissance), Hawaiians have increasingly looked to their cultural roots, and because of this, slack key guitar has steadily grown in popularity. The Hawaiian Music Foundation, founded by Dr. George Kanahele, did much to increase awareness through its publications, music classes and the sponsoring of concerts, including the landmark, first ever slack key concert in 1972.

The slack key tradition is now at its peak. Currently, there are several annual slack key festivals held in the Islands. More slack key guitar recordings are now available throughout the world. More guitarists are giving concerts more frequently in and outside of Hawai'i, including on the Mainland, in Japan and in Europe. Additionally, slack key is gaining recognition in more institutional music settings. In 1998, Ozzie Kotani gave the first ever solo instrumental slack key recitals. With these developments, and with the techniques and influences of today's players expanding the range of slack key guitar, the future looks bright for ki ho'alu. It is a testament to the depth of the slack key traditon that it is one of the oldest music traditions to still be a viable (other than just historical) part of a modern culture, like Irish dance music and Spanish Flamenco guitar.


Waimea Plantation Lifestyle Tour

Exploring one of the furthest west towns on Kauai is a real treat -- if you know what you are looking for!

Rich in history and local culture -- including Hawaiian, Paniolo, Portuguese, German, Japanese and Filipino -- Waimea is one of the most "local" places on the island of Kauai. 

Waimea Bay was the historic location of white man's first visit to Kauai. In 1778,  Captain James Cook anchored in Waimea Bay at the mouth of the Waimea River and "discovered" the "Sandwich Islands", later to be called Hawaii.

The ruling family of Kauai King Kaumuali'i and his large, extended family and court, lived and worshiped in Waimea -- one of the most populated areas of the island before the missionaries arrived.

Boasting a hospital, clinic, nursing home, fire and police station and home of the Waimea High School Red Raiders, Waimea is one of the few remaining places that exemplify "the old style Hawaii".

Gateway to Koke'e State Park and Waimea Canyon, Waimea town has an array of visitor amenities and services, too, and they feature an old-timey, country feel.

These include a comfy old art deco theater, a brew pub, two grocery stores, fast food ala Subway, a small resort property and a valley once inhabited by Meneheunes -- an industrious tribe of ancient ancestors who were overcome by later Polynesian immigrations. Be sure to check out the road leading up Waimea Valley where examples of their handiwork can be seen in the Meneheune Ditch.

To join an informative tour of Waimea Town go to the West Kauai Technology and Visitor's Center. Every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, volunteer guides greet visitors at the Center, where a permanent museum exhibit of Waimea's past is always on display, to conduct walking tours of the area.

Volunteer guides lead walking tours through the Waimea Plantation Cottages and the Waimea Sugar Company "camp" houses, which date from the turn of the century.

Tours take approximately 90 minutes and are limited to 12 people. Call for times: (808) 337-1005.

Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and bring sunscreen.

After the tour there are several great restaurants including  Obsessions, the Waimea Brew Pub and Wranglers Steak House.

The Shrimp Station serves up delicious shrimp dishes. For an ideal souvenir visit  Aunty Lilikoi, who cooks up her delicious jams and jellies on the street mauka of Capt. Cook's statue.

And, if you have never tried "Shave Ice" now is your chance. It is a Hawaiian delicacy! 

Also, don't miss "Collectibles"  a fun shop for trinkets and souvenirs.

Take a walk to the Waimea Pier to see what the locals are catching, then stop by the Russian Fort on the way out of town.

Aloha 'Oe!



"Hands On" cultural workshop teaches about the real Hawaii

Na Lima Hana means many hands working, as this four-day event presents a multitude of cultural and health practitioners offering activities, demonstrations, entertainment and learning experiences.

Literally, many hands are working to teach and learn these fascinating skills. Learn all about lei-making, weaving with endemic plants, salt-making, drum-making, lomi lomi (traditional massage), lauhala weaving, kapa (tapa) making, carving, ancient chants, hula kahiko and the uses of kalo (taro).

