Time hurries ahead in Hawaii. Changes are in the making on all the islands. Even on Kauai. Sugar and pineapple are being phased out. Tourism is in. This means growth. Still, old Kauai (as pointed out in our page 1 cover story) exists if one searches for it. No one can change the depth and beauty of Waimea Canyon. Or the peacefulness of Kokee.
The Road to Hanalei
Traffic from the airport at Lihue to Hanalei lightens once you pass the resorts of Kapaa. Deserted beaches wait to be explored. Bring along a picnic lunch. Or stop at Duane's Ono Burger Stand in the village of Anahola. Don't blink or you'll miss it.
Bearded Duane Horka hails from Manhattan Beach. Says he "didn't want to get married and live in a duplex in Los Angeles." So he came to Kauai and took an island waitress as his bride. They have three sons and a home with an ocean view. Horka turns out the best hamburgers in the islands. Operates out of a shack beside the road to Hanalei. His "local boy burger" features teriyaki, cheddar cheese and pineapple. More than a dozen other choices, including "Duane's Special": grilled onions, pickles, sprouts, cheddar and Swiss cheese. Walter Cronkite stopped by one day. So did Sylvester Stallone and Billie Jean King. Hollywood's movie crews come for lunch when they're filming on Kauai. Open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Call (808) 822-9181.
A favorite restaurant is Louise Marston's Tahiti Nui in the village of Hanalei. A splintered old place with plenty of atmosphere. Reminds me of a scene out of a Somerset Maugham novel set in the South Seas. Dined the other night on the porch. Rain poured from the heavens. Candles flickered at the tables.
I met Louise years ago in Tahiti. A big, friendly woman with a huge heart. Her meals are first-rate. (Louise also does the best luaus on Kauai: Kalua pig, Lomi Lomi salmon, chicken, fish, sweet potatoes, cakes, pies, fruits.) After dinner the customers retire to the bar. Island boys show up with guitars and ukuleles to play for Louise's patrons. This is old Hawaii. Telephone (808) 396-0318.
Return to Kapaa
On the drive back to Kapaa, stop at Banana Joe's for a frozen fruit frosty (bananas, papaya, pineapple, crushed ice turned out in a blender). Joe Halasey, 35, deserted San Pedro to operate a fruit farm on Kauai. Besides papayas and mangoes, Joe stocks passion fruit syrup, guava jelly, herbal vinegar, coconut syrup. Mixes banana and coconut milkshakes, prepares pasta and Thai rice salads.
In our page 1 piece today we mention Fast Freddy's for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The best bargain on the island. And only a couple of miles from Coco Palms. Call (808) 822-0488.
In the same neighborhood, the Roxy Diner provides other old Hawaii atmosphere. Inexpensive. Island music. Phone (808) 822-4774.
For an unusual evening, try Kintaro's Japanese restaurant on Kuhio Highway in Kapaa (between the Cocoa Palms Resort Hotel and the Coconut Plantation Market Place). Excellent steaks, fish, chicken. Call (808) 822-3341.
The Ono Family Restaurant in Kapaa occupies an old theater building. Operated by ex-Orange County resident J. Q. Smith. Specializes in omelets, buffalo burgers, ribs, steaks, homemade Portuguese bean soup, macadamia nut cream pie. Fans spin in the ceiling. Tiffany lamps. Hanging plants. Not showy but popular. Phone (808) 822-1710.
If you rent a condo and want to prepare your own breakfast, stop by the Kapaa Bakery for Danish pastries, doughnuts and croissants, plus custard, coconut and macadamia nut pies. Baked fresh daily by Paul Nishijo. Open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed Monday. Phone (808) 822-4541.
Romantics will enjoy Gaylord's at Kilohana Plantation. A couple of miles west of Lihue on Kaumualii Highway. You dine in the courtyard of this magnificent old estate. Entrees include duck, beef tenderloin, seafood, lamb with raspberry chutney sauce, chicken with prawns, tomatoes, feta cheese, garlic butter, tarragon sauce. Raspberry with macadamia nut torte for dessert. Open for lunch, dinner, Sunday brunch. Guests tour the grounds in a horse-drawn carriage. A wonderful old plantation. Phone (808) 245-9593.
One of the best buys on Kauai are the Garden Isle Cottages. A one-bedroom unit with living/dining room, kitchen, bath and two lanais rents for only $78 a day (two persons). A small studio will cost you $42. The top of the line is a cottage with an ocean/mountain view from the highest point overlooking Poipu Beach (includes a latticed dining lanai, swimming pool, queen bed upstairs, twins on the lower level). Rate: $98 double.
Garden Isle Cottages, RR1, Box 355, Koloa, Kauai 96756.