Monthly Archives: February 2019

Tourism Reaches New Heights


NAWILIWILI — Joe Phillips of New York was pleased with his beer shirt that was wrapped up by Ana Munoz of Bamboo Island Bath &Body Thursday at Anchor Cove Shopping Center.

Phillips said this was his and his wife’s first visit to Kauai.

“This was a place I always wanted to come to visit,” he said. “My wife’s former co-workers retired to winter on Kauai and kept inviting us to visit.”Kauai welcomed a record number of visitors like Phillips in 2018.

According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, Kauai had 118,873 visitors in December, bringing the total for the year to 1.38 million, the most ever for this small island, and a 7.6 percent increase over 2017.

Those visitors spent $163.2 million in December, down 3.5 percent from December 2017, but for the year, visitors spent $2 billion, a 10.2 percent increase from last year, according to the HTA report released Thursday.

Sue Kanoho, executive director of the Kauai Visitors Bureau, said there were a few factors that influenced the boost in tourism.

“The hurricanes in Puerto Rico, Florida and Texas redirected visitors to places like Kauai,” she wrote in an email to TGI. “Also, I think the eruption of Kilauea Volcano had some folks rebook to Kauai, which is why it was important to emphasize the map of Hawaii Island, so people could see how small the area was that had been affected.

Asked about successful marketing efforts, she said an emphasis by the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau and the island chapters in the New York area with a foodie emphasis seemed to resonate with people in 2018.

She also said the 25th anniversary of “Jurassic Park” seemed to have quite a few movie buffs seeking out Kauai, and a press trip around the movie proved successful.

Looking to this year, Kanoho said KVB doesn’t have a specific goal. Whether or not it’s another strong tourism year depends on flights, global conditions and weather patterns, she added.

“Any one of those can have an impact,” she wrote. “We are just working to achieve balance for what we have now.”

Dan King, general manager of the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort &Spa, said while the number of visitors to the island was up in 2018, the Hyatt’s occupancy remained consistent with the past few years.

“Our goal, which is in line with the Kauai Tourism Strategic Plan, is to see an increase in length of stay and spending on the island, not an increase in the number of arrivals,” he said. “This type of growth indicates guests are taking the time to experience activities on the island and enjoy Kauai’s beauty. To that end, our length of stay increased slightly in 2018 to 4.4 days.”

The HTA reported the average length of a visitor’s stay on Kauai in 2018 was 7.45 days, down slightly from 2017.

Nearly 10 million visitors came to Hawaii in 2018, an increase of 5.9 percent from the 9.4 million visitors in 2017. Total visitor days rose 5.3 percent in 2018. On average, there were 242,629 visitors in the Hawaiian Islands on any given day in 2018, up 5.3 percent from 2017.

Visitors to the Hawaiian Islands spent $17.8 billion in 2018, an increase of 6.8 percent compared to 2017, according to the HTA report. Spending by visitors generated $2.08 billion in state tax revenue in 2018, an increase of $133.1 million (plus 6.8 percent) from 2017.

Additionally, 217,000 jobs statewide were supported by Hawaii’s tourism industry in 2018, up 6.8 percent from 2017, HTA reported.

But not everyone is happy about rising tourism. Some have concerns that too many visitors have resulted in traffic problems and crowded beaches, put a strain on the island’s infrastructure, and are threatening the beauty, lifestyle and environment that makes the island so unique.

Kauai native and Kapaa resident Bill Fernandez, in a guest commentary published in TGI in October, called for regulations on the tourist industry.

“When I grew up on this island the sugar and pineapple economy dictated and regulated our lives. That economy is gone, replaced by the tourist industry. To keep our place unique, it must be regulated,” he wrote.

He pointed out that the tourism strategic plan outlined what could be done:

w Limit visitor numbers by caps on arrivals and visits to scenic spots.

w Develop alternative transportation like shuttle buses to visit specific destinations, such as Haena and Ke‘e Beach.

w Tax tourists by permits to visit places, and add entry fees and rental car fees.

w Place a moratorium on new accommodations, and limit the number of Airbnbs.

w Encourage longer visits: statistics show that the stayover visitor (overnight and longer) spends 15 to 25 times as much as the cruise ship or tour visitor — and they spend at local businesses.

w Better educate visitors.

“Fear that we will destroy the tourist economy by regulating it is often voiced by naysayers. It is a misplaced fear,” Fernandez wrote.

“To do nothing will destroy the place that is the very product that tourism sells,” he wrote. “If we as a community demonstrate by thoughtful regulation and marketing that we are making Kauai a quality place to visit, then people will come. People like to feel exclusive.”

