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Share your Kauai experience, stories and photos! Kauai travelers tell their tales.

A Kauai Experience- Lomi Massage With Michael Yulo

Michael Lomi Lomi MassageWith his traditional training in the ancient lomi lomi Hawaiian massage technique, Michael Yulo’s gift as a body worker becomes apparent the moment you lay down on the table. As a featured massage therapist at Kauai Skin Clinic, Michael (or “Uncle Mikey”) illustrates a true sense of aloha and gives the body the attention and care that it needs.

Using his palms, forearms, fingers, and even his elbows, Michael implements his knowledge as a respected Lomi Master and invites you to deeply relax with calming music as the treatment occurs. His gentle approach accommodates the varying needs of specific clientele, and he even targets specific areas upon request.

After thirty years of massage experience and extensive study with Auntie Margaret, a worldwide acclaimed Lomi master, Michael is one of the islands leading lomi lomi specialists. Receiving much more than a simple massage, you also receive a taste of Hawaiian culture and a deeper feeling of mind-body healing. Michael’s gift as a healer provides something for everyone, and is the perfect way to enhance your day.

Contact Kauai Skin Clinic and Spa for more information and appointments

Kauai Author hits best-seller list with Day of the Dead Sugar Skull Coloring Book

Best Selling Kauai Author Day of the Dead Coloring Book

On a sunny October day a few years back, Kauai author Monika Mira decided to have a Dia de los Muertos party for her son. As an illustrator, she whipped up some coloring sheets that the kids could color in and make masks with at the party. The party and the coloring sheets were a big hit with the kids. Even some of the parents stayed late just to color. Over the years, the collection of sugar skull illustration began to grow, and the neighborhood kids looked forward to coming over for the annual Dia de los Muertos party.

The following year, Mira created a life-size paper skeleton, which she buried in a mock graveyard outside for a party game. She had the kids dig through piles of leaves in the yard to find all the bones. Then the kids brought the pieces inside to assemble the skeleton. It too was a hit.

Mira decided that the collection of sugar skull illustrations and the life sized skeleton might be useful to teachers, so she placed it on a teachers resource website, where she sold hundreds of copies over the next year. As a published author, Mira thought the components would make a fun coloring book for kids to enjoy worldwide. What started as a party game for the local author, has now turned into an Amazon best-seller.

The Day of the Dead Coloring Book features ten original sugar skulls designs that can be colored in and used to string banners, decorate an alter, make masks, or for a cultural activities in the classroom. A blank skull template is provided for artists who want to create their own designs. Also included is a 4’ child life-sized skeleton. The skeleton takes up about ten pages of the book and can be colored in, cut out and assembled by a child. The life-sized skeleton is perfect for Halloween decorations, party games, or even an anatomy lesson.

Teachers who want to use the book as a classroom resource will find that they can cover lessons in social studies, world cultures, art, and anatomy. Additionally, coloring and assembling the skeleton as a class is a great team-building activity. Students absolutely love creating their own sugar skulls and building the skeleton. Rave reviews have been pouring in from teachers who use this activity in their classrooms. Mom’s who home school are also enjoying the Day of the Dead Sugar Skull Coloring Book.

The Day of the Dead Sugar Skull Coloring Book is available on Amazon. For more information about the book, please visit Lucid Publishing’s website: www.lucid-hawaii.com.

Volunteers make the ocean accessible for everyone

KORE volunteer helps a disabled young man enjoy the surf. Photo by Pamela Varma Brown

A KORE volunteer helps a disabled young man enjoy the surf. Photo by Pamela Varma Brown

One Saturday morning each month at beautiful Hanalei Bay on Kauai, autistic children and adults, people in wheelchairs, stroke and other brain injury survivors are safely escorted into the ocean by an army of volunteer lifeguards, firefighters and other experienced watermen and women. As participants ride waves into shore with volunteers at their sides, their thousand-watt smiles beam their joy to be alive.

Kurt Leong’s passion for surfing led him to co-found the Kauai non-profit organization Kauai Ocean Recreation Experience (KORE) in 2009.

