Chapter 16 – Kauai
Kauai, another island neighbor to Maui, is the oldest of the main Hawaiian islands. It’s only 552 square miles, making it the fourth largest of the islands. As the 21st largest island in the U.S., it had a population of just over 58,000 in 2000. On Kauai, you’ll find everything from cities and towns to tiny rural hamlets. Encircled with beaches that make up nearly half the total shoreline, this gorgeous island is also known as the Garden Isle, because of its lush tropical greenery.
The first settlers arrived in the 5th century AD and brought with them taro, the plant that would soon become a staple of the Hawaiian diet, and remains one even today. Centuries later, James Cook would visit the island as part of his tour of the Pacific.
There is no known meaning of the name of the island – officially, that is. Some legends say that the island was named by a famous Polynesian navigator, who chose to name it after his favorite son. Kauai was once known for a very distinct dialect based on old Polynesian languages, which has since died out. The island is also known for the Legend of the Menehune – little pixie-like people who are supposedly talented in construction and engineering and who are capable of building things like aqueducts and fishponds overnight. The Menehune are believed to live in the woods and today are blamed when things go wrong, such as losing keys or getting a flat tire.
Kauai was the last island to be brought under the rule of King Kamehameha, the ruler who brought together the islands that make up the modern state of Hawaii. It didn’t join peacefully, however. Kamehameha was turned back twice before he finally managed to gain control of the island, peacefully this time. For years the people of Kauai lived as vassals of Kamehameha until their ruler, Kaumuali’I, ceded the island completely upon his death.
Kauai is a volcanic island with peaks reaching as high as 5,243 feet. At its height, Mount Wai’ale’ale is 5,148 feet. The eastern side of this mountain is one of the wettest places on earth with an average yearly rainfall of 460 inches. Because of the immense amounts of water traveling down the mountain and carving the rock, there are numerous valleys and canyons with tremendous waterfalls. The western side of the island is Waimea, which hosts the Grand Canyon of the Pacific – Waimea Canyon. The canyon is more than 3,000 feet deep and is part of Waimea State Park.
Like Maui, Kauai has a history in the sugar industry, and today its economy is supported almost exclusively by tourism. Many of the old sugar plantations are now used for ranching as well. Only the 118-year-old Gay & Robinson Plantation remains devoted to the sugar industry, although Kauai also farms tropical fruits and coffee. The island is also a wonderful place for whale watching during the winter and early spring.
For the Art Connoisseur
Kauai is not exactly a booming arts center, but there are privately owned galleries all over the island, and many of the historical museums also have art displays. One of the best galleries is the Nani Kauai, www.Nanikauai.com. It specializes in local art, and features photography, paintings, jewelry and even vintage signs and reproductions.
For the Foodie[J1]
Despite having so many rural areas, Kauai is known for some really fantastic food destinations, making it well worth the trip.
- Plantation Gardens – Sit outside in the outdoor lanai seating surrounded by tiki torches for the full feel of old Polynesian Hawaii. All the vegetables on the menu are organic and from local farms, while the fish is caught fresh daily by local fishermen. Specializing in Pacific Rim cuisine with a regional influence, this is one spot you’ll want to hit. www.pgrestaurant.com
- Bar Acuda – Food & Wine magazine called it “the one great restaurant on Kauai” – and they just might be correct. This tapas and wine bar has a menu that starts with honeycomb from the North Shore with Konana Farms goat cheese, Mizuna greens and apple. Yum. www.restaurantbaracuda.com
- Merriman’s — Chef Peter Merriman is known as a pioneer in the Farm-to-Table movement – and true to form, 90 percent of his ingredients are locally caught or grown. His innovative menu includes kalua pig, fern shoot salad and striped marlin sashimi. Take your pick of a mountain or ocean view – the dining room offers both – and pick a wine from the 1,000-bottle cellar. www.merrimanshawaii.com
- Hanalei Dolphin – Hanalei is actually two restaurants plus a fish market – and not surprisingly is known for the freshness of its fish. Located on the banks of the Hanalei River, the restaurant offers a vast menu of fish caught in local waters and served in a no-nonsense fashion – just broiled. The chefs prefer to let the fish speak for itself. www.hanaleidolphin.com
For the Nature Lover
Kauai is a nature lover’s paradise. With endless trails, parks and preserves – not to mention botanical gardens – anyone who appreciates a little time in nature will be in heaven. Many companies on the island offer guided hikes and horseback rides, as well as helicopter and airplane tours. Visit gohawaii.com for a comprehensive list of these vendors.
