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  Grand Hyatt  Kauai - Poipu Resort  - August 3, 2006

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Grand Hyatt Poipu Resort - Kaua'i, Hawai'i

Kaua'i - The Island of Discovery

 

Kauai's color is purple and its flower is the Mokihana (green berry)

Did you know that Kauai had its own "leprechauns"? They were called Menehune (meh-neh-hoo-neh). They supposedly were three feet tall, liked to roll down hills, and were great, quick builders. If you think it's a myth, then visit Menehune Ditch and Menehune Fishpond. You may change your mind.

 

Some anthropologists believe that the Menehune were ancient Japanese sailors blown completely off course and marooned on Hawaii. Others think the Menehune were probably mythological.

 

Kauai, known as Hawaii's Island of Discovery, is the oldest of the islands visited by tourists. Formed around six million years ago, erosion has had time to shape the landscape into valleys, waterfalls, canyons, cliffs and sandy beaches. Formed by a single volcano, this island has areas that, due to their inaccessibility, have never been explored.

 

Because of its tropical beauty, Kaua'i has been the star of over 60 films, from South Pacific and Raiders of the Lost Ark to Jurassic Park and Six Days, Seven Nights and one of my favorites - Blue Hawai'i featuring Elvis Presley. In fact, you can take a tour that specializes in visiting the locations of the movies shot here.

 

The Na Pali Coast, on the northwestern side of the island, has steep 3,000-foot cliffs, beautiful bays, beaches and caves that are only accessible by boat or by hiking.

 

Kaua'i is circular in shape, with five distinct resort/accommodation areas. On the northern side is Princeville/Hanalei, a tropical paradise with lush valleys, taro fields, waterfalls and a picturesque resort community.

 

The Royal Coconut Coast on the east side was the favored location of Hawaiian royalty and is a perfect blend of past and present. Here you can visit several heiaus (ancient Hawaiian temples) for a look at the island's past, then enjoy today's Kaua'i at the many resorts, shopping areas and restaurants.

 

The gateway to Kaua'i is the Lihue/Kalapaki Beach resort area near Lihue Airport and Nawiliwili Harbor. Nearby, you will find numerous activities, including golf, shopping, dining, movies and more.

 

The Poipu Beach resort area to the south offers palm-tree-lined beaches and is known as the "sunny side of the island." Famous for spectacular sunsets, this area is a visitor favorite. Koloa, the first sugar plantation town, still thrives in this area.

 

About 45 minutes from Lihue is the West Side. This is the hotter, drier side of Kaua'i that has its own unique charm. The small town of Waimea offers a taste of Aloha with quaint shops, craft fairs and wonderful dining. This area is also the gateway to the impressive 10-mile-long Waimea Canyon (named the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific" by Mark Twain).

Where You Can Stay On Kaua’i

Kaua'i offers five major resort/accommodation destinations. Each area offers a mix of hotels, condominiums, bed & breakfast properties and vacation rentals. Where you should stay - will depend on your ideal vacation environment.

For a tropical paradise, the North Shore/Princeville area.

Those seeking a historical experience, beachcombing or touring will enjoy the East Side/Coconut Coast.

For a central location with access to resort amenities, the Lihue/Kalapaki resort area is ideal.

The South Shore/Poipu area is great for sun worshippers and water sports buffs.

With desert-like warmth, the West Side is rich with sugar plantation history. This unique area has a special charm and is home to the Waimea Plantation Cottages, which are fully restored plantation-era beachfront structures.

 

 

 

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Kaua'i Attractions

Waimea Canyon

This 10-mile-long canyon, 3,567 feet down at its deepest point, offers a rainbow of changing colors as the sun arcs through the sky. Named "the Grand Canyon of the Pacific" by Mark Twain, the valley offers spectacular scenery and is one of Hawaii's most photographed attractions.

 

Created by a massive earthquake that sent all the streams flowing into a single river, the canyon was carved out by water erosion. Today the Waimea River still flows along the bottom on its way to the sea. You can hike inside the canyon, ride a horse along the rim, fly into it in a helicopter, mountain bike, or drive to a lookout and peer into the depths.

 

Polihale Beach, on Kauai's western side, is Hawaii's longest beach. It's 17 miles long and 300 yards wide. It's often sunny here, since it's on the dry, arid leeward side of the island.

Spouting Horn Park

As the waves of Kauai's south side powerfully break against the shoreline, seawater is forced through a lava tube which throws spray 10 feet high or more, up to six stories in winter. The spouting is sometimes accompanied by a low moaning sound as air moves through the tube. Legend has it that the moaning was from a giant lizard, called a moo, which would try to eat anyone who wanted to fish or swim in the area. One day the moo attacked a fisherman who swam into the lava tube. He escaped, but the moo got caught, and the moaning sounds that can be heard coming from the tube are said to be from the moo, still trapped inside.

Hanalei Bay

Hanalei Bay is a picturesque arc of sand backed by the cliffs made famous as the setting for "Bali Hai." Hanalei, a quaint, old Hawai'i town, has resisted growth and development and still retains much of its charm. The weight restriction on the old one-lane bridge leading into town ensures that tour buses won't be around.

