LIHUE — Lihue’s appeal is becoming well known to snowbirds worldwide.
Expedia Travel featured Lihue as one of the best vacation destinations in America to escape the winter, mainly because its average temperatures in January reach a warm 78 degrees and drop to a comfortable 65 degrees.
“When we left it was about zero degrees,” said second-time visitor, Diane Murray from Anchorage, Alaska. “I like the fact that there’s more chickens than people here. It’s absolutely beautiful, it’s peaceful, it’s serene. You get this wonderful feeling from seeing nature, God’s handiwork.”
Alex Stuart, along with his wife, Kira and daughter Sara, were visiting from Homer, Alaska, where temperatures were 37 degrees with rainy conditions. The family frequents Kauai regularly, since Kira’s mother has lived in Waimea for the last 15 years.
“We like people watching, swimming and walking,” Kira said. “Kalapaki Beach is wide open but small enough to watch your stuff.”
“We’ll probably do some camping, some pig hunting, and a birthday party tomorrow for our daughter who’s turning 18,” Alex said. “We do some business too as reps for Spy — the eye wear company — with lifeguards, the fire department and Ocean Safety.”
“Kauai is so relaxed,” Kira said. “I haven’t been to Oahu or Maui in awhile, but they seem like anywhere in the US in some ways, very crowded, very city.”
Not only does the mild winter weather and slow pace attract people from colder climates and congested cities, but the colorful orchards, cascading waterfalls and spectacular sunrises draw visitors from all over, according to the recent Expedia article.
One especially popular destination for visitors, Wailua Falls, was packed on Tuesday like many other days, where hundreds of tourists posed for photos at the lookout.
Matt and Dabney Hargrafen, who just arrived in town from Iowa where temperatures dipped well below freezing, made their first stop to see the waterfall.
“I just remember it from growing up watching Fantasy Island,” said Matt, a geologist. “We don’t have falls back where we’re from. Just the height of the falls and the landscape, and the history behind the island is very interesting.”
James Lucas was visiting from Spokane, Wash., for 10 days with his wife, Jacqueline, and sister, Kendall Hough. He has spent a lot of time on Kauai and previously lived here for about a year.
“We just like going behind the falls and looking out,” Lucas said. “I haven’t seen any other place like it, plus Washington’s about 25 degrees, maybe lower.”
They were planning to take a helicopter ride and then explore the North Shore.
Other appealing activities that make Lihue a popular destination for tourists, according to the Expedia content team, include basking on the shores of Kalapaki Beach, ordering rum in a pineapple at Duke’s Barefoot Bar, enjoying scenic views of Nawiliwili Bay, and attending traditional imu ceremonies with hula dancers at Luau Kalamaku.
Alaina Schumann, was visiting with her fiancée for the first time from South Amboy, New Jersey, where it was about 30 degrees with threats of snow.
“We are from Jersey, The Garden State, so we though we might as well hit up Kauai, The Garden Isle,” Schumann said. “We just came from the tubing adventure down the sugarcane shoot, so we’re about to do a little exploring.”
Other visitors traveled here from outside the country, like Donna and Daryl McKay from Alberta, Canada. They came to connect with their grandchildren, daughter and son-in-law on holiday for their first trip to the island.
“We’re just in Lihue today, because our three kids and their spouses bought us a helicopter ride for Christmas,” Donna said. “We just stumbled upon Kalapaki Beach from our GPS.”
Back in their Canadian hometown, it was near zero degrees with snow flurries, so their ten-day stay was extremely welcoming, much like all the people the encountered.
“On all of Kauai, the people have been very friendly,” Donna said. “Of course the majority of people that we’ve run into have been tourists themselves, although there are very courteous drivers here.”
Dmitriy Drobakhin traveled all the way from Moscow, Russia by himself for the second time.
“Nine years ago I was here when I was initiated on this island with a reiki master degree, the Japanese healing practice” he said. “It’s interesting for me to return and see how it’s changed my life and how Kauai’s changed.”
When he left his hometown, it was just seven below with snow, ice and rain. For him, the special area provides a healing environment to repeat his spiritual path.
“There’s top-quality beaches, sand and clear water,” he added. “It’s very good for me, and maybe it’s OK for other visitors as well.”