The Kauai Chamber of Commerce, in its 2019 Policy Priorities, addresses tourism: “Recognizing the importance of tourism to our economy and the importance of managing the industry for the benefit of all, the Chamber will strongly support and encourage the implementation of the Kauai Tourism Strategic Plan (2019-2021) “Refocusing Tourism to Find Balance.”

Kanoho wrote that, based on the new tourism plan for Kauai, “we are looking at how to achieve balance for our island.”

Peter Ingram, president and CEO of Hawaiian Airlines, recently gave a presentation on Kauai. He was asked — due to increased tourism — if there was an opportunity for locals to have input on Hawaiian’s flights to the island.

He said that was possible. He highlighted environmental, economic and cultural concerns. The airline wants to be part of the effort to create balance between maintaining levels of tourism to support the economy, while protecting Kauai’s mountains, forests, beaches and the ocean, and being respectful of the culture.

“It’s actually a discussion we think is important for all of us in the community to engage in,” he said.


Bill Buley, editor-in-chief, can be reached at 245-0457 or

Jessica Else, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0452 or

Wow! 519 inches of rain at Waialeale

Check out this article from Kauai’s Garden Island Newspaper about the record breaking rainfall we have received:

LIHUE — Cool, dry days and nights are following the wettest year at many Kauai gauges since 1990.

That’s according to reports from National Weather Service hydrologist Kevin Kodama, who said the total rainfall count on Mt. Waialeale in 2018 was 519 inches, 132 percent of the average.

“This substantial 2018 total also resulted in one of the few times in recent years that the running 30-year average for annual rainfall did not decrease,” Kodama wrote in the December Report. “In 1997, the 30-year average annual rainfall at Mount Waialeale was 406.03 inches. By 2017, it had decreased to 362.37 inches before rising a bit to 365.78 inches in 2018.”

According to the NWS Year to Date map, which shows total 2018 total rainfall numbers recorded at U.S. Geological Survey gauges, Kokee accumulated a little more than 100 inches, 160 percent of the average; Kilohana received 192.3 inches, 117 percent of the average; Wainiha received 177.2 inches, 158 percent of the average; and Hanalei recorded 190.3 inches, 220 percent of average.

Kapahi received 137.6 inches in 2018, 141 percent of average; Wailua received 122.5 inches, 152 percent of average, Lihue airport recorded 51.9 inches, 142 percent of average, Poipu recorded 55.9 inches, 157 percent of average, and Waimea Heights recorded 37.4 inches, 179 percent of annual average.

Because of the government shutdown which President Donald Trump ended on Friday, Kodama couldn’t comment on rainfall patterns and averages throughout the year, but did say that the cooler temperatures and current weather patterns are in line with predictions released in the 2019 wet season outlook.

The outlook pointed to ongoing rain in the beginning of the wet season, but the prediction pointed to below average rainfall starting December and moving through the spring.

That could mean drought in some areas by the end of February.

“We’re right in it now, the rainfall is consistent with a developing El Nino,” Kodama said.

April and August brought torrential rains to Kauai, events that bolstered the island’s precipitation numbers and impacted the rest of Hawaii as well.

April 15 rains dumped an unconfirmed 49.69 inches in a 24-hour period over Hanalei, which will be record-setting if the data recorded from the rain gauge can be proven reliable.

That investigation is being handled by the currently furloughed National Climactic Extremes Committee under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.


Jessica Else, environment reporter, can be reached at 245-0452 or

Finish in sight: Kauai’s North Shore Road Repair

Kauai’s Garden Island Newspaper posted the following article yesterday regarding the road repair on the North Shore:

WAINIHA — Construction crews are working overtime to repair Kuhio Highway on the North Shore, and state transportation department officials are confident they will meet their goal of reopening the road past the checkpoint by the end of April.

Ed Sniffen, Hawaii Department of Transportation deputy director of the Highways Division, said Thursday he is “absolutely” confident work will be completed to allow two-lane traffic past the Waikoko checkpoint at Anae Road in Wainiha.

“Our goal is to get this thing done,” Sniffen said during an interview at the checkpoint, after checking progress at construction zones along the highway in Wainiha and Haena with several other HDOT officials Thursday afternoon.

Construction workers were working every day for a couple months when repairs began last year, only scaling back once the road was cleared, according to HDOT Kauai District Engineer Larry Dill. He said the workers are often pulling 12-hour shifts and have “been working six days a week now for several months.”

