When you Travel for work as a journalist, vacation seems odd — at least it always has for me. What was I supposed to do without a story write on a tight deadline? How could I not have a laptop computer for a week? What was I going to do in Kauai, Hawaii, for a week?

But considering the idea life is what living is all about, I learned what vacation is all about on a trip with my wife to the "Garden Isle."

Kauai is the oldest Hawaiian island, and the most low-key. Drive along the coast, find a beach, park your car, walk to the sand and water and enjoy.

No parking meters. No lines. You're on your own.

Swimming, snorkeling, fresh air, eating fresh fish, a helicopter ride, a hike along the Kalalau Trail on the Nā Pali Coast, watching the sunrise and sunset and a nearly full-day boat ride to the coast of Ni'ihau were all memorable.

Here are five great things (in alphabetical order) my wife and I enjoyed on Kauai. The result: I learned a valuable life's lesson. I learned how to relax on vacation.


We stayed for seven nights at the Aston at Poipu Kai Resort (1775 Poipu Rd.) It was a clean, well-appointed condominium, a short walk to the beach.

It had a full kitchen, a washer and driver and large living room. Free movies were available and the cleaning service did a great job.


We opted for Holo-Holo Charters (4353 Waialo Rd., Suite 5A in Eleele (near Pt. Allen), and it was the right choice. We chose the 6 1/2 hour trip to the Nā Pali coast and to Ni'ihau. The captain and crew were professional and fun. We were fortunate and had a calm day to watch a stunning sunrise, view dolphins up close, snorkel for an hour, listen to a guided tour and enjoy a casual, buffet style breakfast and lunch.

The cost was $180 per person.


Brenneke’s Beachfront Restaurant (2100 Hoone Rd., Koloa) has been a locals’ favorite for the past 35 years. It's located just across the street from Poipu Beach and it was about a 10-minute walk from our condominium. It’s casual, the fish fresh and the atmosphere was family friendly. We visited three times, always ordered fish (Opa and Mahi Mahi), with entrees are under $30.

Old Koloa Town is two miles from Poipu Beach and it’s only two, maybe three blocks long. There’s an outdoor museum details the old city's historyThere are two markets, a few casual restaurants and pubs and some souvenir shops. There’s also La Spezia, (5492 Koloa Rd., Koloa) a quasi-upscale Italian restaurant. The pasta entrees and salads were fresh and the atmosphere seemed just right . . . classy without pretentiousness.

Helicopter Ride

I did want to ride in a helicopter, but I’m glad I did. Like many who’ve experienced the islands from the air, flying around Kauai is a treat, and I’d recommend it without reservation.

We booked our one-hour flight through Sunshine Helicopters (3416 Rice Street, #203, Lihue).

We arrived at the central location for the 20-minute pre-flight instructions. The flight plan was professionally presented. A short shuttle van ride to the airport followed. The helicopter accommodated six adults plus the pilot. The ground crew was boarded each passenger boards individually.

The flight was terrific. The pilot know a lot about the landscape, the views were stunning and the entire experience was enjoyable. The day was calm, the sky and ocean blue and vibe was perfect despite some sharp, steep turns.


Snorkeling gear is readily available for rent. But a friend recommended buying gear at Walmart. It had a few options, including a set build slightly smaller than standard size but ideal to pack in carry-on luggage. The mask, fins and a mesh carrying bags was priced around $30. We also purchased inexpensive booties ($8 a pair) and fog protection lotion ($3) for our masks.

Driving along the coast presented numerous locales. The waves and beach sizes vary as does the does the ease of entry, but locals know where the best locations for viewing the most colorful fish and we took their advice.

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