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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


Hiking the South Coast beyond Shipwreck's Beach

Stepping off the manicured sidewalks of the lush, tropically landscaped Grand Hyatt grounds, and onto the sands of Shipwreck's Beach on Keoneloa Bay is one of the easiest ways to ride a time machine into the ancient past.

Unmarked fishermen’s paths and footprints in the sand along this breath-taking coastline lead to the remote and stunning Mahaulepu Beach near Kawailoa Bay.

Rated ‘easy” and with an elevation gain of only 100 feet, this 4 mile (round trip) trail takes approximately 3 hours to traverse, but allow extra time to swim, sun bathe and enjoy the area’s seclusion.

Keep the camera handy as rugged sea cliffs, secluded coves, dunes, tide pools, sculpted lava formations and native plants embellish the landscape.

Here, Kauai’s natural history is etched in spectacular limestone and lava rock formations, and fossilized treasures can be seen eroding out of ancient lithified sand dunes and ledges.

Green sea turtles, spinner dolphins, monk seals can be viewed along the coast most of the year and humpback whales are visible during winter months.

Evidence of the stages of the island’s volcanic growth over the past 5 million years and several major sea level changes over the past 500,000 years are visible.

 In many places ancient soil horizons associated with the sand dunes contain abundant fossil land snails and the bones of extinct flightless birds and large land crabs.

The shoreline also abundantly sprouts lush native coastal vegetation well adapted to the harsh environment.




From Lihue take Hwy. 50 to Maluhia Rd. (Tree Tunnel Hwy 520) into Koloa and take any of the roads from Koloa to Po’ipu Beach.  Turn left and pass the Grand Hyatt. Shipwreck's Beach, where this hike begins, is in front of the Grand Hyatt Take the last paved road to the right to the public parking lot between the Hyatt and Po’ipu Bay Golf Course.


88 Shrines - Annual Pilgrimage of Compassion Aug. 7 at 1:30pm

It's time for hearts to unite on the sacred grounds of Lawai International Center.

This verdant valley and hillside is one of the most highly acclaimed spiritual energy centers of the modern world. And, while a variety of practitioners (Hawaiian, Buddhist, Hindu and New Age) have benefited from its unique essence over the millenium, 88 Shrines at Lawai International Center has been carefully tended and nurtured so it can greet modern-day pilgrims from far and wide with its own special magic and healing.

The 11th annual Pilgrimage of Compassion to be held this year from 3 to 5 p.m., Sunday August 7, with gates open at 1:30 p.m., celebrates a timeless spiritual vision in a valley long recognized as a healing sanctuary.

On lovingly tended grounds in Lawai Valley, among 88 historic shrines, world-renowned shakuhachi (Japanese flute) Grand Master Riley Lee - the first non-Japanese to attain the rank of shakuhachi Grand Master will issue a call to the pilgrims of the world. Carried by the wind through the trees, the soothing sounds of Lee's shakuhachi are the voice of Lawai International Center.

Built in 1904 by the first generation of Japanese immigrants, the shrines are one of the oldest Buddhist temple sites in the country, replicating the ancient pilgrimage of 88 temples in Shikoku, Japan.

In celebrating this legacy, the annual Pilgrimage adds local treasures to the archaeological and historic wonders: chanting by the rarely seen children of Niihau and the dynamic drumbeats of Taiko Kaua`i.

Riley Lee's Grand Master designation did not come easily. He attained the rank 30 years ago after rigorous training that included practicing barefoot in the snow, blowing his flute while standing under a waterfall, and playing in blizzards until icicles formed at the tip of his flute.

The recipient of a 2009 Na Hoku Hanohano award, he remains one of the few such masters outside of Japan. He has performed extensively throughout the United States, Europe and Asia, including at the Sydney Opera House and Kennedy Center in Washington DC, and has released more than 50 recordings on international labels.

