Tammy Russell-Rice is a Certified Professional Photographer who calls both Las Vegas and Kauai home. For the past 15 years, Tammy and her husband, Clayton, have owned and operated The Dolphin Hale--a successful Kauai North Shore vacation rental. In the process, she has become somewhat of an expert on all things island and enjoys sharing her insight. Whether you just want to enjoy an island vacation and own a camera, or are thinking of purchasing your own island home, this blog is for you!
As the effects of COVID-19 persist with no real end in sight, I think most of us feel wiped-out! And if you are like me daydreaming of sun and sand, this Playlist is for you.
Consisting of classics and more contemporary island music, Kauai COVID Wipeout has something for everyone who longs to return to paradise and simpler times. Artists in this collection span the gamut from Keali’i Reichel (my favorite Hawaiian artist) to J-Boog. In total, it is a compilation of 11 artists (Did I mention I have seen Keali’i in concert?) and 12 numbers (Keali’i has two ’cause he is, well, my jam) offering approximately 45-minutes of escape–culminating with The Ventures on Wipe Out!
It’s my hope that as you observe stay-at-home mandates amid traveler restrictions, you will be able to “travel” to your happy place through the music. Further, if you happen to discover a new CD to purchase from your favorite street cart vendor on your next visit to Hawaii, a’ole pilikia (you’re welcome)! Meantime, please enjoy this special Playlist as you count the days until you may return to the islands once again.
It was 15 years ago this month that Clayton and I closed on The Dolphin Hale. In the years since, we have gleaned a few pearls of wisdom (and more than a few mosquito bites). To mark this noteworthy anniversary, I thought I would share these fifteen with you–dare I say, none of which will you read in your Kauai Travel Book:
15 – Slippery When Wet takes on new meaning on the Garden Isle. As one of the wettest places on earth, trails can become not only slippery, but dangerous after a rain shower. ‘Slippahs’ should be not be substituted for good hiking boots or at the very least tennies with tread. Water moccasins also are a good idea in and around the ocean!
14 – “Ono” does not mean Oh No! Further, one should not mistake Ono the fish (Hawaiian Wahoo Fish) for ono the generic term for ‘good’ or delicious. Although, the fish is very ono. Butter optional.
13 – Island Time – You’re not on the mainland anymore. Like the tides, everything moves slower here. And if the surfing is good, don’t expect good service–even if you are wearing your best Hawaiian shirt. Take a deep breath, exhale and go with the flow.
12 – Stainless Steel just stains less – Everything is in a state of decay on island; it’s just a matter of which stage. So, drop your ‘white gloves’ in the bin for contraband at the airport.
11 – As previously noted, odds are you will experience at least some rain on island–that’s why it is so green. Forgo purchasing an umbrella, it will only prove to be a waste of money. Instead, enjoy the rainbow.
10 – It will be a hair-curling experience. Even if you do not get wet, the humidity will curl your hair. Ladies, don’t bother packing a flat iron–pack a hat.
9 – Costco is your best friend, especially if you will be cooking for 10! Purchase an Executive Member card before you arrive. After all, the less time spent in a line on vacation makes it mo betta.
8 – They don’t call it the Tropic of Cancer for nothing. At a latitude just a few degrees south of it, Kauai can deliver a serious sunburn. So, don’t forget the sunscreen at Costco!
7 – There are no pearls in these waters, but there are more Tahitian Pearl vendors than Starbucks on island. They seem to be on every street corner. ; ) Starbucks, however, does have a few locations (Lihue, Poipu and Kapaa) and sells lovely Hawaiian themed gift cards that make great Thank You gifts.
6 – Locals have a love-hate affinity for tourists, but the mosquitoes WILL love you unconditionally.
5 – Locals also have a love-hate relationship with the roosters, hens and chicks that freely roam the island. So, don’t let your children chase or feed them lest you want to bring on a lecture from a resident on one side of the fence or the other.
4 – “Hawaiian Squirrels” are rats. Geckos, however, are considered Good Luck. They eat annoying household bugs. So, name them if you must, but don’t fear them. They won’t try to sell you insurance.
