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Regions of Kauai and Favorite Movie Moments

April 25, 2017 at 4:35 pm

Aerial landscape view of spectacular Na Pali coast, Kauai, Hawaii, USA


The island of Kauai is the fourth largest island in the Hawaiian chain, and is also known as the Garden Isle. It is home to such majestic beauty that over 60 movies have been shot on Kauai throughout its five distinct regions. I encourage you to be your own director or photographer as you visit Lihue, South Shore, the East side a.k.a. Coconut Coast, the West Side, and North Shore.

Jurassic trees in Allerton Garden

Lihue: Huleia River can be reached by air or accessed on kayak. It is where the Raiders of the Lost Ark was filmed when you see that initial temple scene. And if you travel to the Nawiliwili Harbor, some scenes will remind you of Jurassic Park: The Lost World. While you are in Lihue, take a peek inside the Kauai Museum where you will find some great local art and learn about the island’s history. And head to the Grove Farm Homestead Museum to see what life was like back in the farming days.

East Side (Coconut Coast): If you are a fan of Blue Hawaii, Lydgate State Park served as a key spot for this popular Elvis Presley movie. Meanwhile, get yourself good and wet at Wailua Falls, one of the tallest falls on the island. It is also where Fantasy Island, the TV show was filmed. Who can forget that famous line, “The plane! The plane! For the films Blue Hawaii and Islands in the Stream, the gorgeous Wailua River served as an idyllic back drop. Meanwhile, amazing Opaekaa Falls was the site for The Wackiest Ship in the Army, a 1960 flick starring Jack Lemmon. This 151-foot waterfall flows over volcanic eruptions and can be found at the Wailua River State Park. Opaekaa means “rolling shrimp” which were once found in its waters.

North Shore: Daniel K. Inouye Kilauea Lighthouse represents one of the famed sites included in the Disney animation, Lilo & Stitch. It is also a coveted locale for bird watching. Pay a nominal fee at the Kilauea National Wildlife Refuge (on the same property) and see if you can spy a red-footed boobie! The same film features Anini Beach Park and Hanalei Bay. And do you recall the musical South Pacific? Key shooting locations included the Lumahai Beach and the Makua Tunnels Beach which is particularly known for great snorkeling and scuba diving. And when you take a speed boat or hike out to Na Pali Coast, note to yourself that this familiar scenery was featured in Jurassic Park: The Lost World and Six Days/Seven Nights.

West Side: Waimea Canyon is known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. Do come here for hiking and plenty of picture taking. This deep green canyon is featured in films such as Donovan’s Reef, Honeymoon in Vegas, Lilo & Stitch. Hanapepe Town, sighted for Flight of the Intruder, Lilo & Stitch, and Thornbirds, is also the art capital of Kauai. You’ll have to come here to take home an art treasure and discover your new favorite artist.

South Shore: Manawaiopuna Falls, seen only by air, can also be seen in the first Jurassic Park. And when you see the movie, it will also give you a great glimpse of the National Tropical Botanical Garden’s Allerton Garden. You will have to make a day trip to come out. Other tourist sites include the Spouting Horn blowhole for photo opportunities and Poipu Beach Park for picnics and swimming. Old Koloa Town is where you will get your shopping fix as you meander through restored plantation buildings.

The list of movies continues to grow as YouTube videographers and Hollywood directors continue to draw inspiration from the Garden Isle. Have a movie you have seen shot in Kauai not listed here? Give me a holler! Aloha for now.



Kathy Chin Leong is an award-winning travel journalist who has trekked the world. As founder of www.bayareafamilytravel.com, she is passionate about helping people step out of their comfort zones and challenge themselves to try new things and visit new places. Her work can be found in National Geographic Books, Sunset Magazine, and many others. 



Cultural Stirrings in Maui

March 17, 2017 at 8:21 pm

Landscape view of bamboo forest and rugged path on Pipiwai trail, Maui, Hawaii

You’ve visited Maui umpteen times. You do the same thing- you relax, you eat out, you read a book, and maybe work up the energy to embark on a hike or two. Now, listen up: on your next trip to this fair island, tackle your tropical vacation by incorporating culture into your daily happenings. By tapping the authentic side of Maui, your week will be enriched, and you’ll expand your appreciation for the traditions of Hawaii, and you’ll be a better person for it. Trust me!

