The Garden Isle

The last Hawaiian island that we visited was Kauai.  It is the northernmost island in the archipelago, as well as the oldest–some sites say 5.8 million, other say over 6 million years old, I say potato, potahto!  We stayed there the longest of all three islands–and for good reason, there was a lot to see and do!

But before I get into our activities, I thought I’d share some fun/interesting facts about Kauai!  My sources can be found here, here, and here.  For full disclosure, I pretty much just copied and pasted the points–so do check out the source sites because I will be ignoring any and all accusations of plagiarism!

  • Known as the Garden Isle, it is the fourth largest island and has a population of about 65,000 people.
  • Kauai covers 552.3 square miles of land and is so small it is measured in acres = 401,280 in total.
  • Kauai’s coastline is 111 miles and over 50% of those miles are sandy beaches.

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  • Over 97% of the land on Kauai is used for conservation and agriculture.
  • 70% of the island is inaccessible by foot
  • Kauai Coffee is the largest coffee plantation in the United States.
  • Kauai grows more taro than any other island.
  • Some of the cliffs along the spectacular Napali Coast reach heights of 2,500 feet.

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  • More than 60 movies and tv shows have filmed on Kauai.
  • Kauai is the legendary home of the Menehune, a mythical race of very small people who performed legendary feats of construction and engineering.
  • By law, no building on Kauai is allowed to be built taller than a coconut palm tree.
  • Kauai has the only navigable rivers in the state of Hawaii.

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  • Kauai’s official color is purple and the official flower is Mokihana.
  • It has 7 (yes–7!) microclimates throughout the island.
  • Mount Waialeale (elevation 5,148 ft) is one of the wettest spots on Earth, averaging about 450 inches of rain each year!

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Aloha!

A Hawaiian T.G.I.F.

I don’t know about you, but it has been one of those weeks and I am so very glad the weekend is here!  I’m looking forward to doing a whole lotta nothing and adding in a few trips down to the pool.

Naturally at 4 minutes to midnight, I remembered that I didn’t actually schedule anything to post today.  And then of course my laptop picked that very moment to randomly freeze and had to be restarted.  And in not wanting to miss out on the fun, my phone was blatantly refusing to connect to the interwebs…so yes, this post is a little late, but since I’m posting a picture of Hawaii and it’s still early evening in Hawaii (thank you time zones!), I’m totally proclaiming it still to be Friday!

Furthermore, I totally know that you stopped whatever you were doing to read this–so I’m going to keep it short & sweet in order for you to go back to drinking/eating/dancing/sleeping/dozing on the couch while pretending to watch a movie.  This is the view from our balcony in Kauai…and perhaps the moment when I decided that I wanted to stay in Hawaii forever (spoiler alert: I had to come back–no one was willing to send the pupcicle to me!).  Have a great weekend!

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Aloha!

The Pilgrimage to (Coffee) Mecca

Let me start out this post with a bit of house keeping:

  1. Yes, I’m technically late with this posting….although I will argue that it’s still Saturday in Hawaii and since this post is about Hawaii, I’m using that as my justification for the lateness.
  2. When writing don’t forget to click save/update frequently, lest you walk away and the iPad goes into sleep mode and magically erases the last hour of work.  I know this is basic computer 101, but I’m so used to writing on the computer–which automatically saves it–that I forgot on the App, saving is manual.
  3. I realize as I’m typing this for the second time that I suppose I should have started with our time in Oahu, since that is where we started our trip. However, given the fact that I’m retyping this all again, I’m more committed than ever to start with the Big Island. Besides, I don’t know that I’ve ever written about any of my trips in order, so why start now?
  4. Just in case it wasn’t clear in Planning To Get Lei’d, the person who insisted we go to the Big Island so that we could tour coffee plantations was little ol’ me.

Shocking, right?!?!?

I’m just going to pause here for a moment and let all the people who actually know me stop laughing.

For those of you who do not know me and/or haven’t had the pleasure of dealing with me sans coffee, the easiest way to describe my love of coffee is to say that I’m 99.9738% certain that my blood type is C for coffee–or perhaps more accurately, K for Kenya and Kona, my two favorite types of coffee.

