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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


East Kauai's Rugged Coastline beckons the Adventurer

The spectacular east coast near Kealia up toward Anahola shows Kauai in all of its rugged splendor.

This time, ditch the bike and hoof it. Park at the marked parking area just off Highway 56 past the entrances to the zillion dollar Kealia Kai development where you will see a  green and white hiking and parking sign.

Follow the bike path to the left. Where the bike path ends, several dirt paths lead toward a northerly hillside. Take the one closest to the tiny cove and you will traverse through long cane grass until you come to a very old gate.

This was the old road to Anahola – once part of the Kealia Plantation’s road and railway system.  Since the Kealia Kai development, there are no longer roads to access the coastline. However, there are roads that begin in Anahola in the hawaiian Homelands district. When you pop out of the overgrowth a dirt road leads to the right.

This is a spectacular secret and secluded cove, excellent for snorkeling and viewing wildlife – including this young monk seal (pictured at right). This bay lies between Ahihi and Anapalau Points and were the Kamalomaloo Stream once drained.

Snorkeling from the small sandy side of the cove to the northern side is the best bet as currents tend to run strongly from north to south. There are numerous gigantic coral heads and ancient, rusty railroad ties, whispering from the watery depths about the history of the area. The southern side of the cove has poor visibility due to sediment degradation, but it is an excellent swimming spot.

Traversing the dirt road further north there is another bay where the beach meets steep walls of sand and red dirt, almost as if it has been scoured out. Could this be the work of our recent tsunami?

Return to the bike path along ancient Hawaiian coastal trails and drink in many beautiful viewpoints all along the coast back toward Donkey Beach and Paliku Point.


"Up the Mountain" Waimea Canyon Drive to Koke'e State Park

Everyone who visits Kauai makes the trip to Waimea Canyon and Koke'e State Park. Here is a road map of sorts for the "malahini" (Hawaiian for newcomer) that provides all the tips you need to have a safe and enjoyable trek to the mountain!

After driving through Waimea Town, be on the lookout for the skeleton of the old sugar mill on the left side of the road. Directly across the road from the old mill you will see a church with a white steeple and the West Kauai Techno Center (pictured above). An approaching sign shows Route 550 is coming up on the right, and THAT'S THE ROAD YOU WANT. Ignore the green and white sign that says "Waimea Canyon 3 miles ahead". The second road is not nearly as pretty as taking the Waimea Canyon Drive, or Route 550.

Now you are ready for a real treat as you explore numerous unmarked scenic outlooks. Be sure to stop at each one for a multitude of different views and you will notice that the scenery gets more dramatic with each 500 feet you go.

The top of the mountain boasts an elevation of 3500 feet of cool, misty, windswept forest and canyon uplands. The clouds skim the sky so quickly that it feels like the weather is changing every five minutes.

Here is one such view at left. Waimea Canyon and Koke'e Park are favorite hunting spots for many local people who feed their families on the bounty of the mountain. Local hunters hunt wild boar, deer, goats, and grouse, pheasant and ercol franklins. But don't worry! The hunting areas are far, far away from the trails and any wayward animals are just as afraid of you as you might be of them.

About mid-way up the mountain is the Waimea Canyon Lookout, a large paved parking lot with ramps and a walkway up to a canyon overlook.

Next  on your journey is the Puu Hinahina Lookout on the right. Spectacular views of the canyon can be seen from here, and those planning to hike the Canyon Trail can see what is in store. Continue on 550 and pass Mile Marker 14. You will see rental cars parked on both the right and left sides of the road. This is where you will park to hike trails located in the valley below. Take Halemanu Road on the right down into the valley to find the Canyon Trail, the Black Pipe, the Halemanu-Kokee Trail, Kumuwela Trail and Waininiua. 

Next stop is the Koke'e Lodge and the Koke'e Natural History Museum. At the Lodge hungry hikers can enjoy a hearty lunch and some cold beer. Don't pass up the Portuguese Bean Soup and cornbread.

The Koke'e Museum has great gifts and every possible book you could ever want on all subjects pertaining to Hawaii, with special emphasis on ecology, history, botany and culture. Be sure to enjoy the numerous roosters who wait outside these establishments waiting for a hand out. The roosters and chickens themselves make excellent souvenirs and any tourist so inclined to take one home will be much obliged by the locals. In fact, please take two!

From the great meadow in front of the Museum and Lodge many trails are accessible, including the Nualolo Trail and the gateway to the Alakai Swamp accessible from Mohihi Camp 10 road which begins across from the meadow at the Camp Sloggett sign. Be sure to take only 4-wheel drive vehicles on Camp 10 road as it can get very muddy, and there are no tow trucks on the mountain, no Onstar, heck, there isn't even cell phone service. So be careful!

Continuing on, note the sign for the Discovery Center, where you can access Water Tank Trail and Puu Kahoelo-Berry Flats trail.