Hawaii elders have described Kaua`i as the crown of the archipelago, anchored to the south by Lawai Valley. Those seeking healing have come to Lawai for centuries.

Drawn by its healing energy, the ancient Hawaiians walked there from far reaches of the island. The Asian immigrants followed, and they too, built their temples: a Taoist temple, a Shinto shrine and Shingon Buddhist temple. Today this site is all that tangibly remains of this legacy.

The photos at right and above  are actual, un-retouched photos taken by pilgrimage participants. The enigma at right occurred when the photographer placed her camera inside of one of the shrines. Although not visible to the human eye, spirits and energy often manifest on film, as these examples demonstrate. There have been numerous occassions of energy spikes or illuminations occurring in photos taken during events at the  88 Shrines. 

Lawai International Center is a non-profit community project driven by its volunteers, whose earnest efforts are bringing the valley back to prominence as an international center of compassion, education, and cultural understanding.

A journey to this site will reveal the thread that unites the Hawaiians, the immigrants, and a dedicated community of modern residents. In the folds of this wondrous valley shines a healing and cultural center for all pilgrims of the world—a beacon of aloha and compassion when the world needs it most.

Please bring an umbrella and wear comfortable shoes for this hillside walk. And if possible, please car pool and arrive early to facilitate parking. The gates open at 1:30 p.m. with booths and exhibits open and the program starts at 3:00 p.m.

Donations will be accepted with gratitude. There will be a bake sale, silent auction, bonsai exhibits, and mochi pounding demonstrations. For more information contact LM@hawaii.rr.com , call 639-3197 or visit www.lawaicenter.org


Koloa Plantation Days July 22-31, 2011 has full schedule

Fabulous Food, Live Music, Hawaiian Products, Keiki Fun!

This nine-day long festival in July is a celebration of plantation life on the island of Kauai. More than 25 family-friendly events include cultural performances, plantation era talks and exhibits, film nights, craft fairs, local food events, outdoor activities exploring the area, sporting events, keiki and family activities, the Plantation Days rodeo, evening Ho'olaulea (street party), and a parade and park celebration.

Founded in 1835, Koloa Plantation was Hawaii’s first sugar plantation where laborers from Asia and Europe lived together sharing traditions of their homelands.  

After the Koloa Town parade on Saturday, July 30, head to Anne Knudsen (Koloa) Park for a full day of festivities from 10 AM to 5 PM. Don’t miss the headline performer, Hawaii's Grammy Nominated & Award Winning, Henry Kapono, appearing at 4 PM at the Anne Knudsen Ball Park.

Henry Kapono and his band cap off the celebration but the line up starts at lunchtime just following the parade with non-stop entertainment – music, dance and comedy all day, representing the diverse cultural mix that started in the sugar era and shapes Hawaii’s local culture today. Local comedy favorites, the beloved Frank DeLima and Augie T have returned this year by popular demand.

American and Hawaiian standards, traditional hula, kachi kachi music, taiko drumming, modern Hawaiian music and rock n roll will all be celebrated. Enjoy food booths with local specialties, 70 craft vendors offering products made in Hawaii, rides, waterslides & activities for children, silent auction for activities, merchandise, accommodations, golf and dining.

 FRIDAY – July 22 

  • Plantation Days Rodeo - Preliminary Roping & American West Barrel Racing  at CJM Stables, 12-5:30pm.
  • Paniolo Cookout & Slack Key music by George & Keoki Kahumoku,   CJM Stables, 5:30-8pm. $10, ages 6 & under free. 

SATURDAY – July 23 

  • Charity Tennis Tournament for United Way at Po‘ipū Kai. $20 entry fee.   8am-4:30pm. Entry deadline: July 15. 634-6050.
  • Historic Hapa Trail Walk & Lunch departing from St. Raphael’s Church,   by Kōloa Community Association. 9am. 652-2063.
  • Preliminary Roping at CJM Stables, 12-5pm.

