Each winter I leave behind the rains of Northern California and head to the island of Kauai for warmth and sunshine. It is not always sunny as rain is prevalent in Hawaii this time of year but no matter how wet it is, the temperature is in the perfect range of 68 to 80 degrees. The days are filled with reading, lounging, visiting favorite spots and generally recooperating from the busy life that I love in Sonoma County.
The new experience this year has been to not have a rental car for the first week. We stayed at the Marriott Beach Club which is adjacent to the airport so a shuttle is available to get back and forth. The Marriott is located near a number of fine places to eat and imbibe so we did not find ourselves lacking. We actually did a lower cost week than if we had the wheels to visit restaurants outside of walking distance. We went to Duke’s Barefoot Bar three times. Not our favorite Mai Tais but the fish tacos and shrimp salad are really good. Our two formal meals were at Duke’s upstairs – fabulous salad bar and great fresh fish. The only other venue we enjoyed for dinner was Kukui’s bar which allows guests to order from either Kukui’s restuarant or the sushi bar. A great time was had by all. We sunbathed – We read books – We played cards – We shopped – I played golf. We discovered that a car was unnecessary in this location and that we probably relaxed more without the option of driving to various locations.
A second week to enjoy the island with the benefit of transportation allows any pent up desires to visit specific places be satisfied. Our first trip was to Kilohana Plantation – home of Gaylords and Koloa Rum Company. Gaylords has been a long time favorite of mine and two years ago I was very disappointed to learn that the restaurant had been renamed Latitude 29 and the menu was completely different. We made no plans to eat at Kilohana because of this change that I learned was suggested by a consulting company. Clearly, other patrons in addition to myself had expressed their opinion and the name Gaylords in back. We did not eat there this trip having just had wonderful saimin at Hamura’s in Lihue but I will put it on my list for my next excursion to Kauai. One new addition is a beautiful bar in the living room of the Kilohana house. The bar was not open when we were there at lunchtime but the woodwork is beautiful and the view out to the back lawn is pure Kauai.
The Koloa Rum Company has been in existence since 2009. I visited it the month the tasting room was opened in 2010 and it is a favorite stop each trip to Kauai. The tasting is informative and fun. All of the ingredients are grown on Kauai and the spice rum has got to be the best in the world. Each year there are more shops that are carrying the local product and it is showing up in local establishment Mai Tais. The gift shop is excellent for remorabilia and the building is vintage plantation.
We are now up north at Hanalei Bay Resort in Princeville. It would be difficult to be here without a car. We can walk to the St. Regis to enjoy the view with a latte. The gingerbread structures are a yearly display in the lobby, as well as beautiful Christmas trees throughout. Everyday we drive to the local market and purchase the fresh catch of the day. So far we have had opah, ahi and ono. We have coated the fish with Organic Aloha Seafood Seasoning and Rub from Aloha Spice Company of Hanapepe, yet another place we are not visiting this year. Yum. Fish, sauteed vegetables and salad greens with a local papaya dressing – nothing could be better. Tonight will be our first night to eat in a restaurant since our move. Today is a big day as we are going to a botanical garden for chocolate tasting. I am looking forward to lots of pictures of flowers and having chocolate for the first time in 10 days.