Kurt Leong: I knew surfers would want to help other people experience the ocean and the good that it does a body, soul and mind. We wanted to spread that feeling to people who haven’t surfed before or who used to surf and can’t anymore.”

It saves your soul when you surf. It gets all the negativity out of your body and mind. I can’t explain it scientifically, but it works. It’s like fishing. It’s good for your mind and soul even when you don’t catch anything.

KORE volunteer Bruce Cosbey, a general contractor, surfer and longtime Kauai resident, has watched the ocean transform people with disabilities. He motions toward an autistic 19-year-old, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with KORE volunteers, looking at photos in a book, laughing, clearly enjoying himself.

Bruce Cosbey: I’ll never forget his first day with us at KORE about six months ago. He was extremely shy, real stand-offish. He didn’t want to be touched. He needed a minimum of 10 to 15 feet space from anybody. One volunteer gently coaxed him in the ocean and on a surfboard. He is now a changed person. Now when you see him get out of a car or off the bus in the morning, he runs to get to us. He’s so fired up. He’s a seal now. He can’t stay out of the water.

A friend of ours who is in his mid-20s is a triple amputee. He likes to come visit our KORE ohana (family) and show everyone how easily he can surf, even without legs and only one arm. He often says, “Impossible is only an opinion, not a fact.” That’s the power of the ocean. It brings it all back.

Read more about KORE in Pamela Varma Brown’s book, “Kauai Stories.” Visit www.korekauai.com

Kauai Ocean Recreation Experience (KORE) volunteers go to great lengths to help people of all abilities enjoy the ocean. Photo by Pamela Varma Brown

Kauai Ocean Recreation Experience (KORE) volunteers go to great lengths to help people of all abilities enjoy the ocean. Here they lovingly place a paraplegic on a surfboard and will accompany him in the water. Photo by Pamela Varma Brown

Kauai Chock Full of Delicious Food

The dragonfruit is one of Kauai's most exotic-looking fruits. It's as delicious as it looks with a sweet creamy interior. Photo by Daniel Lane / Pono Photo

The dragonfruit is one of Kauai’s most exotic-looking fruits. It’s as delicious as it looks with a sweet creamy interior. Photo by Daniel Lane / Pono Photo

Kauai’s restaurants offer more delicious food per square mile than most big cities.

Marta Lane, Kauai’s only full-time food writer and the host of Tasting Kauai “farm-to-fork” culinary tours that include a private four-course gourmet lunch and cooking demonstration at a five-star resort, says there are a lot of great places to eat on Kauai.

“We have a large selection of farms here and we have farmers markets every day so there are plenty of healthy food options,” Lane says. “When Kauai chefs work their magic with local products, you get some great meals!”

Lane’s passion is locally-grown food and establishments that favor using Kauai-grown products as much as possible. In her new e-book, Tasting Kauai: From Food Trucks to Fine Dining, a Guide to Eating Well on the Garden Island, she lists nearly 70 restaurants that meet her standards.

When Lane first moved to Kauai, she worked on an organic farm and learned of local farmers’ dedication to growing organically as much as possible. “They do it because they believe that protecting delicate ecosystems, the land, sea and people from chemical pesticides and fertilizers is the right thing to do,” she says.

The bonus for those of us who love to eat: “Restaurants that use organic and locally-sourced ingredients have the most flavorful food,” she says.

Lane recommends that while you’re on Kauai, be adventurous and try new things to eat.

“Kauai’s year-round growing season means farmers markets are always bursting with a colorful selection of sweet and juicy fruit including mango, pineapple, avocado, mountain apple and star fruit,” Lane says. “If you’re at the market and you see a strange looking fruit, be brave and try a sample. Farmers are happy to share. Enjoy tasting Kauai!”

