Introducing Kauai GPS Tour Guide for the iPhone

Imagine having a local expert to guide you as you drive around Kauai.

Kauai GPS Tour Guide for the iPhone is a virtual tour guide that talks to vacationers as they drive around Kauai. Using the GPS built into the iPhone, the Tour Guide knows exactly where travelers are and alerts them to hidden beaches, scenic lookouts, historic sites, hikes, farmers markets and many other Kauai attractions.

The Kauai GPS Tour Guide is the first App of its kind available to Kauai visitors. It’s like having an island resident drive with you to tell you about the island. Unlike a guide book where you’re constantly flipping through pages trying to figure out where you are and what’s around you, the Tour Guide tells you about hidden places, and guides you to difficult to find attractions.

The Tour Guide includes over 200 points of interest and uses a real human voice – not a computer generated one. The application also includes comprehensive beach and snorkeling guides, weather and surf forecasts, driving directions, Kauai background information for tourists including detailed ocean safety guidelines, and select activity and restaurant recommendations.

Kauai GPS Tour Guide is available for only $7.95 from iTunes or the iPhone app store. It also works with the iPad 3G+Wifi model. Unfortunately we don’t have an Android version yet, but with the popularity of devices like the T-Mobile Galaxy S we may consider adding Android support in the future.

Kauai GPS Tour Guide for the iPhone
Kauai GPS Tour Guide for the iPhone

President Obama’s Kailua Vacation Home

For the 3rd year in a row President Barack Obama and his family will vacation on Oahu for the Christmas holidays. For the past 2 years the family stayed at Plantation Estate, a 5 bedroom vacation home on Kailua Beach, also dubbed the Winter White House. It hasn’t been announced yet if the family will stay there again, but odds are that they will. The home is on the far end of Kailua beach in a gated community and offers plenty of privacy and security.

President Obama's Kailua Vacation Rental

President Obama’s Kailua Vacation Home

For the 3rd year in a row President Barack Obama and his family will vacation on Oahu for the Christmas holidays. For the past 2 years the family stayed at Plantation Estate, a 5 bedroom vacation home on Kailua Beach, also dubbed the Winter White House. It hasn’t been announced yet if the family will stay there again, but odds are that they will. The home is on the far end of Kailua beach in a gated community and offers plenty of privacy and security.

President Obama's Kailua Vacation Rental

Hanalei Bay – Hawaii’s Best Beach?

We’ve updated our guide to Hawaii’s best beaches where we list our nominations for Hawaii’s 30 best beaches. This year Hanalei Bay gets top honors, beating out Oahu’s Kailua beach. Hanalei Bay actually has much in common with Kailua – it’s in a residential area with no hotels or condos, mountains provide a beautiful backdrop, and both are uncrowded and offer a range of water activities.

There are some other notable changes in our rankings. Waikiki beach, one of Hawaii’s funnest beaches with all sorts of activities, has moved up 6 positions to #13. This is thanks to the downturn in tourism since we heavily penalize Waikiki for overcrowding. Poipu beach park moves up in the rankings thanks to the return of the Tombolo (a sand bar extending out from the shore) and a great effort by residents who cut away brush that was encroaching on the sand. And making an appearance for the first time in our list (suspiciously absent in the past) is Kauai’s wonderful Maha’ulepu beach.

As noted on our list, all the islands have beautiful beaches including the Big Island. Our island beach guides list over 100 great tourist beaches. Below is a short video of Hanalei Bay to give you a taste of what the beach looks like in the summer months when the ocean is calm.

Volcanoes National Park at Night

Did you know Volcanoes National Park is open 24 hours a day? The first time we visited the park, we arrived late at night. Not knowing anything about the park or Volcano, I confidently assured my wife that we simply needed to drive until we see glowing red magma. The night was pitch black and we had no idea how enormous the park actually was (it is really big). Not seeing anyone else on the road, we were becoming leery. Every now and then we would pass some foggy steam and noxious gasses. Where was the lava and magma? I envisioned a massive cauldron.

Alas, Volcanoes National Park is not like that (at the moment at least). The lava is flowing underground into the ocean. And the current eruption site is not easily accessible. But if you know where to look you can at least see gasses illuminated by underground lava. This photo was taken near the entrance to the Park:

Steam Escapes Beside Kilauea Crater
Steam Escapes Beside Kilauea Crater

Visit this page of Kilauea Crater to see the location where the photo was taken. More information about Volcano Nationals Park can be found here.

Bishop Museum Ticket Giveaway

Update: Congratulations to our winners – everybody who entered won! The contest has now ended. No one got every answer exactly right but everyone showed a jolly good effort.

To celebrate our 2 year anniversary we’re giving away Bishop Museum Tickets! Bishop Museum is a wonderful place to visit if you’re traveling to Oahu. To enter just answer the following trivia questions and submit your answer as a blog comment. Remember there’s a limit of 1 winner per household, and the museum tickets expire December 31, 2010. It takes about 10 minutes to figure out the answers to the quiz.

Trivia Questions

Question 1 – What HawaiiGaga.com beach page stars an endangered species monk seal?
[Hint: We’ve photographed 1 in Oahu, 1 on the Big Island, and 2 on Kauai]

Question 2According to our weather guide, what area of Hawaii receives the least amount of rainfall?
[Hint – Hawaii Weather Guide]

Question 3 – What Kauai condo are we describing here:

“_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ is an oceanfront condominium complex about a 5 minute walk from Brennecke beach, or 7 minutes to Poipu Beach park. The complex features a swimming pool hovering just at the edge of the ocean.”

