Writers, write. It is what they do in lieu of more expensive therapy.
Here are some recent writings I have done on Hawaii. Hope you enjoy them.
The article called simply "Kauai" is large -- and I have made it into several chapters to reduce the loading time for dialup.
Kauai Update -- 2010
The hallmark of Kauai in 2010 is the number of stores that have gone out of business at the Kukui and Coconut Grove shopping Center. Both are running at only about 50% occupancy.
We found this a little surprising because the plane to and from Kauai -- we fly Hawaiian Air -- is just as crowded as always . I guess people are just buying less.
Particularly distressful for us was that Kauai Bikini and the Native Products Store were closed in the Kukui Center, and the Ships Gallery at Coconut.
We found our usual food haunts to be better than ever: Breakfasts at Eggberts in the Coconut Shopping Center, Dinners at The Bull Shed in Kapa’a, lunch at CJ’s in Princeville, and Mai Tai at Kalypso’s in Hanalei.
The places we found that do not seem hurt by the economy are in Kilauea, Princeville and Hanalei. Kilauea and Princeville are likely haunts for the well-heeled-tourist, and Hanalei has never been big on people who wear loud shirts. You have to work to get to Hanalei, and the reward is great in character, food and ambience. The stores there are funky and not dependent upon great hordes of haoles., just a few will do. Hanalei doesn’t have airs.
But the traffic never stops, so I guess there are a lot of people still coming to Kauai. The planes are filled with entire families -- lots of children -- and the planes are full. They needed 10 volunteers to give up their seats in return for a $400 premiums and a secure passage on the next flight -- which means they overbooked.
If you are what I call a “bus tourist” -- you know the kind: Check in at the Marriott, lounge about the pool, play a round of golf, eat at the Marriott and get out once for a bus tour around the island -- that is one thing.
If you actually LIVE Kauai, that is another.
If you are a “Bus tourist” then nothing I write will make any difference to you anyway, so I assume that you are not.
Jean and I are North Coast Kauai types. Bus tourists are South Coast Kauai types. I am no longer able to hike the trails or kayak the rivers -- bit I have and strongly recommend it to those who can -- Kauai is a terrific outdoor spot, but for this years’ report I’ll concentrate on Hanalei -- my favorite place in the world, so that makes it easy.
Here is a full day, but you can pick and choose if you don’t want o spend all day:
Start EARLY with breakfast at the Wakeup Café, preferably before 7 a.m. and then proceed directly to the “end of the road” (literally) at Kee’e beach,
You crossed a one-way bridge to get to Hanalei. In the “old days,” island courtesy called for three cars to proceed in each direction before letting the other side use three. Today, with the increased traffic, it is six or seven cars at a time. To get to Kee’e, you have six or so more one way bridges to go
It is important to get there before the crowds -- because that is the famous beach where Thornbirds was filmed. It is Jean’s favorite beach (mine is Kalihiwai), and we can remember the days when you could roll live hand grenades on that beach all day.
Not only is the beach now crowded, but at the Kee’e Beach is also the trail head for the most famous trail on the island -- it leads into the Na Pali Coast and is 11 miles long, but there is a shorter version that only goes to a stream and waterfalls that takes a couple of hours. (If you are going to take this trail, I recommend stopping at the small market in the Ching Young shopping center in Hanalei and buying an inexpensive pair of Tabi (Japanese rock booties to handle the wet rocks.)
Whether you hike, swim, or just admire the beautiful beach, stop in at least one of the caves on the way back -- if you do it on the way to Kee’e you won’t get a close parking spot -- so visit the caves on the way back.
You should get back about lunch, so stop at Kalypso’s for lunch. (It used to be “Zelo’s Beach House) Kalypso’s changed the Zelo’s menu -- and have now added the best back. The place has always had the best Mai Tai on the island because they use fresh juices rather than mixes, but now they have brought back Zelo’s terrific hamburgers and waffle fires. My favorite is the ½ pound Kalypso Burger ($9.95) with bleu cheese --and yes, they will cook it rare! I order it with half order of waffle fries and half onion rings. Top that off with a Mai Tai and WOW!
