Sunday, April 17, 2016


A living wall at the  National Tropical Botanical Garden – Allerton Garden. /Courtesy Dr. Rookmin Maharaj 
Near the airport, the Kauaʻi Marriott Resort  is an oasis within an oasis, with one of the largest family friendly pools in Hawaii.
/Courtesy Dr. Rookmin Maharaj 
Aboard Capt. Andy’s Sailing Adventures & Raft Expeditions, we were fortunate to spot a pod of spinner dolphins, green turtles and amazing natural landscapes with plenty of waterfalls and the stunning Nā Pali coast as our background. /Courtesy Dr. Rookmin Maharaj
CSL was awe struck (as was the captain) when we spotted the tail of a humpback whale out of the water for almost an half hour.  The female was actually nursing her baby - a true wonder of the natural world!  Whale season on Kauai usually starts in December and ends in April so this was a true surpise. /Courtesy Dr. Rookmin Maharaj

CSL was fortunate to be invited by Kauaʻi Marriott Resort  Executive Chef Guy Higa to his home and farm at Wailua Homesteads.  Chef Higa is down-to-earth, has a passion for freshness and knows flavours.  Chef Higa took us around his farm and introduced us to many exotic plants, fruits and herbs, which he then brought back to Kauaʻi Marriott Resort  and transformed into a delicious dinner for CSL. Pictured here is a take on a panzanella salad. /Courtesy Dr. Rookmin Maharaj
Part garden, part art exhibit and entirely unique, CSL got a guided tour of the Allerton and McBryde Gardens at the  National Tropical Botanical Garden one of the most spectacular gardens we have seen. Expertly crafted garden rooms feature exotic plants, sculptures, and water features. CSL visited two of the five rooms (the garden was divided into five rooms, each with a unique individual experience and designed by amateur landscape architect Robert Allerton ). At the Thanks Giving Room we were struck by the white building with spires and pyramid shapes that allows onlookers to be transported to any part of the world they wish to be – walls of trees of different heights and textures, the garden is watered via gravity fueled  from sugar cane era pumps (and the water is not recycled, always fresh). The Mermaid Room was inspired by Italian L. Andreotti’s sculptures of Two Mermaids which Robert Allerton saw and decided to to have the only known plaster castings made into bronze. The brown patinaed surface made from these original plasters brought to Allerton Gardens stand at opposite ends of a scalloped aqueduct. The gardens have also served as the location of many Hollywood films including the Moreton Bay fig trees featured in Jurassic Park. /Courtesy Dr. Rookmin Maharaj   
Kelly Corbett of Kayak Kaua‘i was an exceptional guide - very knowledgeable and friendly.  CSL went on the Sacred Falls experience - a combination of half hour Kayaking on the Wailua River with a mile of hiking to Uluwehi waterfalls and another half hour Kayaking to return to the Wailua River marina.  Kelly even made a bracelet from sea hibiscus bark for CSL, during the  hike, presenting it as a gift at the end of this fantastic experience. /Courtesy Dr. Rookmin Maharaj   
Firsthand, closeup view of the breathtaking landscape of Kauai with Island Helicopters. We had nearly every kind of weather during our trip, and, of course spotted several rainbows. The helicopter takes off for amazing views of Nāwiliwili Harbor,
Hanapepe Valley, Manawaiopuna Falls, and Olokele Canyon. /Courtesy Dr. Rookmin Maharaj   

Many of the views of Kauai may be familiar as the island has had a starring role in several films and television shows including South Pacific, Jurassic Park, and Gilligan's Island but this is the view that, in many ways, defines Kauai - red soil, towering cliffs, lush vegetation, white sand beach and miles of ocean. The rain stopped just in time for us to witness this magnificent scene of Kauai aboard Island Helicopters. /Courtesy Dr. Rookmin Maharaj   

Welcoming sunset at the Sheraton Kauai Resort with hula dancing, tiki torches, and the sound of conch shells. /Courtesy Dr. Rookmin Maharaj   
A single frangipani (plumeria) is typically worn in the hair in Hawaii, making for a beautiful and elegant ritual. Even more impressive is the haku lei - a flower coronet worn like a tiara. Elvrine Chow, owner of Heavenly Haku is the instructor of  haku and leis (flower garlands). CSL enjoys flower arranging so making our own haku and lei this was great fun, we even invented our own haku making technique (named after its inventor, CSL's own Dr. Rookmin Maharaj). /Courtesy Dr. Rookmin Maharaj   
There is lots of colour on Kauai and this is true even in its delicious treats. We headed to Kukui‘ula Shopping Center for a taste of local favourite - shaved ice - think a snow cone with exotic fruit flavourings, condensed milk and ice cream. Uncle's Shave Ice & Smoothies in Poipu is said to make the best on the island, served by smiling, friendly faces (see above). /Courtesy Dr. Rookmin Maharaj    
Sunrise from the beach at Courtyard Kaua‘i at Coconut Beach 
/Courtesy Dr. Rookmin Maharaj   

