Tots and Travel Style in Kauai for the HolidaysOctober 28, 2011 No Comments
The holiday’s are approaching. A little too rapidly for my taste, and probably for you, too. And you may be wondering if you really want to stay home and make that turkey or Tofurky. If you really want to invite Aunt Gladys and her Barber Shop Quartet for Christmas or Hanukkah. Instead, maybe you’re thinking you’ll pack up the kids and take a little trip…
Several years ago, we were lucky enough to spend time on the Hawaiian islands for the holidays – where we learned that Mele Kalikimaka is a way to say Merry Christmas, even if the stewardess on the plane (nope, it wasn’t Hawaiian air) thought my children were uttering curse words at her. But that’s another story.
Waimea, Kauai for the Holidays
We went to the Big Island, Oahu, and Kauai that trip, and each island certainly had its own wonderful holiday flavor. We began in Kauai which is also where Hawaiian natives saw their first traditional Christmas celebration. Anchored off shore in Western Kauai in 1786, British Captain Cook celebrated in Waimea Bay, with coconut milk and pig roasted imu style. Today, the small, pleasant town of Waimea holds a glittering Christmas Parade the Saturday before Christmas, with live music, food booths, and crafts. The entire town is decorated for the month of December.
We loved the parade, and shopping at the booths, buying inexpensive locally designed ceramics and candles, fresh fruits and nuts, and wonderful fresh made candies. It was a lot more fun than browsing the chain stores in SoCal looking for something special. The mellow, happy scene included a visit from Santa – in reindeer splashed board shorts. Children of all ages enjoyed lining up for candy canes, and singing along to well known carols – or attempting to – in Hawaiian.
Lihue, Kauai Christmas Delight
Lihue, which many travelers see only from the perspective of the airport, shouldn’t be missed over the holidays, either. The Kauai Historic County Building, its architecture interesting in its own right, sparkles with Christmas lights on both the exterior and interior. Early in December, an opening ceremony here includes a countdown to turning on the lights, and another parade concluding with the music of the Kauai Chorale. You’ll find more Christmas lights and holiday decorations along the sidewalks of the North Shore’s quaint Hanalei town.
And then there was our holiday dinner. We heard good things about Dukes in Lihue and the Sheraton in Poipu. But we were looking for something a little more island, and offering more choices for our vegan family member. So we chose a favorite of tourists and locals alike, the Hukilau Lanai in Kapaa. Wonderful, fresh fish and innovative cooking styles – sweet potato raviolis were a knock out – were combined with local, organic ingredients. They offer choices for vegans, vegetarians, and even gluten-free diets, and their keiki menu – for little ones – is very reasonable. Small tots are welcome to share a plate of their parents food at no charge.
We loved seeing surfers on Kalapaki beach in Lihue wearing Santa hats; listening to carol-singers outside our condo in Kehaka, and taking a short hike – emphasis on short – along the Na Pali coast trail from the north side. A caveat – in December, it gets dark fairly early, so if you’re planning to walk more than a short way along the trail, leave earlier than you might consider leaving. With a small child on your back or just carefully following in your footsteps, you don’t want to find yourself coming home on often slippery trails after dark.
Christmas Cruising, Bird and Whale Watching
We enjoyed taking a cruise with a holiday theme, our boat upon leaving from Waimea included a wonderfully humorous elderly ukelele player who regaled the crowd with a genially Hawaiian version of the “Twelve Days of Christmas.” The song kept cropping up – at the shops in Hanalei, on a balcony over breakfast at the St. Regis, and at a Poipu luau.
You may not spot a partridge in a pear tree, but nature lovers can join in Kauai’s annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count. Children of all ages are allowed to help naturalists in counting native and non-native birds. We didn’t participate, but friends who did had a wonderful time, and learned a lot about the different birds that frequent the islands. The holiday season is also an excellent time to get in some whale watching. As the humpbacks migrate from Alaska to Hawaii and its much warmer seas, you’ll be able to see these amazing creatures from land or on water craft from November to May. The Kileuea Point National Wildlife Refuge and lighthouse is a great viewing spot. We found the lighthouse decorated for the season as well.
Kauai Christmas Vibe
Everywhere we found a true feeling of holiday spirit, from resort to small town, from the snorkeling rental stand in Poipu whose owner handed out homemade ‘fruit cake cookies’ to the north shore resort where we found staff members singing carols around an unused ballroom piano. The vibe on Kauai for Christmas: relaxed, home-town and filled with the good will of the season.