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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


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



A Birds Eye View of Kauai that makes Economic Sense

When I was growing up, my father, who was an avid adventurer, bought a Piper Cub and earned his instructor's license. In addition to many exciting family trips in our "puddle jumper" -- to the Bahamas and Nova Scotia, Ottawa and Quebec -- I also began logging flight hours as a private pilot. (Our second plane was a Cherokee 180 -- I loved the low wings!)

Dad would spend every Sunday at the Butler (Pa.) airport teaching for the Charlie Brown Flying School. When he wasn't instructing, he would pile the family in the plane and off we would go for the weekend or family vacation. What a great way to see the country! The time we went to the Bahamas, weather closed in near Great Abaco Island, and Dad had to do some low flying under the clouds to determine where we were!

It is no wonder that I recommend to my guests the lovely airplane tour offered by Bruce and Ellen Coulombe, who run Wings Over Kauai. In addition to a variety of flights, Bruce also gives lessons to aspiring pilots, including locals and visitors.

While helicopter tours are exciting, I have always preferred the feeling I get from riding in (and flying) a light plane. Views of the island are unrivaled, and you can see every part of Kauai that is visible from a helicopter.

Looking for something a little different than a standard Kauai flight tour? Bruce, a former executive at one of Kauai's seed companies, and Ellen, a naturalist and botanical expert, are the ideal folks to help you orient to the beauty of Kauai.

Wings Over Kauai tours invite you to experience a safe and comfortable airplane tour of one of the most beautiful Islands in the world. Choose from either one of our eco-freindly aircraft, the Cessna 172 or the GA-8 Airvan.

Their office is easy to find and located near the Lihue Airport's main terminal in the heart of Lihue. Bruce commences the tour over Ha'upu Mountain and the Kipu Kai region of the South Shore, zips up to and across Waimea Canyon, traverses the stunning Na Pali, then shoots through the center of the island -- so you can see places no one has ever stepped foot! The tour concludes over Kauai's stunning Wailua Falls then back to the airport.

For more information call Ellen at 808 635-0815. Enjoy!


Kauai's History in a Sink Hole -- Makauwahi Cave

The Makauwahi Sinkhole, the largest limestone cave complex in the Hawaiian Islands, is yielding an unprecedented look into Hawai'i's history, with a record of life that dates back 10,000 years.

The findings from a multiyear archaeological dig at the sinkhole have profound implications for proposals to reforest parts of the archipelago with native vegetation, since it shows that coastal forests included a wide range of plants long thought to be limited to upland habitats.

The site also reveals a rich array of bird life, and has changed the current understanding of what pre-human Hawai'i looked like.

Several previously unknown bird species have been identified from fossil bones. The complex coastal forest of the region has been intricately described from seed and pollen remains. Two species of plants — kou and hala — that were once believed to be Polynesian introductions have been proven to predate human arrival. There are signs of ancient snails, extinct land crabs and much more.

The impact from the arrival of the first humans in the Islands also is immediately visible in the cave's sediments. There are the bones of rats, which traveled with voyaging Polynesians, and evidence of the immediate collapse of plant species on which rats fed, such as loulu palms. Later there are fishhooks, pieces of outrigger canoes, charcoal from early imu, and other artifacts such as stone tools and a round basalt mirror. And there are human burials, which are being carefully preserved in place.

"You've got this continuous record, like a slow movie through the 10,000 years," said David Burney, a Fordham University professor and director of conservation at the National Tropical Botanical Garden on Kaua'i. Burney, an ecologist and archaeologist, and his wife, Lida Pigott Burney, also are overseeing the reforestation of the cave and its environment with the plants that the evidence proves once forested the region. A partner from the earliest days of the project was the late Kaua'i archaeologist Bill "Pila" Kikuchi.

Charcoal remnants of an ancient Hawaiian seer’s fire can still be found in Makauwahi Cave on the island of Kaua’i. The work this diviner did, telling the future from curls of smoke, inspired the cave’s name. Makauwahi, you see, means eye smoke. And Makauwahi Cave, it turns out, is still informing the future of life on Kaua’i – at least botanically speaking.