Stay on what is left of Rte. 550, as it begins to have some epic potholes -- some large enough to consume a small rental car! Awa'awa'puhi Trail will be the next point of interest. It is marked by a trail sign on the left side of the road. This 2.8 mile forested trail pops out on the ridgeline at approximately 1000 feet below with insane views of Nu'alolo and Awa'awa'puhi Valleys on the Na Pali Coast.

Continue a bit further and you will come to the first Kalalau Lookout.

There is a large parking area and comfort station. Bask your eyes on the grandeur below the promenade railing for a sight that is not equaled anywhere else on earth. Often there will be clouds and mists covering the view, but be patient and give it 15 minutes. Often the valley below will peak out for a shorttime before the mists envelope it once again. Kalalau Valley is the last stop on the rugged Kalalau trail - a 12 mile hike that takes on average 8 - 16 hours each way. It is onlyaccessible from the northern coast at Kee Beach.

Across Rte. 550 from the first Kalalau Lookout is the Kalauapuhi Trail, a level, short trek through native upland forest. There is only one other place to go on the road to Koke'e and that is to the end of the road and the last Kalalau Lookout. This spot has an interesting history as you will find out when you begin to hike down the Pihea Trail, whcih begins here. Someone got the bright idea that they would build a road from Koke'e to the North Shore and they began bull-dozing and excavating. What the ended up with was a big mess because it was way to wet to make a road. The Pihea Trail, however, has the largest assortment of endemic birds and plant speces than on any other trail in the park. Pihea leads to the Alakai SAwamp Trail and there are intersections with Kawaikoi Stream Trail that leads down into Sugi Grove.


Nine holes for $9 and a lot more!

Kukuiolono Golf Course and Park is located within walking distance from Hale O Nanakai. It is a picturesque nine hole golf course and driving range atop Kalaheo's highest mountain, which was flattened by the Army Corps of Engineers during World War II, allowing the course to carpet the verdant landscape like a Oriental carpet.

Nine holes cost $9, club rental is $9, and add a golf cart for another $9. Pull carts are only $3. For the driving range, where you can send balls hurtling toward the Port Allen Harbor below, it only costs $2 for a bucket of balls and $1 for a golf club.

The Kukuiolono Golf Course is open 365 days a year. The gates open around 6:45 AM and first tee time is 7 AM. Last tee is 4:30 PM, but be sure to finish up before the gates close at 6PM sharp. Use of the course is on a  "first come, first serve" basis. The busiest times of the day are between 8:30 AM and 11 AM, with average wait time between 1/2 and 1 hour.

There is a snack shop on the premises with tasty breakfast and lunch fare at reasonable prices. Along the course there are rest stops including a covered picnic pavilion overlooking the South Shore, a Japanese Garden, rain shelters, several restrooms and drinking fountains.

Ample parking is available at the club house. There are also parking spots by the Japanese Gardens and just inside the entry gate, where many local residents jog and walk their dogs on two loop trails through the woods.

While there are some very fancy golf courses on Kauai, Kukuilono tops the rest through its spectacular 360 degree views of the ocean and mountains, not to mention the "local-style" hospitality of the club staff and the gardeners, many of whom have worked at Kukuiolono for decades.



Kauai is Just Fine -- Tranqil Surf & Fresh Tradewinds Abound

Thousands of Kaua‘i residents and visitors exhaled a collective sigh of relief Friday morning after receiving the “all clear.”

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center initially forecast a 6-foot wave rolling into Kaua‘i with the potential to cause serious devastation to coastal areas. When it arrived in its weakened state just after 3 a.m., a modest bump in sea levels was recorded.

Reports of 6- to 8-foot waves were received from Hanalei, county officials said. Port Allen reported waves coming in 2 feet above the pier. Unusual wave activity was also reported at Keoneloa Bay in Po‘ipu and at Nawiliwili Harbor.

Public works road crews cleared sand that had apparently been washed across Lawa‘i Road in the vicinity of the Lawa‘i Beach Resort, county officials said.

The most severe damage in the Isles was reported at boat harbors on Maui and Big Island.

The Associated Press reported that on the western shore just off Kailua Kona, firefighters spotted a floating home in Kealakekua Bay and seven others damaged by at least one large wave, said Quince Mento with the Hawai‘i County Civil Defense Agency. Buildings 11 miles north in Kailua Kona on the Big Island also suffered extensive damage.

No Harmful Radiation Expected in Hawaii 

On March 18, the Environmental Protection Agency said that air monitoring readings taken in Hawaii show no elevated levels of radiation.

On March 17, President Obama reiterated to all Americans that no harmful levels of radiation are expected to reach Hawaii, the West Coast, or the Pacific Territories as a result of damage to nuclear plants in Japan.

