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Last week, a powerful thunderstorm pummeled Kauai with more than 28 inches of rain over a 24-hour period. Floods and landslides washed out roads, bridges and homes across the northernmost edge of the island, where the communities of Hāena and Wainiha were hardest hit.
Yet in a statement released on Monday, the Hawaii Tourism Authority reported that “Kauai is open for business.”
“Travelers can book a trip to Kauai with confidence knowing they will enjoy a vacation experience that is uniquely appealing within all of Hawaii, while also supporting island businesses and residents who depend on a thriving tourism industry,” said Hawaii Tourism Authority president and CEO George D. Szigeti.
While most of the destruction is concentrated around Kauai’s north shore, the island is already observing a downtick in visitors — at a time when residents and local businesses need tourist dollars more than ever. It’s just one of the many reasons travelers shouldn’t cancel (and may even want to plan) a trip to Kauai this summer.
Visiting Will Help the Island Recover
“Since [the thunderstorm], visitors have been staying away from Hanalei, which is hurting businesses and putting at risk the jobs they provide to residents,” Szigeti said in the HTA’s statement.
Perhaps the best way for visitors to help the north shore recover is by patronizing the town of Hanalei’s restaurants, shops, stores and attractions.
“You can go into Hanalei town,”Sue Kanoho, the executive director of the Kauai Visitors Bureau, told The Points Guy. “And we’re hopeful that people will support those guys. Some of the people that had damaged homes work in Hanalei. The double whammy would be if they lose their jobs.”
“Vendors are a little bit concerned, she added. “No one is coming, and summer is the time they really benefit financially. Coming to [Hanalei]…will help them, and help us get back to normal.”
There are Plenty of Places to Stay
Properties like the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa, the Westin Princeville, Aqua Kauai Beach Resort, Aston Islander on the Beach and the Kauai Beach Marriott Resort — among many others — were unaffected by the storm.
What was impacted? Mostly vacation rentals, particularly those off the Kūhiō highway, which is closed for repairs. Travelers with existing reservations should be in touch with the property manager to confirm travel plans.
Fun Things to Do Around the Island
In the wake of the torrential storm, some of the north shore’s most iconic experiences, such as Limahuli Garden and Preserve, Hanalei Pier and the Nāpali Coast State Wilderness Park endured extensive damage and remain unavailable to visitors.
It could be months before travelers can once again embark on the 11-mile coastal Kalalau Trail that traces the island’s rugged sea cliffs.
Rather than be deterred by the closures, however, travelers should consider alternative attractions.
“Everyone thinks the entire island looks like the north shore,” Kanoho said. “And that’s not true.”
The Kokee and Waimea State Park hiking trails, for example, are some of the most famous on the island, and they’re fully accessible to tourists today. Kauai’s legendary golf courses (like the Makai Golf Club at The St. Regis Princeville) are also eager for visitors.
Many of the state health department’s brown water advisories have already been lifted. Visitors should still avoid entering the waters from Waikoko to Na Pali, Pakala to Kekahu and Lydgate Park, among others.
There Is Plenty of Award Travel Availability
Though it’s not immediately clear if the decline in tourism is a result, travelers will find good availability to Hawaii in May.
On American Airlines, saver-level business awards are open for almost half of the days in May from Los Angeles (LAX), Dallas (DFW), New York (JFK) and more. (In June, on the other hand, there is little saver availability.) Both United and Alaska Airlines also have significant availability on select routes, including San Diego (SAN) to Lihue (LIH).
Travelers feeling trepidatious can also delay their trips to Kauai until later in the season. Hawaiian Airlines has extended its travel waiver to accommodate fliers with tickets for scheduled travel to Kauai between April 14 and April 30.
Even if you have no intentions of traveling to Kauai this summer, it’s still easy to aid the island’s recovery. Make a donation to the Hawaii Community Foundation’s Kauai Relief and Recovery Fund. Contributions will be used to provide emergency services, stabilize affected communities and rebuild.
Featured photo of Tunnels Beach on Kauai by bjonesmedia/Getty Images
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