Some 16 years ago, paleoecologists Lida Pigott Burney and David Burney began studying fragments of the past they discovered within the confines of the cave’s 400,000-year-old walls. David Burney is also the director of conservation, and the director of living collections, at the National Tropical Botanical Garden on Kaua’i.

During their excavations, the Burneys found seeds and pollen from a rich array of plants that once lived on southern Kaua’i around Makauwahi Cave. Some of these species still survive on the island, but are vanishing as invasive plants take over their habitats.

In an attempt to restore the many different types of native vegetation that once thrived in the area around Makauwahi Cave, Lida Burney has commenced to re-introduce the plants to their former home. Seventeen acres surrounding the cave have been dedicated to this purpose. They make up the Makauwahi Cave Reserve.


Short Hikes from Hale O Nanakai B&B: The Coffee Fields

Walk to the end of Nanakai Road and take a left on Waha. Continue to the end where you will see a soccer field on the left. Just in front of a "Neighborhood Watch" sign there is a path through the tall cane grass. On the other side of the grass you will step back into time and view Kauai as it once appeared in the plantation days.

Follow the dusty road toward the ocean past neat rows of coffee plants, noted by their glossy green leaves and fat yellow to red berries. Wildlife abounds -- watch for ring-necked pheasant in the underbrush. At the first intersection continue down along a row of Cook Island pines but take the second dirt road to the left. It will dead end into a beautiful pond where ducks, (specifically native Hawaiian "coot" ducks), bull frogs, and snowy egret, proliferate. Follow the dirt road to either the right or the left and you will come to the other side of the reservoir.

These fields, owned and farmed by Kauai Coffee, follow environmentally friendly agricultural practices, and is the largest drip irrigation coffee estate in the world with 2,500 miles of drip tubing. This efficient drip irrigation system applies water and fertilizers directly to the roots of the trees, so there is no spraying or dusting of fertilizer.

During the harvest period, water from the drip irrigation system is used to wet the plant, where it is used in processing. Because the water is used only once in processing, it can easily be cleaned using a filter system and reapplied to the coffee fields. The cherry pulp and the mulch from pruning are put back into the land as soil amendments. In addition to adding nutrients to the soil, this mulch also serves to reduce weeds in the fields.

The company plants contoured plantings, hedgerows and diversions to mitigate runoff and soil erosion. The native forests and plants in the estate’s valleys and ravines are protected. The coffee crop is not subject to disease and insect problems that other crops experience.  Herbicide use has been cut down by 75% through cultivation practices, and this 3,100 acres of coffee is GMO free.



Tales of the Tempests - The Hurricanes of Kauai

Written in the wake of Hurricane Iniki, Tales of the Tempests, The Hurricanes of Kauai is an insightful look at the numerous hurricanes and gales that have assaulted the island of Kauai.

Kauai has been pummeled by four powerful tempests in the past 50 years. Each successive hurricane has increased in intensity. These hurricanes have affected Kauai's economy, its people and the future of the island.

Tales of the Tempests is a gripping account of man's attempt to cope with dangerous natural phenomena.

Like a tapestry, colorful stories and island residents' oral narratives are balanced with information about hurricane formation and meteorology, detailed history of hurricanes in Hawaiian waters, and local and national defense agencies that deal with wind driven disasters. 

Written by Sheila Heathcote, who is also the owner/manager of Hale O Nanakai Bed & Breakfast, Tales of the Tempests , The Hurricanes of Kauai is available by mail order at $12.95 + tax per copy.

To order please send an email request to sheila.heathcote@hawaiiantel.net



Tribute to Queen Emmalani - Festival of Hula and Tradition at Koke'e &Waimea Canyon State Parks, Kauai

Since its inception in 1988, Eo e Emalani I Alaka`i (also called the Emalani Festival) has quietly become one of the most authentic and powerful Hawaiian cultural experiences in the State. Each year, kumu hula (hula masters) and their dancers help to create an event that has touched thousands, many of whom return annually to participate.