Hukilau – Catching fish the Hawaiian way

Hukilau - catching fish as a community, Kauai-style. Photo courtesy Kauai Historical Society

Hukilau – catching fish as a community, Kauai-style. Photo courtesy Kauai Historical Society

Oh we’re going to the hukilau Huki huki huki huki hukilau Everybody loves the hukilau Where the laulau is the kaukau at the big luau
 Have you ever danced to this song while at Kauai luau? Donna Gomez, born and raised on Kauai, and her brother-in-law, Jay Furfaro, an unofficial North Shore Kauai historian, describe what hukilau were like, catching fish the Hawaiian way. (Excerpted from my forthcoming new book, Kauai Stories II.) Note: Hukilau, like all Hawaiian words, is the same both singular and plural. Donna Gomez: In a hukilau, you leave the ends of one side of a huge fishing net on the beach and take the rest of the net out on a boat. When they spot a pile of fish they throw the net out of the boat. When the net drops, divers surround it to be sure the fish are inside the net. Then everyone on the beach – 50 people on this side and 50 people on that side – start pulling the beach side of the net to bring it onto the sand. That’s what huki is, pull, pull. You can see all the fish in the net and they are jumping! The net is full. One the net is pulled onto the sand, everyone stands in a circle and joins their hands. The man who owns the boat stands in the middle and he throws you a fish. He throws them out like he is dealing cards! If you touched the net, you get a fish – nobody ever goes hungry.

We’re going to hukilau today

Furfaro: Hukuilau were taking place on Kauai’s North Shore, all the way up until the closure of Kilauea Sugar Plantation Company in 1971, whenever there was a good catch coming in. Word just went out. At the sugar mill they would actually blow the whistle to let people know. People knew an evening tide or high tide, “Hey we’re going to hukilau today.” When they did the portioning out of the fish, the mahele, usually it was directed at some level of equity for how much you brought and how much you participated. After the hukilau there was a paina, a celebration, where everybody ate fresh fish and had a nice time.

Kilauea Lighthouse celebrates 100th birthday

Kauai's Kilauea Lighthouse celebrates its 100th birthday with the newly-completed $2.5 million restoration.

Kauai’s Kilauea Lighthouse celebrates its 100th birthday with the newly-completed $2.5 million restoration.

The Kilauea Lighthouse, one of the most beautiful spots on Kauai for viewing wildlife including endangered birds, dolphins and whales, celebrates its 100th birthday this month with a $2.5 million facelift and a new name, the Daniel K. Inouye Kilauea Point Lighthouse, in honor of the late United States senator who was integral in securing federal funding for both the renovation work and procurement of additional lands to expand the wildlife refuge.

On the northernmost point of Kauai, 180 feet above sea level, the light of Kilauea lighthouse was long a navigational aid to sailors of all types, letting them know they had found land. The lighthouse was electrified in 1939; a small, automatic and efficient beacon now provides the warning for modern seafarers.

While the renovated lighthouse gleams in the sunlight, fresh coats of paint applied after all rust was removed, long cemented-over windows opened to allow light into the tower, it’s the beautiful original 7,000-pound Fresnel lighthouse lens that remains the most fascinating part of this building.

Installed on May 6, 1913, then the largest clamshell lens in the world, The Garden Island newspaper declared it, “… like the Cyclops of old, which swept the sea with their one fierce eye, (the Kilauea Point Lighthouse) burst forth its shining eye of warning to the mariner …” The light could be seen for 20 miles.

Park Ranger Padraic Gallagher says the original lens, made of 400 hand-ground glass prisms, was floated on a bed of a gallon of mercury and when balanced correctly using compressed air, the lighthouse keeper could rotate it with one finger. The Fresnel lens was decommissioned in 1976 because of mercury exposure.

The Kilauea Lighthouse renovation was the culmination of a four-year project led and funded by volunteers who raised $1.5 million, plus a $1,000,000 donation from the U.S. government, mahalo to Sen. Inouye for that. Tours inside the renovated lighthouse interior are planned to be open to the public in a schedule to be determined.

The Kilauea Lighthouse and wildlife refuge receives 500,000 visitors per year, the fourth highest of all U.S. Wildlife Refuges. For more information, visit www.fws.gov/kilaueapoint.

For more Kauai stories by Pamela Varma Brown, please visit www.kauaistories.net.

Kauai's Kilauea Lighthouse originally lit the ocean for sailors with this 7,000-pound Fresnel lens.

