So, it is your last day on Kauai. You have had a fabulous time swimming, snorkeling, hiking and exploring Paradise. But check-out time is 10:00 and you have a red-eye flight. What to do all day without needing a shower before boarding the plane? Here are eight ideas for making that last day count, especially if you have been staying on the North Shore.
Your Last Day on Kauai #1
Save your trip to the Waimea Canyon and Kokee State Park for your last day. From the North Shore it is a LONG day. Depending on traffic it will take you about two hours to reach your goal. Once there stop at all the pull-outs for some fabulous sights and photo opportunities. Wonder through the small Kokee Natural History Museum (open daily, 9:00 – 4:00) and have lunch at the Kokee Lodge Restaurant. Do not miss the final lookout where, if you have clear skies, your view will be straight down the Kalalau Valley to the sea. Driving back, stop and take a short walk into the mountains or relax on the big meadow in front of the lodge.
After coming down the mountain, stop at Waimea town and wander through the shops. Have a shave ice or an ice cream cone and enjoy the sunny, dry west side of the island. Hanapepe and Poipu are on your way back to the airport so there are plenty of places to stop if you have more time. End your day at Duke’s in Lihue where you will be close to your airport departure and may toast a perfect ending to your Kauai vacation. Not having to drive back to the North Shore shaves an hour off the trip.
To read more about the last time I drove to the Waimea Canyon and Kokee, check out this blog post.
When traveling to Kauai, or any other Hawaiian island, be sure to pack some reef safe sunscreens in your checked luggage. In July, 2018, Hawaii became the first state in the United States to ban the sale of sunscreen containing the coral-harming chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate. The new law goes into effect January 1, 2021, but many residents and visitors alike are already doing their best to be environmentally conscience.
Oxybenzone and octinoxate are not the only ingredients deemed to be potentially harmful to aquatic life, but according to several studies, they do contribute to coral bleaching. When coral bleaches, it is not dead, but under significant stress and subject to increased mortality levels. According to the National Park Service, 14,000 tons of sunscreen enter coral reefs every year. These two chemicals are believed to be one of the contributing factors to the coral reef destruction.
So, what does this mean to visitors?
As of now, the ban affects only the sell and distribution of sunscreens with these ingredients within the state but does not ban visitors from bringing them into the state. Given the reasons behind the law, however, please consider buying some reef safe sunscreens at home to bring with you or wait until you reach the islands to purchase one of these products. Some of the major sunscreen brands are making adjustments to their ingredients list in order to meet the restrictions of the new law. In fact, I was at Walmart the other day and many of the popular sunscreen brands already have “reef safe” on the label.
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.
Yes, we have been waiting, not so patiently, for Southwest Airlines to start their nonstop flights to Kauai and now the company says they are VERY CLOSE. This is good news for anyone with a Southwest credit card or who is part of their Rapid Rewards program. Because, in some cases, a traveling partner flies free.
Southwest Airlines initially proposed routes to Hawaii way back in October 2017. Southwest will operate to Hawaii from Oakland, Sacramento, San Diego, and San Jose, and will serve Honolulu, Lihue, Kona, and Kahului. They also want to run an inter-island service, which would bring some much needed competition to this market.
If you are ready to experience Kauai as the ancient Hawaiians did, be sure to visit Limahuli Valley on the north shore of Kauai. This beautiful valley looks much like it did 1,500 years ago when the Hawaiians called it home. Limahuli Valley is one of of the last easily-accessible valleys with intact archaeological complexes, native forest, pristine stream, and the presence of the descendants of the valley’s original inhabitants caring for it. It is one of the five gardens of the non-profit National Tropical Botanical Garden.
It has been three weeks since the albatross chicks were born on Kaweonui Road, Kauai, and I had to share my latest fix with you. After meeting my guests on Saturday I happened by this nest five houses down from Kauai Vacation Rental at Honu Point. Mom or Dad (not sure which) was sitting next to her/his chick when another albatross happened by. Best with sound.
Soon the parents will be leaving these vulnerable chicks by themselves as they fly off to find food hundreds of miles away to bring back to their baby. When the Mom or Dad returns she/he will regurgitate the eaten food into the baby’s mouth. This will go on for months until the parents feel the baby is ready to fledge. At that time the parents will stop feeding the chick so that it naturally figures out it is time to leave the nest. From a nearby bluff it will take its first giant leap of faith.
This Saturday starts the 41st annual Waimea Town Celebration on the west side of Kauai, Hawaii. The west side is a long drive from Kauai Vacation Rental at Honu Point (1 1/2 to 2 hours), but you are probably planning to see the Waimea Canyon at some point during your stay. Why not coordinate the day and time with a fun event during this week long celebration? You will get to experience a sample of what it means to live on this driest part of the island.
Waimea Town will celebrate its 41st anniversary with 9 days of events that include hula and Hawaiian music; Kaua’i cocktails and cuisine; the largest Hawaiian rodeo in all of the islands; a long-distance canoe race; a film festival; softball and 3-on-3 basketball tournaments; a 10.8 mile cyclist road race; a fun run (10K, 5K, 2K); paniolo hat lei contest, ice cream eating and ‘ukulele contests; and cultural exhibits all culminating in a 2-day ho’olaule’a with continuous LIVE entertainment on a big stage, local food booths, craft vendors, games, rides and a beer garden.
Kauai, Hawaii is such a magical place that often times visitors want to take home a beautiful painting as a reminder of their time in Paradise. Saim Caglayan has been plein air painting the landscapes of Kauai for years. I have personally known Saim for 15 of those years and am proud to call him my friend.
This is an exciting time of year for guests at Kauai Vacation Rental at Honu Point as Laysan Albatross chicks are “pipping” up and down the street. Introducing one such chick that was born within the last two weeks. It sits on a nest four doors down from our home. The mother and father alternate flying 1000 miles away to find food and bring it back to feed their baby. Such dedication and love.
I happened to be driving by on Wednesday when I spotted the adult preening its young. Best with sound. Enjoy!