Enjoy Hawaiian food and entertainment too. As part of the Na Lima Hana Festival, an ANA Grant workshop will take place (Oct. 26, 27 and 28) as well as a Hawaiian cultural conference organized by the HHLA Kauai on October 28. Many events are free of charge to the public.

Take part in hands-on demonstrations and learning sessions about Hawaii's rich cultural traditions, crafts and health practices including Hawaiian entertainment and food.

This year's theme, "kumu honua," means learning by going back to the source. All cultural practionners will convey the original sources of their knowledge, explaining how a particular cultural skill, craft, practice or tradition was taught to them; what was their source.

The Na Lima Hana Festival combines the former Hawaiiana Festival, which is about Hawaiian cultural practices and arts, and the former Malama Ola Festival, which is about health and healing practices.

Enjoy Hawaiian food and entertainment too. Many events are free of charge to the public.

Events are partially sponsored by the Hawaii Tourism Authority and Kauai County.

The Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa is located in the Poipu Beach area of Kauai.  For more information, contact "Aunty" Stella Burgess, director of Hawaiian culture and community afrairs, Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa 808.240.6369 or stella.burgess@hyatt.com.  For a complete listing of events, visit or click on link:http://nalimahana.net


Halloween at the Kauai Humane Society 

There is a wonderful non-profit organization on Kauai that is close to the hearts of many islanders: The Kauai Humane Society (KHS). 

"We’re glad you’re here. It’s because of our caring community we are able to provide refuge for Kauai’s neglected, abandoned and abused animals, " says Pam Woolway, Volunteer Coordinator for the organization.

" If it weren’t for compassionate folks like you supporting us since 1952, we wouldn’t be able to achieve our mission to strengthen our bond with our pets as well as provide informed care for all of Kauai’s animals."

As a volunteer cat cuddler and aspiring dog photographer, I see a lot of visitors to Kauai stopping in to the shelter because they miss their pets at home. Visitors to Kauai are welcome and encouraged to visit the shelter pets and spread a little island Aloha.

The shelter also features a lovely dog-walking park called "Freddy's Dog Park" and the KHS is currently letting interested parties buy trees or gazebos to beautify the landscaping of the park.

Information about this program and other ways you can help the shelter -- or just to find out what time visiting hours are -- can be accessed at the Kauai Humane Society's website www.kauaihumane.org 

Although bringing animals to Hawaii requires a strict quarantine time period -- and this service is offered by the Kauai Humane Society -- there are no restrictions on taking a pet back to the Mainland with you as a souvenir of Kauai or a loving, living momento of the island. 

This little fellow at left, "Midnight Juju Jamal" came home with me on August 28, 2011. He is learning to travel places with me on his leash and I have featured him prominently on my Facebook Page on many occasions.

I also just adopted a playmate for Juju named Kumo Kerfluffel, a huge ball of snowy white fur with tabby stripes and a fluffy raccoon-like tail.

He and Juju were cage mates at the Humane Society in the past and they are getting along very well together.

We are going to build a nice backyard cat run for the boys that has a cat door that leads from the outdoor shower area to the bird-filled backyard -- all enclosed for everybody's safety!

I'll keep you posted with photos and blogs.

Until then...



See Kauai by Airplane with Wings Over Kauai

I recently had the opportunity to be a passenger on a photo shoot that Bruce and Ellen Coulombe, the owners of Wings Over Kauai  Air Tours, were commissioned to do of the Pioneer Seed Corn Company's fields on the west side of Kauai.

Taxiing out the runway on this mild tradewind day of crystal clear skies and few cotton ball clouds, my excitement mounted.

It had been at least a year since I was in the air -- way too long for someone who was working on a private pilot's license many years past.

Our view of Nawiliwili Harbor and Carter's Point -- the end of the Ha'upu Mountain Range -- was unrivaled both in the afternoon colors and the clarity of the cooperative weather.

