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The First Annual “Choy of Cooking” at the Koloa Landing Resort, Kauai Hawaii

Master chef Sam Choy hosts “Choy of Cooking” Event

Friday night October 20th, Koloa Landing Resort in Poipu hosted the first annual “Choy of Cooking” featuring master chef, restaurateur, and television personality Sam Choy. Choy is a local celebrity who specializes in Hawaiian regional cuisine.  As the guests from the 6:00 seating exited, crowds gathered at the entrance of the Holoholo grill awaiting seating for the 7:45 option. 

On this particular evening, there was a nice trade wind breeze with periodic trade showers.  This didn’t damper the mood or suede people from enjoying the event and ambiance. The raindrops ceased when Sam Choy greeted the crowd as he made a joke saying that he talked to the Gods and promised it would rain no more.  The Koloa Landing resort is a top notch property.  The Holoholo grill is set outside with covered and or outdoor open air seating.  Furthermore, the backdrop is the magnificent pool and the sounds of the cascading waterfall.  There was also entertainment featuring local muscians. 

Sam Choy was very personable as he mingled with the crowd greeting guests and taking photos. Once everyone was seated, he spoke to the crowd and then prepared his signature poke dish.

https://youtu.be/laBUAqFDu1g

Let’s Eat!

The first course included chicken bites and the tako poke. 


Second, we had Choy’s famous Kauai Island salad.  The main course featured Kal bi short ribs served with bread pudding and macadamia nut panko crusted Island Style fish served with vegetable fried rice.


Lastly the dessert was a portion of three delicious treats, pumpkin crunch, sweet potato haupia pie, and pineapple cheesecake.

We were able to take home a recipe book signed by Sam Choy which included his signature recipes from the evening.  Overall it was a great evening and we look forward to doing it again!


Koloa Landing Resort is featured in our Hotels We Love Page

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Kilauea Point Lighhouse and National Wildlife Refuge

At the Kīlauea Point National Wildlife Refuge you will encounter unprecedented sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean.  The contrast of colors in this landscape is amazing with the deep greens and browns of the cliffside, to the blacks of the rocks, to the vibrant bright blues of the ocean.

LEARN & DISCOVER

There are many things to take notice of and engage the keiki in.

1. BIRDWATCHING

Seabirds are everywhere, hugging the cliffs, hovering above you, hiding from you, and even walking amongst you. Observation scopes are located throughout the pathways and binoculars are available for the keiki to use. Just sign them out and return when you are done.

Observation scopes
Hovering Seabirds

2. WHALES, DOLPHINS, NENE, & MONK SEALS

Besides the opportunity see seabirds in their natural habitat, there are also opportunities to see other wildlife such as whales and dolphins, endangered Nene, and Hawaiian monk seals. On this particular day, the Nene were approaching nesting season. Therefore, we were able to observe mating behaviors such as them “talking” to each other and acting territorial. We have also seen whales during whale watching season which runs from November-May. Dolphins can also be spotted from the lookout areas and are usually most visible during the summer months.

3. NATIVE PLANTS

Along the property there are informational picture boards which provide a visual inventory of what to look for. Walking up the pathway to the lighthouse, take notice of the abundance of native plants. Try to have the keiki match the picture and the description with the plants around you. The easiest one to identify is the native Napaka shrub. It has waxy green leaves with white flowers that have five petals and looks like a half-flower. Your keiki can reach these along the path and feel the surface of the leaves for the texture.

There is a Hawaiian legend that goes with this half – flower that you can tell your keiki. One version is about a royal princess who fell in love with a commoner from the mountains. Together the princess and the commoner traveled up the mountain in distress. The kupuna told them that there is nothing that he could do so that they could be together.  So as a token or rememberance of her love, the princess took the flower from her ear and tore it in half telling the commoner that he must go by the water and live.

Since then, the Naupaka flower only bloomed in half-flowers where one-half can be found near the sea and it’s counter-part found in the mountains.  Some say that if you find one of each flower and put them together, you reunite their love and it can bring you good luck. The Naupaka plant can easily root near sand and rocks and is found along most of the beaches on Kauai as it prevents erosion.  

4. Kilauea Point Lighthouse

The historic Daniel Inouye Lighthouse is another highlight. Tours are offered on certain days and times of the week, so if you are interested in actually going up into the lighthouse, plan ahead. Children need to be 44 inches tall for this activity.




Admission

Admission for children 15 and under are free and adults are $5 per person so this is a great bargain.  If you are a L.O.C.A.L. (Kamaaina) you can purchase a yearly pass for $20 that allows entry for 4 people.  Only cash and traveler’s check are accepted as forms of payments, so make sure you bring some cash.  The Refuge is closed on Sunday and Monday and open Tuesday – Saturday, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm so plan accordingly.