[Hint – See our Kauai condos page]

To Enter

Add your answer as a comment. Winners will be emailed at the email address you specify in the blog comment.  Note: Private information is not shared and used only to administer this giveaway.

Rules

-Limit of 1 entry per household.
-Tickets must be used by December 31, 2010.
-We reserve the right to judge incorrect answers as correct when a good effort is shown.
-Employees, family, friends, and associates of HawaiiGaga.com not eligible.
-Only open to residents of the US, Canada, Mexico, UK, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand.
-Void where prohibited by law.
-No purchase necessary to win.
-HawaiiGaga.com is not responsible for lost or undelivered entries or winner notifications including those that are flagged as spam by our or your spam blocking software. Winners have to send mailing information within a week of being notified.

Negotiating Hawaii Vacation Rental Deals

Hawaii’s vacation rentals offer outstanding value compared to hotel rooms, including the islands’ 5 star accommodations which are comparable to luxury rentals found around the world. Since vacation rentals are essentially homes they offer all the amenities you would expect – fully equipped kitchens, laundry facilities (most often in-suite), high speed internet, and so on. Many even have things like beach equipment, books and other accessories that vacationers find useful.

So by deciding on a vacation rental compared to a hotel you’re already on your way to saving money on your vacation. Another nice aspect about vacation rentals is that the price is often negotiable. All you have to do is ask. Here are some tips when asking for a discount:

  • Let them know if you’re not going to use all the bedrooms in the rental
  • Are your dates flexible? Can you squeeze into a vacant time slot that would otherwise go un-booked?
  • Tell them if you’re a senior or in the military.
  • Tell them what your budget is and see what they can do to work with your budget.

The greatest opportunity for discounts is when doing a last minute booking as owners are more eager to fill a rental that would otherwise stand empty. Here however you risk losing out on a great place and you may even struggle to find something in an area you like. If you find yourself scrambling to find a place, remember to also check RedWeek.com’s Hawaii Timeshares. Timeshare’s are rentals that have multiple owners, and the owners often trade or rent out their week of ownership when they can’t travel them self. Like rentals, time shares offer deeper discounts on last minute bookings.

Given how the quality of rentals vary, if you see a place that you like it’s best not to wait. Rather, book as soon as possible and use the above tips to try and manage something within your budget. But if you do find yourself planning a last minute trip you could find some great savings. HawaiiGaga’s Hawaii deals page shows many discounts on last minute travel.

Discover Poipu Shores Condominiums

Just a 2 minute drive up the road from Poipu Beach Park is Poipu Shores, a 3 building condominium development boldly located at ocean’s edge. Poipu Shores commands one of the best coastal views of any Poipu resort with views extending beyond Poipu Beach and down Kauai’s southern coast. What makes the view especially dramatic is the ocean’s never ending assault on the lava rocks fronting Poipu Shores, creating spectacular splashes less than 60 ft from some of the units. In fact the startling splashes are even visible from inside some ground floor units – imagine making breakfast only to be startled by a huge splash outside your window. In the winter months, whales can been see directly in front of the condos, while turtles abound year round.

We’ve created a virtual tour of Poipu Shores so you can see the beautiful coastal views for yourself. HawaiiGaga has found  some of the best units at Poipu Shores and you can also venture inside them in the virtual tour!

Poipu Shores Condos, Kauai
Poipu Shores Condos, Kauai

Great Deals at Kuhio Shores

We’ve uncovered some amazing deals at the Kuhio Shores Condo resort in Poipu. The rates are so good we’re not going to mention how low they are because people reading this post in the future may be disappointed that they couldn’t take advantage of the offer. Click on the link above to go to our Kuhio Shores page, then click on the Kuhio Shores Rentals link to see the offers. At the moment the deals are being offered for travel from now through September.

Kuhio Shores is one of Poipu’s most desirable condos because it’s located directly on the ocean next to Lawai beach. All the units at the 4 story complex have excellent ocean views, and are approximately 30 – 80ft from the water. Because the units are privately owned each one is decorated according to the tastes of the owner.

Lawai beach is one of Poipu’s best snorkeling locations. A highlight for both snorkelers and guests of Kuhio Shores are the many green sea turtles that live around the two bays surrounding the resort. Lawai beach is also occasionally frequented by monk seals for sleeping. A 5 minute walk away is Baby Beach, a reef sheltered beach that is ideal for infants and sun tanning.

A surf break known as PKs is located in front of Kuhio Shores. During the summer months this is considered one of Poipu’s best surf breaks. Just down the road from Kuhio Shores are Spouting Horn park and the Allerton and McBryde national tropical botanical gardens. The new Kukui’ula shopping center is a 10 minute walk away. The center has a weekly farmer’s market, several restaurants, a food market, as well as art galleries and other shops.

Kuhio Shores Condos in Poipu, Kauai
Kuhio Shores Condos in Poipu, Kauai

Queen’s Bath Video

We’ve written before about the The Queen’s Bath on Kauai, including giving our safety recommendations for the area (please take the time to read those recommendations). It’s a popular tourist attraction in Princeville, particularly during the summer months when the ocean is calmer. But the whole rocky coast here experiences the full ferocity of the ocean when swells (waves) roll in. The following video, shot in March, shows how dramatically the area can change from day to day. The first segment shows the Queen’s Bath in 4-6ft surf, while the second show what it looks like in 12-15ft surf. The two segments were captured a couple days apart.

It’s important to approach the ocean with care. Always check the surf report before you visit an area like the Queen’s bath so that you know what the ocean is capable of doing. Click here for more Hawaii safety recommendations.