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So there was no way in hell that I was going to fly allllllll the way to Hawaii and not go to Kona.  Period.  End of discussion.  Perhaps that is why everyone acquiesced to my suggestion of visiting the Big Island.  Of course, I could have easily made the entire trip about coffee, but I didn’t.  Since my darling friends were kind enough to agree to travel with me to the Big Island, I was kind enough to agree on visiting only one coffee plantation (the parameters set to me went something like “fine, we’ll go to A coffee plantation.  You pick.  You pick ONE.”)

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Yes, that’s right.  I’m a big, fat tease and am NOT going to tell you about our trip to the coffee plantation–just yet.  First I want to introduce you to Hawaii, the Big Island.

The best part of the Big Island (aside from THE best pina colada I’ve ever had in my life) is that every where you go, Kona coffee is on the menu.  I was like a kid in a candy shop anytime we went somewhere and I saw it on the menu.  I mean, sure you expect it but when you get there and see that it is an actuality, it’s quite delightful.  Well, delightful to me–I’m not sure everyone else in the group felt the same!

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Here are some more delightful…or rather informative tidbits about the Big Island.  Most of my information comes from hawaii.com, which should be your first stop when planning to visit Hawaii.  And they’re not even paying me to say that, although I would be perfectly a-okay if they wanted to pay me to say that–and visit more often.  Just saying…

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  • Hawaii, aka The Big Island, is so named because it is the biggest of the Hawaiian islands.  Just in case you were confused, thought they were being ironic, or wanted to be argumentative.
  • It is just over 4,000 square miles and is the youngest of the islands.
  • It has 12 distinct climate zones ranging from rainforest to snowcap peaks.
  • It was formed with 5 volcanoes, although only two of them are still active.  One of which is Kilauea, the longest continuously erupting volcano in the world (this eruption phase started in 1983!).
  • One of the most fascinating aspects is how different the weather is on each side of the island.  Hilo boasts an average rainfall of 128 inches, whereas directly across the island a mere 75 miles away is Kawaihae, who only receives about 10 inches of rain a year!
  • It is home to four coffee regions: Kona, Ka’u, Puna, and Hamakua. There are approximately 790 coffee plantations (do you know how hard it was to only pick one?!?!?!) on the Big Island, however, the largest coffee planation is actually in Kauai!
  • The Big Island is home to both a green sand and a black sand beach (more about those later!).
  • The southern most tip of the Big Island is actually the most southern point in the United States.
  • And just in case you thought it was all fun and games and coffee, Captain Cook was captured, killed, and eaten at Kealakekua Bay (just south of Kailua-Kona).

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Aloha!

 

 

Fresh Open Air…Port?

I have been to a lot of airports in my life, but thus far, have never experienced any quite so open as the ones in Hawaii. 

Literally.


I haven’t really traveled much in the tropics, so perhaps all airports in the tropical places of the world are like this?  Certainly no airports that I’ve been in, not even the bane of my existence LAX, where you have an outdoor trek to get from terminal to terminal.  


I do confess that I didn’t notice it in Honolulu, other than to think that the walk from the gate to the outside was like 30 seconds, especially when compared to places like JFK, DFW, or even smaller airports like Tampa that tease you with views of the outside, but it takes a train ride and a walk to actually breathe fresh air.

Not true on the Big Island or Kauai, where there was plenty of fresh open air inside the airport terminals. It seemed that pretty much just the walkways, seating areas, and restaurants were covered and not much else. It was a little surreal (in a very good way) when we deplaned on the Big Island and could see palm trees and stars.


A very nice reminder that we were, in fact, no where near home.


PS–in case it wasn’t clear because I did write about other airports, ALLLLLLL of these pictures were of Hawaiian airports, like Kona, Hilo, and Lihue…but maybe not in that order. OBVIOUSLY if you saw yesterday’s post, you know that copious amounts of adult beverages were consumed and things start to go fuzzy. 

PPS–I know there are (and I have been to) multiple airports where you have to walk outside to transfer terminals, however, I never miss an opportunity to remind the world LAX is the bane of my existence.

Aloha!

My Cup Runneth Over for Thirsty Thursday

In trying to find pictures for Throwback Thursday, I realized I have a lot of pictures of adult beverages (that is said with pride, by the way!). As such, I’ve decided that rather than share pictures of me with bad 80s hair and glasses that legitimately covered half my face, I could easily share glasses of a much tastier kind. So without further ado, I present to you Thirsty Thursday!