Art Galleries- For a fascinating way to explore the island, bop around the different sections of Maui to find small galleries along the way. There seems to be a fantastic crop of artists in Hawaii, and you will find phenomenal sculpture, paintings, fabric art, and mixed media that echo the Maui soul. The website, www.prideofmaui.com has a listing of what it considers as the top ten art galleries of the island.

Heritage Sites-Two designated Hawaii Heritage Sites have been selected in Maui for their distinct impact on culture and history and the environment. First up is the lush Iao Valley State Park where King Kamehameha conquered the Maui Army in a forceful battle in 1790. The other is the Haleakala National Park, home to a mammoth-sized volcanic crater. Popular activities are riding a van to the top to see the sunrise and biking back down or taking a bus to see the sunset.

Music and Entertainment– The comforting, breezy music classic to Hawaii can be heard in public places including the Whalers Village shopping mall, downtown Lahaina, and many restaurants, bars, and lounges throughout the island. Of note is the slack key guitar music of George Kahumoku Jr., a four-time Grammy award winning artist. You can find him and his entourage playing at the Napili Kai Beach Resort Pavilion on Wednesdays and Thursdays. This casual concert is welcoming and fun for the entire family.

And do not leave Maui without attending the irrepressible Ulalena show at the Maui Theater. This $9.5 million production combines dance, music, multimedia, and acrobatics to illustrate Hawaii’s history. And no, it’s not cheesy. Ethereally elegant, professionally-crafted with high-end sets, this is an unforgettable performance that touches the heart.

Art and Culture – A trek to the Maui Arts and Cultural Center is worth the drive. Each time you visit it will be different for programs change all the time. Here, you can book a ticket to see a high-quality concert or dance exhibition. The art gallery also showcases regional and international artwork.

And at the Hui No’eau Visual Arts Center, you can wander the grounds of the famous Kaluanui Estate, where it is located, and visit its history room. You can watch sculptors, glass blowers, painters, and other visual artists in action. If you plan ahead, you can register to take a one day or half day workshop to learn a Hawaiian craft.
Cowboy History- Wander into Makawao to hear stories about the panoilo, or Hawaiian cowboys where they have their own culture. Located “up island”, this low-key town has also become an artist enclave. Be a cowpoke at Piiholo Ranch, and saddle up for horseback riding. If you want to experience ranch life, reserve a spot at Piiholo to be a Maui cowboy for a day. By five or six o’clock you’ll be famished, so stay in town for a juicy steak dinner at the Makawao Steak House and talk story with a local.

Do you have other Hawaiian cultural activities not listed here? Respond to this post with your ideas and share with the California-Tour.com community!






Kathy Chin Leong is an award-winning travel journalist who has trekked the world. As founder of www.bayareafamilytravel.com, she is passionate about helping people step out of their comfort zones and challenge themselves to try new things and visit new places. Her work can be found in National Geographic Books, Sunset Magazine, and many others. 

SAVANNAH: Insiders’ Guide

February 3, 2017 at 12:55 am


Forsyth Park in downtown Savannah, GA

Forsyth Park in downtown Savannah, GA

No one told me about the moving buildings.

The first time I visited Savannah, I was at a downtown park where George Washington had made a post-Revolutionary War speech. Suddenly I noticed what appeared to be a colorful building moving behind the brickwork and wrought iron of Factor’s Walk. I followed the unusual site until I came to on opening between the brown and red buildings. That’s when I realize the “moving building” was actually shipping containers stacked several stories high and being ferried down the Savannah River. While freight ships pulling their towering cargo into the Port of Savannah (busiest on the East Coast) are a frequent sight, the illusion of moving yellow and orange buildings continues to surprise me when I see it.

That’s the special thing about Savannah: I’ve been there many times over the last 25 years, and there’s always something there to surprise me.

Leopold's ice cream_sLast time, it was Leopold’s Ice Cream, which started business in 1919. Unless you have a local showing you around (as I did), the casual visitor is unlikely to come across this unique destination. Leopold’s claims to have created Tutti Fruitti ice cream. If that sounds too sweet, check out a Guinness float made from – yes, Guinness ice cream. Leopold’s looks like a traditional small-town ice cream shop, but with a twist. One of the three family members who owns Leopold’s is also a movie producer for such films as “Mission Impossible 3,” so film lovers will love the cinema posters.


Another great destination for both atmosphere and food is The Pirate’s House Restaurant. Originally opened in 1753 as an inn for sailors, it quickly became a meeting place for pirates and scalawags who made port in Savannah. The inn was even mentioned in the Robert Louis Stevenson classic, “Treasure Island.” Today it’s a large rambling restaurant with 15 dining rooms, a gift shop, and its own resident ghost.

