Friday, October 30, 2009

Jumping ship

Action is the byword at Shipwreck Beach, which is right next to the Kauai Grand Hyatt. Surfers roll with the shore break, and people jump from the bluff in the background. The Mahaulepu Heritage Trail hugs the bluff heading south, for several miles to Gillans Beach and beyond.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Mahaulepu Trail

Head out the through the terraces, pool-side extravaganza and artificial lagoon at the fabulous Grand Hyatt on Kauai's south shore and hang a left on Shipwreck Beach. Then up to the tawny bluff—a leaping spot for thrill seekers—and you'll be truckin' on the Mahaulepu Heritage Trail.  These shoreline cliffs, formed around 350,000 years ago, are composed of a very thick accummulation of lithified sand which are constantly being undercut by continual wave erosion. Seabirds find nesting spots in the nooks. Whales cruise by fairly close to shore in the winter and spring.

Yes, you skirt a golf course (one of Tiger's favorites), but you also touch history at the site of Ho'ouluia Heaiau, a largely-intact temple.   The bluff trail descends through a geologic swirl and drops you at Gillan's Beach. From there you can pound sand (and more bluffs shaded by ironwood trees) to wild-and-remote Haula Beach.  For a complete list of the hikes in this area consult your Kauai Trailblazer .  Historical details and and a virtual tour of the trail can be found at Hike Mahaulepu .

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hoe Hapai Kauai!

Translation: Paddles Up Kauai! The Wailua River is the scene for competitive and recreational outrigger canoe paddling practice. Various weekday evenings around dusk teams can be spotted with their coach in tow, paddling in unison with all their might to commands such as "ho'o makaukau" (get ready); "imua" (forward); "huki" (pull); and "lawa" (enough).

The design of the canoes has evolved many times and today this racing sport is hugely popular throughout the islands with race events held almost every weekend from May to September. The State of Hawaii has proclaimed it the official state sport.

For more information check out the Garden Island Canoe Racing Association or

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Salt Pond Beach Park

A quiet beach break along the southwestern coast of Kauai. Tidepool exploring the afternoon's activity. Salt Pond Beach Park in Hanapepe is for sure Kaua's best west side beach—but it is also one of the best family beach parks in the state: safe, scenic swimming and realiable sunshine. A lawn and palms decorate the backshore. Directions to this blissful place start on page 139 of your Kauai Trailblazer.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Not an insurance salesman

Though similar to a gecko, mascot for Geiko Automobile Insurance, this lovable lizard is most often confused with chameleons. But let's set the record straight, pictured is a green anole (scientific name:  Anolis carolinensis) sunning himself on our Kilauea cottage deck.  

Anoles are sometimes called "chameleons." This is due to their color-changing ability, especially, who when severely stressed or ill will turn dark brown. Anoles produce no sounds. They can drop their tails if grabbed or otherwise feel threatened. A new tail will generally grow in but regenerated tails are rarely the same as the original in color, texture, or size. They measure from 7 to 12 inches. Males are larger than females and have a pink dewlap (throat fan) which they use to display to females and rivals.
BTW, to be fair, our friend the gecko is far more common in Kauai.  More apt to be seen peeking behind the curtain from even the most plush hotel accommodations.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Bodyboards Rule

Anyone who has ever seen a Labrador retriever chase a soggy tennis ball will have some understanding of a bodyboarder's motivation to seek another ride on the ceaseless waves, such as these bonecrushers at Shipwreck Beach that draw local boys from all over Kauai.

Some history: For thousands of years Polynesians rode the waves in the prone position on short slabs of wood or anything else that would float them to plane across the water. "Papio", a Hawaiian term was long considered a pastime for children before progressing to upright surfing.

Also known as boogieboarding, the sport was reborn and found its ultimate medium in 1971 when Tom Morey was without a board to ride on the island of Hawaii and got out an electric carving knife, a household iron and whittled some polyethylene foam into a small rectangular mat and covered it with newspaper. He trademarked the name Morey Boogie in 1973 and first started selling his boards for $10. Demand was incredible and by 1977 he was producing 80,000 boards a year.

For technique tips and tricks click here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Supporting Kauai's Farmers

Farmers' Markets are alive and well on Kauai. Here's the link for places and times. The variety of fresh fruits, vegetables and exotic flowers is astounding. Not to miss: the artisian goat cheese and goat milk products from Kunan Dairy available for tasting at the Kilauea and Hanalei open air markets.

The newly launched Kauai Community Market is also worth a visit. Held on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the Kauai Community College grounds across from Grove Farm. The market is envisioned as a central gathering place where neighbors can shop for locally grown food, talk story, and connect with farmers from around the island on a regular basis.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ninini Point

Ninini Lighthouse sits close to the sea at the mouth of Kalapaki Bay, also the entrance to Nawiliwili Harbor. Across the bay is Hoary Head Ridge, a backdrop for the white cruise ships that slide past the point. Access is via backroads that are behind the resort—not far, but sort of hard to find.

For hikes and beach walks along the Ahukini coast, go to page 105 in the Kauai Trailblazer .

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Surf's Up Kauai

Surfer advice: Head to Poipu today. Weather service reports "HIGH SURF ADVISORY SOUTH FACING SHORES. South surf in the 6-10' range today then declining Monday. Check the Kauai Ocean Report at for more info. For a live view of the weather go to . And for directions to the beaches consult your trusty Kauai Trailblazer guide.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Kealia Coastal Path

Some scenes from a hike that takes off from Kealia Beach along Kauai's Coconut Coast. The trail's end dips in and out of abandoned cane fields, eroded muddy bogs, rocky coves and pops out occasionally for awesome blue water views. Joggers, mountain bikers, whale watchers, dis is da place!

Surfers and local fishermen cut in at the Donkey Beach trail. Adventure lurks around every corner. Detailed directions, more photos and maps in your Kauai Trailblazer guidebook.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Moloa'a—as in "ahhhhhh"

Drive two miles down a stream valley on Kaua'i's east shore and you come to beachside cottages (some with botanical gardens) set around a classic crescent of yellow sand. Take a hike one way to a shearwater (shorebird) sanctuary, with a few big white Laysan albatrosses as neighbors, set on a rugged bluff. Walk the other way around the bay and come to some classic soaking tubs pocketed into coral reef beside palm trees. Or don't go anywhere and plant a towel in the middle of the bay and just count waves.

Moloa'a is usually quiet, owing mainly to quite a few other wild-beach options on this coast. Just stay clear of the place when the big rains come to Kaua'i—many of the cottages are built on 15-foot high posts for a good reason.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Outrigger Racing, Waimea

The annual Waimea Town Celebration brings together aloha, the unique character of the town and celebrants from all over Kauai.  The festivities take place in February every year with a flurry of events that include traditional Hawaiian outrigger canoe races, Hawaiian cowboy rodeo, softball and basketball tournaments, ukelele contest, ice cream eating contest, live entertainment, hat lei contest and fun run.  A highpoint is the rare chance to see artisans from Niihau demonstrating their shell necklace crafting techniques.

  Spectators load the Waimea Pier for a grandstand view of the course.

The 33rd annual event will take place February 19 and 20, 2010.  Mark your calendars!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Anini Beach Afternoon

Quiet clear waters. Lazy days on the north shore, Kauai. A narrow, two-mile beach is protected by an offshore reef. Snorkeling, paddling, strolling, camping: All happening at Anini.