Next, drive back several blocks toward Kee’e beach and take a picture of the Green Church. Behind it is a 170 year old church bell tower, and behind that is the Wai’oli Mission House, a restored first or second frame home built on the island -- and absolute must see. It is open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Here Barbara Kennedy will give you a tour you will not soon forget. (We have done it three times over the years.) There are no tourist-type signs leading you to this marvelous place -- the Wilcox family who lived here until 1867 and Mabel Wilcox restored it in 1927 didn’t like signs.
Go back across the street where the WakeUp Café is, and almost next to it is the Bikini Room. Kauai Bikini may have left Kukui Grove Shopping Center but you can still buy Brazilian cut and Kauai sewn Kauai Bikini’s in the Bikini Room. And near it is Pink’s Creamery (get ready for a treat) -- Jean says the best chocolate chip cookies on island, and I say what is best is their Kona Coffee Frapachino -- get both. (We did. Day after day after…)
About now, it should be nearing 3:30 p.m. Happy Hour, so take a walk through Ching Young’s stores, and end up back at Kalypso’s with Happy Hour Mai Tai at $5!
Most of everything in Hanalei is within one city block, on two sides of the street -- and the Wai’oli Mission Home is a whole two blocks away!
There are a few other things in Hanalei if you can fit them in -- the Dolphin House is the first thing you see in town after you cross the one-way bridge from Princeville. They serve a great “Bull Burger” with filet mignon as the meat. The ambience can’t be beaten -- sit out right by the Hanalei River. (The concrete seats are hard!)
(If you feel the need to Kayak, try the Hanalei River because it is normally calm. Only do the Wailua River at Kapa’a if you are strong – I have done it six times, but got caught there once in a raging storm! My Paddle Partner and I rescued on New Zealand man with a prosthetic leg and his 12 year old son whose kayak had swamped and they were in the water hanging onto roots!))
On Friday nights, the Tahiti Nui is a happening place with music and hula, and every night is a good night to take a Mai Tai and sandwich down to the Hanalei Pier to watch the sunset. The only place that matches the subset view is The Living Room at the newly remodeled St. Regis Princeville Hotel – but the drinks are $14.
Then there is Dave Rullo at Country Properties in the Hanalei Shopping Center just behind the Shave Ice bus if you want information on area property or surfing -- he is an old surfer from Bird Rock and can show you a really nice flat lot next to a home being built for one of the current surfing greats -- one of the Irons brothers from Kauai. (They win just about every international surfing competition.) As you might imagine -- Irons live in a nice neighborhood. Or ask him to show you Stanton Pa’s house – Jean and I have partied there many times…it is now a remodeled vacation rental at $2,600 a week or for sale for $1,900,000 and has the best view available anywhere. I mean…ANYWHERE!
The weather was awful if sun was your target (it isn’t ours) – the southern part of the island normally has about 12 inches at this time of year – it was well over 40 inches before we left in mid-April..
This was our 24th trip to the Separate Kingdom. It is indeed “100 miles away, and 100 years behind Honolulu.
That works for us.
2009 Kauai Update
The Hawaiian Air flights are absolutely full – probably the result of Aloha Airlines going under – and Hawaiian now tries to utilize their own Honolulu terminal, which means less time and energy in going from international to interisland planes in Honolulu. We never saw the International Terminal coming or going, and never had to walk much or take the Wiki-Wiki.
Hawaiian Airlines now gives the choice of a pasta dish or turkey croissant – the croissant is excellent.
If there is a challenged economy it is not obvious – and the number of children (and babies) flying to and from Hawaii is astounding. I strongly recommend the use of an iPOD, both as ear protection on planes but for car music on Kauai.
Hawaii has the world’s worst radio stations. Even their “Hawaiian” music is really Hawaiian Rock – so record a lot of your favorite music and use it in the car through an FM transmitter. It is better to take your own selection of music to Hawaii… there is a dearth of classical, jazz, soft jazz, or even adult soft Hawaiian music.
This is my latest personal recommendation. I have received nothing from these establishments – not even reduced prices.
Ni’ihau Helicopter 1-877-441-3500 Owned by the Robinson Family, who own Ni’ihau Island. I have never taken this trip, and neither has anyone I know – because it is virtually unknown. But some day I will do this! The trip is to the island of Ni’ihau -- WHERE FEW PEOPLE HAVE EVER BEEN. (http://www.niihau.us/heli.html) There are only 200 or so people on the island, Hawaiian is the major language spoken, there are no paved roads, and no commonly generated electricity. Their only means of support are the very valuable Ni’ihau Shell Necklaces, and Jean and I each have one. I want to take my Ni’ihau shells back to their origin. They are our prize possessions.
