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There are so many amazing things to do in Kauai — though most of them involve exposure to the blazing sun. After a Napali Snorkel sail with Captain Andy’s Sailing Adventures (a must-do) this contributor needed a day of shade and decided to explore some cool activities (literally) that didn’t require the constant reapplying of sunscreen. Here are our recommendations, if you find yourself in similar need of a sun break:
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Summer is a great time to visit Hawaii — but then, who are we kidding? Anytime is a great time to visit. Thankfully, booking your flight just got much easier, as Hawaiian Airlines has updated its website — and it looks pretty darn snazzy if you ask us.
Things are still being tested out, so technically it’s just a beta version of the final project; however, we like what we see. There’s gorgeous aerial imagery of the islands, vibrant colors, crisp fonts — and well, it basically makes us just want to turn over our credit card digits immediately.
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Accidentally abandon your toiletries on the nightstand while you were scrambling to pack? Worry not. Traveling to Hawaii just got even better, as Hawaiian Airlines is boosting their in-flight offerings with some snazzy new locally inspired amenity kits. The airline is partnering up with one of Hawaii’s most popular clothing designers—Manuheali‘i—to create a new pattern that reflects the scenery of the Hawaiian Islands. Think teals, light greys, and a banana leaf look.
Those heading back and forth between other states will unfortunately be out of luck. With a couple exceptions, these new amenity kits will only be available to those flying internationally with the carrier.
But it doesn't matter where you sit. Thankfully, things are rolling out to both those seated up front and those in the back. Passengers in the main cabin will receive a pillow box, eyeshades, headphones, and some earplugs—not too shabby.
Those in the business class cabin get a few more goodies, as they can expect socks, a bamboo comb, Lōli‘i skincare products, and a pen—perfect for those landing cards.
[Photo: Hawaiian Airlines via The Design Air]
Remember way back to when the Hawaii Superferry was doing its thing, as it took tourists and locals alike across a quick stretch of the Pacific? Well things did not really work out too well, and that last we heard the ferry was sent off to an early retirement over in Virginia—far, far from the islands of Hawaii.
Well now it looks like the state government in paradise is thinking about a little ferry fun once again, as there is discussion about starting up a more affordable way to get between the islands without taking to the skies. Officials like what they have seen over in Washington State, and they have given the go ahead for the Department of Transportation to study how things could shake out. This time there seems to be more of a focus on passengers only rather than cars too.
One of the concerns is that residents just can’t afford the airfare to hop between the islands, and that’s especially the case when multiplying things for a family of four—or more. So there’s certainly a lot to look at here, and by no means will you be taking a traditional ferry between Oahu and Maui anytime soon. However, we’ll see where this goes, and of course will keep you posted.
Above: Ni'ihau as seen from Kauai
Perhaps you've heard of Hawaii's "Forbidden Island," where just under 200 residents speak Hawaiian as their first language, and no outside visitors are welcome without explicit invitation. Sitting so tantalizingly near to the coast of Kauai, this privately owned island, named Ni'ihau, is the westernmost of the Hawaiian Islands chain. It's so close and, yet, so far.
There are, however, ways to visit Ni'ihau on your vacation. One of the most popular trips to Ni'ihau focuses on the pristine waters of the island's coastline, home to many rare endemic species of sea life. Only one tourist boat operator on Kauai crosses the Kaulakahi Channel between Kauai and Niihau for snorkeling excursions on its coast and around Lehua Crater daily, and that's Holo Holo Charters, who also originated Ni'ihau snorkeling trips.
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Tell friends who've been to Hawaii before that you're heading to Kauai and there's one thing you'll hear over and over: "you've got to take a helicopter tour!"
Soaring above remote waterfalls, azure reefs, untouched coastline, and Hawaii's own version of the Grand Canyon (Waimea Canyon) sounds like a no-brainer... until you see the price tag. Averaging $200 per person, helicopter tours around Hawaii demand more consideration and budgeting than, say, a surfing lesson. And, for some of the islands' more unique destinations, scenic helicopter flights edge upward toward $300.
Recently while in Kauai, we flew with Island Helicopters, the only company with landing rights at the impressive Manawaiopuna Falls, better known as "Jurassic Park Falls" for their cameo in the movie. The "Jurassic Park Falls Helicopter Landing Adventure" tour costs from $269 per person and lasts 75-85 minutes. The more basic flight, named "Grand Circle Tour," is available from $145 per person and lasts 50-60 minutes.
We've covered the teeny tiny island of Molokai in Hawaii extensively before on Jaunted, but today, contributor Charyn Pfeuffer has a well-rounded list of what to see and do.
Moloka’i is sleepy. The Hawaiian Island, population 7,500, has no traffic lights, two bars and one hotel (There are a handful of condo complexes and private residences available to rent.) It's a far cry from the hustle and bustle of Waikiki Beach on Oahu, or even Maui. Still, there is plenty to do.