- Waimea Canyon State Park – This park is a huge canyon – more than 10 miles long and 3,000 feet deep in some places – located on the west side of Kauai. The canyon was formed by water from the Waimea River, fueled by extreme rainfalls on the central peak of Mount Wai’ale’ale. The 1,866 acres contain many hiking trails, but not all are easily accessible, so it’s best to do your homework before setting out into the park. More details can be found by following the links at www.hawaiistateparks.org.
- Napali Coast State Park – Extending from Ke’e Beach to Polihale State Park, the 6,175 acres of Napali feature cliffs rising over 4,000 feet and five major valleys. Much of the park is inaccessible by car, but hikers, kayakers and helicopters are common sights. The park also provides the only access to the Kalalau Trail and Kee Beach State Park, where there are tremendous lagoons and coral reefs perfect for snorkeling and swimming – not to mention a tropical beach surrounded by coconut trees, ironwood trees and ti, an evergreen plant native to Hawaii. Follow the links at www.hawaiistateparks.org for complete information on park access and trails.
- Spouting Horn Park – On Kauai’s south shore is what may be one of the coolest natural features of the island – a “geyser.” Water has been known to shoot more than 60 feet into the air when the waves force it up into a lava tube and out into the open, often making a rather eerie hissing noise. Ancient Hawaiians believed that a lizard goddess names Kai Kapu was trapped in the tube by a fisherman, and the hissing sound was her angry roar of frustration. GoHawaii.com has links to more information on this natural wonder.
- Na’Aina Kai Botanical Gardens – More than 200 acres of forest and farmland make up these gardens, with more than 13 themed gardens, including a hardwood plantation and a maze created out of more than 3,400 mock orange plants and topiaries. Don’t miss the Bog House, which contains an amazing collection of carnivorous plants, including bogwort and pitcher plants. Kids will love the Under the Rainbow children’s garden, which includes a tree house, slides, pond, bridges, tunnels and even a train. Throughout the gardens you’ll notice the owner’s large bronze statuary collection.
- Allerton Gardens – These gardens, found on the south shore of the island, occupy 80 acres next to Lawa’i Bay and were once home to the revered Queen Emma. The gardens concentrate on native plantings and feature special garden rooms, pools, mini-waterfalls, fountains and statues. You may recognize the gardens upon your visit: they have been the backdrop to such films as South Pacific and Jurassic Park. www.allerton.ntbg.org
For the History Buff
For those of you who prefer to while away your afternoon soaking up the history of a location, there are several places on Kauai that you won’t want to miss.
- Kauai Museum – Featuring two floors of permanent exhibits and three rotating exhibit galleries, this museum focuses on the history of the island from its earliest settlers through the territorial period. The museum frequently hosts movie nights, book signings and other events, like the May Day Lei Festival.
- Kilauea Light Station – First dedicated in 1913, the 52-foot lighthouse was hugely significant to ships making the Orient Run – it helped them navigate around the islands and stay on course. Today it’s one of the most intact lighthouses in the country and sees more than 500,000 visitors a year. The keeper’s dwelling is located apart from the lighthouse itself and is constructed entirely of volcanic rock found on the site. www.kilauealighthouse.org
- Wai’oli Mission House – The mission house was built in 1837 in the beautiful Hanalei Valley. Today it remains much the same, capturing a brilliant image of rural missionary life in the 19th century. Take a guided tour and see the historical furnishings as well as traditional plants and trees that would have been on the grounds at the time it was in use. Find out more by following the links at hawaiimuseums.org.
Kauai is full of adventure – from waterfalls to rainforest to pieces of living history. The island also hosts several festivals each year that you might be interested in checking out.
- Emalani Festival – Held each year on the second Saturday in October, the Emalani Festival offers one of the most authentic Hawaiian experiences, with hula masters and their dancers creating the event. The festival commemorates the journey Queen Emma took to the upland forests in 1871. Each year focuses on a different aspect of her legacy, so you’ll want to come back time and again to experience the live music, historical displays, dance and an appearance by “Queen Emma” herself.
- Koloa Plantation Days – This annual festival commemorates the history of the sugar industry on Kauai, including how the need for labor let to the tremendously multi-cultural population that lives there today. Past events have included golf tournaments, a triathlon, ethnic cooking demos and tastings and luaus. www.koloaplantationdays.com
- Coconut Festival – This annual festival has been featured on the Food Network’s “All-American Festivals” and is devoted to promoting and preserving the Coconut Coast region. There is a children’s stage and a market with local artisans and Polynesian products – and of course everything you can possibly imagine to eat out of a coconut.
