Posted in Kauai Flora & Fauna, Kauai Visitor Information, Kauai Wildlife

15 Things You Will NOT Read in your Kauai Travel Book

photo source: Damon Moss Photography

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.
The Dolphin Hale
Celebrating 15 Years of hospitality, transformation and FUN!

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:

With Aloha ~ Aunty Tammy

Posted in Kauai Visitor Information, Kauai Wildlife

My Name is Valentine, but you can call me Stanley

Laysan Albatross – Princeville, Kauai – photo source: TRR Photography

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.”

Valentine – She’s a bit camera shy.

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!

Posted in Kauai Visitor Information, Kauai Wildlife

Shearwaters Season Starts September 15

Kilauea Lighthouse (pre-restoration), Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge
– photo source: TRR Photography

The official “Save Our Shearwaters” season begins September 15th, so this month I thought it only fitting to dust-off this post and add a few updates for 2019.

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…

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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.

One of the best places to see these and a variety of other sea birds: in their natural habitat is to make a trip to the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge. Further, you need not pay an admission fee for the best view found in the cove. If you are lucky, you may even spot a Hawaiian Monk Seal catching some zzz’s on the rocks below.

For more information on this program and how to properly handle the birds, please visit  “AO”!

Mahalo ~ Aunty Tammy