Koloa Landing Resort, features some of the largest and unique villas on Kauai. Our three bedroom villa was luxurious (free wifi; a flat screen television in every room including the living room; and each bedroom has an adjoining full bath), spacious (3600 square feet) and provided us with a feeling of a home away from home. With a full gourmet chef's kitchen, laundry room, and an ultra cool wrap around open air lanai (balcony), tables and chairs for outdoor dining, it was easy and quick to settle in and feel comfortable.  Best of all, our three-bedroom villa spanned an entire floor - personalized elevator opened right at our door. The villas are modern, with touches of the tropics woven into the decor. This property combines the best of hotel and vacation home living - a true gem on Kauai!

Pool time at Koloa Landing Resort -  it was really lovely to see all of the families connecting with each other while enjoying their vacation time at the resort.
Koloa Landing Resort is in the process of expanding, and will soon include a restaurant, event space, studios and one bedroom villas, great for business travellers, weddings and meetings (in addition to the families who already adore the resort).  We loved the landscaping throughout the property, with enormous hibiscus flowers, palms, colourful plants and a giant lawn where we saw children playing games with their parent.

A look at one of several lovely flowing water features throughout the 25 acre Koloa Landing Resort.  CSL loves the proximity of the resort to shops, restaurants and Poipu beach (great for snorkeling). There are also lots of free activities on property including 'smores nights, yoga, and even a putting green.
One island, many peoples, all Kauaians - this was a message we saw on signs throughout our travels. Hawaii has welcomed people from around the world for centuries. Each brought their food, religion and customs to enrich the already vibrant Hawaiian culture. Today, churches and, temples stand beside ancient heiau (Hawaiian temple). The Koloa Jodo Mission in Kauai feels like a touch of Japan transported to the island. We met the friendly Rev. Kosen Ishikawa who was planting water lotus in the gardens and invited us inside the Buddhist Temple which dates from 1910. 
Koloa Rum Company is award winning, premium, single-batch Hawaiian Rum made on Kauai from the pristine mountain water and sugar from cane. The first batch was produced in 2009.  Kale (pictured above) leads a tasting tour showing guests how to create their own mai tai shot - carefully layer the liquids so that the dark rum, sits atop Koloa Rum's mai tai mix. During the tasting, CSL's team also sipped the white, coconut, spice, and gold rums. CSL's team finished with a bite of moist and delicious rum cake. 
CSL was fortunate to try the newest creation, Koloa Rum Company Kaua'i Coffee - deep, dark , and earthy, this well balanced rum is not too sweet and is in a league of its own. The bottle is slightly different from the other rums in the line and it is gorgeous - a piece of art! This was definitely one of the best sips of our entire trip.
An endangered Hawaiian monk seal catching some rays on the beach at Poipu.  This cute little creature stayed ashore for almost 12 hours (we were told by locals), basking on the warm sand. CSL's team felt very fortunate to have had the opportunity to observe the  monk seal.
CSL drove a 2016 Dodge Journey SUV from Hertz Kauai.  With easy airport pick-up (just look for the punctual shuttles at arrivals), friendly staff and lots of vehicles to choose from Hertz Kauai got us driving soon after landing in Kauai.  With over 640 miles covered, this was the perfect size of vehicle for driving around the island's varying terrain, and for carrying oodles of camera equipment, snorkeling gear and heavy luggage. Pictured here is our Hertz Kauai rental at Salt Pond Beach.

The owners of Living Foods Market  Howard Warner, (left) and Jeff Sacchini (right).  The market provides the best local produce, freshly prepared food and products that Kaua'i offers and also handpicked imports from around the world (we sampled Jeni's ice cream from Ohio which was truly out of this world). The market is neatly laid out, but with plenty of selection: wines and spirits, fresh produce, snacks, cheese and butchers case (on the day we visited, we saw a glistening piece of freshly prepared tuna).
The cafe at  Living Foods Market  (which also includes a juice bar), serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

After chatting with chef Jason; the chefs in the kitchen, & owners Jeff and Howard, CSL’ s team got very excited to try a few items from the menu.  This was one of the most delicious, tasty and flavourful lunches we had on Kaua'i.  We tasted a selection of fresh pressed juice (living juice, orange, and jetset), and locally made kombucha, every one was a blast of verdant, bright flavours.  Jeff insisted that we try the poke bowl, a new item added to the menu courtesy of Chef Jason.  This turned out to be hands-down the best on the island - ultra fresh tuna, well cooked rice, a punchy sriracha mayo topped with fresh jalapenos, fried onions and tobiko - all of the flavours of Hawaii in a bowl, plus loads of texture.  The salad bar was a sight to behold, with over a dozen different preparations, all well seasoned and fresh.  Another standout was the pizza created with roasted vegetables on a thin crust in the market's very own pizza oven. (Also pictured, the fish tacos, and spicy chicken sandwich)

