There are so many great things to do in Kauai that it can overwhelm the senses. I tend to ease into the tropical scene slowly but deliberately, shedding clothes that I had to wear on the mainland whether due to climatic conditions or social. Throw on the trunks and jump into the pool, swim a few laps to loosen muscles that were bound by that sport jacket I was wearing for the past three days. Wondering why it was so named since it is neither sporty nor a jacket, it does little to keep out the cold and you certainly can’t play frisbee in it.
This return home to Kauai was different, I brought back a handful of relatives to celebrate my fathers 90th birthday. It was a diverse group that all had their own ideas of what they wanted to do on Kauai as soon as they landed. It ranged from a slow jog to Spouting Horn to scope out the jewelry on display, to snorkeling with the turtles in Whalers Cove in back of the house.
The teenagers took off jogging on a portion of the Kauai Marathon route, while their parents went snorkeling at Baby Beach. Within three hours all had returned with a single thought, and you didn’t need to be a high priestess to guess. Tropical hunger. It was then that I unleashed my plan. We’re going to a luau!
Silence, then the teenagers in our group protested, it just wasn’t cool. The adults in the group glanced at each other with skepticism, all had memories of eating poi that still haunt them today. Unfazed by their reactions I continued to smile broadly and knowingly. You see, I had a captive audience, there was no food in the house and I owned both vehicles. With a sense of apprehension the kids piled into the cars with their parents reassuring them that there was a McDonald’s close by if all else failed.
We entered the grounds of the 16,000 square foot G.P. Wilcox Estate and were transported back to the 1930′s when this was the home of the chairman of the Grove Farm Sugar Plantation. The converted home now known as Kilohana, houses great shops and the restaurant 22 Degrees North. The restaurant is unique in that much of their food is grown on Kilohana’s 70 acre agricultural park, only steps away from your table. It doesn’t get any fresher than that. This is where the 22 Degrees North team find their inspiration for their daily culinary creations. GM Todd Oldham told me that the food changes nightly and depending upon what is in season. The menu is designed so that it reflects both Hawaiian and specialties from the many cultures that make Kauai unique.
The chefs at 22 North Degrees Restaurant are also responsible for the fine food at another star on the estate, Luau Kalamaku. This feast combines fine dining with musical theater in a festival atmosphere that should not be missed. Prior to the show, the Tiki Bars are in full swing and guests can play Hawaiian games or find great local crafts in the courtyard.
The food was delicious, or as they say in Hawaiian, Ono. From local favorites of steamed Mahimahi with wok-fried vegetables and tentsuyu sauce and lomi lomi salmon, which is diced cold tomato with flecks of salmon, chili pepper, and onion. To tried and true favorites kalua pig and roasted pineapple chicken done with a tropical flair and hint of Kauai with spices that are sure to amaze.
Following dinner the theatrical entertainment begins and details in song and dance the history of the great migration of peoples in the South Pacific to the Hawaiian Islands. The show entails magical choreography and a physicality of the performers that leave you on the edge of your seat. There is a story intertwined of a young couple’s love for each other and the courage for a group to embark by canoe on a journey using only the stars and ocean currents to navigate to a new beginning.
The show culminates in a fire dance that is heart pounding with drums blazing at a pace that confuses your ears we see the hero of the show twirling fiery batons that leave the participants and the audience panting for air and clapping and hooting encouragement.
At the end of the show, the all Kauai cast is gracious to sit for photographs on stage and make you feel special. The usually too cool to be astonished teens in our group were falling over themselves to be photographed with the some of the members of the repertory. Through the applause and ‘way to go Uncle’, I was a hero for the moment with the family. It was my intention that this Kauai activity would entertain and be educational, and it exceeded my expectations.
Reservations: (808) 245-5608
Reservations: (808) 245-9593
Both Located at:
3-2087 Kaumualii Highway, Lihue, Kauai, HI 96766