 SUNDAY – July 24 

  • Family Fun Run/Walk by Kukui‘ula Canoe Club. Race fees apply. 7-10am.
  • Charity Tennis Tournament Semi/Finals for United Way at Po‘ipū Kai.   $20 entry fee. 8am-4:30pm.
  • Miniature Golf Tournament, ages 13 & under, Lāwa‘i Beach Resort, 10am. 240-5179.
  • 12th Annual Plantation Days Rodeo at CJM Stables. Pre-rodeo entertainment,   $2 adults, children free ,11am-3:30pm. 742-6096.

MONDAY – July 25 

  • Makawehi Sand Dune Walk, Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i, Seaview Terrace 9am. 742-1234.
  • Historic Film Night & Exhibit, Kukui‘ula Village. 6pm. 7:30pm movie. 742-9545.

 TUESDAY – July 26 

  •  Kōloa Plantation Days Craft Fair, The Point at Po‘ipū, 9am-1pm. 742-1888.
  • Mixed Plate - Live Music at Old Kōloa Town Courtyard, 3-7pm. 245-7238.
  • Polynesian Revue & Fire Dancer, Po‘ipū Shopping Village 7:30-8:30pm. 742-2831. 

WEDNESDAY – July 27 

  • Māhā‘ulepū Coastal Hike by Mālama Māhā‘ulepū. 9:30-11:30am. 742-2024.
  • Traditional Hawaiian Games, Outrigger Kiahuna Plantation, 10am-12pm. 742-6411.
  • Plantation Treats at Kaua‘i Culinary Market, Kukui‘ula Village, 4-6pm. 742-9545. 

THURSDAY – July 28 

  • Look Back Through the Sugar Era, Old Kōloa Mill, by Grove Farm. 9-11am. 245-3678x222
  • Plantation Days Putting Contest, Po‘ipū Bay Resort Golf Club, 2-4pm. 742-8711.
  • Lū‘au Buffet Dinner & Show, Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i. 6pm. Book directly with   Hyatt concierge. 240-6456. 

FRIDAY – July 29 

  • Māhā‘ulepū Watercolor Class by Mālama Māhā‘ulepū. Fee for supplies or bring   your own. 9am-noon. 742-2024.
  • Talk Story: Sweet Memories of Old Kōloa, Kōloa Union Church, 4:30pm. 332-0303.
  • Old Kōloa Town Historical Walk departing from Kōloa School, 5:30pm. 332-5201.
  • Movies in the Park by Rotary of Po‘ipū Beach, 8pm screening, 652-2136. 

SATURDAY, -July 30  

  • Annual Parade & Park Celebration
  • HISTORIC PARADE – 10am, Kōloa Town.
  • Floats, marching units, riders, classic cars & the Pacific Fleet Band
  • PARK CELEBRATION – 11am-5pm, Anne Knudsen (Kōloa) Park.
  • Food, Crafts, Keiki fun, plus Live Entertainment featuring Henry Kapono &
  • Band, Frank DeLima, Augie T, and more! $2 admission. 652-3217.

SUNDAY – July 31

  • Paddle Fest at Po‘ipū Beach Park by Kukui‘ula Canoe Club. 10am-2pm. 635-0165



"Te Mana O Te Mauna" historic Voyaging Canoes visit Kauai

 “The Spirit of the Sea” crew arrived in Hanalei Bay on Wednesday, July 5th in seven double-hulled voyaging canoes from a large smattering of South Pacific locations.  They are voyaging throughout the Pacific Ocean using only the stars, the ocean, and the surrounding wildlife to navigate. 

Each canoe sailed with 16 crew members. Chiefs and crew members  on board the seven canoes arrived  in Hanalei Bay from Tahiti, New Zealand, Cook Islands, Fiji, Samoa, Tahiti, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu. They brought with them one important one message:

 “We are all family in the vast ocean of the Pacific.”

