You are so ready . . .
The moment Kauai comes into view from the airplane window your heart quickens. Your gaze follows the vast blue ocean as it lightens to a brilliant turquoise that rings the island. As the plane descends, you make out sky-high mountains cut deep by ravines and all blanketed in dark-green velvet. A tiny town comes into focus at the island’s edge. And then you see the beach.
Hawaii’s fourth largest island is its most verdant, earning Kauai the nickname “The Garden Isle.” So beloved, this tropical gem was recently included among National Geographic’s “Best Trips of 2017”, and consistently lands on Conde Nast Traveler’s list of “The 50 Most Beautiful Places in the World. From the mind-blowing beauty of the Napali Cliffs to the mysterious depths of the Waimea Canyon, there is more pristine terrain here than anywhere else in Hawaii and by ordinance no building will ever be taller than a coconut tree. It’s no secret why Kauai represents paradise in countless Hollywood films.
After landing in Lihue, you step off the aircraft into the warmth of the sun and breathe in the plumeria-scented air. You had anticipated this moment and yet are surprised by how quickly it has given you that sense of serenity – even at the airport. You are so ready for this getaway.
You cruise the South Shore’s palm-lined road in your tiny rental car until you arrive at Koloa Landing Resort which feels organic to the landscape. You hear the crush of the surf and take in the colorful foliage all around, and you can’t help but feel at home. The locals call this “ohana” – a deeply welcoming family connection – and for centuries Hawaiians have returned to this northern-most island again and again because there is simply nowhere on earth like Kauai. Unhurried, untouched, unreal.
And just where you belong.
Adventure is everywhere . . .
A restful night’s sleep comes easily in your luxurious villa. You wake before the sun and head down to the coastline where you find a catamaran bobbing at the water’s edge, beckoning.
Once the catamaran is out to sea, you wrap your hands around a steaming mug of dark-roast local coffee, savoring its earthy bitterness and aroma. Chunks of white Sugarloaf pineapple are as full of juice as you’d expect from fruit chopped off the plant that morning. You feel fully awake now, and when you sit back to take in the vista, you catch your breath at the sight of a rosy-gold glow that spreads out across the horizon.
A sunrise over the Pacific Ocean is unlike any other. Sitting on the edge of the boat, you feel the spin of the earth gently pulling the ocean toward the light of day. The sky begins to paint colors on the water unseen from the comforts of land. Slowly, the glow melds into pink streaks across the sky, illuminating the boat in beams of golden warmth, rejuvenating you for the day ahead.
Playtime on the ocean . . .
Eventually, the sunrise turns to daylight, ushering the sea water to life. The people of Kauai do not believe in keeping ocean species in captivity, so the only way to see these magnificent creatures is in their natural habitat. You are delighted to spot Spinner dolphins a few meters out and marvel at their acrobatic twists and turns on the surface. Is this playtime or performance art? Smaller than their Bottlenose cousins, Spinners have pointed beaks to move quickly and elegantly through the water. When they leap again, you can’t resist the urge to clap.
Humpback whales travel a great distance to get to the warm Kauai waters; to breed, calve, and nurse their young. The humpbacks are curious creatures and several glide hair-raisingly near the boat. You are too entranced to be frightened. As the catamaran flies across the water in tandem with the humpbacks, and the sea spray blows on your face — you begin to feel the tiniest connection to these whales. Though they are some of the largest mammals on earth and are fast and wild, at that moment they almost feel within your reach.