In addition, experts, most notably U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko, have repeatedly declared that there is no evidence indicating that Hawaii is in any danger.Finally, Governor Abercrombie echoed the President’s and NRC’s assessment in his statement issued March 17.

The U.S. Coast Guard reported Friday morning that Kaua‘i fared the best among the Hawaiian islands. So, if you have reservations or are planning a Hawaii vacation or business trip in the future, there is no need to change your plans.


National Tropical Botanical Gardens - Allerton Site

Once a retreat of Hawaii's Queen Emma, the cliffs of the Lāwa`i Valley still cascade with her favorite deep-purple bougainvillea. Come delight your senses in this garden of beauty, a masterpiece of landscape design and a natural showcase for tropical plants. Behold the seemingly ancient Jurassic trees. Stroll through outdoor 'rooms', beside rippling pools and dramatic sculpture. Drink in the sights and sounds of fascinating plants, vibrant flowers, and flowing water. Taste the flavor of Europe blended with the spirit of Hawai‘i.

Allerton Garden extends along the banks of the Lāwa‘i Stream where the valley narrows before opening onto the Pacific Ocean. The earliest history of Allerton Garden was intermingled with the upper part of the Lāwa‘i Valley that is now the McBryde Garden. Both were integral to the ahupua`a (land division) of Lāwa‘i. It was not until well after the arrival of the first Europeans in the late 1700s and the subsequent changes to the traditional Hawaiian way of life that the history of the lower Lāwa‘i Valley began to diverge from that of the upper valley.

Lāwa‘i Valley was granted to James Young Kanehoa in 1848. He was the son of John Young, an advisor to Hawaii’s King Kamehameha I. Kanehoa willed a third of the land to his niece Queen Emma when he died and she received the rest of it in 1885 from Kanehoa’s widow, Hikoni. She first visited Lāwa‘i on a tour of the kingdom with her husband Liholiho, King Kamehameha IV. After the death of her husband and young son the Queen retreated to Lāwa‘i. She planted rose apples, Alexandrian laurel, mangoes, bamboo, pandanus, ferns, and bougainvillea on the valley cliffs. Some of these plants still grace the Allerton Garden today.

The McBryde family, who owned a significant amount of agricultural land on the southwest side of the island, leased the Lāwa‘i Valley from Queen Emma, who reserved for herself the cottage and surrounding land. They purchased the property outright from her estate in 1886. The upper valley was intensively cultivated in sugar cane, while taro and rice were grown in the lower portion by tenant farmers. In 1899 the lower valley was conveyed to Alexander McBryde. He lowered one of Queen Emma’s cottages to the valley floor and lived in it for many years. Alexander planted palms, gingers, plumerias, and ferns in gardens along the beach. By 1930 most of the small-scale agriculture in the lower valley had decreased and the tenant farmer population had declined.

In 1938 McBryde sold the property to Robert Allerton. Allerton was the only son of a Mayflower descendant who had made his fortune in Chicago in livestock, banking, and real estate. After spending five years studying art in Europe, Allerton concluded that he would never be successful as an artist and he returned to Chicago. He became an avid art collector and patron. He also became fascinated by landscape architecture and set about planning a series of formal gardens and settings for statues at “The Farms” in Monticello, Illinois. 

Allerton met John Gregg, a young architectural student at the University of Illinois, who he eventually adopted. The two men traveled the world on collecting trips, purchasing works of art and getting new inspiration for the gardens. On their way home to Illinois from a collecting trip in the Pacific in 1937, the Allertons visited Kaua‘i and were captivated with the lower portion of the Lāwa‘i Valley. They purchased the property. In 1938 they moved into their new home, which was designed by John Gregg. They called the property “Lāwa‘i-kai” (kai is the Hawaiian word for “near the sea.”)

Robert Allerton and John Gregg immediately began designing and laying out the gardens, continuing to include exotic plants as Alexander McBryde had done. They enlarged the gardens with plants they collected in Southeast Asia and the Pacific and they introduced classic statuary that they collected as well.

In the 1960s Robert joined with a group of organizations and individuals committed to establishing a tropical botanical garden for the United States. Together they petitioned Congress and in 1964, the last year of Robert Allerton’s life, the charter was granted to establish the Pacific Tropical Botanical Garden. A gift from Robert to the fledgling institution made possible the purchase of land adjacent to the Allerton Garden, which became part of its first garden (now known as the McBryde Garden).

John Gregg Allerton inherited Lāwa‘i-kai and continued to live there. He often extended impromptu invitations to those on NTBG’s public tours to venture into his garden for a personally guided visit. John passed away in 1986, leaving the estate in trust. The National Tropical Botanical Garden formally assumed management of the Allerton Garden for the Allerton Gardens Trust in the early 1990s.