The outdoor event, held in early October, The Emalani Festival commemorates the 1871 journey of Hawaii`s beloved Queen Emma to these upland forests. By focusing each year on a diferent aspect of the Queen`s inspiring legacy as a humanitarian leader, the Emalani Festival affords participants and audience an opportunity to reflect on values of a great leader who took the land to heart.

Live Hawaiian music, along with historical displays, begin at 10 am and at 12 noon, Queen Emma enters Kanaloahuluhulu Meadow on horseback, led by her guide Kaluahi, represented by a local cowboy. Offering of dance are made by hula halau from across Hawaii. Hula groups from Europe and Japan have also jouneyed to Kauai to participate.

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 9   10:00 AM to 5:00 PM Kanaloahuluhulu Meadow, Kokee State Park FREE


Kalaheo's Treasure Chest - Kukuiolono Park, Kauai, Hawaii

Kukuiolono Park is a haven for joggers, dog walkers, sight-seers and golfers. I place golfers last because I see Kukuiolono as so much more than a golf course...With some of the most spectacular views of the South Shore and West Side, Kukuiolono is unrivaled for sunsets, sunrises and spectacular scenery anytime during the day.

With several miles of wooded jogging paths, a perimeter road that leads to the clubhouse, a paved path to the picnic pavilion and a gorgeous Japanese garden, (where Walter McBryde is buried) Kukuiolono is the focal point of the Kalaheo community "makai" of the Highway. Not to mention the fact that greens fees are some of the least expensive on Kauai, and the clubhouse has a tasty snack bar, Kukuiolono is used for weddings and outdoor parties by renting the pavillion or getting permits for the Japanese garden.

Once the site of an ancient Hawaiian temple, or "heiau", the mountaintop was also used by ancient warriors as the site for signal fires where they would communicate with warriors near Mahaulepu that could warn about invaders coming across the channel from Oahu.


 Signal fires lit atop Haupu Mountain and Kukuiolono brought the King's troops from Waimea and Hanapepe where the island's largest concentration of population once lived.

Recent improvements at Kukuiolono include repaving of the road to the clubhouse, repairs on the jogging path where a water pipe had broken, and construction of a new "meditation" pavilion and regrouping of the historical stone artifacts located in the upper garden. Lava rocks that resemble fish gods, or were used to hide the King's priceless feather cape are on display along with lava rock "mirrors" that utilize rain water as a reflective surface.

New stone benches and landscaping with native species completes this beautiful setting which is open to the public 7 days per week from sunrise to sunset. (Gates open at 7am and close at 6pm but it is still possible to walk in after hours). 

At the current site of the Japanese garden, Walter McBryde's house once stood when he was the owner of the McBryde Sugar Plantation. McBryde now operates the largest coffee plantation in the U.S., which can be seen skirting below Kukuiolono like an emerald blanket.

Kukuiolono Park was Walter McBryde's gift to the people of Kauai. 

Items of historical interest that still can be viewed include the cast iron kettle, pictured at right, that was used by whaling crews when they boiled down whale blubber following a successful harpooning trip in the waters off Kauai.

For information about golfing, parties at the pavilion or park hours call (808) 332-9151.


Maha'u'lepu Beach -- The most beautiful place on Kauai's South Shore

(Editor's Note: This blog deals only with the Maha'u'lepu Beach area near the Gillian House and at the end of the gated, bumpy dirt road near the old quarry. A later blog will cover the Maha'u'lepu Trail the starts near Shipwreck's Beach at the Hyatt and traverses the calcified sand dunes adjacent to the golf course).

