Thursday, March 10, 2022

Quiet, calming Kauai offers relaxing retreat from war, virus, worry

The view from a window suite of Hilton Garden Inn Kauai is accompanied by a cheery wake-up
call from resident roosters, who roam the place and are a much photographed part of the charm


Bruce Keller and Christene Meyers
are greeted with leis at Hilton Garden
Inn Kauai, on a romantic get-away.


IF YOU -- like most of the rest of the world -- yearn for a tranquil, beautiful place to put aside your worries for a few days, you won't do better than Hawaii's "Garden Isle," Kauai.
You won't find a more pampering, relaxing place to nap, read a book, take a hike or recharge the romance in your life than at Hilton Garden Inn Kauai, on picturesque Wailua Bay.
We stopped to smell the flowers, which are everywhere.
The welcoming inn is only two stories tall -- no building can be taller than the tallest palm tree.  This wise edict was mandated decades ago by the people of this charming island and has preserved its feeling of "country" and untouched beauty.
Kauai appetizers:  macadamia nut bread and
pineapple, with a bouquet of Hawaiian flowers.
WE'VE BEEN coming to Kauai since the 1970s -- separately, because we didn't know one another then, then together the past 15 years.  Each of us has fond memories of Kauai and on this trip together, we agreed that its quiet island charm remains much as it was 50 years ago, particularly at Hilton Garden Inn.  The hotel has a "hands on" staff, trained with the aloha spirit that marks this small island's feeling of hospitality.  Management decrees that guests are to be treated like royalty -- and we were.
The hotel's residents include well
 fed roosters, patrolling the grounds.
ROOM SERVICE was delivered by the amiable marketing director, Sarah Cara, who stayed to visit and make sure our needs were met.  She gave us pointers on nearby attractions, including lovely Lydgate Beach Park, where we took a picnic the next day and enjoyed snorkeling and lazing on the lovely beach.
THE HOTEL is close to Wailua Bay and Opaekaa Falls. The famed Sleeping Giant Trail Head and Fern Grotto are nearby, too. We booked the famous Smith Family Luau, just a five-minute drive away (more later) and easily maneuvered the 15 minutes to Wailua Falls, Kapaa town, and the quiet Lihue Airport, where we'd picked up our baggage outside and found the rental car kiosk within easy walking distance.
The hotel's  all-day restaurant, pools with poolside bar, and rooms with balconies and ocean views add to the charm of the place.
KAUAI'S BEAUTY goes back eons, when a defect near the middle of the huge Pacific Tectonic Plate allowed molten lava to escape. It emerged, boiling and hissing onto the ocean floor seven miles down. Slowly, land rose until 30 million years ago when a volcano formed Kure Atoll, emerging from the sea into sunlight.
The drive north from Kapaa leads to stunning views.
Thus Kauai was born, at first much larger than it is today. Crashing waves from trade winds and storms eroded the north shore to form the stunning Napali Coast, with cliffs plunging 3,000 feet into the sea. Dozens of huge fault breaks formed canyons -- Waimea is the deepest and most spectacular -- and dramatic valleys formed along the canyon's eastern slopes.
Volcanos, craters, calderas and gorgeous beaches make this beautiful island one of the world's most coveted. Yet it has remained quiet and still has a rural feel if one exits the beaten path.

Bruce Keller enjoys an ice cream
outside Skinny Mike's in Kauai.

KAPAA IS "the town," an unincorporated community and census-designated place in Kauai County. It is the most populous town on Kauai, with a population just over 11,000. Thus there is no "big city" on the island -- which is fine with us. Kauai is a favorite honeymoon spot. Known for its natural beauty and dramatic sites, it's a place to hide away from it all. We took a day trip to beautiful Waimea Canyon (with its gorgeous Coconut Coast). We enjoyed the islands gorgeous mountains and waterfalls, white sand beaches, sugarcane fields, and beachside cliffs on the Napali coast, the most isolated land mass in the world.
Kauai Coffee: tops,
says Bruce Keller
MY COFFEE snob partner also guided us to Kauai Coffee, the 
largest coffee plantation in the United States. He pronounced its java 
"the best I've sampled in my tastings around the globe."  Perfect climate -- cool nights and warm days, plus rich volcanic soil, Pacific trade winds and mountain rains make it so flavorful, says he.
 In his younger days, coffee loving Bruce Keller took off his clothes with his college buddies and waterskied Kauai's Wailua River. That was a few decades ago.  This time, we didn't spot any naked adventurers on the tranquil river. We simply took a sedate fully clothed boat ride past gorgeous waterfalls and lush, jungle landscapes along the island's East Side.
 KAUAI HAS the only navigable rivers in Hawaii, which lead to more than natural beauty.  Ice cream, coffee, home cooking and the best loco moco we've had await.   We've tried many variations, but the one we had in Kapaa was best: a nap-inducing gourmand's bomb of white rice, topped with a hamburger, fried egg, and brown gravy.

St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin was on the
bucket list for Cookie's mother, along with
a kiss and a visit to the fabled Blarney Stone.
UP NEXT: A salute to Ireland and St. Patrick, as we remember trips to the Emerald Isle and a special brother whose ashes will be sprinkled there next summer.  Ireland is part of our family's history, and memorable trips with family are treasured. We revisit Dublin, with its beautiful cathedral and lively pubs, take a look at tourism highlights and enticements, and describe a mother's bucket list kissing of the Blarney Stone. Meanwhile, remember to explore, learn and live and catch us each week for a fresh look at nature, travel, the arts, cruising, family and more:



  1. Nice look at our favorite Hawaiian island. Still charming, welcoming and old-fashioned in the best way.

  2. We discovered this wonderful property several years ago and return each year. What a find!