Of course, we all had some amazing drinks while in Hawaii, however, I realized that I have already spoken about a number of them already–so I thought I would repost them for you again on this Thirsty Thursday.

Hipahipa!

Whiskey Wipeout from Duke’s

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Coconut Mojito from Duke’s

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Koloa Rum Company Mai Tai Shot

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The Best Piña Colada in my life–MY LIFE–from Huggo’s On The Rocks

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Nani Moon Meadery

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Planning To Get Lei’d

A couple of months before we left for Hawaii, I got a call from BFF.  No hi.  No hello.  Just “do you want to get laid when we land in Honolulu.”  Silence.  Is this a trick question?  I mean, who doesn’t?!?! But I’m taking this trip with BFF, her hubby, and April, so I wasn’t quite sure what she was proposing here…

A big sigh from the Florida end of the phone “L-E-I, as in do you want a traditional Hawaiian greeting with a garland of flowers?”

Ohhhhhhhhh riiiiiiight…..I totally knew that.

Of course, we opted to get lei’d because a) very Hawaiian and b) it’s just fun to go around saying “I got lei’d in Hawaii.”  Although, I was a bit disappointed it was something that we had to plan, however, not as disappointed as I would have been to arrive in Hawaii and not be lei’d.  Of course there was an additional/upgrade fee to get lei’d, which then prompted a lot of “I paid to get lei’d in Hawaii” comments.

But I digress (as I often do).

Planning.  We all know how vital it is when traveling somewhere like Hawaii (or anywhere that your activities include something more than lounging on the beach drinking beer).  Except, not by me.  I don’t plan.  I throw out grandiose ideas here and there and offer a lot of opinions, but the real planning is usually done by someone else (and for that, I am exceptionally grateful!).  I’m quite capable of planning, but my planning tends to be the last-minute-fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type of planning, which apparently stresses out real planners and they take away your planning duties.  So unless we are in New York City or the Texas Hill Country or I am traveling alone, the planning job is almost never handed to me.

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But back to Hawaii.  If you’re going to Hawaii, you definitely want to plan out a good portion of your trip.  Not all of it–leave yourself time to get stuck in a beach bar while a hurricane-is-passing-nearby-but-not-hitting-the-island-afternoon-rainstorm.  At the very least pick out and schedule everything you want to see because if not, then it’s not going to happen.  I see it all the time when people visit New York City–they think “oh let’s just see where the day takes us” and then leave without seeing half of the things on their list.

In addition to all the amazing stuff there is to see, the main reason a well devised Hawaiian vacation plan is so important is because–in case you weren’t aware–the State of Hawaii is actually an archipelago of volcanic islands in the middle of nowhere smack dab in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  And by middle, I mean there is no other land around it for miles.  Thousands of miles.  Just over two thousand to the mainland, to be exact.

I think the hardest thing to decide about Hawaii is how many and which islands you want to visit.

HINT: unless you have no time or money constraints, I would highly recommend against trying to see them all in one trip.

If you’re the type who likes to just set up shop in your hotel and use it as a base of operations, then just pick one island–there are no wrong options. If you’re the type of person who likes to see more and has no problem packing up and moving hotels every few days, I would recommend that you spend a minimum of 2-3 days per island.  If you are in this group, the thing to remember is that flying is pretty much your only option for island hopping (unless you want to rent a kayak and end up missing and on the news).  Actual flying time is not long, but it does come with all of the standard rigmarole of airports and security checkpoints and arriving at the airport at least an hour before your flight.  Basically, you have to block out a large chunk of time every time you want to island hop.  If you’re going the kayak/missing/news route, you might want to block out a larger chunk of time.

How and what did we pick?  Well, thank you for asking.  Since we were thinking that the trip would be 10-12 days, we decided to go to 2 islands, leaving the option open perhaps for a third.  A bit full-on, but we were all committed.  Since there were 4 of us, we each selected 2 islands and haggled from there.  Pretty much everyone agreed on Oahu.  It was the easiest choice since it has the capital and Pearl Harbor.  Plus it is where the majority of the flights from the mainland land–so it seemed ridiculous to leave the island without a bit of exploring and a trip to Pearl Harbor.