 On board also was Kyle Brown, a local conservationist and  kayak enthusiast, who regaled us with tales of kayaking along this jagged coast, where all forms of radio communication cease to exists at sea level, and where the best spot is to beach a boat at Kipu Kai.

In the distance Waita Resevior glistened  like a large cauldron of green pea soup near the cluster of buildings and houses that comprise Koloa Town.

Having just kayaked a short time before from Koloa Landing to Port Allen Boat Harbor, Ellen, Kyle and I were particularly interested in the Palama's Beach.

This segment of coast and the strange body of water called Nomilo Fishpond that is located smack dab next to the ocean below the McBryde coffee fields that stretch from Port Allen to Lawai Valley.

This geological feature is thought to be a fresh water pond that has occurred in an extinct volcanic crater, and is also believed to be connected to volcanic activity on the Big Island.

Banking over the mist enshrouded canyons of Olokele and Hanapepe, we flew over the prescribed crop fields and whatched a lazy stream of nice sized waves peel onto the break at Pakala's.

This might not have been an official tour, but Wings is standing by to give you the ride of your life. For reservations call (808) 635-0815.

"Bruce and I were just remarking that we have had about one of the most beautiful flying weeks ever here on Kauai, light winds, gorgeous sunny skies, and passing showers that only enhance, rather than inhibit, our flying experience, " said Ellen after the flight.

"Things have slowed down a bit since the Labor Day rush and we have one or two openings just about every day this week.  So if you find yourself on Kauai with some extra time on your hands please just give us a call or text or email - we would love to share this beautiful island with all of you.

"If you are not yet here and planning ahead and have any questions about Kauai, how it all works, what is fun to see and do, just ask, and although we haven't experienced everything yet in our 15 years of living here, we have dabbled a bit.  Anyway, we'd love to try and help."


Sail Kayaking along the South Shore

Ocean kayaking is an exhilarating, challenging endurance sport for the brave at heart. So what were we thinking when we decided to kayak Kauai's south coast from Koloa Landing, Poipu and paddle to the Port Allen Small Boat Harbor, a distance of 7.8 miles?

Kyle Brown would take us. 

Eddie Aikau is turning in his watery grave as he hears us chant "Kyle would go! Kyle would go!" Brown, an avid adventurer and outdoor enthusiast, who volunteers on conservation teams to save the forest, to help archaeologists dig, and to save endangered Monk Seals, had been asking us if we would accompany him on a open ocean paddle somewhere in our neck of the woods, which happens to be close to Poipu.

Logistics are key in a one way sail and we spotted a car at Port Allen then took Kyle's truck with the boats to Koloa Landing - the perfect spot to launch a couple of kayaks. Kyle and I opted for the two man, while Ellen Coulombe (owner of Wings Over Kauai Air Tours) was delegated to a light weight one man kayak with a rudder. She was on her way to Tahiti before we even got launched, remarking how fast and easy the one man kayak was to manoeuvre.

We waited for Ellen to rejoin us closer to shore but far enough out to avoid the backs of some nice sized rollers going humpity bumpity along the reef. With a nice 10 knot trade wind breeze over our right shoulders, we scooted past Spouting Horn and soon arrived just outside the bay that fronts the Allerton area of the National Tropical Botanical Gardens. This is the real Lawai Beach.

Several huge Green Sea Turtles popped to the surface to check us out along the way. Sea cliffs below the McBryde coffee fields made up the coast until we came to Palama's Beach.  Here, a fish aggregating buoy is anchored in waters just off Kalanipuao Rock, a point marked by a shrine with an owl statue on it. The Palama's are an old Hawaiian family with ties to Walter McBryde, who owned McBryde Sugar Company, and who granted the family this ocean side parcel.

Behind and west of Palama's Beach an ancient volcanic crater rims the landscape above the ocean with high conical walls that once housed an ancient heiau. Sloping downward into a brackish pond called Nomilo Fish Pond, this geological feature is said to be tied into volcanic activity on the Big Island, possibly by deep tubes running through the tectonic plate near the volcanic hot spot.