Mahaulepu’s name comes from a legendary battle that occurred in the 1300’s when Kalaunuio Hua, a Big Island ruler, made an attempt to take over all the Hawaiian islands. Kalaunuio Hua and his men paddled to Kauai, drew up on Maha'u'lepu Beach and began to form themselves into fighting order.Kukona, then ruling chief of Kauai, appeared on the ridge above the gathering. Kalaunuio Hua hurried to meet Kukona, but when he got there Kukona could not be found. Kukona, who now stood on a neighboring ridge, challenged Kalaunuio Hua which prompted a chase inland, further away from the beach. When the invading warriors reached Wahiawa (near Kalaheo), Kukona and his army attacked the tired warriors and defeated them easily. By nightfall, it was evident that Kalaunuio Hua had lost the battle and became a prisoner to Kukona. Thus began the historical distinction of Kauai as an island that was never conquered. The home on this beach was established by a Koloa Sugar Plantation civil engineer in the mid 1900s, Elbert Gillin. Destroyed in 1992 by hurricane Iniki, the “Gillin House” was re-built shortly after and continues to be owned by the Gillin family heirs.

Maha'u'lepu Beach is an ideal spot for walking, sunning, swimming, surfing, windsurfing, kite surfing and snorkeling. Monk seals often haul out on the beach after a meal and appear like big dead rocks with flippers and snouts. Please don't disturb these gentle giants -- they will bite!   

The best place to snorkel is at the bay area at the end of the road. Also, there are trails that lead further along the coast where you can stand on top of ancient cliffs where the waves explode in clouds of salt spray. The black mountain in the background is Ha'upu, the same dragon-backed ridge that is visible in Lihue, Nawiliwili and while traversing Kau'muali'i Highway (Route 50).


Kapa'a to Kealia Bike Path - Kauai's Prettiest Coastline

It doesn't get any better than this: A bike, a backpack, bathing suit and snorkel, and miles of rugged coastline, easily accessible along a paved bike path.

It is hard to believe this scenic route is just steps away from the congested hub-bub of Kapa'a Town, but, starting along the coast, just about parallel to the entrance to Cost U Less, the Kapa'a - Kealia Bike Path traverses the quiet, palm line Coconut Coast all the way through the business district, and half way to Anahola.

Once the path starts to climb and wind along the gentle sea cliffs just past Kawaihau Road,  it follows the original grade of Kauai's first highway, which probably followed railroad tracks that enabled plantation managers to get their sugar cane out of the up-lying fields and out to market.

Leaving Kapa's Town, the path winds along the white topped cobalt waters of the sea until it comes alongside of the expansive Kealia Beach -- a local favorite surf spot. Don't stop here, however, for the best of the coast is yet to come!

Back in the 1990s, when the Kealia Sugar Co. went out of business and sold its lands to a real estate developer, around 200 junk and abandoned cars were removed from the area between Kealia and Anahola. Part of the planning negotations with the County involved development of a bike path/ coastal recreation area, and work started on the bike path that we have today.

An old dirt road that traversed this area and led to Donkey Beach -- a notorious nude beach of old -- was graded and paved; archaeological sites identified and preserved, picnic shelters, and landscaping installed. Today the secluded Donkey Beach is a haven for surfers, but please don't swim here! There is no lifeguard for miles and the currents are treacherous.

Better yet, continue up the bike path until it ends, then hike one of several dirt trails that traverse the coastline until you come to a picturesque little cove.

Amidst the black lava rock boulders and coral formations a multitude of brightly colored fish sway like tiny dancers in the wave tossed current. This protected cove is picturesque and secluded. Hiking trails continue up the coast.

Future plans by Kauai County include bike path extensions from Lydgate Park to Kapa'a Town and in other areas of the island. Presently the Lydgate Park area of the apth is embroiled in heated debate with Hawaiian preservation groups who feel that disruption of the beach north of the Wailua River would disturb ancient sites.


The 2011 Kauai Marathon along the South Shore of Paradise 9/5/10


Koke'e State Park - The Gem of Kauai's Upland Rainforest

Just above Waimea Canyon is one the world's most beautiful spots -- Koke'e State Park. With an abundance of hiking trails, scenic lookouts, recreational opportunities (camping, hunting, fishing and picnicking), lodging, food and information, Koke'e is a "must-see" for anyone visiting the island of Kauai.

For visitors, the road leads to spectaular lookouts over breath-taking Kalalau Valley (as seen in the photo to the right). The Pihea Trail traverses the rim of Kalalau into the Alakai Swamp where endemic birds and flowers abound.

The Kaluapuhi Trail is an easy trek near the first lookout that leads back toward the trailhead for Awa'awa'puhi Trail -- the longest day hike in Kokee. Awa'awa'puhi descends the forested palis to provide spectacular views of the rugged Na Pali coastline below.

Wildlife, like goats, deer and boar, live in these woods and are often hunted by locals in order to feed their families.     

Local hunters, however, are closely regulated by the Dept. of Land and Natural Resources and do not hunt on or near hiking trails.

Information about Koke'e's natural history can be obtained from the Koke'e Museum, located in the Kanaloahuluhulu Meadow. Beautiful local crafts and interesting books about Kauai are also available here.

Notice all the chickens waiting for a handout? Bird lovers from lower areas of Kauai have been known to bring their unwanted chickens and roosters to Koke'e where they get special treatment by the tourists! Hungry chickens and visitors can also find sustenance at the Koke'e Lodge, where a favorite menu item is the Portuguese Bean Soup. The Lodge stocks a lots of souvenirs and T-shirts, and administers the state rental cabins .  

For information go to http://www.kokee.org or call (808) 335-9975 for weather conditions on the mountain and a schedule of upcoming events.

For information about renting a cabin please see http://thelodgeatkokee.net or call (808) 335-6062

To camp, hunt or fish, go to http://www.hawaiistateparks.org/


What's up with all the Chickens? A bit of Kauai history!

Arriving on the island of Kauai, one may, or may not, soon be aware of the abundance of  barnyard fowl roaming around the island seemingly at will. There are many stories about the origins and proliferation of Kauai's chicken population -- and most of the stories are true.

The beautifully plumed roosters and multi-colored, spotted hens are descendants of the original "canoe fowl" brought to Hawaii by the first Polynesian voyagers  to be used for food and eggs. The 'Moa" (Hawaiian for chicken or rooster) have survived to this day, and have strengthened their genetic make-up by co-mingling with traditional, white barnyard fowl that were originally housed in pens and chicken coops throughout the island. When various hurricanes made landfall on or near Kauai (4 since the 1950s) and blew down the chicken coops, the new, intermingled chicken species thrived.

Other Hawaiian Islands have escaped this chicken profusion because early sugar growers introduced mongoose to all the islands EXCEPT Kauai. They believed that mongoose would keep the Polynesian rat from decimating the sugar crop. However, the growers overlooked the fact that mongoose -- natural rat killers -- are daytime animals, and rats are nocturnal, so the two never engaged in battle. Mongoose also eat bird -- and chicken -- eggs , thereby greatly reducing bird populations on all islands but Kauai. So the next time a rooster crows at daybreak, you can thank the eco-minded plantation bosses from Kauai who kept the nasty mongoose away from the Garden Isle. Thankfully, a lack of mongoose also allowed native and endemic bird species proliferate on Kauai.



The World -Renowned Kalalau Trail on Kauai Island, Hawaii --Trail info and closure schedule


 Na Pali - the Cliffs in Hawaiian - is one of the most beautiful and remote areas on Kaua‘i. The strenuous eleven-mile Kalalau Trail winds along this rugged coastline, providing the only land access to legendary Kalalau Valley. The trail and facilities are rugged; some eroded areas are very narrow over cliffs that are hundreds of feet high.

Commencing at Ke'e Beach , located at the most northern end of Kauai, the Kalalau Trail may be hiked in increments and divided up into shorter hikes for those wishing only a day trip.

