I have been hearing a lot about these two Kauai driving guide apps lately. I must admit I have not downloaded them to my phone to check them out, but people are raving about them on social media. I did look them up and they both get good reviews. They might come in handy as you drive around the Garden Island.
Both apps use your device’s location abilities to play the commentary AUTOMATICALLY. Once you download the app to your device over Wi-Fi, no data, cellular or even wireless network connection is needed while traveling. Anyone can use them with no need for roaming data – even when visiting from another country.
It is like traveling with a local tour guide in your car!
2019 marks the 34th year for Koloa Plantation Days Festival, a ten day celebration of Hawaii’s sugar industry and heritage. Koloa plantation was founded in 1835, the first in the islands. The birth of the sugar industry shaped the lives of everyone in Hawaii forever. Although the mill and fields are idle in Koloa as well as virtually all over the state, many people in Hawaii are former workers themselves or descendants of plantation workers. Koloa Plantation Days Festival brings people to Koloa and Poipu on Kauai’s south shore to celebrate aspects of the plantation lifestyle.
Koloa Plantation Days Festival is held every year in July. The many ethnic groups that came to Hawaii to work on sugar plantations, and the Hawaiians who welcomed them, are celebrated through music, dance, costumes, and food throughout this ten-day festival. This year the Koloa Plantation Days Festival is from July 19th to July 28th and every day is packed with events and activities. Offering parades, rodeos, runs, gaming, shows and more, you are sure to find plenty of ways to enjoy your time on the south shore.
One of my June guests who stayed at my vacation rental, Honu Point, was quick to tell me about how much fun they had taking ukulele lessons at Hanalei Strings. The whole family participated, along with a friend who happened to be on the island at the same time. I had heard about these lessons before, but there is nothing like hearing about it from someone who has actually participated. They had a blast!
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 four you might want to consider.
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!
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.
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.