Kauai: The Garden Isle — 1/2
To make a detour from everyday life take a 6 hour plane ride to the very
western edge of the United States.
Hawaii is a wonderful place for a laissez faire attitude to settle into a
worn, mainland body. Hawaii is exotic enough to make you feel you are far
away from it all, yet has all the conveniences, amenities and ease that is
essential for all lazy travel.
Kaua’i, also known as the Garden Isle, has all these aspects and a taste of
every flavor of the Hawaiian islands, no island hopping needed. One of the
best times to visit is during their winter off-season when the days are a
balmy 82 degrees, it rains for about 10 minutes each morning and evening
and the waters are sporting warm waves.
You will have to deal with the Trade Winds that come down from the
Northeast Pacific, but because of this the beaches will be deserted. You
can run the whole length of a white sand beach and run into more turtles
Starting from the county seat of Lihue on the East end of the island and
heading north will bring you into Wailua and Kapa’a (from the funny
telephone conversation in the movie “Honeymoon in Vegas”). Both small towns are
reminiscent of Santa Cruz, California: a hip, local surfer hangout with
funky artists’ shops and open coffee stalls. The farther north you go, the
less populated the island becomes.
This 533 square mile island houses a population of around 54,000 people,
not including the numerous tourists who hop in from other islands.
The one main highway around the island makes it very easy to find your way
around and in three days you will know the whole island. The roads are
clean and well cared for even though the road signs may throw you off a bit,
but some travelers know that it is best to get lost once in a while.
The northern waters of Kaua’i are known for being rougher in the winter
than other shores of the island, but this is where you will find some of the
most scenic stops, white beaches, wet , green cliffs that plunge into
valleys filled with sugar cane and rainbow villages. The highest point of
the island is the cloud covered Mount Wai’ale’ale. At 5,148 feet it is
the wettest place on earth and receives more than an inch of rain a day.
Looking up into the green slopes of the mountain you can see thin, silver
waterfalls of pure rain water snaking down into the valleys below.
Heading south from Lihue will take you into the resort communities of the
island. Poipu is the largest town. Here is where the party-goer will find
the dance clubs, restaurants and other resort amenities that come to life in
Kaua’i’s tropical night.
Restaurants in Kauai serve the usual American fare with local fruits and
vegetables and an Asian influence thrown in. Be prepared for slower service
that what you may be used to. You shouldn’t be in a hurry anyway.
Poipu is also where most boat tours dock. Each tour is different and
ranges from low basic prices to luxurious accommodations which include
gourmet meals. Each tour boasts a different adventure to be had, but most
of them all sail to the same areas of the island. However, during the
winter and spring off-season most boats will not land on any beaches due to
the surf and the surge that continuously rock and slosh passengers. Get
ready for a fun or nauseating ride, according to your personality.
Our mid-range vessel, a catamaran named the Amalua, took about fourteen
passengers up along the Na Pali coastline which runs along the southern and
western part of the island. Several movies including Jurassic Park, Six
Days and Seven Nights, King Kong and South Pacific have been filmed along
these green and red cliffs that soar out of the blue ocean and are crowned
with clouds and white birds.
Most likely, several pods of dolphins will tailgate your vessel. The
resident cetaceans of the area are smaller than your average bottlenose – about half the size of a man-and are called “spinners” for the aerial acrobatics they perform in the waves and boat wakes.
Read Part Two of Kauai: The Garden Isle