3 – Coconut palms and fruit trees grow like weeds. As tempting as it may be to help thyself to these, they also attract some of the aforementioned critters. Moreover, scaling palm trees and husking coconuts should be left to the pros. That is unless you wish to catch a lift to Oahu via air ambulance.
2 – Everything is better on island: the air, the food, the limbo. However, locals live and sleep with their windows OPEN. So, be mindful that you could be sharing more than you should–and I’m not just referring to that new Hawaiian artist whos CD you purchased at the grocery store.
Last but certainly not least, my Number 1 pearl:
1 – This island, like Puff the Magic Dragon, is magical and will cast a spell over you and yours. It’s in the ocean mist. It’s transcendental and grounding at the same time. That’s the Spirit of Aloha.
And there’s more…
In addition to these 15 pearls of wisdom, which Clayton and I hope you found humorous as intended, we would love to share The Dolphin Hale. SAVE $50 a night for Summer 2020 when you book this August. For more details visit: http://www.dolphinhalekauai.com.
Valentine is a Laysan Albatross (Moli). Valentine hatched on February 12, 2008 ergo the call name. And, until recently, I and others thought Valentine was a bachelor. In fact, since returning to roost in 2013, my family fondly has referred to this seabird as “Stanley.”
Come to find out, Valentine aka Stanley is actually a bachelorette! North Shore Resident and Author of My Albatross Diary Cathy Granholm recently gave me the talk. Cathy explained that DNA tests had been performed on many adult birds and chicks in the past. Biologist Lindsay Young of Pacific Rim Conservation, then a grad student working on her doctorate, came to Hawaii to learn more about the many female/female Albatross couples. She performed testing by collecting feathers from birds during the 2006/2007 and 2007/2008 seasons. As a result of Doctor Young’s work, Valentine’s sex is well documented.
Valentine subsequently fledged from Kaweonui Point on July 19, 2008. This maiden voyage would last until she was almost five. In the picture book, The Majestic Albatross, my former neighbor, author and photographer Robert “Bob” Waid talks about this all important and, at times, perilous stage in the life of a young Albatross over the ocean. From sleeping in the air to drinking salt water, one gains a whole new appreciation for these truly magnificent and, yes, majestic birds.
Now 11, Valentine prefers to spend her time on land at The Dolphin Hale–just a stone’s throw from her birthplace. To the delight of house guests from roughly November to June, this single lady can be seen and heard honing her dance moves and vocal talents. Cathy also tells me that Valentine has been spotted spending a lot of time with a certain Albatross this year.
Albatross mate for life. Valentine’s own parents were two of the most prolific pairs on the North Shore. It is hoped that Valentine has finally found her life partner. If so, the 2019/2020 season could be very exciting!
With Aloha ~ Aunty Tammy
Note: Laysan Albratross are Federally Protected. Please do not attempt to feed any of these seabirds nor crowd them. When photographing an Albatross, I recommend using a long 150 – 200 mm lens. This will ensure the comfort of the bird(s) and more likely will result in better photos!
I don’t know about you, but I never sleep well the first night in a strange place. And if a time zone change is involved, forget it!
Here are some tips from the experts and yours truly on how to turn your vacation rental bedroom or hotel room into your own personal sleep retreat when visiting Kauai.
1. Keep the room dark and cool
Start by dimming the lights (if possible) to encourage your body to ease into nighttime. Stop using electronics at least 30-minutes before bedtime. Keep the room cool; 65 degrees is considered to be the ideal temperature for sleep. In the winter months, the mean temperature is 65 degrees at night on island; however, you may need to “trick” your body into thinking it is this cool in the summer months by running the ceiling and/or portable fans if you are not staying in a home or hotel with air conditioned bedrooms.
2. Keep the room quiet
If you can hear roosters crowing, try adding so-called white noise to the bedroom environment. White noise creates a constant ambient noise that will block out the occasional outside noises that can disturb our sleep. While you can run a white noise app on your smart phone, I think that rather defeats the purpose of being on island. The aforementioned fans may just do the trick! Or, roosters or no roosters, open a window and allow the calming sound of the ocean surf to take you to dreamland.
