BY BOB ECKER
THE HAWAIIAN ISLANDS are a tropical
paradise full of palm trees, warm breezes,
friendly people, world-class sur;ng and
kilometres of gorgeous beaches. Although
many tourists gravitate to Maui and
Oahu, travellers should not overlook the
qualities of two other islands, Kauai and
Hawaii, the Big Island, which o;er their
own unique vibes.
Kauai: The Garden Isle
Lush and green, Kauai is the oldest
island in the Hawaiian archipelago. With a
population of only about ;;,;;;, Kauai is
much quieter and more laid-back than its
sister islands. In fact, Kauai receives only
about a ;fth of the number of visitors travelling to Oahu.
There are plenty of hotels, resorts and
condos available, but Kauai is really known
for its vast array of greenery, tall and jagged mountains, tropical rain forests, steep
ravines and picturesque beaches. The ecological wonders are perfect for the outdoor
enthusiast. Travellers can enjoy hiking,
biking, nature tours, zip lining, horseback
riding and all sorts of water sports.
Kauai o;ers more than ;; kilometres
of white-sand beaches—more beaches per
kilometres of shoreline than any other
Hawaiian island—and beach access, as in
all of Hawaii, is a public right. Kalapaki
Beach (popular with local surfers) and
Waioli Beach Park are fun spots to relax,
swim or snorkel.
One of Kauai’s great natural sites is
Waimea Canyon, about ;,;;; metres (;,;;;
feet) deep, ;; kilometres (;; miles) long
and a little over ;.; kilometres (about ;
mile) wide. Nicknamed “the Grand
Canyon of the Paci;c,” this colourful valley
shows o; its volcanic red soils that ;ow
through the Waimea River below. You can
drive through it on the canyon’s rough road
or hike various trails within the park.
Visitors to Kauai will love the ;owers,
including gorgeous hibiscus varieties in
dozens of colours, bird-of-paradise plants,
many shades of bougainvillea and hundreds of species of orchids. Of course, on
the Garden Isle, visiting one of the stunning gardens is a must. Don’t miss the
McBryde Garden, which displays the largest collection of native Hawaiian plants
in the world, or the Allerton Garden, featuring elegantly manicured landscaping
and massive Moreton Bay fig trees that
appeared in the ;lm Jurassic Park. These
two magni;cent open-air retreats provide
wondrous vistas of immaculately preserved ;ora.
Hawaii: The Big Island
Hawaii, the Big Island, is Hawaii’s
youngest island, with rugged and active
geothermal areas and diverse topography,
such as black-sand beaches, prairies per-
fect for horseback riding, pristine spots
for snorkelling and vast vistas of volcanic
rock. Nearly twice as large as all the other
Hawaiian islands combined, the Big Island
has lovely beaches, little towns and vil-
lages, and sumptuous hotel properties
similar to those found on the other islands.
The Big Island has some of the best
deep-sea fishing to be found anywhere.
Most boats depart from Honokohau
Harbor, near historic Kailua-Kona village.
From the ocean you can observe the majesty of Mauna Kea rising dramatically
;,;;; metres (;;,;;; feet) above sea level,
the volcano’s sheer contour plunging down
into the ocean.
The majority of Hawaii’s infamous
Volcanoes National Park is currently
closed due to the volcanic activity of
Kilauea. The small southeastern area of the
island where Kilauea is located (more than
;;; kilometres from Kona) is no longer
accessible to tourists. Mauna Loa is still
accessible, as it has not erupted since ;;;;.
Other Big Island attractions include
championship golf, world-class spas and
the granddaddy of all triathlons, the prestigious Ironman competition, which draws
hundreds of competitors and spectators
The other islands that make up Hawaii
are, of course, wonderful, but the oldest
and youngest islands have qualities that
should not be missed. C
Bob Ecker is a Napa, California–based writer
Kauai and Hawaii provide
nature and adventure
Makana peak (aka Bali Hai) from Makua Beach, Kauai.
Inset: Hilo Waterfalls, Hawaii.
Costco Travel offers exciting vacation
packages to the Big Island, Oahu, Maui and
Kauai. For information, click “Travel” at
Costco.ca or call 1-855-863-0357.
TOP: HAWAII TOURISM AUTHORITY (HTA) / TOR JOHNSON; INSET: ISLAND OF HAWAII VISITORS BUREAU (IHVB) / DUSTIN LEFEVRE