Peaceful Poipu

On Kauai, simply follow the eucalyptus tree tunnel to find serenity.

Na Pali Coast, Kauai | BCBusiness

On Kauai, simply follow the eucalyptus tree tunnel to find serenity.

Twenty minutes from Kauai’s Lihue Airport I approach the Tree Tunnel, a kilometre-long stretch of century-old eucalyptus bent into a canopy over a gently winding, rural road – the route to Kauai’s sun-drenched south shore and the Poipu resort area. It can be bucketing tropical, wet fury on the north end of the tunnel, but on the south side, which is blocked by the Haupu Mountains, the sun will be beaming down on charming Old Koloa Town, the gateway to Kauai’s south.

Day one in Poipu: I pass on ziplining and rain check on kayaking. Instead I rent a standup paddleboard and head for the Hule’ia River. Its brackish water meanders into lush jungle, tangles of mangrove trees choking its banks. In the near distance, mountains pockmarked with dark caves, I’m told, are the burial grounds of ancient Hawaiian royalty. Warriors would climb to the top with the royal corpse, rappel down the rock face, deposit the body in the cave and then, with no way to climb back up, leap to their valiant deaths.

Weather Poipu Beach is a happy medium of Kauai’s seven microclimates, with only 86 cm average annual rainfall. Most days of the year are a pleasant low- to mid-20s.

Best Bed For sheer luxury, choose the 600-room Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa. For your own kitchen, book a well-appointed vacation rental through The Parrish Collection.,

Best Meal Dondero’s at the Grand Hyatt puts an Italian flair on local seafood. Poipus’s best mai tai is Red Salt’s take on the yummy rum concoction, at Ko’a Kea Resort.

Can’t Miss Make time to explore the hiking trails of the colourful Waimea Canyon, the largest canyon in the Pacific at one mile wide and 12 miles long.

Later, I explore Kukui’ula Village, an outdoor shopping complex built in the style of 19th-century plantation houses with shops, galleries and restaurants, including Hawaii’s famous Bubba Burger. But it’s the Living Foods Market & Café that grabs me with its fresh, healthy menu and island-grown foods, gourmet goods, extensive wine selection and mahi mahi, straight off the boat.

Another day, I rent a bicycle and happily tool about behind “Auntie” Stella, the Grand Hyatt Kauai Hotel’s manager of Hawaiian culture. She imparts halcyon tales of early Polynesia, highlighting places of significance such as Spouting Horn, a blowhole that performs when a big ocean swell channels into a natural lava tube. She’s quick to differentiate between true Polynesian culture and the popular culture influenced by Calvinist missionaries, whose arrival in the 1800s greatly changed Kauai.

Hurricane Iniki also changed Kauai. On September 11, 1992, Iniki settled over the island and let loose winds of 235 km/h and gusts up to 280 km/h. Little physical evidence is left of the enormous destruction, except for thousands of colourful, squawking feral chickens, whose forefathers’ coops were destroyed by the hurricane. But Iniki left deep scars and demolished the island’s agriculture. Once rich in sugar trade, Kauai no longer cultivates anything for international export, except professional surfers. A handful of modest farms do still grow for local and statewide sales, so I stop by the Kauai Coffee Company. I’m rewarded with cups of rich, smooth blends, adorable souvenirs and sweeping ocean views. Here, on the rust-red fields atop the headland, I inhale the perfume of plumeria trees and watch gigantic sea turtles drift in the swells, hugging the black rock curves of the coastline.

I leave Poipu twice to experience the jaw-dropping topography of Kauai’s Na Pali Coast. My first glimpses are from a helicopter; I imagine a gargantuan sea monster reaching up and dragging its claws from the mountain peaks down to the sea, carving the majestic green cathedral formations. Seeing the same coastline aboard a state-of-the-art catamaran belonging to Holo Holo Charters, the experience is even more visceral – particularly when the captain slides the boat beneath warm waterfalls that plunge hundreds of metres before landing on our heads.

A week later, while being massaged beneath swaying palm fronds at the Grand Hyatt’s Anara Spa, I think I’ve found lokahi, the Hawaiian term for unity, harmony and balance. At the very least, I’ve been infected with the spirit of aloha.