It was the news we had all been waiting for – Hawaii’s Reopening! Governor Ige held a news conference at the Honolulu Airport last Wednesday to announce that Hawaii will reopen to domestic and international travel on August 1st, as long as visitors can show a negative Covid-19 test result within 72 hours of departure. So, what does this mean?
Inter-island travel reopened without requiring a quarantine on June 16th. The 14-day quarantine is still in effect for domestic and international travel, and will continue to be in effect indefinitely. However, now there is another option for travelers outside the state. The model was taken from Alaska’s reopening this month. If a visitor agrees to take a Covid-19 test within 72 hours of departure, and is able to show a negative result, they will be allowed to enter the state after July 31st without having to quarantine.
I feel like I am living in a pandemic bubble on Kauai. While the world continues to fight off the Corona Virus and the economy is at its breaking point, time seems to have slowed to a crawl on this little island in the Pacific. Our last confirmed case of Covid-19 was April 5th, bringing the total to 20. Our Governor and Mayor are very slowly and cautiously reopening aspects of society to residents, but the fear of allowing visitors back to the islands is visceral. Currently we have a 14-day quarantine for anyone (visitor or resident) arriving in Hawaii and vacation rentals are banned from operating. This, of course, breaks my heart as I have had to reschedule or refund 15 reservations so far. Waiting to hear each month if there is going to be another extension is stressful, to say the least.
It is hard for me to do what many here are doing, and that is to take advantage of this time to enjoy the island without crowds. The underlying reason always seems to crop up in my psyche. But, I will admit that not having helicopters and sightseeing airplanes flying overhead makes for some quiet and peaceful days. Being able to plan a trip to Lihue without considering Kapaa traffic is refreshing. And, quickly finding a parking space right in front of Foodland is Heaven! Yes, there are some advantages to having fewer people around.
The beaches are pretty idyllic as well. One trip to Ke’e found us at the end of the road sharing one of the most popular Kauai beaches with one woman and her son. Earlier Tom and I walked the stretch of Tunnels Beach passing a handful of people. SeaLodge Beach is generally empty and today we hiked down to Queen’s Bath (photo above) to find three local people searching for Opihi (Hawaiian shellfish) on the rocks. Yes, a few more people arrived before we left, but nothing like the numbers that are normally there when it is open.
The Hawaiian sea turtles were in abundance along the rocks and reef edge eating the algae that grows there:
It is a strange and unsettling time living with social distancing on Kauai. After all, being social is what small-town living is all about. I miss the hugs that have become our welcome greeting since moving to the Garden Island. I miss the barbeques, the dinner parties, the fundraisers. I miss having friends over to play cards. I miss playing pickleball.
Even though the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus on Kauai has remained at 21 since last weekend, with 17 recovering, the state and county orders are still in place as Oahu battles to lower the curve. Our night curfew is in place, most businesses are closed, very few people are working, and face masks are required when in public. Fortunately though, Governor Ige and Mayor Kawakami understand the need for residents to exercise. Outdoor activities are a huge part of life in an area of the world where weather is pretty perfect year round.
So, surfing, swimming and hiking are still doable as long as social distancing is practiced. With this in mind, on Sunday Tom and I decided to leave Bandit, our cat, and the hens behind for an afternoon of adventure. We drove to Honu Point, our vacation rental (now closed for business), parked, and hiked down the hill to Sea Lodge Beach. The last guests who stayed at the house told us about a waterfall they discovered. We were determined to find it.
As we approached the ocean, instead of going left to Sea Lodge Beach, we turned right. After climbing across some rocks and walking down the coast for a few hundred yards, we found what a lot of people want to see when coming to Hawaii, a beautiful waterfall.
Aloha to all of my subscribers: to past and future guests of our vacation rental, Honu Point, and to those who subscribe to find out more about the beautiful island of which I am lucky enough to call home – Kauai. This is, most definitely, the hardest blog post I have ever written. The coronavirus (Covid-19) is affecting every color of skin, every socio-economic level, and every walk of life. Kauai is not exempt. We are suffering too.
Because the first case on Hawaii came a couple of weeks after the virus hit the mainland, we did have a bit more time to prepare. Our governor and mayors of each county (island) acted quickly, enacting, first suggestions, and then orders, to prevent the spread of the virus. The first cases were travel related, either visitors coming to the islands or residents returning home. As feared, now some of the cases on Oahu are a result of community interaction with virus carriers. As of today there have been 224 confirmed cases in Hawaii and we had our very first virus-related death today.