Bookstore

On the way out, there is a great bookstore that offers books and gifts or information to reinforce anything that your keiki may have been interested in


Nesting Shearwater

Getting There

Heading north on Kuhio Hwy. from Lihue pass through the towns of Kapaa and Anahola.  The next town is Kilauea (look for the gas station on the right) and turn right onto Kolo Road.  Pass the gas station and make the first left onto Kilauea Road.  The refuge is at the end of this scenic road, about 2 miles in.

I had this old photo from 2008, when my family visited!


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Waimea Canyon and Kōkeʻe State Park, must sees on Kauaʻi

Things To See on Kauai’s Westside

At a 4,000 foot elevation, Waimea Canyon coined the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”, boasts panoramic views and along with Kōkeʻe State Park are must see on Kaua’i. It has taken millions of years to create the splendid array of greens, browns, and reds colors showcasing the canyon. The Waimea River, erosion from the rain, water from the peaks of Mount Waiʻaleʻale, and volcanic activity are all contributors to the natural beauty that the canyon displays. Waterfalls are visible in the distance and rainbows frequently inhabit the cliffsides. A feeling of peace and tranquility sets in place as you reconnect with nature.


Getting to Waimea Canyon and Kōkeʻe

There are actually two ways to access Waimea Canyon/Kokee.  After heading West on Hwy. 50, continue through Waimea town and turn right, heading mauka (towards the mountain) on Waimea Canyon Drive (Hwy. 550).  This is the first option to get to Waimea Canyon. If you prefer to continue west on HWY. 50, another option to get up to the canyon is available where you can also get a glimpse of  the old sugar plantation town of Kekaha and pass the sugar mill that has been closed since 1999. Continuing west, when approaching Kekaha, Turn right onto Hwy 55.  The route is better on the vehicle as the climb up is less steep.  Both of these routes lead to the Waimea Canyon, however each route has its own breathtaking views and experience.  

Nonetheless, around mile marker 6, the two roads end up merging.  From a L.O.C.A.L perspective,  a recommendation is to go up using the Waimea route (Hwy. 50) to experience the rolling hills and magnificent red dirt features and then descending the mountain using the Kekaha (Hwy. 50) route as it is less steep and gives you great views of Niihau and the Westside of Kauai’s landscape, the best of both.

 

Views of Niihau and Westside of Kauai on decent using Kekaha (Hwy. 50) route

Continue on this curvy road about 4 miles and you will see the sign for  Waimea Canyon lookout which is  located between mile markers 10 and 11.

Waimea Canyon Lookout

  Veer right into the parking lot area.  Here there are restrooms and also snacks for sale.  You can purchase dried fruits and you must try the coconut water which is cold and crisp.  You can reach the lookout from the shorter steeper  ascend on the left or the ramp which provides a gradual ascend.   If you have children or a stroller and head up the gradual ramp, you will not be able to access the upper lookout because of the stairs.  Likewise, if you take the steeper shorter route, you will not be able to access the lower lookout area.  You do have the option of carrying your children but make sure they are carefully watched.  If you have an infant, a carrier would be perfect.  Either way,  have your camera ready for the sweeping views of the canyon.  

 



Views of Waimea Canyon, jackets for swift breezes and cooler temperatures

Continuing on to Kōkeʻe State Park

There are two other lookouts along the route to Kokee State Park, the Pu’u Ka Pele Lookout located between mile markers 12 and 13 and the Puu Hina Hina Lookout located between mile markers 13 and 14.  We usually skip these because of time constraints and also depending on the state of the children.  After continuing on Kokee Road for a few more miles or so you will reach Kokee State Park.  

school group playing in the meadow

Although relatively speaking Kokee is close to Waimea, the  terrain and climate differ significantly with the increased elevation.  Kokee State Park is a natural watershed, an area of land from which all surface and groundwater flows from higher elevation, Mount Waiʻaleʻale, downhill to the Waimea River.  Many community groups work to preserve and educate others about this intricate watershed and the importance of wai or water to the area and surrounding land.  The watershed is abundant with many native plants but also has invasive intruders in the form of invasive plants and animals such as pigs and goats that disturb native vegetation.  You will feel a difference in the temperature of the air as this increased elevation brings cooler temperatures.  It may often be about 10 degrees cooler in Kokee than in Waimea or Kekaha, especially in the winter months.  

An old phone booth provides symbolism; Remember these?

Kōkeʻe Lodge, Kōkeʻe Natural History Museum, and the Kanaloahuluhulu Meadow

As you turn into Kokee State Park you will see, Kokee Lodge and the Kokee Natural History Museum to your left.  The area is defined by the Kanaloahuluhulu Meadow on your right, a large open area for recreation which is a great place to have a picnic with the family or let your keiki run around a bit before getting back into the car.

Kokee Museum, Kokee State Park

Kokee Lodge offers food for purchase and also restroom facilities.  Check out the Kokee Natural History Museum which offers  information on hiking trails and the surrounding area.  Local books, maps, artwork, and handcrafted keepsakes are for sale.  They are open daily from 10-4pm and admission is free so it’s a perfect family activity.