Kauai’s Kilauea Lighthouse originally lit the ocean for sailors with this 7,000-pound Fresnel lens. 

Senator Daniel K Inouye and his wife, Irene, at the Kilauea Lighthouse Wildlife Refuge at the renovation kickoff in April 2009. Photo by Pamela Varma Brown
Senator Daniel K Inouye and his wife, Irene, at the Kilauea Lighthouse Wildlife Refuge at the renovation kickoff in April 2009. Photo by Pamela Varma Brown


Passion in Paradise

Cary Valentine says vacationing on Kauai is the perfect time and place to make your relationship "juicy."

Cary Valentine says vacationing on Kauai is the perfect time and place to make your relationship “juicy.”

Cary Valentine wants all couples to have “juicy” relationships, especially while on vacation on Kauai.

“Being on vacation is a great time to strengthen your relationship. You’re happy, relaxed and enjoying each other, and while you’re having fun together, you remember why you love this person so much,” he says. “If you’re having challenges in your relationship, vacation is a great time to start the process of transformation, while you’re far away from the pressures of day-to-day life that distract us when we’re at home.”

Valentine, a relationship coach, knows the ropes of rebuilding a relationship from personal experience. He had a “juicy” marriage with his late wife Wendy, who died of a brain tumor in March 2012 after 24 years of marriage, but it wasn’t always that way.

“We lived four years in the desert in Idaho on the brink of divorce. At one point, we lived so separately, we literally had a piece of duct tape running down the center of our bed,” Valentine says. “It took so long for us to turn things around because we were afraid of our own fears and doubts.”

After years of their “dried up” relationship, Valentine says the couple worked through their challenges, moved to Kauai and enjoyed years together, completely united even during the two-year odyssey with brain cancer to which Wendy eventually succumbed.

“I want all couples to have the chance to have a juicy relationship with each other,” Valentine says. “Remember, it’s going to take some time. It took a long time for your relationship to fall apart. I believe in a three-to-six month program of coaching. I am supporting you while your transformation takes place.”

Valentine, a joyous, effervescent man, had been plagued by negative voices in his head since he was 9 years old. He tried to quiet them through therapy, slugging a punching bag and even slapping tree trunks in the forest, to no avail.

“For years I only heard thoughts in my mind that I was worthless, that I was ugly, that I would never amount to anything. I felt like Pig Pen in the Peanuts cartoons, always with a black cloud over my head,” Valentine says. “I was a negativity machine until it became so intense that one day I said to those voices, ‘Cut it off!’

“Then I asked myself, ‘Cary, did you every consider those negative thoughts are your best friends?’ ”

Those annoying voices in our heads are our best trainers, Valentine says, because they voice what we don’t want, giving us the choice to focus on the opposite: how we do want our lives to be.

“We have to catch our negative thoughts early because by the time you feel heavy or spiraling downward, you’ve agreed with the doubt,” he says. “Once you’ve caught them, turn those doubts inside out. Neutralize them, re-program in the opposite. Don’t say, ‘I’m not attractive.’ Instead tell yourself, ‘I’m beautiful.’ ‘I am smart.’ ‘I will be successful.’ This improves your life both at home and at work.”

Though relationship coaching may seem foreign to some, Valentine encourages couples to give it a try, quoting one of his favorite sayings: “When you want something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done.”

Cary Valentine is a Certified Relationship Coach, speaker and co-author with his late wife Wendy of the forthcoming book, “In Love Forever: 7 Secrets to a Joyous, Juicy Relationship.” He coaches singles and couples both in person and long distance. Contact Cary at (808) 346-6652, cary@inloveforever.tv or www.InLoveForeverRelationshipCoaching.com

Haku Lei: Wearable Bouquets

Haku lei by Elvrine Chow of Heavenly Hakus.

Haku lei by Elvrine Chow of Heavenly Hakus.

Gathering elements for haku lei with Elvrine Chow in her garden is like going on a joyful treasure hunt. She sees lei material everywhere, a petal here, a leaf there, colorful seeds and stems, gathering items that will look beautiful once her experienced hands entwine them together into bold yet delicate looking wearable bouquets.