However, today, they have announced REAL new flights from San Francisco to Maui and Honolulu. Whee!
Even better, Virgin America says the flights will be on new Airbus A320 jets that they are expected to receive later this year. New routes, new planes, new reasons for a Hawaii vacation.
We got so excited by the thought or riding a moon-lit Virgin America plane to paradise, we immediately headed over to Virgin America to start the booking process but our roll was slowed down by the fact that the new service won't start until November 2. That's for daily round-trip flights to Honolulu, starting at $199 one-way. The flights to Maui will begin on December 3. Because that's prime holiday vacation time, the rates are rather insane. There are a few flights at $199 one-way, but most of the flights are going for $782 in mid and late-December. Yes, that's one-way.
And of course, these new routes only serve the folks in the Bay Area, and people who fly themselves to the Bay Area, not Los Angeles which is another big market for Hawaii flights. But perhaps if all goes well, both San Francisco and Los Angeles will get lei'd by next year.
[Photo: Virgin America/Facebook]
What does it mean to be a guest versus a tourist? The difference became clear to me during a recent trip to Moloka’i. During my five day stay in this oft overlooked Hawaiian island, I had the opportunity to visit Hālawa Valley. In ancient times, it was estimated that 5,000 people lived in what’s said to be the oldest settlement in the state of Hawaii.
Hālawa Valley’s cultural leader, Anakala Pilipo Solatario, was chosen at the age of five (!!!) to carry on the legacy of his people and heritage. Now 75 years old, he’s the last living Hawaiian descendant that was born, raised and still lives in Hālawa Valley.
When you visit Hālawa Valley, visitors are encouraged to follow proper cultural protocol. Protocol is an offering, in this case, asking for permission to enter private, sacred land.
We wrapped our offerings in ti leafs, first removing the spine to create a more flexible surface. My gift was salmon jerky, an item reflective of my home in the Pacific Northwest.
After a greeting and overview of Hālawa Valley from both Anakala and his son, Greg Kawaimaka Solatario (the second youngest of five children), we were led a short distance to Anakala’s house for protocol. As we lined up, songs were sung in Hawaiian with the utmost of reverence. One by one, we walked up to Anakala and placed our offering on a nearby stone. Then, we pressed our noses together and inhaled to exchange hā, the breath of life. We were then granted permission to continue on the cultural hike of the valley.
From that moment, that strange unspoken exchange of spiritual power, I no longer felt like a visitor. Instead, I felt like a welcomed guest and part of the Solatario family. It’s hard to describe the inclusiveness this ritual provided, but I felt similar warmth in all of my interactions across Molokai. People were welcoming, in an authentic, we genuinely hope to see you again kind of way. Never did I feel like I was a one hit wonder tourist passing through any shop, attraction or restaurant. I think Greg summed it up best during his talk:
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Hope you're hungry.
We may have already shared our secret of the best local ramen on the island (Hamura Ramen Stand!), but the truth of the matter is that there's enough good eats on Kauai to warrant more than just a quick trip. It's no wonder Kauai is a destination with visitor loyalty; travelers and families we met all seemed to have a history with the place, vacationing there for generations or having made it their permanent vacation with a long-distance move.
Deep into a shave ice with a view to the sunset over surfers in Poipu Beach, we admit to considering it ourselves; it would be all too easy to live in Kauai and eat well every day of the year. Still, for those with only several days to taste Kauai, we recommend these 17 favorites:
That croissant in Paris. The char kway teow in Singapore. That cup of hot chocolate in Perugia. This is Food Worth Flying For. In this new series, Jaunted's contributors share the foods they'd gladly fly around the world for (and probably already have).
Shave ice. Puka Dog. Mai Tais. Ahi poke. Kalua pork. Macadamia nut...everything. We could go on.
You see, the food-related reasons to travel to Kauai, HI are pretty much endless, but we keep returning to one taste from the island over and over: Saimin Ramen.
Though you may recognize the word ramen, "saimin" is a special sort of the comforting noodle dish specific to the Hawaiian islands. The original influence is a mix of Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and Filipino, but the inclusion of Hawaiian-favorite Spam lunch meat and, depending on your personal preferences, may also contain, sausage, eggs, wonton, dumplings, and kimchi.
Dear snorkelers and scuba divers:
Have you ever experienced a trip out into the water which was so impressive, effortless, and magical that you just know you'll be comparing all future water adventures to it?
Such was our recent experience during a dive off the south coast of Kauai, Hawaii, with the island's Seasport Divers.
What made it special enough to become the best scuba dive of our lives (so far)? During the long, long flight home from Hawaii, we boiled down the exceptional experience to 8 factors to look in every future dive: