Tammy Russell-Rice is a Certified Professional Photographer who calls both Las Vegas and Kauai home. For the past 14 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 some what 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 and renting it out, this blog is for you!
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
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
The spirit of Aloha will fill and rejuvenate your soul
Your vacations will be tax deductible
Then, again, 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 give producers enough material for a full season. Albeit, I feel my show would be more closely akin to Survivor than Fixer Upper.
It all started with the need for 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.
Before you get the wrong idea, please know that this post has nothing to do with the state of water in any form. In fact, a Shearwater is a bird. And, these medium-sized long-winged birds call Kauai home.
It is estimated that 90 percent of the world’s population of Newell’s Shearwaters are attracted to Kauai for what amounts to a trifecta: cliffs for roosting, mountainsides for building burrows/nests, and, of course, the ocean for fishing. Commonly, Shearwaters may be seen following whales to feed upon the fish disturbed in their wake. In fact, these birds can dive as deep as 230 feet underwater to get the job done, but I digress…
While Kauai is The Garden Isle, light pollution has created a real challenge for the young birds born here. When leaving their nests for the first time, usually in mid-September through mid-December, they are vulnerable to mistaking artificial light sources for the moon while attempting to make their way to the sea. The confusion causes the birds to circle around until they become exhausted, eventually crashing to the ground, a phenomena called “fall-out.”
Unless saved by human rescuers, the grounded birds are unlikely to survive, getting run over by cars, or eaten by dogs and cats. The good news is that the Save Our Shearwaters (SOS) program has been very successful in rehabilitating these chicks. And when strong enough, the young birds are released over the ocean where they are free to follow the moon as Mother Nature intended.
Should you cross paths with one of these distressed birds while staying at The Dolphin Hale, please call the Hanalei Fire Station, or take the bird there for aid. It’s the island way.