A haku lei is the commonly used name for a garland of blossoms worn around your forehead, a Hawaiian tiara of sorts, a distinctly special form of lei that allows the wearer to feel like the most gorgeous woman around. (Quick language lesson: In Hawaiian, the plural of lei is lei – no added s, and the real name for lei worn around the head is po’o.)

“Rainbow” lei, Chow’s specialty in her business Heavenly Hakus, explode with color in a tightly woven, intricately artful blend of 20 or more blossoms, seeds, leaves, ferns and herbs, freshly-picked and full of color. Picture pink plumeria and small purple orchids next to green and yellow-striped leaves gently looped to make “ribbons,” nestled alongside magenta bougainvillea blooms, side-by-side with tiny white roses and bright orange and yellow flowers. With accents of fragrant sage and thyme leaves between dark purple basil flowers and tiny white cilantro flowers, Chow’s leis smell as good as they look.

“Growing up, we always had flowers in the house and always had a beautiful garden that my parents created together wherever we lived,” Chow says. “Our gardens were magical and my playground. I try to create that now in my own garden.”

Chow, who moved to Kauai when she was 18 years old and married into a local family, became a lei-maker almost by accident more than 20 years ago, when her sister-in-law recruited family members to make lei for their children to wear in a hula performance.

Elvrine Chow of Heavenly Hakus collects flowers, leaves and heavenly-scented herbs in her garden for her gorgeous haku lei.

Elvrine Chow of Heavenly Hakus collects flowers, leaves and heavenly-scented herbs in her garden for her gorgeous haku lei.

“When she started to teach us how to make leis, I got so excited. And when she taught us to make haku leis, I totally fell in love,” she says. “Ever since, that’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.”

Chow accepts special orders for weddings, graduations and other special events, honoring specific color requests provided the appropriate flowers are in bloom. Depending upon the season, she also collects flowers from her auntie’s garden and occasionally alongside the highway where wild plants often grow.

You can see Chow in action making haku lei at her booth Saturday mornings at Kauai Community College Farmers Market. She can also be reached at (808) 634-9999.

Haku lei by Elvrine Chow of Heavenly Hakus.

A haku lei is a wearable bouquet.

A haku lei is a wearable bouquet.

Hawaii’s sugar industry created opportunities for descendants

A “cane haul” truck laden with harvested sugar cane, featured in the book "Kauai Stories. Photo courtesy Grove Farm

A “cane haul” truck laden with harvested sugar cane, featured in the book “Kauai Stories.” Photo courtesy Grove Farm

When Komakichi Ikehara immigrated to Hawaii from Japan for work in the state’s booming sugar industry, he probably never imagined that 113 years later, his grandson on Kauai would come across his labor contract with Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co.

The contract dated January 11, 1900 promises Ikehara the sum of $15 per month for 10-to-12 hour days spent toiling in the sugar fields, with $2.50 per month withheld to pay for his voyage back to Japan, should he choose to return after fulfilling his contract.

Ikehara was one of 400,000 immigrant laborers who came to Hawaii beginning in the mid-1800s to work in the sugar industry, creating the cultural melting pot we enjoy in the Hawaiian islands today. Workers came from China, Japan, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Korea, Spain, Germany and the Philippines seeking new lives, opportunity and adventure.

When they arrived, they were assigned to various sugar plantations throughout the islands and given housing in “camps” named for the ethnic group originally placed there, such as Spanish Camp or Korean Camp; for the town in which they were located, such as Koloa Camp on Kauai’s south shore or for the plantation owner, such as Rice Camp, named for William Hyde Rice, who served as governor of Kauai from 1892-1893.

Imagine newly-arrived workers, most knowing only how to speak their native tongue, having to talk with people from other nations to accomplish tasks on the sugar plantations. In order to communicate, they created a language called Pidgin English, a blend of all their languages and English, spoken in the present tense, with most verbs disregarded.

Pidgin is still spoken in Hawaii today. Some of my favorite Pidgin phrases are:

Standard English:  If you can do it, please do so. But if you cannot, I understand.
Pidgin English:  If can, can. If no can, no can.

