Kauai: the grand and intimate garden isle

If you haven’t visited Oahu, you’ve probably seen those aerial views on the new Hawaii 5-0 television series. Looking more like LA with just as much traffic, it’s a “meh.” If you haven’t traveled to Maui, I can tell you it’s become overdeveloped and highly commercialized, where Walmart and Home Depot abound. The Big Island is formidably rugged with an active volcano but doesn’t necessarily scream, “bucket list.”

However Kauai, aptly named “The Garden Isle,” is a veritable feast for the senses. For starters, the place is awash with luscious green featuring a rainbow of botanical colors to make your head spin! The reason? Parts of the island are considered some of the rainiest on the planet. And when it does rain, it’s torrential, but not for long, and when the sun comes out, it’s time to experience the colossal joys Kauai has to offer!

BUCKET LIST

Captain Andy’s Star Na Pali Dinner Sunset Cruise

Starting at 2 p.m, you embark onto a 65’ Star Class luxury catamaran while Captain Roy lays the ground rules for a safe and enjoyable cruise. As Roy steers the boat out to sea, he gives a thorough commentary with comic flair on the

Capt. Andy’s 65′ Luxury Catamaran. Photo by Richard Atkins.

history of Kauai and its oceanfront inhabitants from old sugar cane factories to longtime residents with colorful histories. If you’re lucky, you might see whales breaching or dolphins keeping up with the catamaran just for fun. During the cruise, you’re waited on hand and foot by an attentive crew who serves delicious hors d’oeuvres and refreshing drinks to your heart’s content. The centerpiece of this adventure comes when the color-streaked mountains of the Na Pali Coast come into view. At this point, you’ve seriously stepped into other-worldly territory as you honestly won’t believe your eyes. Wow! Not to be missed!

Kauai’s Only Underground Tubing Adventure

Kauai Backcountry Adventures packs you and your group in a van as you travel through historic and hallowed Lihue Plantation land deep within the Kauai countryside. Chelsea, our fearless leader talks generously about all things Kauai, and prepares us for an invigorating tubing adventure through underground

Kauai Backcountry Tubing Adventure. Photo by Richard Atkins.

irrigation tunnels that were hand dug in 1870. Donning a miner’s helmet in the dark tunnels, you gently glide through the canal, spinning unfettered every which way by the changing current. At the end of the journey, a tasty picnic lunch awaits at a nearby swimming hole where the rest of the crew serenades you with their smooth Hawaiian vocals and ukulele. After the tour, photos of your experience can be purchased back at their home-base, and the outfitter has zip-line excursions as well. “Book it, Danno!”

Waimea Canyon

A trip to Kauai would not be complete without a visit to Waimea Canyon. It’s the Grand Canyon of Hawaii and a spectacular site to see. You can make the scenic drive to the site or take one of many helicopter tours that take you deep within the bowels of the canyon for a bird’s eye view. In any event, SEE IT!

THE GRAND – Hyatt Resort and Spa

The Kauai Grand Hyatt Resort and Spa is the brand’s flagship property worldwide. That means they’ve pulled out every stop to make their guests as comfortable and entertained as possible. And even though there’s plenty to do and see on Kauai, one could be content just to remain at their 50-acre complex and still experience the best vacation of their lives.

The Grand Hyatt Resort and Spa. Photo by Richard Atkins.

The property is situated steps from the ocean coupled with a myriad number of inviting pools, a saltwater lagoon and tropical environments created for your ultimate pleasure.

If you need to relax and listen to some native music while sipping a cocktail and smelling the salt air, the seaview terrace fits the bill. However, for a different kind of zen-like relaxation, the Anara Spa’s open-air setting takes advantage of nature and all its healing powers. Fitness classes, yoga, a salon that offers hair and nail service and treatment rooms complete your spa experience.

After a long day in the Hawaiian sun, you’re probably ready for a wonderful meal, so don’t despair. Between Tidepools surf and turf, Dondero’s Italian delicacies and Stevenson’s Library for scrumptious sushi, the culinary delights are the best Kauai has to offer. But, if you’re into Lu’au’s, they occur on Wednesday and Sunday evenings and are a total blast!

