Monday, April 20, 2015

"Rainbow factory" on Kauai's north shore

Maybe a pot of gold is too much to expect, but a beachful of golden sand is a sure thing on Kauai's several-mile run of coast from Haena Beach Park and around Kepuhi  Point to Charo's Beach. During the winters, normally in the afternoons with a few clouds in the sky, seeing a rainbow is a near certainty.

High surf is also fairly common. Stay well back of these big boys—away from sloping wet sand. Always keep an eye on waves if you're walking anywhere near the foam line. 

Kiteboarders like the wind inside the reef at Charo's (named for the oddball TV star from the 70s who had a restaurant here, today the site of Hanalei Colony Resort).  Currents here are normally treacherous during the winter.

Rainbow hunters are often joined by sea shell seekers, who harvest tiny 'Ni'ihau' shells along the high-water line. There are many places to park along this stretch of coastline, which includes Tunnels, the popular snorkeling beach. Kauai Trailblazer has specific directions to several shoreline access spots where you won't find crowds.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Dream Big: Virgin to Hawaii!

Starting in November, Virgin America will be flying to Oahu and Maui. They're taking reservations now.  The news may give Hawaiian Airlines some competition. We like Hawaiian for their on-time reliability and friendliness: Your vacation starts when you board the plane. 

Other airlines that get you there: Delta, United, Continental, China Airlines, All Nippon Airway, American Airlines,  Allegiant Air, Air Pacific, Air New Zealand, Air Canada, and our least favorite, Alaska. Most airlines fly into Honolulu (Oahu), where you then take a connector flight to a neighbor island. Finding a direct flight to your island will save a few hours vacation time. If you're shopping for flights, does a good job comparing airlines and prices.

A few vintage shots for how it used to be.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Maui's Hosmer Grove: A retreat from Haleakala

Near the entrance to Haleakala National Park, Hosmer Grove is skipped by most visitors who are intent on getting to the 10,000-foot-high summit of the park. But when fog and rain hammer the higher elevations, the forest retreat is a perfect fall-back option. The little campground and trailhead parking is a half-mile off the main road.

A nature loop (less than a mile), sguiggles through a forest of cedar, pine, spruce, and leafy trees planted by forester Ralph Hosmer a century ago. Native trees and shrubs dominate the second half of the loop, where you are most likely to see our feathered friends.

The big score for birdwatchers is the i'wii—easy to spot among all the green. Near Hosmer is one of the park's best-kept secrets, the Supply Trail, a 500-foot climb over 2.5 miles that reaches the well-known Haleamu'u Trail. Haleakala's low-lying native plants are on display. Hosmer is also the trailhead for the Waikomo Ridge Trail, but you need to arrange a visit with the Nature Conservancy to see this spot (check at park headquarters near the entrance). 

Driving directions in Maui Trailblazer.