Kauai, and it’s leadership under Mayor Kawakami, has been extremely proactive in keeping the virus from being spread throughout the community. As of yesterday, we have had twelve cases; all travel related. Six people with confirmed cases have recovered and returned home. The six remaining are residents who traveled back from the mainland. Five are in isolation at home and one has been hospitalized. Last Thursday, March 26th, a 14-day self-quarantine order was issued for anyone arriving in Hawaii, both visitors and tourists alike.
So you think you can dance? Good news! Dance on Kauai is alive and well. Whether it is ballroom, swing, Latin, tango, zouk or dancing with your partner on the sand, we have you covered. But, before I tell you what is happening on the Garden Island, check out this video that was created by one of the Oahu dance groups last year. The basic moves are West Coast Swing.
I have been involved with the swing dance community on Kauai for about 15 years. Our passion is west coast swing but that does not keep us from moving our hips to other forms of dance (cha cha, hustle, east coast swing, country 2-Step, nite club 2-Step, salsa). Every Tuesday evening a small group of us meet up at Rob’s Good Times Grill in Lihue for some companionship and dancing. Our leaders are really considerate about dancing with all the followers so no one gets left out. For years the owner of the grill has graciously allowed us to play our music through his sound system from 7:30 to 10:00. Many come early to eat in order to support our host. The food is yummy and relatively inexpensive. Visitors occasionally find us online and join in on the fun. Everyone is welcome.
Anaina Hou, home of the Kilauea Mini Golf and Porter Pavilion, continues to host Kauai events for residents and travelers alike. We are lucky to have this venue on the north shore. Following are the events scheduled for March 2020, with an added concert on April 2nd. Come join the fun!
Every Wednesday (Except Christmas) – Ahi Lele Luau Fire Show
Fire Dancing, Storytelling, and the Exhilarating Beat of Polynesian Drumming. Every Wednesday at Anaina Hou Porter Pavilion. Doors open at 6:00 pm. Arrive early to reserve your seats. Seating is limited and the show does sell out, so book your tickets in advance.
Trivia Night! Generally the first Friday of the month is Trivia Night at Anaina Hou. Get in the game just for fun, or get competitive and bring your trivia expert friends and family to win the ultimate bragging rights! Visitors and residents join up at tables to answer 40 questions. Doors open at 5:00; Gaming starts at 6:00 and runs for two hours. Tables may be reserved here, or just drop in and join a team. Snacks and drinks available for purchase. Food truck(s) on site. It’s free!
Friday, March 20th – Pau Hana Friday – Vic and the Victimz
“From the West Coast Swing of T-Bone Walker and the South-Side Chicago Grind of Muddy Waters to the Blues/Rock Stylings of Stevie Ray Vaughn, The Allman Brothers, and Carlos Santana, Vic & The Victimz offer a Blues-Infused selection of dance music for audiences of all ages.” Most of these musicians have been playing together for 20 years on Kauai. Bring a date, a friend, or your whole family. Here are a couple of videos to get you in the mood to dance!
You have arrived on Kauai and, if you are like most people, you can not wait to barbecue some fresh island fish. Depending on the time of year, you will have a choice of Pacific Blue Marlin, Ahi (yellow fin tuna), Aku (skip jack tuna), Ono (Wahoo), Opah, Sea Bass or, my favorite, Mahi Mahi (dolphin fish or dorado). Most restaurants will offer two, generally Ahi and Mahi Mahi or Ono. But, if you want to buy some to bring home to cook, here are your best options to buy fresh fish between Lihue and Hanalei.
Where to buy fresh fish on Kauai:
Start with Costco. Just about every day you will have a selection of several kinds of raw fish at the best price on the island. As with most things at Costco, however, the fish is packaged in fairly large quantities. If you are looking to feed four or more – no problem. For two people, you might consider buying a slab of fish, cutting it in half, and freezing one half for another night later in your trip. It will be just as tasty the second night you cook it. Or, cook up the whole piece and use the leftovers for fish tacos or wraps the next night.
Just recently, our Costco set up a sushi chef preparation area where you may also purchase fresh sushi daily.
Address: 4300 Nuhou St, Lihue, HI 96766
Phone: (808) 241-4000
The Fish Express
While still in Lihue, check out The Fish Express. Located right across the street from Walmart, this busy place has a small variety of raw fish, as well as a large variety of poke, shrimp and other items from the sea. In addition to seafood, they offer cuts of meat. Daily prepared specials are listed on a placard.
Address: 3-3343 Kuhio Hwy, Lihue, Hawaii 96766
Phone: (808) 245-9918
Hours: Monday through Saturday: 10:00 to 5:00, Sundays, starting March 1, 2020: 10:00 to 2:30 but grill will be closed.
