Kauai: A Day in the Life of Hawaii’s Oldest Island

By Dale Myers, Pleasant Holidays 

The islands of Hawaii are diverse: Maui is a mecca with its Seven Sacred Pools. The Island of Hawaii is bigger than all the other Hawaiian Islands combined, is the most ecologically diverse and has one of the most active volcanoes on Earth. Oahu, the “Gathering Place,” draws the most visitors, due in no small part to world-famous Waikiki Beach.  

However, one of Hawaii’s smallest main islands packs one of its biggest punches and was the genesis of it all. Primordial Kauai, the “Garden Island,” was the first Hawaiian island to form approximately five million years ago and is home to the largest canyon of any island in the Pacific and Hawaii’s only navigable river.

9:30 a.m. 

Wailua River, East Side of Kauai 

“There are sharks in Wailua River so keep your hands inside the boat at all times,” the captain of our low-lying vessel only half-jokingly says. “Seriously though, we do see sharks here occasionally,” he adds, which prompts every passenger on the slow boat to the fabled Fern Grotto to look overboard.  

The banks of the Wailua River, which is fed from rains on Mt. Wai’ale’ale (one of the wettest spots on Earth), once served as the sacred capital of ancient Kauai and the birthplace of its ali’i (royalty). We dock at a small pier on the river and are let loose in the jungle. A well-trodden path winds its way through a dense rainforest and the faint melody of Hawaiian music beckons. We are greeted by a troupe of musicians performing the Hawaiian Wedding Song in front of the Fern Grotto, where couples are told they can now consider themselves married in the Hawaiian tradition. This evokes laughter in most, but terror in others. The jade-colored ferns of the amphitheater-like grotto appear to be swaying to the Hawaiian rhythms bouncing off the acoustically sound black lava rock from which they sprout upside down. 

2 p.m. 

Waimea Canyon, West Side of Kauai 

From the town of Waimea (Hawaiian for “reddish water”), I ascend Waimea Canyon Drive. In the distance is Hawaii’s privately owned “Forbidden Island,” Ni’ihau. Waimea Canyon, aka the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” is a 14-mile-long, one-mile-wide gorge that is more than 3,600 feet deep. From the Waimea Canyon Lookout (mile marker 10), the red layers of the canyon’s walls appear stained by the “reddish water” of the Waimea River, which helped carve the canyon in centuries past. In fact, however, the canyon walls are red due to lava flow that pooled and throughout the years turned from black to red. Across the canyon Waipoo Falls plummets 800 feet while wild goats cling to the cliffs. 

The road from Waimea Canyon ends at the Pu’u o Kila Lookout (mile marker 19), with its panoramic views of Kalalau Valley, the largest valley on the Nāpali Coast. Although only 11 miles across to Ke’e Beach, there is no more road, thus making circumnavigation of Kauai impossible unless on foot, so it’s back in the car for more than 80 miles of driving to see its paradisiacal lagoon. 

5 p.m. 

Hanalei, North Shore of Kauai 

I stop briefly in storied Hanalei to visit the 19th-century Wai’oli Hui’ia Church, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The helicopters from Waimea Canyon beat me to the other side of the island and are swarming near the silver-threaded waterfalls cascading from the sheer cliffs behind the green church.  

6 p.m. 

Ke’e Beach 

Eight miles from Hanalei driving past some of the most scenic land on Earth and I land at Ke’e Beach. Ke’e, ironically, means “avoidance,” but is rather so enticing I sprint to the shore and immerse myself in its warm-water lagoon as the sun starts to dip below the cathedral-like Nāpali Coast mountains. The heavy surf pounds the protective reef and washes over the lagoon as the trade winds ruffle the palms. I can see the beginning of the Kalalau Trail, which traverses the Nāpali Coast and is perhaps the most famous hike in all of Hawaii. I don’t know if I’m more amazed by this quintessential tropical setting straight out of a Melville novel or the fact that I experienced all this majesty in just one day.   

Find your dream vacation to Hawaii at https://ustoa.travelstride.com/trip-list/hawaii

About Pleasant Holidays

Founded in 1959, Pleasant Holidays is one of the largest tour operators in the U.S., offering vacation packages, flights, hotels, cruises, car rentals, travel protection and related travel services to the world’s most popular destinations including Hawaii, the Caribbean, Mexico, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Central America, Las Vegas, Orlando, New York, Canada, Fiji, Cook Islands, Tahiti, Bora Bora and French Polynesia. The Company’s portfolio of travel brands includes Pleasant Holidays, Journese, Air By Pleasant and Pleasant Activities.  

Dale Myers is the Digital Content Editor for Pleasant Holidays. He has traveled extensively throughout Hawaii and Europe.  

Eight Immersive Travel Experiences in Manitoba

By: Melanie Swenarchuk

The province of Manitoba, nestled in the heart of Canada, offers visitors a chance to embark on extraordinary eco-friendly tours, discover captivating Indigenous attractions, and indulge in immersive cultural experiences. With its untouched natural landscapes and commitment to sustainability, Manitoba beckons travelers seeking genuine adventure and a deeper connection with the destination’s history and environment. Read on for eight heart-stirring adventures you can experience in the middle of Canada. 