No history of the Allerton Garden would be complete without the mention of Hideo Teshima, who grew up in the Lāwa‘i Valley and was employed by the Allertons at age 14.  Hideo eventually became superintendent of the garden under the direction of the NTBG and served in that capacity until his death in 2001. The impresssion that Teshima left on the garden is deep, including the creation of the Palmetum, which is named in his honor.


Great Wedding Locations Nearby Hale O Nanakai

Hale O Nanakai's ideal location on the beautiful South Shore of Kauai offers an array of perfect spots for that intimate wedding! Whether it is a beachside wedding you want, or a small informal setting  in the Japanese Garden at KukuiolonoPark, your perfect little wedding can become a reality with the least amount of fuss.  

Getting your Marriage License on Kauai is quick and easy. There are several Health Department Agents on Kauai who are authorized to issue your Marriage License. To make an appointment for your Marriage License,  (808)274-3100 or Sandy in Poipu at (808)332-7133. Bring your MARRIAGE LICENSE APPLICATION, your ID's such as Drivers' License or Passport, and $60.00 Marriage License processing fee (cash only).

Those that are charging for services (wedding planners, ministers, entertainers, etc.) to perform weddings and vow renewals on State beaches will need to get a Right of Entry (ROE) permit from the Dept. of Land & Natural Resources. The Bride or Groom do NOT need to get that permit - those you are hiring are responsible for securing the proper permit. It is quick and easy to get the permit and costs only around $20.

Hawaii is also now the 7th State in the U.S. to have legalized Civil Unions, effective January 1, 2012. Why not combine you wedding and honeymoon all in one?

Here is a short rundown on beautiful wedding locations near Hale O Nanakai:

Kukuiolono Park - Japanese Garden

  Located within walking distance of Hale O Nanakai B&B is the beautiful Kukuiolono Park,where a magnificently landscaped Japanese Garden is a favorite of discerning couples. Weddings may be conducted here between 8am and 4pm for a cost of $60 for a two hour event.

A nearby pavilion overlooking the majesty of Haupu Mountain, the vast Pacific Ocean, the South and West Shores and McBryde's emerald coffee fields serves as an ideal spot for your reception. It has picnic tables under and plantation style, open air structure with restrooms and breath taking views and is surrounded by meticulously landscaped flowering trees and plants.

The area has a unique and special history. It was once the site of an ancient Hawaiian temple (or heiau) and there are still some stone icons in the garden, including a "mirror" and a fish god, left over from that era. The mountaintop was also the site of a signal fire that alerted warriors from Mahaulepu to Waimea of invasions from the ocean.

 Mahaulepu Beaches
If you don't mind a bumpy dirt road ending in a dirt parking lot, then a short flat trail to the beach, this is a gorgeous private setting on the South side for a morning or sunset wedding. If you are slightly adventurous and want a beautiful, uncrowded spot, there are are many spots to choose from.. high on a lithified cliff overlooking the ocean or on a secluded beach.

Poipu Beach Park
Grassy area, golden sand, picnic shelters, tables, restrooms. Too crowded in afternoon, evening. Less crowded early morning. How about a wedding just after dawn?

Shipwreck BeachLocated near Poipu Kai Resort and Hyatt Regency Kauai Resort, this is a convenient and popular beach wedding location.

Hale O Nanakai is working with local lei makers, wedding officinators, musicians and caterers to help guests with small wedding parties to experience the best Kauai has to offer in the area of blissful nuptials.

We also reccomend, proposing to your partner, or taking a celebratory private air tour of Kauai compliments of Wings Over Kauai.


The Waimea Town Celebration: Rodeo, Races, Music, Crafts & Beer

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. 

34th Annual Waimea Town Celebration happens on Friday & Saturday, February 25 & 26, 2011

 Continuous island entertainment with loads of food, craft & game booths, beer garden, contests and lots of sporting events. At the Old Waimea Sugar Mill, the fun starts on Friday at 4:30pm and on Saturday at 10 am. Free entertainment until 11 pm, both nights. Saturday events include a fun run, canoe race, rodeo, ukulele contest, ice cream eating contest. Check out the lei contest and cultural demonstrations at the West Kaua'i Visitor Center Friday & Saturday. More information can be obtained by calling the Waimea Visitor Center at (808) 338-1332 or PR Chris Faye (808) 337-1005. 

Mountain Ball Tournament Friday, Saturday & Sunday February 25-27

Great play starting at 6pm Friday at the Waimea Athletic Field on the corner of Huakai and Hwy 50. Action resumes at 8am on Saturday & Sunday at Waimea Athletic Field and H.P. Faye Park in Kekaha. No admission for spectators.

 34th Annual Captain Cook Caper Fun Run Saturday, Feb 2610, 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.

 Kilohana Long Distance Canoe Race - Due to scheduling problems, the Kilohana Canoe Race is being held one week early this year, on Sat, Feb 19th

 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. 