“The work that our contractors have done has been tremendous,” Sniffen said, “because they understand the commitment we’ve made to the community to get this done within a year. They’re pushing as hard as they can to get it done.”

The North Shore was devastated during the flooding on April 14 and 15, brought on by nearly 50 inches of rain.

Much of the highway was washed out, homes were destroyed, cars carried away by rising waters and property was damaged. The recovery for many in the area continues.

There was also extensive damage to Haena State Park and Napali Coast State Wilderness Park, both of which remain closed to visitors.

The convoy system between Wainiha and Waikoko will continue to operate until HDOT determines it is safe to allow access without it.

HDOT’s deadline for reopening the highway was originally set for October, a timeline that was later extended. It wasn’t until last month that HDOT set a firm goal for completing the work, estimating that “slope stabilization and roadway repairs needed to safely open Kuhio Highway past Anae Road (the Waikoko checkpoint) to two-way traffic will be substantially complete in April 2019.”

Sniffen said he has more faith in the April estimate than he had in the October deadline decided upon last summer.

“The reasons for the deadlines in the past was to make sure that we looked at the end of the year to see what problems we might encounter,” he said, explaining that previous goals were based on an incomplete understanding of the situation and had to be modified when new information came to light.

“When we started walking some of the slopes, we thought we had all the issues kind of taken care of,” he said. “When we started excavating, when we started moving stuff, and seeing more potential problems that we have to take care of, we gotta deal with it.”

“So those start pushing the deadlines out. The rains that we get, the normal storms that we get, we always gotta figure those in. And I think April is a good timeframe,” Sniffen said.

Heavy rains throughout 2018 slowed construction work, and erosion from waves on the ocean side of the highway destabilized areas near the road that had to be shored up. But Sniffen said another factor that caused the project deadline to be pushed back was “unanticipated damages that we didn’t see.”

“As we found more material that we saw was destabilized, we had to start excavating that out, too. So the scope of the project got bigger and bigger the more we excavated,” Sniffen said.

“When we started looking at the roadway, itself, we could have just said, ‘Let’s clear the landslide. Let’s clear the upper slopes, and be done with it.’ But if we did that, this project would have taken much, much longer, not just for the state side but for the county side as well,” he said.

Reopening the road earlier, Sniffen said, would have forced construction crews to work in limited space and would not have allowed for the load capacity of the North Shore’s three bridges to be increased so that heavy machinery and equipment could not reach the areas where they are needed.

“The big thing that I want to make sure everyone knows, is we could have stopped at just clearing the debris,” Sniffen said. “And the federal government could have not supported us in helping us out with the bridges.

“But these funds — the $75 million committed to this effort — is over and above the annual authority that they give us every year. That means this project comes with additional federal funds that we wouldn’t have had otherwise.”

Although the end is in sight, the future of the North Shore remains uncertain. Erosion on the makai side of the highway poses a long-term threat to the stability of the road, a problem that, so far, is being dealt with on a patchwork basis.

“Right now we don’t know what the permanent solution is,” Sniffen said, pointing out that the problem will only be further exacerbated as sea levels continue to rise.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists in 2012 conducted a review of the research on global sea level rise projections, and concluded that the average sea levels will likely rise at least 8 inches by 2100 and could potentially rise by as much as 6.6 feet.

“If we’re looking for a sustainable location for this roadway — if we see a one-meter rise — this is probably not it,” Sniffen said.

For now, according to Sniffen, HDOT engineers and administrators are trying to delay erosion and maintain the existing infrastructure long enough to buy researchers time to develop a viable solution.




PRICE REDUCTION: Princeville Plantation Paradise


$985,000 FS  

3 BD / 3BA    2364 SF

Charming, single-level, fully furnished, plantation home on an oversized lot with vaulted ceilings and laminate floors. Expansive wrap-around lanai, perfect for enjoying Kauai’s climate surrounded by a beautifully landscaped yard. Upgraded kitchen with quartz counter tops provides a modern look. Dining area opens to the lanai for indoor-outdoor living. Adjoining spacious living room with picture window has high sculptured ceilings. Spacious master suite and two guest bedrooms have their own air conditioning units and access to the covered lanai. Recently remodeled baths include beautiful custom tile. Solar panels provide plenty of hot water. Private back yard with mature, colorful landscaping. Attached oversized two-car garage has a work/storage area. Currently a vacation rental, this turn-key home could make an excellent primary or second residence. Ideally located on a quiet cul-de-sac in Princeville, a short walk from the park, shopping, dining, beaches, golf, and walking trails.