Standard English:  This is better.
Pidgin English:  Mo’ bettah.

When I look at Ikehara’s contract, I imagine him learning English and bits and pieces of other languages as he created his new home. I imagine how proud he would be to know that his grandson, Jimmy Ikehara, built upon his foundation and became a white collar professional for a salary that I am assuming is more than $15 per month. 

For 150 years, sugar plantations were an integral part of Hawaii life, eventually declining, until one by one, almost all of them closed their doors. Interestingly, the only Hawaii sugar company still operating is Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar, the very same one that Komakichi Ikehara worked for upon his arrival in the islands.

The last sugar plantation on Kauai closed in 2009. Looking around Kauai now, one can only imagine what the island looked like with tens of thousands of acres of bright green sugar cane fronds waving gently in the wind.

You can almost still hear “haul cane” trucks rumbling down the highway, bringing their cargo of newly harvested stalks of cane from the fields to the mill for processing, loose pieces falling through the heavy chain truck carriages, only to be crushed on the road by other vehicles, a faint sweet smell filling the air. I give thanks to all those who came before me, braved their fears, and with courage and pride, made Kauai and Hawaii what it is today.

Jimmy Ikehara's grandfather's labor contract w Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co 1-11-1900 for Hawaii Stories

Jimmy Ikehara’s grandfather’s labor contract w Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co 1-11-1900

Monika Mira brings the ocean to life for children

Monika Mira

Monika Mira loves to open children’s eyes to the world of creatures that live under the ocean’s surface through her colorfully illustrated children’s books. Her most recent release, Coral Reefs, features beautiful and fascinating photographs of denizens of the deep who thrive in and around coral reefs, such as polka-dotted eels, bright orange clownfish, green sea turtles and black-tipped reef sharks. Written for ages 10-13, with its clear scientific descriptions, the book is also great for adults who want to learn about life under the sea.

“As an aquatic biologist, it’s my passion and I also feel like it’s my duty teach children about the amazing animals I come in contact with in my work,” she says. “I also like to make children aware of how they can become good stewards, so in my books you will often see a list of things children can do to help the ocean’s animals and their environment, such as etiquette when they are around a coral reef.” Mira also challenges children to come up with some of their own solutions for conservation and protection of our natural resources.

Mira’s The Complete Hawaiian Reef Fish Coloring Book was her first book. Originally designed for adults, similar to the Anatomy Coloring Book used to teach adults about the human body for massage and other medical applications, The Complete Hawaiian Reef Fish Coloring Book became a hit with children, too, and is now used in classrooms across the country from elementary schools to colleges.

Her next book, the charming Who Lives in the Sea? Ocean Animals of Hawaii, was designed for beginning readers and is written with repetitive rhyming text to encourage early reading skills and to introduce children to sea creatures like the Humpback whale, dolphin, sea turtle, jellyfish, reef fish and starfish. Mira also includes important species like the endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal.

An artist as well as a scientist, Mira creates all her own illustrations for her books, including the captivating, brightly-colored collages made from paper she cut out with scissors then digitally scanned for Who Lives in the Sea?

Mira has worked on dozens of projects to help conserve Hawaii’s natural resources, from teaching marine science, to conducting biological stream surveys for the Department of Health. Now, she writes books to spread the message about conservation.

“My goal with all my books is to foster an appreciation for ocean animals in children at a young age and to perpetuate an attitude of caring for the animals of the sea.”

All of Mira’s books are available on Amazon. Who Lives in the Sea? and The Complete Hawaiian Reef Fish Coloring Book can also be found in specialty shops around Kauai. For more information, visit https://kauai.com/lucidpublishingMonika Mira bookcover collage


Kauai Salt Sweetest in the World

Frank Santos applying the clay to make a punee (bed) where the salt from ocean water will crystallize. Photo courtesy Kuulei Santos

Frank Santos applying the clay to make a punee (bed) where the salt from ocean water will crystallize. Photo courtesy Kuulei Santos

The sweetest salt I have ever tasted is that made on Kauai in the oceanfront salt pans near Salt Pond Beach in Hanapepe. It’s a labor of love, as most families don’t sell the salt they make, instead giving it away as gifts of the heart.

