Looking for an unusual way to spend the afternoon while tasting some of the best that Kauai has to offer? Try taking a food tour with Tasting Kauai. I knew little about this company until Stephanie Michel (photo above), a fabulous concierge that I recommend to my Honu Point guests, raved about the experience she had while taking each of the five food tours around the island.
This is what stephanie posted on her Facebook page: “This is new FAVORITE TOUR!!! It’s a FOOD TOUR! They have several tours and I DID THEM ALL. They have them Saturdays/Tuesdays/Wednesdays/Thursdays and Fridays. NO EXCUSES! 5 TOURS TO CHOOSE FROM. (FIVE!) This is the best way to meet locals/See places there’s NO WAY you could otherwise see and get an insiders EDUCATION on what is going on here on Kauai. AND THE FOOD IS THE CHERRY ON TOP. IT’S ALL DELICIOUS! Not to mention the sweetest most knowledgeable guides I HAVE EVER MET ON KAUAI. I am going to scream this tour off my roof top!” Yes, Stephanie tends to get very excited about Kauai activities.
I oftentimes get asked the question, “What is the best Kauai helicopter tour company?” I have been hesitant to answer in the past because I have not personally been on a Kauai helicopter tour since the 80s. Last week, however, a good friend of mine who owns a condo in Princeville, went on the Blue Hawaiian Helicopter Tour out of the Princeville Airport and came back raving about it. “We FINALLY experienced this March 2019 – and WOW! It is by far the BEST way to get a sense of the whole island. It was spectacular!”
Kauai is unique in that there is no road which circles the island. Therefore 70% of the lush interior, along with the Na Pali Coast is inaccessible by car. This is, without question, the most beautiful part of the island. The tropical rain-forests, lush valleys and cascading waterfalls are what dreams are made of. Parts of the Waimea Canyon can be seem by driving to the west side of the island and up to Kokee State Park (about a two hour drive from Princeville). The 17 mile Na Pali Coast, with 3000 foot sea cliffs, is stunning by boat. However, ocean swells often keep boats from touring during winter months. A Kauai helicopter tour, on the other hand, will give you a bird’s eye view of this spectacular scenery and Blue Hawaiian Helicopters fly year-round, weather permitting of course.
If you find yourself falling in love with the albatross in Honu Point’s neighborhood, consider a walk with Cathy Granholm. She lives just down the street and checks on the albatross almost daily. With her computerized list of tag numbers handy, she scouts the neighborhood (and Princeville in general) to see which adults have flown in. She has been following some of these adults for years and has a family tree showing the lineage of many of the birds. She also checks each nest to make sure the chicks are progressing as they should.
Cathy’s walks are fascinating, filled with facts, theories, and lots of stories about birds she has observed over time. Because albatross return to where they are born and where they nest, it is much like a family reunion each year when the birds return from the north. She, like I, and many of the neighbors, feel totally invested in their welfare. Cathy has anecdotes about who has paired up with who (not all mate for life apparently) and about times when she has had to step in and help out a fledgling trying to fly for the first time. There are some funny stories as well as some sad ones. I keep telling her she needs to write a book.
I had heard that Captain Andy’s Na Pali Coast Sunset Dinner Sail is a great way to celebrate any occasion. So Tom and I decided to give it a go for our wedding anniversary. We had been on a two hour sunset sail off the coast of Poipu with Captain Andy’s many years ago but this was a four hour excursion and it went down the Na Pali coast.
There are three of Andy’s boats that go down the Na Pali coast for a sunset dinner cruise. The two custom 65′ Star Class luxury catamarans are the best. We were on the Southern Star which is a sister ship to the Northern Star (pictured above). There were about 50 people on board along with the crew who were ready to serve.
There is seating in the front of the boat, inside a cabin and in the rear. In order to avoid a lot of wind and water spray we found some extremely comfortable seats around a table in the back of the boat.
Visiting the USS Arizona Memorial from Kauai, you say? Yes, I didn’t realize day trip tours of the historical monument are available until something caught my eye on Facebook. Most people visit the memorial when they are on the island of Oahu. But, what if you don’t want to stay on Oahu and still want to visit the USS Arizona Memorial? You may plan a side trip on your own or let someone else plan the adventure for you. It is a long day, but the experience may well be worth it.
I visited the USS Memorial on my first trip to Hawaii in 1980. It is a powerful and moving experience. Accessible only by boat, you are taken out to the actual site of the sunken battleship in Pearl Harbor. The monument, which is built directly over the ship, marks the resting place of 1,177 sailors and Marines who died when the battleship was bombed on December 7, 1941, about 15 minutes into the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Over 900 bodies could not be recovered from the ship and remain on board.
There are many reasons to visit the Grove Farm Museum on Kauai, Hawaii. Perhaps you are interested in the history of the sugarcane industry on this tropical island. Or, you are curious about the Wilcox family. You could be trying to escape the rain or filling the hours between check-out and a late night flight. Whatever the reason, Grove Farm Museum is a unique look at life on Kauai in the 19th and 20th century.
If you are a “Birder” and would like to immerse yourself in the world of birds on Kauai, may I suggest you hire Hob Osterlund as your personal bird watching guide. You could not find anyone more qualified than she. Her book, Holy Moli: Albatross and Other Ancestors, is now in its third printing and she is working on a documentary production called “Kalama’s Journey”, scheduled to be completed in 2018. I have known Hob for several years and she is the “go to” person for questions about our flying wildlife.
If you happen to be on island the beginning of December, however, make sure you go to Hob’s annual Princeville Library presentation on Wednesday, December 6th. She will be talking about “Albatross of Kauai – Their Style and Story.” She is a great story teller and a fabulous photographer so it’s certain you will enjoy the show. It starts at 5:00 and is free and open to the public.
Visit Hawai`i’s ONLY remaining Rice Mill (listed on the National Register of Historic Places), where the past meets the present. Tucked away on a working wetland taro farm (the largest taro farm in the state) on Kaua`i’s dramatically scenic North Shore, the Haraguchi Rice Mill is found within a National Wildlife Refuge, usually not accessible to the public. Learn about Hawai`i’s agriculture and cultural history, view endangered native water birds, and explore the cultivation and uses of taro, a traditional Polynesian food source. Then enjoy a complementary picnic lunch featuring unique items prepared with taro grown on the very farm you visit.
Summer is approaching and Na Pali Catamaran offers a sea tour down the Na Pali Coast from Hanalei Bay. Most boat tours leave out of Port Allen on the west side of the island (90 minute drive away), but a few have a license to leave right out of Hanalei Bay (5 minute drive away). This makes it far more convenient when staying at Honu Point. In addition, by leaving from the bay you will be right on the edge of the Na Pali Coast giving you amazing views from the very beginning of the tour until the very end. Check this out.
One of the hidden treasures that shouldn’t be missed while visiting Kauai is the Hindu Temple and Sanctuary in the hills behind Kapaa. It is an architectual wonder and America’s only all-granite Hindu Sanctuary. It started in 1975 as Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami’s (1927-2001) vision of a pure and powerful white granite temple sculpted in India and erected ten thousand miles away on Kauai. In 1990 he chipped the first stone with his own hands in India and later laid the first stones at his monastery on Kauai. I took this photo in 2007. Much progress has been made since. It’s hard to know when it will be completed. Funds are raised every year to continue the work (almost $800,000 last year).
Between 1990 and 1992 a full village was built in Bangalore, India for 75 families. Masons in this town hand carve the granite and then ship the finished sections to Kauai in containers. Other masons travel to Kauai to continue carving and place the stonework in the Temple. Watching them chisel away with hand tools is fascinating.