Most grocery stores on the island will also carry fresh fish. Foodland, in Princeville, generally has quite a good selection (depending on how well the fish are biting). When I am not going to be in Lihue, this is where I buy my fish. They almost always have ahi and marlin. I prefer white fish so I am always on the lookout for Mahi Mahi, Ono, or occasionally Sea Bass. Here one can buy smaller portions to barbecue, fry, or bake. Try coating each serving of fish with olive oil and a combination of panko flakes and finely chopped up macadamia nuts. Then bake at 450 degrees until brown on top. It does not take long to bake and it is so delicious (ono)!
Foodland also features sushi chefs making a variety of fresh sushi for take-out.
The Kilauea Fish Market
Although most people go to this small fish market for prepared food (their fish tacos are the BEST), they do offer a few pieces of high quality fish for you to take home and cook. Located behind the stone building on the left side of Kilauea Road (road to the lighthouse), this popular spot can be quite crowded around lunch time with long wait times. There are a few tables on the covered patio and a couple of picnic tables on the grass where you may “dine in” or wait for your order.
Address: 4270 Kilauea Rd, Kilauea, HI 96754
Phone: (808) 828-6244
Hours: Monday through Saturday 11:00 – 8:00, closed on Sunday.
Just down the hill from Princeville, on the way to Hanalei Town, you will first see the Dophin Restaurant on your right, next to the Hanalei River. Around back is the small Dolphin Fish Market where you will find one of the best selections of raw fish on the north shore.
“If ‘Take out’ or ‘cook-your-own’ is where you’re at tonight, then there is no better place to start your meal preparation than the Dolphin Fish Market in Hanalei. Cleaned and cut by master fish cutters you are guaranteed to receive the finest cuts in fish or beef, not to mention specialties like Teriyaki Shrimp, Beef Stix, sushi rolls and fresh sashimi, poke salad, ceviche, seafood chowder, organic salad mixes, squaw bread garlic croutons (a delicious snack themselves) and The Dolphin’s homemade salad dressings.”
They are proud of their offerings as is suggested by their prices, but some people swear you will not find a better piece of fish.
Addriess: Hanalei Dolphin Center, 5-5016 Kuhio Highway, Hanalei
Phone: (808) 826-6113
Of course, the best way to ensure that you have fresh fish is to catch it yourself. Check out two fishing charters in the “Sports” category of my blog list. If you happen to see someone along the side of the road selling fresh fish, that is a great way to get yummy fish at a more reasonable price. Wherever you buy your fish and however you cook it, a trip to Kauai is not complete until you have tasted our local fish. Enjoy!
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It is always exciting when one happens upon an albatross courting dance. Last month I heard the distinctive sounds of two albatross just four doors down from Honu Point Vacation Rental. I grabbed my phone and sat down on the other side of a hedge to watch the show. Soon one of the birds came through the hedge and walked toward me. I started this video as the other one came over in hot pursuit. Some preening and bobbing started; sure signs that there was love in the air.
Have you ever thought about adding a Kauai spa experience to your time on the Garden Island? There are a few spas on the island, but how about if the spa came to you? Recently I was introduced to Robin Sheldon, owner and operator of Mobile Spa Kauai. Once a month a friend of mine invites Robin to her home for an hour and a half massage/facial treatment. She schedules herself and two other friends (a spa party!). I was lucky enough to be one of the “others” last month, and I can tell you first hand that it is a heavenly experience.
The first hour is a massage from head to toe. Following that is a wonderful facial, complete with warm scented towels, essential oils, a facial steamer, calming music and more. I can just imagine having this experience with the sound of the ocean in the background! Don’t plan on getting much accomplished after these 90 minutes, however, because your body and mind will be in complete relaxation mode.
Every Tuesday night my girlfriends and I head into Lihue to go dancing (Tom is not a fan so he stays home). For years Rob’s Good Times Grill (think “Cheers”) on Rice Street has allowed our dance group to play our music from 7:30 to 10:00. We have fun dancing Swing, Cha Cha, Niteclub 2-Step, Country 2-Step, Salsa and more. For the rest of the people at the restaurant, we are quite the entertainment.
Darrel and I take turns creating a musical playlist each week. One song Darrel always includes is “Knee Deep” by the Zac Brown Band (featuring Jimmy Buffet). Every time it comes on my girlfriend starts singing and says, “That should be the theme song for Honu Point.” So, finally, I thought I would share it with you, just for fun. I have included two videos and the lyrics. Let me know what you think.