An August 2002 trip
to Kauai by PDJ
Quote: I have visited three islands of Hawaii and read several guidebooks about Hawaii. So far, I give Kauai the most thumbs up for combined quality of beauty, variety, preservation, and availability of modern convenience for vacationers. That makes this island very romantic.
As the oldest among Hawaiian isles, it has had the most time to be sculpted and adorned by the nature. But the local government restricts development and commerce so as to preserve the rare beauty, which is the reason why you will not see a building over three stories (except Princeville Resort, which is built in steps, so technically, they are no more than three stories high at any one point). The island, though small, varies its landscape with lush tropical mountains, rivers, waterfalls, dry canyons, pristine beaches, and grand cliffs sculpted with caves and coves.
Kauai has more timeshare resorts than any other Hawaiian isles. I like them for more home-like ambiance and flexibility to cook your own meal. Although more laid back than Oahu or Maui, Kauai is no less abundant in tours and rentals for various activities including snorkeling, hiking, horseback riding, kayaking, sailing, and surfing. Of course, there are also several luaus with Hawaiian dance and music. In other journals, I will share with you what not to miss and how and when not to miss them.
If you like to snorkel in some of Kauai’s best coral reefs or sail to Na Pali coast, summer is the best time. You will have more rain in the summer generally and particularly in the east and north where higher mountains cause clouds driven by trade wind to unload. So if you like sunny weather, stay in the southern part like Poipu, either in the summer or winter. But if you like paradise-like scenery and don’t mind more frequent showers, stay in Princeville--it’s the ultimate.
Also, if you want to sail to Na Pali or take a helicopter ride over Kauai (I suggest you do either or both), you can take advantage of huge discounts offered by some timeshare resorts. You just have to attend their one hour presentation. Tour discount centers may offer some discount with no string attached. However, if you want the best sails and helicopter rides in a busy season, you should make reservations in advance with little or no discount.
Na Pali coast is best seen from the air or water, but very difficult hiking trails will take you to the places where boats and helicopters are not allowed to land.
Hotel | "Radisson Kauai Beach Resort--Luxury For Less"
For more information, check out www.Radisson.com and search for the Lihue location. Special vacation packages are available through RCI as well as discounts through AAA and other memberships.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 7, 2002
Kauai Beach Resort
4331 Kauai Beach Drive
Lihue, Hawaii 96766
Hotel | "Pahio at Bali Hai Villas"
I was not disappointed when I arrived in Kauai. First of all, you can check in at the airport, get your key, and drive right to your unit. To get to the resort, you drive through the beach towns of the east, lush green forests along the north shore, and then through an upscale neighborhood of Princeville, of which I am sure the houses are worth millions of dollars. Although I did not have the ocean view I had hoped for, our unit faced the green Princeville golf course with the backdrop of mountains. The property is about a half mile away from the sea cliffs and did not have a very good ocean view anyway.
The rooms were truly bright, decorated by whitewashed rattan furnishings with pastel colored fabrics. Our unit was equipped with its own laundry facility, which was great because we used it almost everyday due to beach activities. Each room came with its own TVs and the living room also had a VCR and a stereo system with a CD player. Kitchen equipment and facility were all new, adding to the pleasantness. A balcony outside of the living room had a table large enough to accommodate five of us, although we had to bring out an extra chair from the inside. We had many breakfasts and lunches there.
Plenty of activities were offered, both educational and recreational. They had a slide presentation of ocean’s ecosystem, scuba demonstrations, a round of golf, and even a yoga class, to list a few. They also organized a potluck for all the guests of several Pahio resorts in Princeville with free Mai Tai drinks, Hawaiian musicians, a hula dancer, and raffles. The best thing about this resort was, however, its situation in the most beautiful town in Kauai--Princeville. If you ever get to stay in the area, take a stroll along its golf course or to the nearby cliffs around sunrise or sunset and you may wish you were there to stay for the rest of your life.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on November 1, 2002
PAHIO Bali Hai Villas
4970 Pepelani Loop
Princeville, Hawaii 96722
Restaurant | "Cafe Hanalei, Where View Is Sumptuous Enough"
WHEN TO GOThe perfect time to go dining is about one hour before sunset. By being there early, we avoided crowds and chose the best possible table even without a reservation. Glass-like water pool by tables and calm waters of Hanalei Bay surrounded by mystic mountains shrouded with clouds were truly mesmerizing. When the sun set over the Pacific horizon with colorful glow in the sky, many guests were out of their seats clicking away their cameras as if they had not seen a sunset before. Indeed the sunset appeared different, and you can only experience it by being there.
FOOD AS AN ACCESSORYNeed I tell you about their food? The scenery is sumptuous enough that I wondered why they even serve food there. But as a courtesy, let me list some of their delicacies: - Steamed Hawaiian Snapper with ginger, cilantro, shiitake mushrooms, and green onions - Macadamia Nut Crusted Chicken Breast with grilled vegetables and guava butter sauce - Broiled Japanese fresh water eel over steamed rice with a mirin shoyu sauce, served with miso soup, pickled vegetables, and green saladThe menu is more eclectic than American, but then what is American if not eclectic? Bon appetit.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 1, 2002
5520 Kahuku Road
Princeville, Hawaii 96722
Attraction | "Na Pali Coast--A Fantasy Land To Be Revisited"
Na Pali coast is probably one of the most filmed location in Kauai for Hollywood movies. The majestic cliffs, with caves and coves of secluded beaches, made the coast ideal for movies like Jurassic Park series, King Kong(1976), and Windtalkers, which required background with little or no touch of civilization.