3. Keep the room calm
While the wall colors and decor in the guest rooms at The Dolphin Hale are intended to be restful, you can take each to the next level with some kind of aroma therapy. Aroma plays a large part in helping you relax and stay asleep. Didn’t pack your essential oils? No problem, a fragrant plumeria flower or two floated in a small dish on the nightstand can be a good substitute. Plumeria oil promotes peace, tranquility and relaxation–and the flower itself found on our grounds has a beautiful tropical fragrance. Note: Research shows that the scent of lavender eases anxiety and insomnia. Unfortunately, the closest lavender fields are on Maui!
The bottom line is that your sleeping environment can play a huge part in how well you sleep. And by taking some simple steps, you can enhance yours, especially in a vacation rental or hotel. After all, isn’t rejuvenation one of the goals for taking a vacation in the first place?
If you happen to be among the lucky ones who are visiting the Hawaiian Islands for the holidays, I hope you will take full advantage of the many special events afforded visitors this time of year that are offered FREE or for just a token fee. On the Garden Isle these include:
Between 12/1 – 12/29 – Kauai Festival of Lights (Lihue) – FREE
Despite the recent media attention around announcements like Starbucks’s self-imposed ban on straws and other Fortune 500 Companies jumping on the eco-friendly bandwagon, the reality is that they actually are late to the party. For it was a 19th Century Native American, Chief Seattle (yes, the namesake of the City of Seattle, WA), who is attributed with promoting the movement to: Leave only footprints. While silent on the subject of straws (invented in 1888, some 20-years after his death), I am sure The Chief did not want us leaving those on our beaches or in our oceans.
On Kauai, even before the 2011 law passed requiring retail establishments to provide recyclable or reusable bags to customers, many had been practicing and supporting sustainable tourism for years. In fact, there is a strong community dedicated to Eco-tourism. I will never forget a trip to WalMart some years ago that had me making more than one trip to the car after shopping there. Lesson learned: If you want your purchases bagged, plan to bring your own boxes or bags. Or, bring the whole clan for “carry-out.” Likewise, more restaurants and eateries are using biodegradable take-out containers in spite of the higher cost to do so.
Since purchasing The Dolphin Hale in 2004, my husband and I have continued to move the needle into the green zone ourselves. By offering accommodations featuring energy efficient appliances and systems as well as eco-friendly furnishings and amenities, we hope to support sustainable tourism. With over a million tourists visiting Kauai annually–and that number growing–today is the day for everyone who steps foot on the Garden Isle to be reminded of Chief Seattle’s words:
Moreover, you and yours can actually help to preserve and support Kauai just by doing little things during your visit. Here are a handful of examples:
When making your Rental Car reservations, think “Carpool.” You can even add a second driver to your contract and eliminate the need and expenditure for a second auto altogether.
Purchase Island Grown and Made Products – Farmer’s Markets are a great way to do both!
When you do go to a grocery store or the like, take advantage of the reusable bags stocked for guest use in The Dolphin Hale.
Beach-combing is fun, but please leave ‘found’ items on the beach. We often find pieces of coral and shells inside the house. Things that could be supporting wildlife.
Even one of the wettest places on earth has a need to conserve potable water–consider showering with your partner!
I didn’t say having fun and reducing your carbon footprint were mutually exclusive. And, yes, enjoy that frappuccino sans the straw!
I am old school when it comes to my summertime reading, preferring the visceral experience of a hard cover book to that of Kindle’s hard case. And this summer, I hope to actually indulge in more than one read, but where to start?
Thankfully, one of my favorite bloggers, Jen of City Farmhouse, has already done the legwork and compiled this list of 12 amazing must reads for folks like you and me who only tend to read while on vacation–regardless as to the medium or our vacay local.
It includes something old, something new and something to renew you! And isn’t that the idea? For more on these titles and Jen, read Jen’s Summer Book List. Also, be sure to thank Jen by subscribing to her blog.
And, don’t forget to pack your pick in your suitcase!