Just off the crater our wind was perfect for rigging up the kayak sail that Kyle purchased. I was skeptical at first, but my old windsurfing skills kicked in and soon we were flying along the sea, surfing the backs of the huge rollers with many hoots and hollers. Not wanting to be left behind, Ellen tried out the sail on her one-man kayak and we held on to her for the ride.

All was well until I accidentally let go of Ellen's kayak and she slipped away but only for a few minutes! A nice squall and some rainy gusts gave us further momentum and we soon could make out the cliff faces near Waihiawa Quarry Beach and Glass Beach near the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative's electric generating plant. Please be horrified to note that Kauai's entire electrical grid is run by using diesel fuel. It is one of the most expensive means of generating power known to man.

With only a short way to go, we sailed and paddled around the long jetty that protects Port Allen large boat harbor and headed in to the small boat ramp. It was a glorious trip! Including shuffling cars the entire trip took about 5 hours.

Kyle can assist those interested in ocean kayak trips. Please email ellen.coulombe@gmail.com  for more information and write KYLE KAYAK TRIPS in subject line.



Sorry for a gap in events....it was a sad month

On August 27, 2011 my BFF (Best Furry Friend) passed on to the next realm. Born around September 11, 1998 this beautiful boy, who came to me as a bottle-fed kitten, lived his entire life here on the Nanakai Place Cul de Sac, where the Hale O Nanakai Bed & Breakfast is located.

Sparky was a true gentleman and an accomplished mouser. Here in Hawaii it is common for residents to leave our rubber "slippahs" just outside the front door.  My dear Sparky-cat, saw my slipper as a perfect receptacle for a tiny mouse carcass, so he placed it right in my slipper so I wouldn't miss it. What a treat!

For some reasons cats seem to tune in to me, and I to them, a bit more intimately than I do with some other species. Sparky knew my moods and rejoiced when I was happy, and brought me geckos and live doves when I was upset or sad. He was there for me, day and night, for 13 years, through numerous jobs, 2 marriages, one divorce, the death of both my parents and 9/11.

Each cat has its own personality and Sparky will always be remembered for his adorable and incessant demands to have his whiskers brushed on every possible occasion. In the mornings, as I was rushing to get ready for work, he would stand on his hind legs on the counter, reach both paws up to the hairbrush and grasp it,  and demand a rake of the bristles across his whiskers before I could finish my own hair!

Sparky was a great conversationalist and we had many philosophic discussions over the years. He would greet me in the driveway when I came home, walk with me to pick up the mail, and catch me up on all the neighborhood gossip while I was away.

Because of his love of "nookying", someone eventually bought him a special fur pillow and a fur mat to appease the kittenish instinct of pawing with tiny claws to receive milk from mama-cat. This boy never stopped kneading soft, fluffy objects and body parts from kitten hood on through old age. I often had pin pricks in my skin from his happy claws, and didn't mind it a bit!

Another unique thing was the fact that I never once saw Sparky's tail bushed out when frightened or confronted by a dog. He was hip, slick and cool and bad boys don't get bushy tails. His tail was always beautiful and thick with silver blue fur like his coat.

Some claim that cats are rather useless despite the fact that they catch vermin. All of my cats have had a very important purpose -- one that no other creature on this green earth could fulfill. Unconditional love. Complete acceptance and tolerance. Enduring companionship. Warmth. Friendship. A bit of food and kitty litter is a very small price to pay for the gift of a cat like Sparky.

As much as I loved Sparky-cat throughout his life, I don't think I ever really imagined how much he loved me until he was ready to say goodbye.  Then I realized that Sparky loved me even more than I had loved him -- if that could even be possible. 

I post this final photo of the divine energy that exists in this world, and that is called LOVE. Sparky knew it. I know it. I hope you find it, too.