1. Experience an Arctic Safari

Churchill, known as the polar bear capital of the world, is one of the few human settlements where these majestic mammals can be viewed in the wild. In the summer, visitors have the opportunity to see thousands of beluga whales gather at the mouth of the Churchill River. In the fall, travelers can see polar bears roam the Hudson Bay coastline, spot other arctic wildlife and marvel at the beauty of the tundra. The dazzling northern lights appear at night and are another main attraction. 

Tour operators like Churchill Wild and Frontiers North Adventures offer ways to see wildlife while minimizing your impact on the environment. You can get up close and personal with polar bears in an electric Tundra Buggy® with Frontiers North Adventures. Due to zero-emission vehicle technology, this new type of Tundra Buggy® means minimal disruption to the bears and their natural habitat.  

Or join a walking tour with Churchill Wild for your chance to see polar bears and wolves in the wild. Your ground-level safari will be led by a professionally trained guide to help keep you and the polar bears safe while protecting their natural habitat. 

2. Celebrate Indigenous cultures at The Leaf – Canada’s Diversity Gardens  

The Leaf – Canada’s Diversity Gardens is one of Manitoba’s newest attractions with indoor and outdoor spaces that explore connections between people and plants. The Gardens at The Leaf is a 30-acre revitalized outdoor space divided into six uniquely themed gardens touching on connections with food, our senses and Indigenous cultures and languages.  

Each detail of the Indigenous Peoples Garden was inspired by Elders and community members who came together to create this unique outdoor space. From the wood carvings to the fire circle, each piece was thoughtfully chosen to create a place to learn, connect and celebrate Indigenous stories, cultures and languages. Access to the outdoor gardens is free and events are held in the Performance Garden throughout the summer.

3. View thousands of pieces of Inuit art in one place 

Qaumajuq is a stunning addition to the Winnipeg Art Gallery in the city’s downtown area. Its architecture was inspired by Canada’s northern landscape; its unmistakable white stone façade echoes the vastness of this land of snow and ice. Inside, a three-storey glass vault filled with thousands of Inuit carvings greets visitors. Qaumajuq houses the world’s largest public collection of contemporary Inuit art at over 14,000 pieces, each piece representing the story of Canada’s North.  

4. Learn about Indigenous rights at the world’s only museum for human rights 

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is impressive not only for its innovative architecture it’s also the world’s only museum dedicated to the topic of global human rights issues. The Indigenous Perspectives Gallery at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is a dramatic space that tells the story of First Peoples. The dedicated gallery is complex, sometimes uncomfortable and also beautiful, but it’s not the only place where Indigenous stories are told. Throughout the museum, the history of colonial violations collides with stunning artworks and thought-provoking images to offer a modern and ever-evolving perspective of human rights.  

5. Visit the National Indigenous Residential School Museum

For more than 60 years, the three-story brick building near Portage la Prairie was home to one of Canada’s enduring shames—the residential school system. Now the Rufus Prince Building, named for a survivor of Portage la Prairie Indian Residential School who served in the Second World War and became chief of Long Plain First Nation, has been transformed from a place of hurt to a place of healing. Inside the National Indigenous Residential School Museum, artifacts and documents create a memorial to those who attended the schools and help survivors along on their healing journeys.  

6. Stay at the Wyndham Garden Ode Akiing Hotel  

Winnipeg’s newest hotel is located on the first urban reserve in the city – the Long Plain Madison Reserve. Wyndham Garden Ode Akiing is a full-service hotel located on Treaty 1 Territory only a short drive from the airport and nearby attractions such as Winnipeg’s CF Polo Park Shopping Centre and Assiniboine Park.  

7. Celebrate Manito Ahbee Festival 

Add a powwow to your summer plans this year. The annual Manito Ahbee Festival in mid-May in Winnipeg celebrates art, music, culture, dance, filmmaking and food, and kicks off the powwow season across Turtle Island. The Grand Entry is not-to-be-missed as dancers and elders formally open the event, followed by workshops hosted by knowledge keepers to learn cultural customs and the basics of language.  

7. Walk where the spirit sits 

Bannock Point Petroforms echo the shapes of humans and snakes, birds and turtles, all carefully arranged in moss-covered rocks on Canada’s Precambrian shield. Diane Maytwayashing, an Anishinaabe knowledge keeper, takes visitors on guided walks of the sacred site, sharing stories of the teachings and healings that continue to this day through ceremony and song. Visitors learn about the original name of the site—Manidoo-Abi—that loosely translates into ‘where the spirit sits.’  

Find your dream vacation to Canada with a USTOA tour operator here https://ustoa.travelstride.com/trip-list/canada

About Travel Manitoba

In Manitoba, we know the longing for travel is felt in the heart. Whether your heart needs quiet, or it needs to race, sing or reflect, Canada’s Heart is Calling. Travel Manitoba is a source of trip inspiration for bucket-list adventurers, outdoors enthusiasts and arts and culture explorers. Manitoba is located in the middle of Canada and is home to a thriving urban hub in capital city Winnipeg, wide-open landscapes and pristine wilderness throughout the province. 

About the Author: Melanie Swenarchuk is Senior Market Development Manager and an expert on all things Manitoba. See https://travelmanitoba.com/travel-trade for more information.