“Sailing together, we seek the wisdom of our ancestors and the knowledge of scientists to keep the Pacific healthy and give our grandchildren a future,” explained one voyager about the purpose of the voyage.  The purpose is to bring awareness to the plight of the ocean, and to renew each crew member’s ties to the sea and its life-sustaining strength. “This voyage represents a sustainable way of living and a respectful treatment of the ocean,” he added.  

This is the first time that these island nations have sailed in unison; an epic journey of thousands of miles.

Te Mana O Te Moana pays homage to ancient voyagers and their modern counterparts.

Following in the salty wake of their ancestors, the canoes are part of a resurgence of Polynesian culture initiated by the voyages of the original Hōkūlea.

 Hōkūle‘a is a performance-accurate full-scale replica of a Polynesian double-hulled voyaging canoe which was initially launched on  March  8, 1975 by thePolynesian Voyaging Society. 

Hōkūle‘a gained fame in 1976 by sailing to Tahiti with only Polynesian navigation techniques, essentially without modern navigational instruments.

The goal of the voyage was to support the anthropological theory of the Asiatic origin of native Oceanic people of Polynesia and Hawaii in particular, as the result of purposeful trips through the Pacific, as opposed to passive drifting on currents, or sailing from the Americas.

 A secondary goal of the project was to have the canoe and voyage "serve as vehicles for the cultural revitalization of Hawaiians and other Polynesians."

Since the 1976 voyage to Tahiti and back, Hōkūle‘a has completed nine more voyages to destinations in Micronesia, Polynesia, Japan, Canada, and the United States, all using ancient way finding techniques of celestial navigation 

 Her last completed voyage began 19 January 2007, when Hōkūle‘a left Hawaii with the voyaging canoe Alingano Maisu on a voyage through Micronesia and ports in southern Japan. The voyage was expected to take five months. On 9 June 2007 Hōkūle‘a completed the "One Ocean, One People" voyage to Yokohama, Japan.

On April 5, 2009, Hōkūle‘a returned to Honolulu following a roundtrip training sail to Palmyra Atoll, undertaken to develop skills of potential crewmembers for Hōkūle‘a's eventual circumnavigation, currently planned to commence in 2012.

Story by Sheila Heathcote                                                                     Photos by Ronald Adams


Ocean Safety -- More Important than Sunscreen

Kauai is truly an island paradise with emerald mountains, shimmering white sand beaches, swaying palms and crystalline, turquoise ocean waters. Kauai is also known for having some of the largest ocean waves on the planet and is home to the top watersport athletes in the world. Local kids learn to surf about the same time they learn to walk, many islanders earn their living or feed their families from the sea, and all others use the beaches for recreation and enjoyment every chance they get. Kauai’s people are a true “ocean culture” and they would like to share some really valuable information with you about local coastal conditions and seasonal wave patterns.

Kauai's shoreline and reef systems are exposed to the raw power of the open ocean, where storm systems in the vast North and South  Pacific Ocean, above and below the Equator, generate some massive swells that pummel the coastlines each year. Combined with the howling tradewinds and the shape of the shore, dangerous and often invisible currents result.

For this reason it is highly recommended that visitors swim at beaches where lifeguards are stationed. These include KEKAHA, SALT POND, POIPU, LYDGATE, KEALIA, HANALEI AND HAENA.

These guys and girls are a wealth of information about local conditions, they have immediate updates when high surf advisories are issued by the National Weather Service, they are VERY highly trained and skilled watermen in their own right, and they posses state of the art rescue equipment– God forbid it should be needed.  

Depending on the season -- there's only two in Hawaii: Winter or Summer --, high surf advisories may be posted for any of kauai four coasts - specifically the North Shore, the East Side, the South Shore and the West Side. 

During the SUMMER months (May through September), cyclones and hurricanes in the Southern Hemisphere -- between Hawaii and New Zealand or Australia -- cause waves to increase along Kauai's South and East Shores.

