Well, as all good things must come to an end, so did our vacation.  My thanks go to Costco for providing such an easy trip, Kiahuna Plantation who allowed us to use their hospitality room and take showers before our evening flight, Celeste for her great windsurfing lessons (yes, even fat old ladies like me can do it) and Larry’s Ukuleles in Koloa for giving Christie free lessons.  My curses go to the roosters who started to crow at 6 am outside the condo, United Airlines for the world’s tightest seats, and the Honolulu airport which really needs a major re-design.

About Food:  The Hawaiian Islands are not known for a fine cuisine.  After all these folks were happy with poi, which is like eating glue.  But we did find a good restaurant called Kaua’i Pasta in Lihue.  Prices were comparable to those on the mainland, service was excellent, and I couldn’t ask for a nicer meal. However most “nice” restaurants are either over-priced in which you pay for the view and not the cuisine.  Also, many places don’t want to stay open late and close between 4 and 5 pm.  So make sure that you get a condo with a kitchen and do a little cooking.  On the plus side, the fruits are wonderful and so are the farmers’ markets.  Try a couple of these, buy the papayas and pineapples (especially Sugar Baby pineapple) and feast on fruit.  We were too early for mangos, since that is a summer fruit in Hawaii.  If you are trying to save money, Safeway, Foodland and (don’t laugh) Kmart has great fruit.  In fact Kmart in Lihue is wonderful and I usually hate Kmart.  But everything is upscale from the usual Kmart fare and they have a fresh food department.  I didn’t have the time to check out the Walmart and Costco in Lihue, but I am sure that many of their food products should be good, too.

About Fun:  Where does one start describing activities on an island known for playtime?  Go snorkeling at the Poipu beaches on the south side of the island.  Buy your kid a ukulele and have her take it in the car to serenade you for hours.  Go to Anini Beach on the north side of the island and have Celeste Harvel give you a lesson.  She’s been windsurfing for 17 years and knows how to get you going in a matter of minutes.  Plus Anini Beach is TO DIE FOR.  Calm and protected from high surf, it’s a private oasis of clear turquoise water.  And don’t think you’re too old or too fat to be able to windsurf, it takes minimum brain function, coordination and strength to learn.  Her 3 hour class was the best $100 I’ve spent in a long time.

Celeste (green suite) and me at Anini Beach

For great boat charters on the Na Pali coast (think Jurassic Park), go to North Shore Charters and get Gary as your captain – he’s the best.  The link at Yelp says it all – “Bouncing up and down the surges of the ocean, chasing dolphins, exploring sea caves…memories that I will have for a lifetime! Don’t waste your time or money on the big boats out of the west side – experience Na Pali up-close and personal with North Shore Charters!”.  By the way, don’t lug over your snorkeling gear to Kaua’i, it wastes precious luggage space and you can rent for $5 a day or go buy gear at Kmart.  Save your space for that wonderful Kona coffee which you can find at the local Foodland and Safeway markets on sale.

Biking is great fun on the island.  We decided to try a Waimea Canyon downhill adventure thru Outfitters Kauai. Joey and Howard were great guides, and Joey will even take you on a hiking/camping trip thru the Na Pali coast and be your guide/chef.  Outfitters has other adventure tours such as kayaking, ziplining thru forest canopies, and whale watching. They are a little pricey but loads of fun.

Family Pic at the Waimea Canyon

Words to the Wise:  Make sure that you have rash guards and board shorts, especially for the kids.  There are lots of rocks and coral in the water, so if there is boogie board or surfing activities, you’ll get cut up.  Plus rash guards are always a good idea when being out at the beach.  Kmart sells them for $10.  Also beach shoes and booties will help save your feet in the water.  Always remember to lather on the sunscreen (I use 45 – 50 SPF Wide Spectrum) no matter how overcast the day.  I’m a skin cancer survivor so I also ALWAYS wear hats and long sleeve shirts.  Watch out for the riptides – not all beaches are safe.  And most importantly, buy The Ultimate Kaua’i Guidebook – Kaua’i Revealed by Andrew Doughty.  It is almost as good having a native guide on your trip.  The restaurant section is unbiased and on target.

View from the Condo

So other than great memories and pictures, what did I bring back from our trip?.  Freshwater pearl necklaces and earrings from the vendors at the Spouting Hole (save yourself some time to go see the horn and do some inexpensive trinket shopping), tea towels from the botanical gardens, pink and white Hawaiian sea salt from Foodland, a 5 lb bag of Maui Gold Cane Sugar and bags of Kona coffee – a newly found addiction.  Wish I had more time and money (oh for those Hawaiian quilts), but I’ll be back, I promise you. Aloha.