Spouting Horn blow hole in Koloa, Kaua'i

Once a sugarcane plantation, Castle Resorts Kiahuna Plantation and The Beach Bungalows  is now a 35 acre an oceanfront condo resort. The grounds here are spectacular with large trees, flowers and ponds.
 Also on the grounds, and a pleasant stroll are the Moir Gardens and Plantation Gardens restaurant (see below).

A coconut grove on the East Side near Kapaa, known as the Coconut coast.
Kauai's Hindu Monastery with views of Mount Waialeale and the all-granite, hand-carved Iraivan Temple in the right. Self-guided and guided tours of the monastery founded in 1970 are available.
Enjoying dinner at Merriman's Fish House Kauai.  The restaurant is known for being pioneers in the "Farm to Table" movement in Hawaii with 90% of the ingredients being locally sourced, as our waitress Jordan told us.   The restaurant was bustling with diners, as we watched the golden sun set over the horizon.  We began our meal with the Coconut, Sweet Corn & Clam soup followed by enjoyed the Crispy Kunana Dairy Chevre salad with Kula Strawberries, Sweet Local Onion, Hirabara Farms Earth Grown Lettuce, Cassis Vinaigrette and then theOlive Oil Seared Ono (caught near Niʻihau by Nathan Berg) served with Umi Farms Kale, Lemon, Local Squash, Fresh Tomato–Garlic Sauce,Kona Lobster & Crab Cakes with local Orange, Avocado, Watercress, Salsa Verde.
A waterfall emerges from the red basalt rock of Waimea Canyon.
Waimea Canyon State Park with a waterfall barely visible in the distance. Known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, this is a great destination for picnics, hiking, or relaxing.

Kōke’e State Park affords some of the most spectacular views of the Kalalau Valley.

In old Koloa town, Pizzetta Kauai serves Italian-inspired fare including of course, pizza. CSL's team  ordered the bruschetta, hot crab and artichoke dip, the islander (salad), chicken marsala, ono picatta, grilled ono and shrimp puttanesca pizza. Hawaiian fish is undeniably delicious and ono (wahoo) is one of our favourites. We were still surprised at how meaty the ono picatta was – a blend of Hawaiian ingredients with Italian roots. The staff here is excellent – incredibly friendly, warm and knowledgeable about the menu.
Bartender Anthony at Pizzetta Kauai serves the Glitterati cocktail the restaurant's signature drink, which tasted like a lemon tart with caramel drizzle (another of CSL's  favourite sips on the entire trip). The restaurant also has a kiosk serving Papalani Gelato - do try the salt pond flavour!
Scenes of pastoral bliss are all too common on Kauai.
Chef Ken Morikawa at Plantation Gardens Restaurant.
Pa'u a Laka,(Moir Gardens) on the grounds of the Castle Resorts Kiahuna Plantation and The Beach Bungalows (in front of Plantation Gardens restaurant), features plants that require little rain, such as orchids, bromeliads and succulents as well as koi ponds.  This is one of the most unique, colourful and beautiful gardens CSL has ever seen, and overhearing the audible gasps of passersby we know we were not the only ones!
Sometimes you can literally taste cooking that comes straight from the heart which is what happened while CSL's team enjoyed dinner at Plantation Gardens Restaurant. Born and raised on Kaua'i, Chef Kenneth Morikawa has a skilled touch with both presentation, and dynamite flavours -  from the well seasoned poke to the traditional lau lau (seafood cooked in ti leaves), served with rice and stir fried vegetables. This young chef impressed us with his quiet modesty and with skills that cannot be taught - an understanding of flavour combinations that represent Hawaii at its finest. That is the mark of a true chef.
Walking the first quarter mile of the legendary Kalalau Trail looking down upon Ke'e Beach.  The grueling 11 mile trail along Nā Pali Coast is one of the most scenic trails in the world.
Ko'a Kea Hotel & Resort at Poipu Beach is a modern and luxurious property on Kaua'i.  Relatively new on the scene, this boutique resort offers luxury amenities (like valet service), modern rooms fit with marble tile bathrooms, and ocean views that exude a modern warmth and Hawaiian hospitality. Part of the prestigious Meritage Collection, it also happens to be one of the most romantic hotels on the island!
Dinner at Red Salt at Ko'a Kea Hotel & Resort at Poipu Beach - stunningly beautiful, picture worthy presentation with delicate flavours.  Our waiter Kris was attentive, knowledgeable and very friendly and made CSL's teams' meal extra special. At the end of the meal, our eyes lit up when we were presented with a towering mound of lilikoi (passion fruit) cotton candy, what a treat!  Red Salt restaurant excels at creating a luxurious and intimate dining experience, one of CSL's favourite spots on Kaua'i.
Another warm sunrise from our room window at Ko'a Kea Hotel & Resort at Poipu Beach. On a late afternoon another day, CSL enjoyed a relaxing and rejuvenating lomi lomi massage in an outdoor cabana, with the crashing ocean waves as background noise.  Kipi, our therapist (originally from the Big Island of Hawaii), had an incredible technique and was able to ease our sore and jetlagged muscles.
North Shore Beauty: Hanalei Pier originally built in the 19th century.
Waioli Huiia Church in Hanalei  is one of the most photographed buildings in Kauai.
Wetland taro fields in Hanalei. This plant was revered by ancient Hawaiians - the roots are used to make poi and leaves to make lau lau.
A bartender mixes a cocktail at the cantina at Tortilla Republic.  Specializing in inventive modern Mexican fare, we hear from locals that 'this is the place to be', and at a busy lunch time, CSL's team can see why.
CSL's waiter Drew (a transplant from Oregon), carefully divulged some of his favourites from the menu at Tortilla Republic., we ordered a few of the best: tortilla soup, chicken tinga burritos stuffed with rice, roasted corn salsa, cilantro crema and topped with tomatillo and ranchero sauce, nachos de la casa, amazingly craveable flautas de pollo (rolled crispy chicken tacos, flour tortilla, pulled chicken tinga, monterey jack cheese, cilantro crema, guacamole) and the ensalada sabrosa topped with grilled shrimp.  CSL's team sipped 'skinni' margaritas made with Herradura Silver, Agave Nectar, Fresh Squeezed Lime, Orange, Ruby Red Grapefruit and cold Maui Brewing company coconut porter.
Another scene straight out of a movie at the amazing, dreamy grounds at the  Grand Hyatt Kauai.  This pair of black swans swam right up to us.  Another day, CSL enjoyed an invigorating garden massage from masseur Mark at Anara Spa at Grand Hyatt Kaua'i.