During WINTER months (October through April/May), gigantic surf generated from huge winter storms in the North Pacific Ocean -- can hammer the North and West Shores, often without warning and in the deceptively sunny conditions that precede a storm front.

A High Surf Advisory is a condition dangerous to swimmers and beachgoers, and is officially issued when breaking wave action poses a threat to life and property within the surf zone.

Never turn your back on a wave.

Never swim alone.

If caught in a rip current, signal for help.


Some of the conditions to be aware of include STRONG CURRENTS, the main cause of drowning; DANGEROUS SHOREBREAK - forceful waves breaking on the beach; HIGH SURF - big waves; SLIPPERY ROCKS; SHARP CORAL - cuts and scrapes can lead to serious infections; SUDDEN DROP OFF - no gradual entry into the water, returning to shore impossible; WAVES ON LEDGE - chance to get knocked of ledge into the ocean by breaking waves.




In Celebration of Aloha Shirts!

 On July 1, Hawaii will celebrate the birthday of a very special American icon who was born and raised in the Hawaiian Islands - despite the fact that the state cannot turn up a birth certificate as proof of citizenship.

No, it's not President Obama.

It is in fact the equally well-known Hawaii icon - the aloha shirt.

For three-quarters of a century, the aloha shirt has been Hawaii's most enduring symbol of the relaxed, laid-back, and tropical lifestyle of the Islands.

Different tales have circulated for decades about the origins of Hawaii's aloha shirt. Some say its roots can be traced to the kapa cloth found throughout the Pacific, made from pounding and dyeing tree bark. Others claim it was inspired by the tail-out shirts of Filipino immigrants, or elegant kimono cloth from Japan, or the vivid floral prints of Tahiti. No one is absolutely sure and the origin of the aloha shirt has many parents.

In the late 1920s and early 1930s, the tradition of beautifully sewn printed shirts spread from the Asian dry-goods merchants and home-sewers in Honolulu to the tailors and dress-makers, creating a new style of colorful clothing. Hawaii was emerging as a paradise for tourists and visitors arriving by ship were charmed by hula dancers swaying to the rhythm of the ukulele, boys riding the waves on their great wooden surfboards, and the colorful open-necked loose fitting aloha shirts.

In 1946, the Honolulu Chamber of Commerce appropriated $1,000 to study suitable designs for clothing businessmen could more comfortably wear in Hawaii's tropical climate. A resolution was passed to allow open-necked sports shirts during the hottest months from June through October. The aloha shirt was specifically excluded because of loud patterns. The following year during the annual Aloha Week celebration, an exception was made to allow the wearing of casual aloha attire - the more colorful the better - for the entire week. With this breakthrough, the trend would continue to expand.

Soon, visitors and locals alike were donning these wearable postcards awash with coconut trees, surfers, outrigger canoes, hula girls, and endless varieties of colorful tropical flowers, birds, and fish.

Duke Kahanamoku, (photo at left) Hawaii's most beloved surfer and Olympic swimming champion, was the earliest and greatest promoter of the aloha shirt. Duke even had his own line of shirts that are widely coveted by collectors today. Many other celebrities from Bing Crosby to Elvis Presley and Tom Selleck of Magnum P.I. were widely photographed wearing the shirts.

The modern era of the aloha shirt began in the 1960s. In 1962, the Hawaiian Fashion Guild staged "Operation Liberation," presenting two aloha shirts to each male legislator in the State House and Senate. The Senate passed a resolution urging the regular wearing of aloha attire from Lei Day, May 1, and throughout the summer months. In 1966, Aloha Friday - the precursor to casual Fridays - came into being and businessmen began the trend of wearing aloha shirts to work. By the end of the 1960s, the wearing of aloha shirts for business dress any day of the week was accepted.  