 

Hanalei Bay is great for all types of water sports, including diving and snorkeling among its coral reefs.

 

Nearby Lumahai Beach was where Mitzi Gaynor tried to "wash that man right out of her hair" in the old, classic movie South Pacific. This palm-lined, golden-sand beach, with the towering cliffs and waterfalls of Bali Hai behind it, is one of Hawaii's most beautiful.

 

Just beyond Hanalei begins the Napali Coast, a remote wilderness of cliffs, caves and beaches that's only accessible by air, by sea, or on foot. 22 miles of scenic coastline, bounded on one side by the ocean and on the other by spectacular 3,000-foot cliffs, offer magnificent views.

 

Imported from Wyoming, buffaloes roam the Hanalei River Valley on Kaua'i. You can try a buffalo burger there. You might also see a "beefalo," which is a crossbreed between a buffalo and a cow.

Kilauea Lighthouse

Situated on the northern end of Kaua'i, this lighthouse sits on a bluff that's the northernmost point of the main Hawaiian Island chain. Built in 1913, the Kilauea Lighthouse has the world's largest "clamshell" lens and was a working lighthouse until it was shut down in 1976.

 

The 200-acre Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge nearby provides nesting grounds for albatross, frigate birds, red and white tail tropical birds and red-footed boobies.

 

The charming little town of Kilauea is a wonderful place to stroll through the farmer's markets on Thursdays and Saturdays, and browse through the 1892 Kong Lung Company, Kauai's oldest general store.

The Fern Grotto

The Fern Grotto is one of Kauai's oldest (since 1947) and most popular tourist attractions. It's a ride up the Wailua River in flat-bottomed boats (or you can also rent kayaks), accompanied by Hawaiian tunes and dancing, to a natural amphitheater. When the boats land, there's a short walk through jungle to an impressive cave-like recess filled with giant cascading ferns, which even hang from the ceiling. A very popular site for weddings or for the renewal of vows, this grotto offers tales of Hawaiian legends and traditional music.

 

The Wailua River, the best-known river in Hawai'i, was known to the ancients as "the river of the great sacred spirit." The only navigable river in Hawai'i can be explored in kayaks or by boat. A sacred place, there are no less than seven heiaus along its banks, including the well-preserved Poliahu Heiau. Roads enter the park for those who wish to drive.

 

Wailua Falls, a double waterfall ("Wailua" means "twin waters") tumbling down an 80-foot cliff, might be recognized as the cascades seen at the opening of the 1970's "Fantasy Island" TV show.

 

Opaekaa Falls, located on the Wailua River, means "rolling shrimp." In ancient days, shrimp could be seen churning at the bottom of the falls. The shrimp are gone; the name stuck.

National Tropical Botanical Garden

This organization runs five gardens (three on Kaua'i) whose aim is to preserve native species of flora and increase their numbers. The three gardens on Kaua'i are:

McBryde Garden

An extraordinary collection of Hawaiian plants, flowers, fruit and spice trees, this 252-acre garden preserve boasts the largest collection of rare and endangered plants in the world.

Allerton Garden

This site of the royal home of Queen Emma, wife of Kamehameha IV, is known for its formal gardens, containing fountains, waterfalls and European statuary.

Limahuli Garden

A botanical sanctuary protecting both indigenous Hawaiian plants and those brought to the islands by early Polynesian settlers.

There are no roads through the middle of the island of Kaua'i and none that circle the entire island. There are two major highways, each beginning in Lihue and running around the perimeter, and dead-ending at the impassible Na Pali Coast.

Kalalau Valley Lookout & Hanalei Valley Lookout

In Kokee State Park, the Kalalau Valley Lookout, at 4,000 feet, offers a panoramic view. The Hanalei Valley Lookout affords a dramatic view of the 917-acre Hanalei River Valley.

Opaekaa Falls

At Wailua River State Park, these 40-foot falls are quite scenic. There's a restored Hawaiian village on its riverbanks.

Poipu Beach

The island's most popular beach resort, Poipu Beach offers white sand, swimming, tide-pools, diving, snorkeling and lots of sun.

 

Poipu Beach and nearby Maha ulepu Beach are perfect places for offshore whale watching in Winter. From December to April, all you have to do is look out to sea.

Wet And Dry Caves

At Haena Beach Park are three sets of lava-tube caves, one dry and two wet, that you can explore.

Russian Fort

Built in 1816 in the shape of a six-pointed star, this fort, now mostly in ruins, was built by a German doctor who was a spy for Russia.

Grove Farm/Homestead Museum

You can experience an 1860s sugar plantation environment at the homestead built by George Wilcox. The preserved estate looks very much as it did when he lived here.

Kalalau Trail

For experienced hikers only, the Kalalau Trail is a narrow, 11-mile path on Kauai's rugged northwestern side. It's one of the most dramatic and beautiful hikes in the world, but you will need a permit to attempt this grueling trek.

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