Waimea Canyon

Sue Kanoho, executive director, Kaua‘i Visitors Bureau, highlights new island offerings and its agent fam program

Kaua’i is affectionately called The Garden Isle for the abundance of lush greenery that covers its mountain ranges. Canadians are no strangers the island. Kauai’s laid-back atmosphere and outdoor activity options are just two attributes that contribute to the island’s popularity, says Sue Kanoho, executive director, Kaua’i Visitors Bureau.

In a recent interview Travelweek learned more from Kanoho about Kaua’i’s key features and how agents can better acquaint themselves with the island’s rich offerings.

Travelweek: Kaua’i has been known to be very popular with Canadian travellers.  What do you think sets the island apart?

Kanoho: Kaua’i has a slower pace and a more rural lifestyle as compared to some of the other islands, and I think Canadians enjoy getting away from the hustle and bustle of their busy lives.

Each island has incredible natural beauty. For Kaua’i, it’s our Napali Coast, Waimea Canyon, the navigable rivers for kayaking or stand-up paddle and lots of choices for outdoor activities to get you into nature.

Nicknamed the ‘Garden Island’ we have the National Tropical Botanical Gardens of Limahuli, Allerton and McBryde, we have Smith’s Tropical Paradise Garden and Na Aina Kai Garden, just to name a few.

Travelweek: Can you name some of the lesser-known must see/do attractions on Kaua’i that Canadian agents can recommend to their clients?

Kanoho: We can’t talk about lesser-known activities until we mention the two must-do activities: a Napali Boat tour and an air tour, via helicopter or airplane.

After that there are activities such as 88 Shrines/Lawai International Center (lawaicenter.org), where there are the 88 shrines that make up the miniaturized version of a 1,000-mile pilgrimage in Shikoku, Japan, built more than 1,000 years ago.

Lawai is the only such replica outside of Japan. This location recently added a temple called the Hall of Compassion which was built the old fashioned way, like it was done in Japan decades ago. Only once a month do they open to the public.

There’s also the Kaua’i Community Market, open on Saturdays at Kaua’i Community College from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. where you can find fresh fruit, vegetables, Kaua’i-made jams, jellies, cookies and more (kauaicommunitymarket.org).

Another option is Kaua’i Museum’s Hawaiian Pa’ina, which begins every first Friday of the month. The event features culinary favorites from award-winning Chef Mark Oyama and live Hawaiian music. Hosted in the newly renovated courtyard from 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., the Hawaiian Pa’ina is $20 for adults and $8 for children ages five to 10 (KauaiMuseum.org).

Travelweek: How can Canadian travel agents best educate themselves about Kaua’i? Who should they get in touch with at KVB when they have questions?

Kanoho: They should get in touch with Maile Brown, KVB Director of Marketing, who is in charge of travel trade relationships.  Agents can reach Maile at maile@hvcb.org.

Travelweek: Does KVB offer any opportunities to travel agents to come visit the island?

Kanoho: We do have a Kaua’i Master Specialist program (where agents come to Kaua‘i for six days to learn about the island first hand). Agents need to work with their wholesaler provider to see if they can be on their list. We have a simple certification program online that you must complete before moving on to the next level.

Travelweek: Can you name some of the new developments taking place on island this winter season? Are there any major hotel/resort refurbishments taking place? Have any new activities been introduced recently?

Kanoho: The Princeville Makai Golf Club now offers sunset golf cart tours. The new tour offers a unique and fun way for guests to experience the scenic vistas of the famed Makai Course at sunset. The course is situated on Kaua’i’s spectacular north shore, set between ocean and mountains.

The Makai Golf Course was named one of the ‘Top 5 Great Golf Settings in the U.S.’ by National Geographic Traveler in 2011.

Guests can follow the cart paths meandering through the 18 holes, stop and linger to take photos wherever they wish and watch the sun set over Hanalei Bay. For reservations agents can call the Princeville Makai Golf Club at 808-826-1863.

Kōloa Zipline has started its Sunset Zipline tour. On the tour, travellers can race the setting sun and end the tour zipping under the stars. Platforms are lit and flashlights are provided. The tour is 3.5 to 4 hours (Koloazipline.com).

The National Tropical Botanical Garden has announced the opening of its new experience at its flagship McBryde Garden in south Kaua’i. The Biodiversity Trail, a winding 800-foot walk designed to tell the story of plant evolution over the last 450 million years, is now part of self-guided tours of the garden. (ntbg.org/gardens/limahuli-tours.php).