Enjoy! Aunty Tammy
The Dolphin Hale has a house library for your enjoyment. Even the keiki will find books and games that delight and surprise!
While it should come as no surprise that the island of Kauai is popular with major movie studios and producers of McDonald’s commercials alike for its diverse and cinematic locations, it may surprise you to know that you, too, can experience many of these coveted island locales as a visitor.
In an interview by Shivani Vora of The New York Times, my friend Angela Tilson shared her insight as a location scout on Kauai titled: Tips on how to plan a movie-themed vacation. However, Angela also would be the first to tell you that with more than 80 feature films having been staged on the Garden Isle since the 1930s, you may want to narrow your focus. Jurassic Park, The Lost World and The Descendants are just a few of the blockbusters in recent times to have been filmed at least in part on Kauai. And, needless to say, the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is no stranger to these tides. Although, if you are like me and would rather just purchase a ticket than do a lot of homework yourself, I highly suggest booking a movie-themed tour with one of the following:
Even if members of your party really are not movie buffs, the scenery alone as experienced on any one of these tours makes for a Must See & Do while on island. This is especially true since most of the locations are found on privately owned land. Thus, you and yours would not be permitted access otherwise.
And when all is said and done at day’s end of your adventure, play that favorite movie again from the comfort of your vacation rental with a Hawaiian quilt over and under your tired feet–and enjoy with some buttered popcorn! After all, you are on vacation, argh!
When my husband and I first concocted the idea of an addition to The Dolphin Hale, little did we realize what we were actually getting ourselves into. No strangers to “Island Time” and the costs associated with getting anything done on Kauai, we thought we were prepared both financially and emotionally to see it through. However, we quickly came to realize that while we were well braced for a tropical storm or two (literally and figuratively), we were not prepared for the construction hurricane that hit us.
Instead of completing our project by Christmas 2015, we were forced to throw some of our ‘must haves’ into the abyss and compromise on others just to be able to wrap construction for an April 1st-no foolin-relaunch and open The Dolphin Hale to guests once again. Throughout this 12-month process I have collected a few pearls of wisdom to share with you. If you are thinking of purchasing an island home as a rental property or simply as a second home, write this down:
Island homes are ALWAYS in a state of decay, it’s just a matter of which Stage of Decay;
Everything must be shipped in across a vast ocean which will test the depths of your patience and pockets;
US Currency is only worth a fraction of its face value in Hawaii. ; )
Now before you conclude that I am just jaded, let me also say that there are rewards for embarking upon such an adventure:
They are not making more ocean front property, thus it could be a good investment;
As the operator of a Vacation Rental, your island vacations will be tax deductible as well as all your home improvement projects;
Moreover, you will become an Ambassador of Aloha–sharing it with all who become your guests.
Or, you can always do the smart thing and just rent The Dolphin Hale!
After living through a 12-month island home renovation, I feel as though I could launch my own HGTV reality series. The remodeling and expansion of The Dolphin Hale has been nothing short of a full season of reality TV. The experience, complete with the antics of island locals and mainland visitors, surely would be entertaining. Albeit, I feel my show would be more closely akin to Survivor than Fixer Upper.
It all started with the need for a toilet upstairs and like a tidal wave, the project soon consumed the whole house. At the end of Phase II, The Dolphin Hale would go from a simple family-friendly island home to an executive house featuring 5 bedrooms, 4.5 baths. The jewel of the home is the new gourmet kitchen. In all, nearly 1000 sq ft of living space was added making the house footprint nearly 4000 sq ft. And, that does not include the porte cochere and hand-stained circular driveway which was added in Phase I.
Since reopening The Dolphin Hale to guests in March, the feedback has been positive (see The Dolphin Hale on HomeAway). However, I am not finished yet! Phase III will commence sometime this Fall and include refinishing the hardwood floors. Meantime, I will be sharing “behind the scenes” details on this island home makeover over the next few months, complete with Dos and Don’ts as well as a Shopping Guide. And, I will begin with the new Coral Room (outlined here at the start).
So, stay tuned, for the forthcoming episodes on my island home renovation aka Hawaiian life.