Today, there are aloha shirts for every occasion and fancy - staid button down shirts for businessmen; elegant shirts for weddings and nights out on the town; sporty shirts for surfers and beach bums; and extra vibrant shirts often preferred by tourists.

Whether you fancy a collectible from the 1930s or a modern style of today, the aloha shirt remains a symbol of the casual, carefree, and graceful Hawaii lifestyle. It's caught on everywhere - from Los Angeles to Australia - and every tropical destination in the world has adopted the born-in-Hawaii aloha shirt - even that guy Tommy in the Bahamas!


Kauai King Kamehameha I Parade Celebration June 18

Recognize the statue from Hawaii 5-0? Who is this person? Well you will probably find out later this week when you see that all state and county offices are closed. Friday, June 10 is a statewide Hawaii holiday honoring great King Kamehameha I.  King Kamehameha Day was proclaimed in 1871 by King Kamehameha V, to honor his great grandfather, King Kamehameha I.

A parade and other events will be held on Kauai on June 18.

Kamehameha the Great was born somewhere between 1748 and 1761 in North Kohala on the island of Hawaii. Although the exact date is unknown, by royal Proclamation in 1871 of King Kamehameha V in honor of his grandfather, June 11 of each year was designated as a holiday to honor the life and times of Hawai`i's greatest statesman, warrior and king.

Hawaiians believe that the birth of Paiea Kamehameha fulfilled their traditional prophecy of a birth of a male who would vanquish all other chiefs to become the greatest of all chiefs in Hawai`i. His childhood was spent in seclusion with foster parents who would train him in the skills of warfare and prepare him for his role as warrior-king of the island nation. Following a period of civil war and dissension, by 1791 the island of Hawai`i was again under unified rule, and by 1810, the last of the chiefs of the islands of Maui, O`ahu and Kaua`i relinquished sovereignty to Kamehameha.

Please note that King Kaumuali’i, Kauai’s King did not relinquish sovereignty – he was kidnapped by Kamehameha and taken to Oahu where he died. Only then did Kauai become part of the unified Hawaiian Islands. To this day Kauai still considers itself “A Separate Kingdom”.

The Kingdom of Hawai`i was born. For the rest of his life, Kamehameha I ruled in peace. He established trade with foreign countries, introduced new animal and plant life, promoted agriculture and fostered industry. A contemporary of Napoleon and George Washington, Kamehameha I accomplished all that he did without the aid of a written language and while the religion of the Hawaiian Islands was still that of ancient Polynesia. This "Napoleon of the Pacific" died in Kailua Kona on the island of Hawai`i in 1819.

The first commemoration day was held June 11, 1872, and was filled with horse races and other sporting events such as Velocipede races, sack races, wheelbarrow and foot races. In 1901 a group of "old Hawaiians" decorated with leis a statue of Paiea Kamehameha which had been erected in 1883. Today the statue decoration is an integral part of the King Kamehameha Celebration.

A King Kamehameha Celebration Commission was established in 1939 and charged with the responsibility of planning and managing all festival activities, which today include parades on every island, arts and crafts fairs, sports challenges, pageantry, and an international hula competition. The year 2000 marks the 128th anniversary of the only holiday in the United States created to honor a once-reigning monarch in the only state that was once a kingdom, the Kingdom of Hawai`i.

Watch our local newspaper, The Garden Island for more information about Kamehameha celebrations on Kauai


Pirates of the Caribbean, On Stranger Tides showcases beautiful Kauai


Kauai is back in the movies with Walt Disney’s latest blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean, On Stranger Tides, the fourth movie in Disney’s hugely successful franchise, which opened to $35 million on Friday (May 20, 2011) according to early estimates.

Filmed along the breathtaking Na Pali Coastline on Kauai and at the ruggedly stunning Maha’ulepu area on the South Shore, the movie is sure to send both visitors and locals hunting for the locations it features.