14th Annual Ukulele Contest Saturday, Feb 26, 2011

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.

12th Annual First Hawaiian Bank Hat Lei Contest Friday & Saturday, Feb 25 & 26, 2011

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.

11th Annual Waimea Round-Up Rodeo Friday & Saturday February 25 & 26, 2011

Events take place behind the old Waimea Dairy (between Waimea & Kekaha, look for signs makai off the highway). Friday Slack / Elimination Roping from 2pm (no admission this day only) until dark.

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.

12th Annual Lappert's Ice Cream Eating Contest Saturday, Feb 26, 2011

  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

 For more info contact: Mark Nellis Phone: (808) 651-3368, or go to: http://www.wkbpa.org/events.html


Monk Seals and Turtles and Whales, Oh my!

Kauai is called Paradise, and we often have a yellow brick road of sunshine that glides across the ocean waves. Unlike the "lions and tigers and bears, oh my!" of OZ, Kauai is home to some exquisite sea creatures!

The Hawaiian Humpback Whale

Humpback whales are known for their magical songs, which travel for great distances through the world's oceans. These sequences of moans, howls, cries, and other noises are quite complex and often continue for hours on end. Scientists are studying these sounds to decipher their meaning. It is most likely that humpbacks sing to communicate with others and to attract potential mates.

These whales are found near coastlines, feeding on tiny shrimp-like krill, plankton, and small fish. Humpbacks migrate annually from summer feeding grounds near the poles to warmer winter breeding waters closer to the Equator. Mothers and their young swim close together, often touching one another with their flippers with what appear to be gestures of affection.

Females nurse their calves for almost a year, though it takes far longer than that for a humpback whale to reach full adulthood. Calves do not stop growing until they are ten years old.

Humpbacks are powerful swimmers, and they use their massive tail fin, called a fluke, to propel themselves through the water and sometimes completely out of it. These whales, like others, regularly leap from the water, landing with a tremendous splash. Scientists aren't sure if this breaching behavior serves some purpose, such as cleaning pests from the whale's skin, or whether whales simply do it for fun.

Hawaii's humpback whale season technically begins in November when the gargantuan mammals make the long journey from cold north Pacific Ocean seas to calve in Hawaii’s famously warm waters. But January marks the start of the peak season. As many as 10,000 whales winter in Island waters, a good number of them visible from our state’s many coastal scenic lookouts.

Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles

The green turtle is listed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. In 1978, the Hawaiian population of the green turtle was listed as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act of 1973.

Green turtles were a source of food, tools, and ornamentation for early Hawaiians. With the arrival of western culture, however, the level of exploitation of this resource increased dramatically. Large numbers of green turtles were harvested throughout the Hawaiian Islands through the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In 1974, the State of Hawaii finally passed a regulation providing some protection, but this was virtually ignored until 1978, when the Hawaiian green turtle was placed on the list of threatened species.

In other parts of the world, green turtles face a serious threat from the destruction and loss of nesting sites. Fortunately, over 90% of nesting activity for the Hawaiian green turtle population occurs at the French Frigate Shoals, inside a National Wildlife Refuge System administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This, combined with its threatened status under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, has created an environment in which the Hawaiian green turtle should prosper. Unfortunately, the Hawaian green still faces severe threats, most notably fibropapilloma tumors and degradation of foraging habitat. Current Hawaiian green turtle population levels are still thought to be below pre-western contact, and probably pre-World War II levels as well. In 1992, the estimate of mature female green turtles associated with the French Frigate Shoals was set at roughly 750.

The Hawaiian Monk Seal

Ilio-holo-i-ka-uaua is the name used to describe the Hawaiian monk seal. Literally it means, "the dog that runs in the rough (seas)." These seals get their common name "monk seals" because of their bald appearance, solitary habits and a fold of skin behind their heads which resembles a monk's hood.

In recorded history there have only been four seals born on the main Hawaiian islands. Two of those births occurred in 1991 on the North shores of Oahu and Kauai. In both cases, volunteers from the community guarded the mother and pup from a distance to ensure that they would not be disturbed.

A newborn pup is jet black in color and weighs about 30 pounds. Its loose, velvety skin cloaks its body like an over sized coat. A mother seal will nurse her pup for a period of five or six weeks. During that time she is constantly at her pup's side and does not go off to feed herself. At the end of the nursing period the depleted mother will leave her pup to tend to her own nutritional needs.The newly weaned pup, called a weaner, is by then fat with blubber. It can live off of its stored fat for a while but must soon learn to catch food on its own.

Monk seals feed largely on fish, eels, octopus, and lobster that they usually catch at night. In the daylight hours, the seals spend much of their time sleeping. When on land, they may look lethargic, sick or even dead. Actually, the seals come ashore to get their much needed rest and should not be disturbed or approached.


