We bought four timeshare weeks at Lawai Beach Resort several years ago and it’s our go-to place come December. Despite being both the holiday and the rainy season, it still has five ‘Why Kauai?’ calling cards…
Why Kauai? Weather
Kauai is the northwestern-most island of the Hawaiian chain encircling one of the wettest spots on the planet (up over the 5000-foot or 1500-meter level), yet on the south and west shoreline, visitors enjoy semi-tropical temperatures averaging mid-twenties Celsius/mid-seventies Fahrenheit with a sea breeze. Some fast-moving shower clouds make the ‘Garden Isle’, Nature’s ‘moisturizing mist-er’.
Why Kauai? Flowers
As soon as we exit the airplane, plumeria-lei perfume wafts our way. Flowering umbrella trees (schefflera actinophylla), African tulip trees (spathodea campanulata) and multi-coloured Hibiscus (the Hawaiian-state flower) red-yellow-orange flag us down.
The National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG) Allerton and McBryde Gardens is a volunteer hot spot dedicated to discovering, saving, and studying tropical plants world-wide and this year inaugurates a newly-expanded visitor centre.
Monday mornings, we re-pot plants, share in a potluck (not from the same pots) and do a volunteer-coordinator-led walk around the garden. Most weeks, a plant is introduced: all part of the ‘learning and sharing’ mandate.
This year we pass around a rare orchid that took five years to grow. ‘Let’s just say we don’t plant this in the garden,’ said Ashley, head gardener.
Why Kauai? Fish
We pack lunch and head across the street to Lawai Beach, adjacent to the Beach House Restaurant on Spouting Horn road, a reef-enclosed ‘aquarium’ of butterfly-parrot-and-triggerfish, tangs, wrasses and the tube-mouthed trio of needle-cornet-and-trumpetfish. Snorkeling haven.
Caution is required entering and exiting the surf, as even on ‘calm’ days, it can knock down the unwary. Unless you’re Bob and Karen, boogie-boarding, fin-wearing, short surf boarders.
‘It was exciting out there today,’ says Bob.
‘Every day is different,’ adds Karen.
We pull on our long-sleeved snorkeling tees, mask and snorkel; dunk, and put on fins to save an ungainly backward-penguin-plunge.
We do our own coral-munching-equivalent on Kauai Farmer’s Market produce of tangelos, tomato-arugula sandwiches and taro chips.
When the endangered monk seal pulls up on the beach, volunteers rope off the area. Likewise, when we spy green turtles under water (named for the colour of their fat) we keep our distance and fly with them.
Why Kauai? Birds
December is the annual Audubon bird count, and our friends, Bill and Lucia, organize the west-side count.
We do the same route year-in-year-out, counting one way as we travel by car and by foot culminating at the Kawai’ele Waterbird Sanctuary.
Our route takes us via wetland, open country and urban bird habitats to hear the black-crowned night-heron’s up-lifting ‘quok’, black-necked stilts (ae’o) peeping as they feed, and a long-billed dowitcher, thinly pit-pit-pitting the mud with its top-heavy bill.
For those of you piqued about my lack of species’ capital letters, check out http://penelopedia.blogspot.ca/2010/12/bird-names-to-capitalize-or-not.html
Why Kauai? Being Outside
We bike with friends along the Coconut Coast’s Kapa’a bike path on funky rental bikes. Gearless, we take our time completing the 12-kilometer route, stopping for photos and frolics.
Sierra Club Kauai provides hikes and we join one. Check their calendar for activities as a way of meeting like-minded islanders.
We participate in the ‘little stone church’ cantata each year in Waimea. With it’s open-shuttered windows and Hawaiian Christmas decorations, it fills us with the warm ‘Aloha’ Spirit.
My morning walk takes me seaside to the grounds of the Kiahuna Plantation in Poipu: the Moir Garden.
Mrs. Moir designed it in the 1930s, and I follow her path around lava rock ponds filled with Japanese koi fish and water lilies.
Whether meandering, jogging, hiking, biking, or humpback whale-watching, Kauai is a balm for the senses. The surf roars, birds chatter, laughter bubbles up. The humid warmth lulls ambition. Good books, movies and visits with friends suffice.
So, when we’re asked, ‘Why Kauai?’
‘Kauai not?’ is all we can say.