HOW AND WHEN TO GOThere are no roads for automobiles to take you there, except a narrow, difficult trail fit for the physically fittest. Unlike a helicopter tour, which gives you only glimpses, taking a boat gives you enough time to admire the natural wonder at a closer range. However, the time you can visit via water is limited to mostly the warmer months when weather is more clement. When my wife and I first visited Kauai in November of 1997, no boat went out to Na Pali due to wind and rough waves. In our second visit in August 2002, we had almost a perfect weather, perhaps too perfect for our sailboat because our captain had to power it all along the coast instead of using its sail.
ONLY ONE BOAT FROM THE NORTHMost boats disembarked from Port Allen or Poipu in the south except Captain Sundown, which sailed out of Hanalei Bay in the north. (Please see my journal on "Captain Sundown" to see why it is the only one and what advantages you have by sailing from the north). We sailed west for less than a half-hour when we turned southwest around the bend marked by Bali Hai. The coast I read so much about appeared before us like a brand new scene in a movie.
SCENIC BEAUTIES TO SEEWe could see the cliffs with many peaks towering over us. A small beach below was crowded with people, but there would be fewer and fewer people as we sailed down the coast. At one point my sister-in-law dropped her jaw as she looked toward a small beach. I looked and noticed some people sunbathing au naturale. In various places small waterfalls appeared, cascading into the ocean as in a fantasyland. Then the caves, carved out by powerful waves that pound the shoreline in the winter months. Some kayakers ventured into the waters of the caves, perhaps to encounter a pirate ship full of treasures. As we went further south, clouds hung over peaks and sunlight shone through their edges as if gods were descending. The ocean breeze, often spraying mist of water on our faces, transported us to a higher state of exhilaration.
SEEING IS NOT ENOUGHThe perfect beauty of Na Pali shoreline called us like Sirens; yet, like Odysseus, we were bound to the boat, unable to swim ashore. We were only allowed to snorkel in a rocky beach where we were able to witness a sea turtle among other exotic, colorful ocean creatures. Overall, the short six-hour trip left me with more desire to return to Na Pali. Only, next time, I would return via trails to experience the fantasyland instead of just seeing it.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 5, 2002
Na Pali Coast
Northwest Shore (end Of Highway 56)
Na Pali, Hawaii 96714
808 274 3444
Attraction | "Captain Sundown, Na Pali Sea Tour From Hanalei Bay"
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 6, 2002
Captain Sundown Catamaran Boat Tours
P.o. Box 697, Hanalei Bay
Attraction | "A Romantic Place To Take A Walk In The East Shore"
A Romantic Walk
4331 Kauai Beach Drive
Attraction | "The Best Places For Novices To Snorkel In Kauai"
I chose Snorkel Bob’s (located in Kapaa and Koloa) because they had by far the largest inventory with the greatest selections and friendliest service. My whole family needed corrective lenses for masks, and they had no problem fulfilling our needs. We found that for such niceties, we had to pay a little "mo." (You can visit their website at snorkelbob.com to find out the origin of the word "mo.")WHERE TO PRACTICEFor new beginners, the best place to start is in their resort’s swimming pool. You can put your gears on and practice until you get used to them. Another good place to practice is Lydgate State Park in Kapaa, which has saltwater pools created by a man-made breakwater. The pools stay calm even when the ocean is tempestuous.WHERE TO VENTURE OUT
When you have built up some confidence, you can venture out in few beaches surrounded by natural reefs. In the south, we found Poipu Beach Park is the best place for novices like us. It has two coves separated by a lava bed which acts somewhat like a breakwater, keeping waves calmer. The moment we put our faces under the water, we saw schools of fish swimming around us. We felt as if we were in an aquarium. This place is more ideal in the winter when waves are gentler.
In the north, I recommend Ke’e beach above many other fine beaches there. It is located where Highway 560 ends. It is a small cove with water as calm as a swimming pool. We had to swim out a little to get to reefs and that’s where we saw many colorful fishes.
Besides these, we found Tunnels Beach just east of Ke’e Beach to be suitable, although it had less creatures to see. However, we found a seal lying on the sand basking in the sun there—a rare treat even for the locals. Note, however, that the northern beaches can be prohibitively dangerous in the winter months.THE BEST TIME OF DAY TO SNORKEL
The beach water is the calmest in the early morning when wind direction shifts and is undisturbed by people. But for better visibility, direct sunlight is essential. Therefore I prefer morning, around nine, for best snorkeling experiences. It is also much easier to find parking earlier.
For a detailed reference help, get a copy of "Snorkel Kaua’i" by Judy and Mel Malinowski. I found it most helpful in my venture to explore the hidden, beautiful
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 15, 2002
Fountain Valley, California