- May Day Lei Festival – Showcasing the talents of today’s lei makers, this festival works to preserve the art form. As a visitor, you’ll be able to watch the lei-making contest, sample food and, of course, learn to make your own lei.
Although Kauai is largely known as a rural island, it had much to offer visitors. Make a weekend trip to take in a festival or hike the trails, and you won’t regret it. Check out Kauai-hawaii.org for more information on where to stay and what to do.
“Adrienne was very helpful in selling our house. It took us a year and a half to decide to list and never did we feel pressured to do so before we were ready. We always received good information and all of our questions were answered in a timely fashion. Adrienne and her team were able to work with the buyers agent and our lenders to close our short sale in a timely fashion. I would not hesitate to refer friends to Adrienne when selling or buying a home.”
“The Agents at Team Lally are experts in their field. Whether you’re looking to sell your home or buy one, these guys have a great team to take care of you throughout the entire transaction. Even if you looking just to get more information – I’d suggest to give them a ring and they can point you in the right direction.”
“We used Team Lally for BOTH Buying and selling our home, and without a doubt, would use and recommend them time and time again! They made each process easy and enjoyable, and was always there to answer any and all questions or concerns we had. Can’t give a stellar enough review to the excellent Team. Above and beyond, definitely customer service orientated! Thank you guys for all you have done for us!”
“We interviewed three different Realtors and we Team Lally were incredibly organized and impressive. We hired them to help us find a home in Hawaii. They had such great local knowledge and incredibly responsive. True Professionals!! Unfortunately, my job situation changed and we ended up not buying a home, but if we are coming back we know who we would work with. Team Lally is #1 in our book!”
“Adrienne helped my husband and I purchase our first home and we can’t say enough about how wonderful she is! Being first-time homebuyers, we had a lot of questions and Adrienne was there with us through every step of the way. From beginning to end, her advice and expertise was invaluable and we couldn’t be happier with the results. She absolutely has our recommendation!”
“Aloha! Calen at Team Lally has worked with my husband and I since day 1 of our search for our home. She was always so prompt with emails, house listings and also giving us an unbiased and honest opinion. She’s extremely knowledgeable about real estate and was constantly patient if we had any questions. She would always make sure that we could get the most bout of our money and would constantly be negotiating for us with our best interests at heart. She was on top of things and I didn’t have to go hunting for her or feel alone in this process. Our experience with working with Calen at Team Lally has been such a pleasant and personal experience that anyone should be blessed with! Elizabeth and Justin Munson”
“I walked away from my property three years ago and assumed that it would get foreclosed upon or just disappear….Three years later I was contacted by a tenant that was being rented the condo from a company that was operating illegally and claimed to have ownership of it….I contacted Team Lally and they were able to navigate these very difficult waters: me not having paid my mortgage for three years, a company claiming ownership, the condo association not happy because they were not paid for three years…Team Lally worked through all of this to complete a short sale of the property and I paid virtually nothing…I worked with other real estate companies in the past and Team Lally blows them away, I would highly recommend them for all your real estate needs”
“Adrienne Lally and the team are absolutely wonderful. Adrienne exudes excellence and knowledge in the real estate field. Customer service and great communication skills are just a few of the qualities that Adrienne and the team take pride in. She looks out for the best interest of her clients and makes sure that the buying and selling process is easy and pain free! I would strongly recommend Adrienne and the team for the purchase or sale of your Hawaii home or condo.”
“Team Lally sold a condo-hotel unit for us in Hawaii. We live in California and did not actually know or observe what was happening with the sale. They took care of the showings, finding buyers (3) and negotiating with the bank. They took care of all of the paperwork – sending us what we needed and arranging for docusign whenever possible. We were kept in the loop as much as possible and as much as we needed to be. It was a very stressful time for us and they (patiently) explained procedures to us, since we often did not know what was necessary or what the next step was. Team Lally was very professional in all dealings with us and we are very grateful for their consideration of us as stressed absentee sellers and for negotiating a great deal for us.”
“Aloha! I have worked with Adrienne for several years. She is the hardest worker and the most knowledgeable realtor I know. And there is nobody better than Team Lally when it comes to Short Sales! That’s why I used her! Her Team sold my home! And they make it easy with their outstanding team! And their marketing is 2nd to none! I highly recommend Adrienne and Team Lally!!”