Segment One: Ke'e Beach to Hanakapai Beach: approximately 2 miles of rainforest hiking. Please do not swim at Hanakapai Beach! Very treacherous currents carry people away every year. OPEN

Segment Two: Hanakapai Beach to Hanakapai Falls - an additional mile makes this a great day hike when combined with Segment One. Swimming in the waterfall pool is recommended!  OPEN

Segment Three: Ke'e Beach to Hanakoa Campground - Roughly half way to Kalalau Valley, this area is located on a stream covered by an extensive jungle canopy. Permits required to camp here. CLOSED

Segment Four: Ke'e Beach to Kalalau Valley: A long, arduous 12-mile hike through very rough and muddy jungle terrain interspersed by miles of dry, sun-blasted, exposed and sometimes crumbling cliffsides. CLOSED



The Kalalau Trail is currently CLOSED for hiking, EXCEPT the trail from Kee Beach to Hanakapai Falls. This 8 mile round trip trek will give you a satisfactory taste of the Kalalau Trail without the hassle of a two day hike, lugging heavy back packs and having to get camping permits.


Questions? Call the DLNR for more info: (808) 274-3444

The Kalalau Trail will be closed from Sept. 7 to Nov. 7. The state Department of Land and Natural Resources will close Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park on the North Shore from Hanakapi‘ai to Kalalau Valley for a multi-faceted improvement effort that includes a rockfall mitigation project above the Ho‘ole‘a waterfall and shoreline sea cave areas.

 “This unprecedented closure will provide us the opportunity to address a variety of long-overdue, critical public safety and natural and cultural resource management issues, as we pursue our commitment to improving one of the most popular wilderness camping areas in the world,” said Laura Thielen, DLNR chair.


Historic Waimea Town & Sugar Plantation Walking Tour -- Waimea , Kauai, Hawaii

HISTORIC WAIMEA WALKING TOUR  Date: Every Monday  Time: 9:30 a.m.
Place: West Kauai Technology & Visitors Center, Waimea

Take a 90-minute walking tour and experience "A Glimpse of the Historic Waimea". Best known as the place English explorer Capt. James Cook first landed in Hawaii. Missionaries established schools, rice and sugar growers changed the landscape and historic buildings were rebuilt after Hurricane Iniki. Enrich your historical knowledge about the town that was once a major population to ruling chiefs. Be sure to wear light clothing and comfortable walking shoes. Free. Call: (808) 338-1332. (Photo at Rt. - Capt. James Cook)

Date: Every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday
Time: 9:00 a.m. (Approx. 90 min. tours)
Volunteers lead you back in time through Waimea Plantation Cottages, a vacation resort of restored plantation houses, and the neighboring Waimea Sugar Co. "camp" of houses dating to the turn of the century. (Photo at Lt. - Old Mill)

 Learn about the immigrants that came from all over the world to build the sugar industry. Waimea Mill Sugar Company (1884-1969) was a family operation and was for many years the smallest sugar plantation in the Hawaiian Islands. Selected by Travel Holiday Magazine as one of the 25 Best Kept Secrets in Hawaii March 1998. Tours are limited to 12 people.

Reservations (808) 335-2824. For other information or special group tours call (808) 337-1005.


Vacationers Enjoy Mind & Body Stretches at Kalaheo Yoga, Kauai Hawaii

 Kalaheo Yoga, Kauai’s premier comprehensive yoga studio. Located on the South Shore of the beautiful garden island of Kauai, our studio is close to the resort areas of Poipu and Koloa. We offer a full schedule of classes honoring a variety of yoga traditions. Our studio provides instruction for beginning students, who have never tried yoga before, to experienced students, who wish to deepen their yoga practice. Our instructors are dedicated to sharing the yoga journey, through safe and precise instruction in each of the yoga traditions.

We encourage everyone to experience the benefits of yoga. The postures in yoga are a series of stretching and strengthening exercises performed in coordination with the breath. Through these postures you will develop strength and flexibility, gain discipline and self-control by cultivating awareness. You will balance the mind and emotions while reducing pain and stress.

For class schedule click   http://kalaheoyoga.com/KalaheoYogaSchedule.pdf