Best Vacation Rentals: Anything on Annini Beach on the high side, and Realtor Michael Smiths Kapa'a cabin on the edge of a jungle canyon on the low side. www.kauaisunshine.com (We often stay there.) If you are looking for a good Realtor, Mike is competent and honest.
Kalypso Bar – Hanalei -- the only place on the island I know of that makes their Mai-Tai with fresh fruit juices instead mai-tai mix.
Hamburgers; Cooks and chefs change, but GENERALLY, the best $20+ hamburger anywhere is The Living Room at the Princeville Hotel, once the Princeville Hotel re-opens. They have been undergoing renovation for many months and SUPPOSED to re-open in April…but this is Kauai!
The best $10 hamburger is CJ’s in the Princeville Shopping Center (I also like their Beefeaters sandwich – which is huge!). Their Meatloaf Special on Monday is terrific)
The best $5 hamburger is always, everywhere, the Double Whopper w/cheese from Burger King across from the Kuhio Shopping Center or in Kapa’a on Kuhio Highway. ,. (Except in the Honolulu Airport, where it is $10.)
Best Eggs Benedict: Eggberts, in the Coconut Grove Shopping Center
Best Pulled Pork Sandwich: Tie: Tom Kat in Old Koloa Town, and Kalaheo Café in Kaleheo.
Best Dinners: Bull Shed in Waipouli, just beside the Waipouli Beach Resort, and across the street from Safeway and Long’s shopping Center. I almost hate to mention Bull Shed, because we can remember the days before the tourists discovered it and dining was more local and serene, right on the ocean. You can get terrific steak, the finest Rack of Lamb, and Prime Rib to die for, all with a salad bar -- the small filet mignon is only $17 – and the hot bread is fantastic. We have had the same waitress for 20 years! Open only for dinner, and get there before 5:15 for a table on the ocean.
Kela’s Glass in Kapa’a, which would rival blown glass anywhere in the world.
The Museum Store. No tax. You can trust the authenticity. Great selection, but small. Particularly if you are interested in museum-quality lauhala, kappa cloth, or having an authentic Hawaiian Quilt hand sewn (most of the island quilts are made in the Philippines), see Sylvia Akana.
Koa Wood Products: Zimmer’s The Koa Store. I have several beautiful Koa wood products from them, to compliment my Koa Wood home office. They do beautiful work and their $6,000 rocking chairs are a sight to behold.
Kauai Products Store: In the Kukui Grove Shopping Center, we have been shopping in this store through three location changes – about 20 years. Mary Rich has been the owner for a very long time.
Best Hawaiian Paintings: Patrice Pendarvis in Kilauea – her paintings have been featured in shows at the Kauai Museum and Na A’ina Kai among other places. We own several of her prints, and one original. You can see her paintings at www.patricependarvis.com
Kapia Stitchery in Lihue: Great cloth, terrific quilts, tablecloths, runners, material, etc.. Everything cloth. A huge inventory
Hula Girl in Kapa’a – great dresses for young women.
The Ship’s Store in the Coconut Shopping Center. Some of the most awesome ship paintings of sailing ships in early Hawaiiana days, and old ships chronometers…and a Koa chart table that is not for sale but is gorgeous. If my wife left me here alone for just 10 minutes, I could easily (and gratefully) exceed even an unlimited credit card!
Best Bikini Store: Kauai Bikini, in the Kukui Shopping Center. I don’t even know anyone who can wear a bikini without embarrassment, but if you do this store is owned by the son of a Mainland friend, and he does mostly a booming internet business because, strangely, few people on Kauai actually wear bikinis. Recently, these swimsuits were started to be manufactured on Kauai, whereas they had previously been sewn in Brazil. (They stock other beachwear as well.) See www.kauaibikini.com
Teak and Treasures in Coconut Grove Shopping Center has some of the most unusual leather, but my favorite is Stingray skin. I bought a wallet, but passed on the briefcase for $1,200. If I was still in corporate…well…
Kong Lung in Kilauea has an absolutely beautiful store. We but mostly gifts there for others, but once in a while we splurge. Unfortunately, anything new must go under the bed…
Banana Patch in Kong Lung Shopping Center has interesting products, particularly bright tiles. I particularly like the one that reads "Mahalo For Removing Your Bikini."