Kauai's West Side - A Rich Historical & Cultural Tradition

 Imagine a time when the foothills of Koke'e ended abruptly at the ocean, and Barking Sands did not exist. And, Hanapepe, the second largest community on Kauai, was known predominately for its hula dancing and taro growing, in that order. Based on excavations, archeological digs and extensive research of  old land records, an interesting history of the West Side emerges..

            The density of population and settlement of Waimea to Mana in the mid-19th century was the the most populous area of Kauai during the period.  "A row of  grass houses extended all the way along the foothills from Waimea to Mana. Every house site had a name. To find a man, you had to find a house name. The native seemed to know every name and would keep sending you along until you finally came to the spot you were looking for," one archaeologist wrote.

            "Inside, the women beat the tapa cloth. As they beat their tapa, they talked to one another in the tapa beater's code. They could send a message with great speed from Waimea to Mana. When the men returned from the  mountains with firewood or canoes, the women who saw them coming, at once tapped out the news and it flew from house to house, with the result that every man found his house in order and no surprise visitors hanging around. The men had tried for years to learn the secret of the tapa code but were never able to do so."

Today, the land of Kekaha and the Mana Plain has been so dramatically altered that it makes it hard to imagine how it once looked.

            The settlement pattern of Waimea, Kekaha, Polihale and Mana was based upon various ecological zones. Originally, the ocean came up to the foothills of Kokee. AS time and elements worked on the geology of the area many changes came about including the formation of the Mana Plain. 

            The formation of the Mana Plain occurred over millions of years as run off from Waimea River that was spread westward by the ocean currents. Pleistocene sand dunes, dating back 12,000 to 25,000 years have been found.

            "Through time the sand bar grew and grew, but it didn't connect with the land.  This delta built up into a sand bar upon which the ocean was on one side and fresh water lay at the base of the mountains. The dunes, of which Nohili Dune is an original developed from sand shifting and blowing about in the steady trade winds

 Waimea is the classic valley ahupua'a House sites and taro patches were found as far up into the back of Koaie Canyon, a valley that lies in the far reaches at the back of Waimea Canyon. Here lived the back country people, Hawaiians who rarely saw the ocean because of the severity of the hike out of the valley. Settlement patterns and taro terraces have been found as far as 12 miles into the valley. It is thought that these back country people in the far reaches of Waimea Valley had more contact with villagers on the North Shore.

"They traveled up through the Alakai Swamp and down into Hanalei and Wainiha Valleys and traded with the people there. People who lived closer to the ocean in Waimea Valley traded with people who lived near the shoreline and Waimea Bay.


Kauai's History: Part 1 Mythology, Pre-Contact & Meneheunes

Wākea and Hāloa

Polynesian legends describe how kalo (taro) existed even before the first humans. An ancient chant recounts how Wākea, the god of the sky, had to bury his first son because the child was born as a shapeless mass. The next day a taro plant grew up from the location and Wākea named the plant-child Hāloa-naka (“Long, trembling stem”).

Wākea’s second son was a boy that Wākea named Hāloa-naka-lau-kapalili (“Long-stalk-quaking-trembling-leaf stem”). Hāloa was considered to be the first human, thus the taro plant was considered the oldest ancestor of all humans.


The Menehune

The legend of the Menehune describes an ancient race of Kauaians who were very small, but very skilled, and with a supernatural strength. The Menehune were said to have built many structures, including roads, dams, ‘auwai (irrigation canals), and heiau (sacred places of worship)—and everything they built was constructed in a single night.

Each Menehune was a master of a certain craft and had one special function they accomplished with great precision and expertise. The Menehune would set out at dark to build something, and if they failed to complete the project in one night it would be abandoned.

There remains some mystery surrounding the exact origin of the stories about Menehune. Some speculate the word Menehune comes from the word “manahune,” or “common people” (common laborers), referring to the early Marquesan[i] settlers of Hawai‘i who were later dominated by Tahitian settlers, and made to perform the hardest work, including stonework.

The term “Menehune” may have been a reference not to the Marquesan settlers’ small size but instead to their lower status in the social system, leading to a myth about a small race of people. This is just one possible explanation of the still very mysterious story of the Menehune.

Alekoko (Menehune) Fishpond

The ‘Alekoko Fishpond, commonly called Menehune Fishpond, is located along a bend in the Hulē‘ia Stream just above Nāwiliwili Harbor. Constructed of earth and faced with stone, the 900-foot levee was built for the purpose of trapping and raising fish.

Building the massive ‘Alekoko Fishpond was a remarkable engineering feat that is attributed to the legendary ancient race of Menehune. The huge aquaculture facility is said to have been built in a single moonlit night by a 25-mile-long, double row of Menehune who passed rocks to each other all the way from the Makaweli Quarry in Waimea.

