Update as of June 11, 2019: “As a result of shifting resources to this project (emergency slope stabilization on Kuhio Highway at mile marker 1, the hill approaching Hanalei Bridge), HDOT is targeting Monday, June 17, at 5:00 AM, for the full opening of Kuhio Highway past Waipa Bridge.” For the full update, go to Hawaii Department of Transportation.
As many of you know, the road west of Hanalei Bay to Ke’e has been closed since the April 2018 Kauai flood. Many people, residents and guests, have been anxiously awaiting its reopening. Lumahai Beach, Tunnels, Ke’e and the Kalalau Trail have been closed off for over a year to all except the people who live in Wainiha and Haena. A convoy schedule has been in effect for these residents.
But, before you get too excited, the announcement that there will be a reopening on June 17th is not all that it seems. The repairs to numerous landslide and road collapse areas as a result of the 2018 flood will be largely complete by that date. Due to a landslide last month at mile marker 1, however, the Lihue-bound lane coming up from Hanalei to Princeville will remain closed for 4 to 5 months causing delays going to and from Hanalei as workers try to stabilize the hillside. The continuing restrictions will make actually using the highway challenging for both residents and visitors.
Weather and surf reports vary tremendously depending on the time of year and your location on Kauai. During your tropical vacation you may find yourself in an area where it is raining or the surf is not to your liking. You wonder what it is like on the other shores of Kauai’s coast. Following is a list of websites and phone numbers that may help you determine the best place to spend your day.
If you want to see exactly what an area is like, at any given time, the best way is to check out the various live web cams that are around the island. Currently there are six on the north shore, five on the south shore and two on the east shore. When clicking the link to each camera, you will be taken to the website which hosts the web cam. The map at the bottom of the page shows the specific locations of each camera. This allows you to see the current weather at thirteen spots around Kauai.
So many visitors come to Kauai for a very special occasion: engagement, wedding, anniversary, maternity, milestone birthday, family reunion, or last hurrah before the teenage/young adult children start busy lives of their own. Others are simply celebrating the “trip of a lifetime.” Kauai’s scenic backdrop makes for some beautiful portraits. But, a selfie can only goes so far. Why not hire a Kauai photographer instead? I happen to know of three you might want to check out.
Of course there are many Kauai photographers of which to choose. I decided to feature these three because I have seen their photographs on social media and from what each of them say it seems like their personalities would lend itself to a fun, relaxing photo session. They all seem passionate, confident and willing to work with their clients to create beautiful portraits and, in one case, videos. All three will go just about anywhere on the island to find the perfect location (and weather) for your photo shoot. So, may I introduce……
Researching the differences between full face snorkeling masks and traditional snorkeling equipment has been a real eye-opener for me. Thousands of visitors each year hit the beach with snorkel gear in hand. Who doesn’t want to see what lies below the ocean surface? Heck, many have never even been in the ocean before. Warm water, tropical fish and sea turtles make for some impressive vacation memories.
But, unfortunately, for many reasons, this Hawaiian experience can be very dangerous. In fact, from 2008 to 2017, in the state of Hawaii, there were 183 drownings which occurred during snorkeling. 93% were non-Hawaii residents. More Hawaii visitors die from snorkeling than from motor vehicle crashes, aircraft crashes, falls or homicides combined. We want you to be safe!
It has been a month since I reported on Pela, “my” Laysan albatross chick in Princeville, Kauai. He/she is now ten weeks old and growing like crazy. I will not know his/her gender for awhile so until then I am choosing the “she” pronoun. When she gets closer to fledging (first flight), the Biologists will tag her and pluck a feather to be analyzed. At that point we will know her gender.
Pela is on her third nest. She started in the nest her parents lovingly built prior to laying the egg from which she emerged. Several weeks later she moved to a spot next to the fire hydrant and built her own nest (see photos here). Now she is a few feet away at the base of a tree. Much better for photographs!
Yesterday I was gardening at Honu Point, our vacation rental next to Pela’s nest, and I heard the very distinctive sound of albatross communing with one another. So, I dropped my tool (any excuse for a rest) and headed in the direction of the noise, camera in hand. In the yard of a nearby neighbor I found two albatross beak to beak, both with tags on their left leg. I happen to know that Dora, Pela’s mom, has her tag on her left leg so I assumed she was one of the pair. But, who was the other adult bird? Larry, Pela’s dad, has his tag on the right leg. Oh dear.
Here’s a unique way to watch the sunset! On the Sunset Cart Tour you will drive around the beautiful Princeville Golf Course on one of their cushy golf carts capturing incredible photos from various stops along the 18 hole Makai course. The best part is that you don’t have to be a golfer! And, no reservations are needed so you can wait until you are pretty sure the weather is going to cooperate.
Two hours before the sunset, people start gathering at the Princeville Golf Shop. First stop is the Makai Grill where guests order a few refreshing beverages, at Happy Hour pricing, to fill their on-cart ice chests. Then the carts are doled out and and guests jump into their designated cart for the one and a half hour late afternoon experience.
The line of carts, led by a Princeville Golf Course pro or employee, meander through the course, designed by Mr. Robert Trent Jones Jr., on smooth paths, stopping at five especially scenic spots. The guides (Tom, Randy or Andrew) talk story about the north shore flora and fauna, including the many different kinds of sea birds soaring over the ocean. Queen’s Bath, The Kilauea Lighthouse, Puff the Magic Dragon, Anini Reef, numerous North Shore beaches including Secrets, Lumahai, Haena, Anini, Hideaway, Waikoko and Hanalei Bay will be pointed out along the way. The Hawaiian state bird, Nene, and the seasonal Laysan albatross with their chicks, are extra, visual treats to see on the golf course. Photo opportunities abound.
Not only chickens should be concerned about Kauai traffic! With two people being born and one person moving to the island each day, Kauai’s population has now passed 72,000. Although this is still much less than the other major Hawaiian islands, the infrastructure has not kept up with the population growth. The one highway that wraps around the island from Polihale to Ke’e is, with a few exceptions, one lane each way. This leads to backed up traffic during certain times of the day. Here are a few hints as to how you may avoid Kauai traffic during your stay on the Garden Island.
Kauai Traffic – Kapaa Bypass Road
When traveling to and from the north shore and Lihue use the Kapaa Bypass Lane. The three-mile-long bypass is an alternate route to avoid the congestion and stoplights of Kapaa. It takes about 5-10 minutes to complete. Using the Kapaa Bypass could potentially save you up to 30 minutes or more drive time depending on traffic conditions in Kapaa. It runs in back of Kapaa, through some former cane fields owned by Bette Midler.
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.
Of course he/she is “my” albatross chick because, after all, he/she was born on my birthday and I was lucky enough to get to name her. Pela means “soar” in Hawaiian and that is what he/she will do in about four months from now. With in any luck, the fledge will take place off the bluff of Honu Point.
Recently I uploaded two videos of Pela with Larry, his/her dad. The first shows Pela, at five weeks old, greedily asking for some food. Not this time. Lesson: patience is a virtue. Best with volume.
One week later, Pela fares a bit better. This week’s lesson: everything in moderation. Again, don’t miss the communication between these two. Turn up your volume.