Then the haggling started.  Someone (ahem, I’m not sure who…) was very adamant about going to the Big Island to visit the coffee plantations in Kona.  Everyone else was split between going to Kauai or Maui or not really caring.  We finally haggled our way to visiting 3 islands and the negotiations quickly concluded.  Poor Maui was out (don’t worry, we’ll be back!) and our final island selections were:

Oahu, Hawaii (aka the Big Island), and Kauai

Let the adventure begin!

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Aloha!

 

 

Have Wine? Will Travel!

This month’s wine writing challenge is TRAVEL, as selected by last month’s winner: the hilarious and enlightening Loie of Cheap Wine Curious.

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Of course, my first thought was to write about Napa, the first place I traveled for wine–but then I remembered I’ve already written about my trip and since I haven’t had the chance to go back, there’s nothing new to report.

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Then I thought about allllllll the places in France and Italy I passed through many, many moons (aka decades) ago that I’d love to go back and visit now that I have a true appreciation for the beauty and intricacies of champagnes and burgundies and amarones (ohmy!)–but then I realized that this post may never end.

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So then I thought about all the amazing Texas Hill Country wineries around where I grew up, which seemed apropos since I’m traveling (see what I did there?) down there at the end of the week–but then I realized that I should wait and do a bit of exploring of all the new wineries that have popped up since the last time I visited.

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Then I thought about cleverly describing how going to the wine store is like traveling around the world–but about the same moment that idea popped into my head, so did another:

Hawaiian Mead.

I know, I know you’re probably thinking “no, no…go back to writing about the wine store/traveling the world idea!”  But nope!  Hang on to your hats, we’re traveling to Hawaii!

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If you know me in real life or follow me on InstagramTwitter, or Facebook (shameless plug!), you will know that last September I went to Hawaii with some amazing friends.  While on the stunningly picturesque island of Kauai, we stumbled across the Koloa Rum Company.  By stumble, I mean April quickly learned she was traveling with lushes people who enjoyed sampling local adult beverages and she was trying to keep us appeased.

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But of course, this writing challenge is about wine, not rum (although THAT would be awesome!).  Having had a great time at Koloa, we (aka April, who was quicker with her google-searching fingers since she was giving away her rum samples) looked for other local places that made adult beverages.

While on the Big Island we visited the Kona Brewing Company, and so despite having not seen a grape growing anywhere in Hawaii’s lush and volcanic landscape, we were hopeful that we could find a winery.

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Alas, no grape winery…but BINGO! we found Nani Moon Meadery!  Now I will confess that I’ve never been a huge fan of mead, however, when in Rome…

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Nani Moon is in the back of a shopping center in Kapa’a.  We pull up, walk in, and, well, started tasting!  It seemed pointless not to try the full line-up, so we did.

For those of you out there who are unaware, mead is wine (although it can also be beer) made from honey instead of grapes.  It’s been around since…forever (and I’m pretty sure that’s an accurate timeframe!).  Much more sustainable, when you’re smack dab in the middle of the Pacific ocean and you have access to local apiaries.

As Stephanie (the owner) took us through each wine, she paired it with an appropriate snack and talked about where she sourced the honey (they weren’t all the same!).  I think my favorite was the Laka’s Nectar, which was the driest and most crisp of the wines.  While a little too sweet for me, the Cacao Moon was a big hit–understandable, given its chocolate undertones and velvety chocolate finish.  Stephanie definitely got bonus points for her Deviant Beehavior, which packs a kick as it is not only made from honey, but also chili!

We finished the tasting with some of the local honeys that she used, which was great–not only because they were delicious, but because you could really taste how much the nuances in the honey affected the taste of the wine.

If you’re interested in learning more, visiting, or throwing caution to the wind and just buying a bottle, contact Stephanie and tell her what you like.  I’m quite confident she will find you something you’ll truly enjoy and give you suggestions on pairings to help you enjoy it more!  She even has a cocktail section that encourages you to “bee inspired and mix it up!”

It was a great way to spend a couple of hours–and I think that if you find yourself smack dab in the middle of the Pacific on a tiny island named Kauai, you should go visit Stephanie and try her meads.  I’m not going to say that meads are now my favorite type of wine, but I did walk away with a better appreciation for just how versatile a wine made from honey can be.  And after all, isn’t that what it’s all about?

Aloha!