Saturday, November 6, 2010


Stepping off the plane in Kauai the oldest and least developed island in a chain of Hawaiian islands is tantamount to stepping back in time.

Traveling along the north shore in Kauai, from the village of Kapa’a until the end of the road just past Ha’ena, a necklace of enchantment unravels with not a Hilton, Sheraton or Marriott in sight. At night, on this one of Hawaii's smallest islands, there are few streetlights and most buildings are no taller than a coconut palm.

In spite of that, Kauai is no slouch as far as activities are concerned. Fancy a massage, a cave adventure, or kayaking to the Na Pali cliffs, one of the most dramatic sights to be found anywhere, everything is at your fingertips.

On the north shore with a backdrop of mountains, small palm- thatched fruit stalls proliferate along the roadside. Houses on stilts, sometimes 16 feet high to protect from floods and tsunamis, overlook lush tropical gardens. Villages with a 50s ambience lure passersby into markets, shave Ice kiosks and quaint churches.

Shave Ice - an island speciality - is a popular indulgence on a hot day. Flavors range across an exotic spectrum of mango, passion fruit, papaya, coconut and pineapple.

At Jo-Jo’s in Waimea, I settle for a Haupia Special: a large dollop of Macadamia nut ice cream topped with shaved ice, then drizzled with coconut cream and lavishly sprinkled with coconut flakes.  A splash of Pina Colada or a Mai Tai are optional for that extra kick.

As I travel the meandering road along the coastline there is a vibrancy of color everywhere. A fish-rich ocean, turquoise blue along the shoreline melds to midnight blue in deeper waters. Fragrant frangipani blossoms, plate-sized hibiscus flowers, multi-colored crotons and brilliant bougainvillea bushes; magenta, coral, pale cream and peach pink trail over hedges and walls.

Even Kauai’s roving chickens are brilliantly colored, and some would say all too abundant. They are everywhere, scratching around at the airport, darting across the road in heavy traffic, and as I was to discover, crowing lustily at 4.30 in the morning – long before dawn.

Posted by Anne Gordon on Saturday, 6th November, 2010.


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