Kilohana Clothing Store in the Coconut Grove carries Tori Richards shirts, as does Kong Lung above. Any store that carries Tori Richards gets my vote.
Addendum for 2004 and 2005This addendum is designed to update the previous writings until I can get my act together and incorporate the latest information.
Accommodations: We have had the opportunity to check into several non-hotel venues. While our personal interests go toward non-hotel venues, there are several hotels that deserve mention:
Radisson Hotel: Modestly priced, it is a bargain. This is where we stay the night before returning to the mainland, because it is clean, nice, moderately priced and (most importantly) it has an airport shuttle! There is a nice art store there, A Piece of Paradise, and the prices are reasonable for some really nice art. Caution: The beach is “right there” but if the red flag is up don’t even THINK about swimming! East shore waves on Kauai can be dangerous – heck, all waves on Kauai can be. If you don’t see a local in the water, don’t go in the water. Locals can “read” the waves…
Marriott Hotel (Lihue): The other hotel with a shuttle – beautiful but pricey. Nice restaurant, Duke’s, where the local uppercrust goes for Sunday Brunch.
Hyatt Regency Hotel (Poipu): While the Marriott is a standard Marriott, the Hyatt captures the mood of Hawaii. Gorgeous!
Princeville Hotel (Princeville): Located on the North Coast, this is the most beautiful hotel I have ever seen. For a “once in a lifetime” experience, this can’t be beat. The Living Room, the bar and light meal place has the most beautiful sunsets you will ever see. (It also has the best hamburger on the Island, but for $16, it should be!) Many Sunday nights, The Living Room features the slack Guitar of Ken Emerson and vocals of Michelle Edwards. “Best in Class” entertainment in a “Best in Class” venue.
Now to non-hotel options – which we personally prefer because a hotel is a hotel is a hotel…
On the south side of the Island we would stay at Gloria’s Spouting Horn B&B in Poipu. It is too pricey for our blood, but if we hit the lottery… There are only three bedrooms, but the setting is fantastic. Prices start at $275 a night and there is a three night minimum. Perhaps for our 50th anniversary…and you should consider it for a special occasion…
On the north side of the island we spent a month renting a home 3031 Kaohe Road. The view is unsurpassed in the world! It sleeps six – four more comfortably – and it is “just” a beach house, but for $125 a night, it is fantastic. This modest home would probably sell for more than $2 million, and it is in a modest neighborhood. In fact, as in most neighborhoods, the roosters will crow “indiscriminately” (read “all night”…and in this case the 16 goats across the street have been known to make a bit of morning noise. Nevertheless, look at the view I stitched together, and you may agree that this is one beautiful view. Call Joyce at 808-245-3235…she is the owner.
Misc. Notes: The Hawaiian Desert, located on Rice Street in Lihue, a place that I have previously touted for chicken, is no more. I have no idea what happened to them, but the doors are closed. Too bad.
My negative comments on the Ono Burger hamburgers in Anahola, may have to be revised. I am told Ono is under new management…and I hope their hamburgers have returned to their glory days. I’ll report when we return to the island toward the end of the year.
On the subject of Zello’s in Hanalei, I must modify some of my previous comments. I hated it when they went to Mexican Food, after all we live in California where there is great Mexican food and why would I want to go to Hanalei for more? Well, Zello’s have ended their Mexican food experiment – and now simply serve overpriced food. This last trip I literally took one look at the dinner menu and drove 30 minutes to The Bull Shed in Kapa’a for better food at a much lower price. But I had a mai tai first because a mai tai at Zelo’s is worth whatever they charge for it. Oh, yes, they now only serve their blue cheese hamburger (called “Le Stinky Burger”) before 3:30 p.m. – so go at 3:25 p.m., order Le Stinky Burger, and wait 5 minutes for the Happy Hour prices to kick in before you order the mai tai.
Shopping at the Kong Lung store in Kilauea has always been a must, and even more so now that they have leased some space to Banana Patch Studios – which was previously only in Hanapepe on the south side of the island. I could spend some serious money on their hand-painted tiles…
I have not previously even mentioned the Coconut Grove Shopping Center, primarily because I could not find a single shop worth mentioning. That has changed…breakfast at Eggberts is worth the wait (we can vouch for the short stack and the Eggs Benedict), and there are many excellent upscale shops there now. The Ships Store could take some serious amounts of our money if Jean would permit it and if I had sufficient remaining wall space to display the objects de art…
Although decidedly small, the Gift Shop in the Kauai Museum on Rice Street has many beautiful objects, and you can be assured of their authenticity. Equally important, they do not charge Hawaii sales tax, which is a high tax. (You can actually go to the Gift Store without paying the small fee for the entry to the museum – but don’t do that. The museum is well worth the price of admission.) The limitation placed on my buying in the Gift Shop is strictly the small size of my home and my pocketbook…I would happily take “one of each.” (Jean has now announced a “zero sum” policy -- every item added to the home on the mainland must be accompanied by an item sold, gifted, or placed under the bed…sigh…)
Well, there goes the neighborhood!
There is a Starbucks on Kauai! Actually, I love Starbucks, it is just that this, the most remote island in the world, has lost some of its charm with the inclusion of a Starbucks.
It is in the newly refurbished Kukui Shopping Center…if you have not been to Kauai in five years that is the largest shopping center, where The Liberty House once was the largest store on the island.
Macy bought The Liberty House, and after several years Macys has finally gotten the Hawaiian idea down…they no longer carry earmuffs.
While the mainland is debating if Wal-Mart is a good idea or not, on Kauai their arrival just a few years ago was a Godsend. Before Wal-Mart, there was a K-Mart…understocked and populated by some of the most inhospitable people on the island. Wal-Mart changed that, and is the most crowded place on the island, day and night,
As of last year, we have a Home Depot, and now, we look forward to a COSTCO, probably next year.
Yes, it is a trade-off…it is the homogenization of America, and a challenge for small businesses – but it is low prices and real inventory for the most remote island in the world, where prices were high if you could even find what you wanted!
And the arrival of Starbucks is a demonstration of the gentrification of the island. It was inevitable. But in the same shopping center, right next to Macys, is a local island favorite sandwich shop, the Classic Gourmet Deli and Bakery. Jean swears by the chicken sandwich, and I love their
It is always worth a visit when you are on the south side of the island.
On the north side of the island, CJ’s in the Princeville Shopping Center serves a great lunch. Probably some of the best food on the island. They open at 11:30 a.m., and some of their best bets are a roast beef sandwich w/B-B-Q sauce – or if you are really hungry, the Beefeaters Sandwich. (Jean says the B-B-Q is better than our otherwise favorite in Kerrville, Texas...I call it a tie.) Their hamburgers (made with Angus Beef) are second on the island only to the Living Room at the Princeville Hotel, but CJ’s offerings are about half the price of the Living Room. The onion rings at CJ's are as good as it gets.
(Let me emphasize, none of these places know me. I pay for everything myself, and would never accept a comped meal...)
There are big plans for the reconstruction of the Coconut Palms complex just south of Kapa’a. It will, when completed a fine destination place again…it has been in disrepair since its near destruction during the Iniki Hurricane of 1992.
The year 2005 was welcomed in with one of the worst rainstorms in recent memory…it nearly destroyed the Smith Boat dock at the Fern Grotto. I understand that the Fern Grotto is a “must see” on everyone’s list, but I don’t see it. The Grotto ferns were nearly destroyed by Hurricane Iniki and it will be many years before it has returned to its former glory.
That said, the Hula exhibition at Smith’s is well worth the money…it is a LITTLE hokey, but compared to most tourist shows it is excellent. (See my writing on the Hula by clicking the button on the left...)
There are two really excellent things to do that are out of the ordinary – the flights by helicopter to Ni’ihau (when available) from Ni’ihau Helicopter at 877-441-3500. That is on my schedule for my next visit. This, and the item below, are worth a separate visit to Kauai…
The other great opportunity is an archaeology tour in a Hummer, and led by a Kauai Archaeologist – Nancy Mcmahon. The terrific rain storms at New Yeas kept me from going this time, but I will schedule this for my next visit..
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