Sunday, March 28, 2010

Bliss at Smiths

Hawaii has gone through many changes since the first G.I. families started showing up as tourists in the 1950s. Thankfully, those changes bypassed Smith's Tropical Paradise on the wide Wailua River on Kauai. The Sleeping Giant, part of an adjacent forest reserve, still rests above the tranquil waters.

And the boat-barges still depart the docks on short cruises to Fern Grotto, where fresh batches of visitors area serenaded by the Hawaiian Love Song, and then treated to a dance-along hula show on the homeward leg.

Son Kamika Smith may have taken over for father Walter (Freckles) Smith, but the nightly luau (open bar!) and fiery Polynesian dance review remains one of the best in the islands. The tropical gardens surrounding all of this are highly underrated, sort of a mini Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu, which is Hawaii's (high-cost) top attraction. Smith's is a must-do for visitors, easy on the wallet, and a true taste of Aloha.