 

Kokee Lodge, Kōkeʻe State Park

Continuing Further On to Kalalau Lookout

After stopping at the museum, you must continue on Kokee Road a few more miles to mile marker 18 to the magnificent Kalalau Lookout. Satisfaction will take over that  you can go no further.  Standing from the lookout you will see astonishing sweeping views of Kalalau valley.  On clear days you may even catch a glimpse of the shores of Kalalau beach.  Kalalau is only accessible on foot through a 13 mile hike beginning at Ke’e beach on Kauai north shore.  You will understand why you cannot circle the island, as the Napali cliffs lie in the way ans will be amazed by the natural beauty that surrounds you.

View from Kalalau Lookout over Kalalau valley and beach



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The 10 Things You Should Know About Kauai

Kalalau Lookout with views of Napali Coast, shores of Kalalau Beach

1. Kauai County has a no plastic bag ordinance.

Some hotels or vacation rentals will provide reusable bags. If not, you will have the option of purchasing one for a small fee, around $0.50 each for reusable bags upon checkout.  Most retailers will provide paper bags or alternatives, so save them to be reused throughout the trip. Also, it is advised that you bring a Hydroflask so you don’t have to purchase plastic water bottles. A Hydroflask is a stainless steel water bottle that keeps water or drinks cold for 24 hours or hot for 6 hours.  They come in many different sizes; There is even a 12 ounce “keiki size” for little hands.  Hydroflasks have become part of the lifestyle of Kauai.

2. Monk seals, sea turtles, and the Nene goose are protected by law; Keep your distance.

Sea Turtle: Picture taken with a zoom lense

3. It’s hard to get lost.

You will gain confidence in your navigational abilities on Kauai.  Highway 50 is the main road that runs all the way from Ha’ena to Polihale. Additionally, you have your cell phone for GPS.  So get out of that hotel room and go explore!  You should know that you cannot circle the Island of Kauai in a car as the Napali Cliffs block access. The farthest you can go North is to Ke’e beach, where the entrance to the Kalalau Trailhead is.  The westernmost point is Polihale beach.  

Polihale Beach

4.  You will need to a rent a car.

Although Kauai is a small island, towns are far apart.  If you want to explore the different sides of the island and experience all that Kauai has to offer, you will need a car.  Also, we drive with Aloha.  Overtaking cars doesn’t help to get you where you need to go any faster. Besides that, most of the island is a two lane road which increases the danger not just for you, but for others on the road. Also, relatively speaking residents of Kauai do not use their horns.  

5. Got chickens?  We do, they’re everywhere.

 

6.  We have traffic too.

You will experience some traffic through Kapaa town and near the tunnel of trees in the early morning and around 3-5 in the afternoon. This is mainly because many are commuting to work or school. The afternoon traffic is called Pau Hana traffic, as residents head home after work.

7. The only major chain retail stores are Walmart, Kmart, Costco, and Long’s Drugs. 

These stores carry relatively the same type of merchandise that you would find on the mainland.  They do not overly stock summer products and beach essentials.  They do tend to offer Hawaii based products like coffees, chocolates, and souvenirs.  Renting snorkel gear can get expensive.  You could buy gear from these stores, nonetheless if you want specialty items like a full face snorkel mask, the selection is limited.  This is especially true if looking for a full face snorkel mask for a child.  It is best to bring your own.  Also, puddle jumpers are only stocked seasonally.  Puddle jumpers are less restrictive than life vests and are better for toddlers.  If you want something unique, check out the local shopping.  There are a plethora of local boutiques, art galleries, and surf stores.

8. There are tons of “cheap eats” options.

Groceries are expensive and eating out at restaurants can get pricey.  However, you can mix it up and be creative with “cheap eats” options.  Kauai’s cusine is diverse as there are many different ethnicities represented in Hawaii’s melting pot. Explore the food trucks, local restuarants, and mom & pop stores for “cheap eats”.  You may be pleasantly surprised with the culinary expertise and this will also allow you to dive into local culture.

9. Rash Guards are not just for surfers.

It is recommended that you should purchase a rash guard to wear at the beach, especially for your children. Most of these have a SPF of 50 built into them.  We have witnessed lots of people who can not enjoy their vacation because of sunburn. Apply sunscreen before you get to the beach and reapply after swimming. Local Surf stores do carry a good selection but it is often hard to find sizes for infants or children ages 2 and below.

10.  “You stay on Hawaiian Time”

Slow Down and respect the pace of living. Plan, but don’t over plan.  Keep calm. There is no need to rush.  Breathe the rich oxygen filled air and enjoy the natural beauty that Kauai has to offer. Remember that you are on vacation, and really there is no where you need to be. 

Kauai with Keiki

Aloha! KWK

Kauai with Keiki is a resource for visitors to Kauai who are bringing children, given from a L.O.C.A.L perspective, Loving Our Community and Lifestyle.


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