According to legend, the chief ‘Alekoko requested that two ponds be constructed—one for him and one for his sister Hāhālua. The Menehune agreed to build the ponds but told ‘Alekoko that no one must look while the work was being completed.

When ‘Alekoko could not resist the urge to look out during the night, the Menehune immediately stopped their work and washed their bloody hands in the river, giving the fishpond the name ‘Alekoko, which means “Bloody ripples.”[xviii]

The walls of ‘Alekoko Fishpond are about four feet thick and five feet high. In the 1800’s, two of the three gaps in the levee were filled in by rice farmers. Makaweli means “Fearful features.”[xix]


Stay tuned for the next installment. Part Two of Kauai Hisotry will cover Hula and Heiau


The Geologic History of Kauai

Kauai is 5.5-6 million years old. During that time, wind and water have carved away the original volcano to reveal layers of old eruptions – it’s like looking back in time. The brilliant red earth tones of the cliffs, softened by the greens and golds of plants, change as the sun moves over the gorge.

The name Waimea refers to the reddish water (wai = fresh water, mea = red) that floods from the canyon after heavy rains. Think about the forces of nature working over eons of time, building then carving away layer upon layer of lava to expose the interior of Kauai’s original volcano.

Kauai is the high-island stage of an eroding volcano. After this stage, the Hawaiian islands erode down to the Northwest Islands, which are uninhabited low islands and shoals extending 1500 miles beyond Kauai. These are now part of a newly designated wildlife preserve.

Erosion of the canyon walls has been accelerated by goats, now wild in Waimea Canyon. Goats were introduced to Kauai in 1792 by English sea captain George Vancouver. Hawaiian island ecosystems evolved without any four-footed mammals which have been extremely destructive since their introduction.

One of the best resources for understanding the geology of Kauai is Kauai's Geologic History by Dr. Chuck Blay.


Wake Up and Smell the Coffee - Kauai Coffee Company

Looking South from Hale O Nanakai Bed & Breakfast are vast coastal acres blanketed with dark green coffee plants. The largest coffee plantation in the United States, McBryde coffee plantation, is home of world famous Kauai Coffee.  Kauai Coffee fields now cover 3.400 acres where where sugar cane was once grown. 

The Kauai Coffee Visitor's Center, located on Numila Road (Route 50, just past Kalaheo heading west on Hwy 56) is a treat for locals and visitors alike. Open daily from 9 am to 5 pm, visitors may sample the many varities of Kauai coffee in the tasting room where complimentary coffee beverages can be coupled with tasty snacks. 

The visitor center houses a growing collection of coffee mills, tins, and other coffee paraphernalia. And a video explains modern coffee production. There is a small coffee roaster on site, which produces freshly roasted coffee, a large gift shop and a Coffee Bar that provides an assortment of beverages, pastries and sandwiches.

Guests are welcome to walk through the "coffee gardens" on a 20-minute walk along a twisty, turny path spiked with informational signs.  Kauai Coffee trees begin to bloom in February or March and by May, the fruit or coffee cherry starts to form. The fruit usually ripens by late September when harvesting begins. It is the seeds of the fruit, usually two to a cherry, that become the coffee bean. Nearly 4,000 coffee beans must be harvested to produce a single pound of coffee. 


Travel into Kauai's History - Kilohana, Grove Farm & Kauai Museums

Wondering what there is to do on Kauai on a rainy day? Plenty! Believe it or not -- there is rich island history and culture to be explored and several excellent locations to learn more about this beautiful island, its first inhabitants and the "newcomers" who changed the shape and history of the island of Kauai over the years.



 One of Lihue's most splendid structures, Kilohana -- the former plantation home of the Wilcox Family -- is a mecca of activity and points of interest all situated in one convenient location. A Rum Factory, an old plantation train tour through this working farm -- complete with picnic and fruit picking -- a five-star restaurant, a spectacular weekly luau, and shops galore can all be found at Kilohana. Call 245-5608 or visit the website at http://www.kilohanakauai.com/  Kilohana is located on Route 50 next to Kauai Community College.

Grove Farm Museum

The 100-acre Grove Farm site preserves the earliest surviving set of domestic,  agricultural, and sugar plantation buildings, furnishings and collections, surrounding orchards and pasturelands in Hawaii. This homestead was the center of operations for the developing sugar plantation and involved the relationship of family life, plantation activity, household work, gardening and farming which continue as a part of the experience of visiting Grove Farm today.

As the American Civil War was raging between the North and the South, young George Wilcox took a lease on a struggling farm located on the outskirts of Lihue, on the island of Kauai, in what was then the kingdom of Hawaii. The farm had been chopped out of a large grove of kukui trees and was therefore called Grove Farm. His vision combined with his education resulted in his ability to change this arid farm into a thriving sugar plantation. As the Civil War destroyed the agriculture in the South, it helped sugar become a successful venture in Hawaii. Sugar’s success was also favored by the Hawaiian monarchy as it was an additional source of income for it’s kingdom.