THE INTIMATE – Kauai Banyan Inn

Every room in this secluded property has a different theme, ours having a vintage antique feel complete with canopy bed (so comfortable!) and an outdoor balcony terrace overlooking the bucolic mountains where we’d have our breakfast (fresh fruit and baked goods are complimentary) to the cacophony of nature at our doorstep. We’d hear birds, goats, roosters, horses, cats and dogs at various rhythmic intervals. I actually commented to my wife, “It literally sounds like Noah’s Ark assembling out there!” Every room also comes complete with a refrigerator and full kitchen for homemade cooking.

Photo by Richard Atkins.

What’s so pleasing about the Banyan Inn is its laid back nature in such a tranquil and peaceful setting. In other words, no screaming kids, no late-night partygoers, no thumping from the floor above—just a respite from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, if you will.

Lorna and John are your hosts at this affable B & B and go out of their way to provide knowledgeable info on where to go and what to see and do which takes all the guesswork out of being a tourist in unchartered territory. In addition, they have a great supply of DVD’S to watch, books to read, maps to ponder, and boogie boards to surf on. All complimentary! The inn is only minutes to pristine beaches, the botanical gardens and the shops at Kukui’ula featuring Lappert’s ice cream, art galleries and great restaurants. Finally, the Kauai Banyan Inns’ rates are very budget friendly!

BEST MASSAGE ON KAUAI

Aloha Massage Kaua’i is by far the best massage service on the island. Their specialty is mobile massage meaning, no matter where you are on the island, they will come to you. We had a glorious couples massage with seasoned therapists, Teri and Koi and I will tell you, it was probably the best massage experience my wife and I have ever had.

THE REST OF THE ISLAND

Nearby Koloa Town is great for shopping, coffee shops, ice cream, great food trucks in the park with the roosters and the wonderful La Spezia for elegant, Italian fine dining. Another quaint little town for great window shopping is Hanapepe which has a weekly, Friday night festival and art night. On the North Shore, Hanalei is a lively hub for dining, galleries, beach combing and the historic Waioli Huuia Church and Mission built in 1837. Turtle Cove in Princeville is

Photo by Richard Atkins.

spectacular, but is a trek for serious hikers only.

Photo-ops around the island include Wailua and Opaekaa Falls, Spouting Horn, the Allerton and McBryde gardens, the Kilauea Lighthouse and Wildlife Refuge and last but not least, those abundant, noisy but protected roosters!

Mahalo!!

Richard Atkins moved to the East Mountains with his wife Cheryl and daughter Rebecca in 2004 from New York City. Both Richard and Cheryl have a theatrical background and became involved in the East Mountain Centre for Theatre, where they manage and run a successful theatre. Richard is a playwright, actor, professional pianist (formerly with Guy Lombardo) photographer and accomplished travel writer who has written for Enterprising Women magazine, the Las Cruces Sun News, Albuquerque, the Magazine and the El Paso Times, to name a few.

 

For high resolution stills go to:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/155020571@N07/

For high resolution slide show, go to:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/155020571@N07/show

IF YOU GO

Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa, 1571 Poipu Road, Koloa, HI, 808.742.1234, kauai.grand.hyatt.com, res@hyatt.com, starting at $373 non-refundable advance purchase

Kauai Banyan Inn, 3528B Mana Hema Place, Lawai, HI, 808.645.6527, kauaibanyan.com, lorna@kauaibanyan.com, from $155 

Captain Andy’s Cruises, 4353 Waialo Rd., #1a, Eleele, HI, 808.335.6833, napali.com, fun@napali.com

$149 per person

Kauai Backcountry Adventures, 3-4131 Kuhio Highway, Lihue, HI, 808.245.2506, kauaibackcountry.com, adventure@kauaibackcountry.com, $106 per person 

Aloha Massage Kauai, 808.635.2789, alohamassagekauai.com, Kapaa, HI, alohamassagekauai@gmail.com

Starting at $110 for 60 minutes

Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, https://www.fws.gov/refuge/kilauea_point/, 808.828.1413  

McBryde and Allerton Gardens, 4425 Lawai Rd., Koloa, HI, 808.742.2623