If you visit the salt pans, you’ll find entire Hawaiian ohanas (families), from great-grandparents in their 70s, 80s and 90s down to keiki (children), sharing in the pleasure of creating something together in a tradition said to be the only one of its type in the world, dating back to when Kauai was first inhabited approximately 1,500 years ago.

The salt-making season usually starts in June, or when an ohana elder declares the time is right. Seven-to-eight feet deep earthen wells that were covered by the ocean all winter long, are bailed out, the well walls scrubbed to open the pores and allow in fresh ocean water.

Meanwhile, the shallow salt pans are prepared by scraping out mud that accumulated in them all winter, then lining the pans with thick black clay. In back-breaking, skin-staining work, family members shape the clay by hand using smooth rocks to make it smooth and crack-free.

When the clay dries, the pans are filled with fresh ocean water from the deep wells. Over time, the water evaporates, leaving sweet Hanapepe salt, slightly pink from the iron-rich red Kauai earth, tangy in flavor but with a hint of sweetness that is said to come from the brine shrimp that come to live in the wells.

If you are fortunate enough to come to Kauai in the summer, look for the Hanapepe salt pans. Visit with respect as you watch Hawaiians keeping tradition alive for the pure joy of their connection with their heritage and of sharing their joy with others.

To learn more about Hanapepe salt and many other Kauai Stories, read "Kauai Stories: Life on the Garden Island told by Kauai's People," available at Amazon.com.

To learn more about Hanapepe salt and many other Kauai Stories, read “Kauai Stories: Life on the Garden Island told by Kauai’s People,” available at Amazon.com. (Photo courtesy Kuulei Santos)

Blind Paddler Illustrates Kauai’s Spirit

Kauai Stories, Vic Allen

Vic Allen paddling solo on the Wailua River on Kauai. Photo by Annie McEveety Allen

Vic Allen, blind since he was jumped by five men outside a bar in San Diego, California about 17 years ago, is one of Kauai’s most amazing people.

Full of joy and exuberance, 6’ 2” and 220 pounds, muscular and tanned, Allen tries anything he thinks he will enjoy and won’t let anything stop him. An athlete all his life, it was natural that Allen took up competitive canoe paddling once he moved to Kauai. He is now an integral member of his canoe team.

Here is an excerpt of his story from my new book, “Kauai Stories: Life on the Garden Island told by Kauai’s People,” a collection of personal stories that illustrate that while Kauai is known for its gorgeous scenery, it’s our people who make Kauai one of the most beautiful places in the world.

“Being blind is actually an asset in a waa (canoe) because I can feel it, I can roll with it. If we huli (turn over), I just grab the seat and go with it so the 400-pound canoe doesn’t land on me.

My first race was in Poipu on the south shore. We were almost at the finish line when a rogue wave hit us and we flipped over. The crowd on the beach panicked. It was a big deal because Kauai was not used to seeing blind people paddle. I was fine. Now they know I’m just a regular guy who loves to paddle.

Paddling is all about lokahi (unity), doing it together, especially on a team of six men. That’s what propels the boat. One guy is not going to make that boat go; it’s everyone pulling together. When everybody’s on, it’s smooth, just like being in a rocking chair.

When we’re out paddling, sometimes I get in the water and swim. Of course I have to open my eyes underwater so I can see. I guess I can’t really see but I do see. I see what I want to see.

The ocean is a huge part of my life. I’ve got to go in the water almost daily. I don’t know what I’d do

Vic Allen, right. Photo by Annie McEveety-Allen

Vic Allen, right. Photo by Annie McEveety-Allen

without it. I’m more comfortable in the ocean because things don’t hurt me out there. I can’t run into things. I feel calm out there. I’m just a regular guy who loves to paddle.

Read more about Vic Allen and other amazing Kauai people in “Kauai Stories: Life on the Garden Island told by Kauai’s People” available at locations islandwide and on Amazon.com. Visit www.kauaistories.net.