For a tour of Grove Farm or more info see their website at http://www.grovefarm.net/ or call 245-3202

Kauai Museum



 Located on Rice Street in Lihue across from the bank of Hawaii is one of Kauai's best cultural and historical treasures -- The Kauai Museum. Here, exhibits of all things Hawaiiana and historical are presented in aesthetic surroundings.


The primary exhibit of interest to those seeking an better understanding of Kauai’s history is called “The Story of Kauai”( two floors of exhibits in the Rice Building)
On the first floor, walk through a passage highlighting geological wonders of the island, its natural history, and the coming of the Hawaiian people. Portraits of famous chiefs from ancient times overlook beautiful examples of Hawaiian culture. Captain James Cook, traders, and whalers lead up to the second floor and the sugar plantation exhibits. Walk through our life-size camp house exhibit and discover the many people from many nations that came to make Hawai‘i their home. Kauai’s missionaries, sugar barons, schools, politicians and more make up the remaining exhibits finishing with Territorial Period and World War II. Videos about the island can be viewed in the Ruth Knudsen Hanner Media Room.

The Kauai Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10 AM - 5 PM. For more information call 245 - 6931,


A Year 'Round Guide to Hawaii's Weather and Ocean Conditions

,What is Hawaii’s weather like in the winter? Not much different than in the summer! Year ‘round our daily temperatures – especially on Kauai – run in the low to mid 80s (F.) in the day time, and drop to the low and mid 60s at night. There are, however, subtle differences in seasons that local folks will tell you about, including “Kona” conditions, trade winds (also known as “natural air conditioning)”, cold fronts, and episodes of high and dangerous surf.

The most remarkable difference in seasons is marked by huge storms at sea that cause gigantic surf and huge waves in winter months on the north shores, and moderate to large swells on the south shores in the summer. 

One thing is for sure – and very different from most other places – is that a bit of rain will only last for a brief spell, or you can drive to another part of the island where it is completely dry! These localized weather patterns are hard to get used to, but  have faith! You may be driving along the island in a downpour one minute and in bright sun the next.

The southern coasts of each island are the driest parts year round. Also, consider that Hawai'i is geographically and topographically one of the most diverse places you'll ever find. The weather from one side of an island to the other varies greatly over distance and the topography present. Out of approximately 28 different climactic zones in the world, Hawaii boasts 23 of them!

“Lee ward” and “Windward” weather conditions can be as different as day and night. Windward means the side of the island that the trade winds buffet first. Leeward is the dry side of the island where wind and rain rarely makes it across the central mountains to drop precipitation. Honolulu, for example, is on the leeward side of Oahu – thus weather broadcasts from Honolulu TV stations rarely apply to the rest of the island chain! While on Kauai the best bet is to call the National Weather Service at 245-6001. Very accurate.

Trade winds blow in from the NE and can occur all year long. They winds bring refreshing air and clouds to the islands from cool ocean waters to the northeast, and the clouds that build from this activity deposit their precipitation against the east facing high interior mountains. Generally, starting in September and October and throughout the winter months, large weather systems form close to the equator and approach the islands from the south. When this happens, trades die out and winds can be calm or begin to build from the humid southerly direction, resulting in very hot and muggy daytime conditions. These are called Kona conditions, and the crystal clear evenings during a Kona spell can bring some of the coolest nights and best star-gazing of the year.


Bambulei Vintage Christmas Event - Dec 4-6, Wailua Kauai


Hidden away off the main highway in Kapaa, is a fantastic vintage and modern day clothing and accessory shop called Bambulei. 

In addition to a variety of vintage items to wear, hang on the wall or feature prominently on a shelf, Bambulei is adding vintage Christmas to its repertoire and turning the shop into a Christmas Cottage for three days -- Dec. 4, 5, and 6, from 10 am - 5 pm. Located at 43-369D Kuhio Highway -- across from Kintaro's Restaurant in Wailua, Bambulei is set back in a tropical coconut grove.

The Grand Opening of this event will be hosted by antique specialist and interior designer, Liane Carter, who has scoured Kauai for vintage Christmas decorations and gift items. Adding her own special, personalized touches to these items, Liane breathes life and beauty into unique items for every home and gift list. 

Bambulei has been selling quality vintage and original clothing along with Hawaiiana and furniture, since 1996. Currently owned and operated by Valerie Ray, the inventory is constantly changing with unique and one-of-a-kind items. "I want our customers to look & feel good in our clothes & to experience an adventure in shopping at Bambulei," says Valarie. A favorite of locals and visitors alike, there is something for everyone at Bambulei.

For more information call (808) 823-8641 and check out the website at www.bambulei.com