Surrounded by a well-stocked koi pond, we had dinner at Tidepools at Grand Hyatt Kaua'i.  This was another delicious dining experience- the chefs here are exceptionally talented, and CSL's team loved the use of Hawaiian ingredients, techniques and flavours. Shown above:taro root croquettes, tempura stuffed ahi, Mahi & Prawn Satay- all were on point.  A highlight of our dinner was watching the fireworks (thanks to a conference being held at the hotel), just overhead - a true spectacle in the sky.

CSL's team visited the hydroponic gardens located in the former tennis courts at Grand Hyatt Kaua'i..  We met Devora and Arthur, both of whom care for the lettuce garden. All the lettuce harvested is used at the hotel's various restaurants.  Tours of the hydroponic lettuce garden is held weekly and is a nice way to see some behind-the-scenes of the hotel. Later, we came across head landscaper/gardener Gary Lopez (pictured above), who has been working at the hotel for twenty six years and is a fount of knowledge about tropical plants.  It was a pleasure to speak to him and also about leading the reconstruction of the gardens after hurricane Aniki in 1992, 'we sometimes worked 10 hour days, but they were worth it', he said.

A team from City Style and Living magazine just returned from the beautiful garden isle of Kaua'i, enjoying the serenity, natural beauty, and adventures that this oldest of the Hawaiian islands has to offer.

From a helicopter tour of the Nā Pali coast with it's Jurassic Park cameos, undulating green cliffs and waterfalls, to the taro growing fields of Hanalei and the lava rock lined beach of Poipu, there's enough splendid scenery and exciting adventure to keep the entire family happy and plenty of romantic views for couples.

Not only did CSL enjoy boundless natural landscapes, but we also tasted some of the best cuisine the island has to offer. CSL's highlights included some of the best poke (Hawaiian raw fish salad) we've ever had, colourful shaved ice (like a snow cone), innovative twists on Hawaiian classics like lau lau (fish cooked in ti leaves), silky smooth caramel 'salt pond' gelato, and a few mai tai's overlooking the gentle waves crashing ashore at sunset.

By the time of our last day, we did not want to leave. Kauai is a wonderful island to rejuvenate and will keep calling you back!

Look for much more on Kauai in the Summer 2016 issue of City Style and Living, and check out the latest photo's from the trip on CSL's social media channels:

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