In the On Stranger Tides sequel, Captain Jack Sparrow ( Johnny Depp) crosses paths with a woman from his past (Penelope Cruz), and he's not sure if it's love -- or if she's a ruthless con artist who's using him to find the fabled Fountain of Youth. When she forces him aboard the Queen Anne's Revenge, the ship of the formidable pirate Blackbeard (Ian McShane), Jack finds himself on an unexpected adventure in which he doesn't know who to fear more: Blackbeard or the woman from his past.

After months of behind the scenes pre-production work, and on-site location work from  June through August of 2010, the fourth film in Disney's blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, On Stranger Tides, was a boon to Kauai’s film industry and the local economy, as the island hosted the cast and crew of this huge production.

Producer Jerry Bruckheimer scouted and found the best movie locations Kauai had to offer, saying on his Twitter account that he had to use a special satellite phone due to the remoteness of many locations, and the fact that Kauai’s cell phone reception is sketchy even in populated areas.

Director Rob Marshall and screenwriter Terry Rossio arrived on the production’s remote Kalalau Valley location by jet ski. On the south shore some hiking and crawling on all fours was required to film at the Makauwahi Cave, the largest limestone cave complex in the Hawaiian Islands, which has s yielded an unprecedented look into Hawaii’s history, with a record of life that dates back 10,000 years.

At the Maha’ulepu location, the director took advantage of the cave and sinkhole, excavated by noted paleoecologist, Dr. David Burney and his wife Lida Pigott Burney, who restored the sinkhole and surrounding area to its original pre- human contact vegetation.

In one scene where Johnny Depp jumps from the top of the sinkhole and into a waterfall, the location is at Valley House (also prominent in Jurassic Park and George of the Jungle), located in Kealia on Kauai’s east side. 


Hiking Koke'e: Awa'awa'puhi Trail has spectacular scenery

The Awa'awa'puhi Trail in Koke'e State Park above the Waimea Canyon is an excellent "moderate" trail that takes 2 to 4 hours to complete depending on your fitness level. The rewards are spectacular views from the coastal end of the trail, where the famed Awa'awa'puhi Valley (pictured at left) greets hikers in all its splendor and glory.

If you have traveled by boat for a Na Pali coast excursion, chances are you have seen Nu'alolo  Kai -- a popular snorkeling spot where the cliffs above the site are marked with an enormous "X". The ancient Hawaiians traveled from Nu'alolo Kai, a habitation and fishing area with a sacred heiau or temple, up to the fertile hanging valley of Awa'awa'puhi using a rope ladder that hung over the cliff face. There are actual photos at the Bishop Museum showing a Hawaiian man climbing this 60 foot ladder.

Awa'awa'puhi was where the Nu'alolo Kai residents farmed the fertile soil with taro and other crops. Awa'awa'puhi Valley does not have a beach -- it has only rocky cliffs stretching about 100 fee above the sea and into the valley floor. 

The trail starts at 4120 fee above sea level on Kaunuohua Ridge, where approximately 75 inches of annual rainfall fosters the growth of the native ohia - lehua trees(photo at right), and causes the forest canopy to be thick and green.

Hawaiians came into the forest to collect plants fro medicines, lei-making and wood for building with. Pigs and chickens, two animals brought by the ancient Hawaiians on their canoes as a food source in the new land, still live along the upper trail.

The trail descends gradually, and by the two mile mark, the vegetation changes with the drop in elevation and rainfall. Koa trees and scrubby a'ali'i and pukiawe predominate. Koa was used for canoes; a'ali'i was woven into leis, and the smoke from the pukiwae was used as a smudge for removing the kapu from royalty.

Before the junction with the Nu'alolo Cliff (Bench) Trail at the 3-mile mark, two weedy imports, lantana and guava, crowd the trail. One quarter mile past the trail junction the trail ends on the ridge dividing Awa'awa'puhi and Nu'alolo Aina Valleys 2500 miles below.



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.

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