Another “haunted” destination is the Olde Pink House Restaurant and Tavern is located in the only 18th Century mansion remaining in the city. It is located in a Georgian mansion built in 1771 of pink stucco that gives the restaurant its name. The Old Pink House is located next to the antique-filled Planters’ Inn B&B on Reynold’s Square.

Family Bike Ride Historic District - visit Savannah_s

Photo by visitsavannah.com

Savannah is famous for its network of some two dozen public squares in the historic district. Each has its own claim to fame, but perhaps the most unique is Rousakis Plaza. Stand on the “X” in the center, speak, and experience an unusual “echo chamber” effect that can only be heard that those within the square.


The city is also dotted with boutique shops along River Street, Factor’s Walk and Broughton (where you can browse with drink in hand). City Market offers bistros, galleries, and live music in the evenings. Paris Market offers curios of all types. For antiques, the Noble Hardee Mansion offers hard-to-find treasures. Locals favor the Downtown Design District, with such shops as French Knot, Custard Boutique, and One Fish Two Fish.


If you want to see the famous “Bird Girl” statue from the cover of the book “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” she no longer resides at Bonaventure Cemetery. In 2014, the statue was added to the Telfair Museums collection to protect her from possible vandalism.


There’s so much more to do in Savannah it’s almost impossible to list it all. Take afternoon tea at The Tea Room. Taste the honey at Savannah Bee Company. Buy student artwork at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), one of the top creative schools in North America. Visit Jen’s & Friends for a Moon Pie Martini. Stroll down Jones Street, voted among the most beautiful streets by “Southern Living” magazine. Take a pedicab ride on the cobblestones of River Street. Segway through a historic cemetery. Or drive beneath the spreading canopy of Spanish moss that drapes the live oaks approaching the Wormsloe Historic Site. Take a haunted tour in an old hearse, or go scuba diving with whales off Sapelo Island.

The more you see, the more you’ll want to see. Savannah is beautiful, charming, friendly – and never boring.


Bobby L. Hickman is an Atlanta-based freelance travel and business journalist. His work has appeared in such publications as Southern Living, Georgia Trend, and TravelMuse.com. Learn more at www.blhickman.com



Twelve Hacks for keeping skin and body heathy on the road

January 20, 2017 at 12:23 am


Summer beach set on swimming pool water background

Kathy Chin Leong is an award-winning travel writer who has endured  freezing temperatures  near the Arctic  as well as the scorching sands of Fiji.

On her travels, she  has suffered mosquito bites lasting for weeks, sunburns that have seared off the top layer of her skin,  stinging bladder infections, and cruise ship diarrhea, to name a few.

She shares twelve practical tips on how to keep skin and body healthy after learning the hard way.


1. Drink water, like ALL the time.   I know that you are  sick of hearing this, that  you are not 10 years old, and that I am not your mommy.

Why am I lecturing you? First off, dehydration causes weird headaches, and you will wonder why you are feeling dizzy and cranky. Second, your pee will turn bright yellow as an indicator, and the next thing you know, you have a urine infection. Eww! That burning sensation is NOT, I repeat, NOT fun.

Therefore, guzzle more H2o than usual.  The heaters in airplanes and hotel rooms suck the moisture out of your body like a vacuum cleaner gone amuck.

Always keep fresh bottle with you, and ask if it is safe to drink the tap water every place you trod. Do your homework! Buy bottled water in legit stores, too.  I have been told some tricksters will sell local water and slap a fake label on the bottle. Be wary.


Mosquito repellent. Woman spraying insect repellents on skin outdoor in nature using spray bottle in forest.

2. Moisturize, especially at night.

Take advantage of that hotel lotion to slather your bod and cheeks. Ask housekeeping for boatloads of those infinitesimal bottles without abandon. Bring lip balm to rub on both lips and cuticles. That stuff really works! Traveling a lot does age you as you find yourself running on different time zones and on different schedules while eating exotic foods.


3. Bring healthy snacks, organic teas, and powdered drinks your tummy  is familiar with rather than chancing it in the wild.

Nuts and dried fruit are good energizers, but do not over consume. On the airplane, your pocketbook will not have to get gouged when you whip out your favorite teabag and ask for hot water. I like to bring water enhancers to flavor my bottles when plain water gets boring.


4. If you have allergies, make sure to inquire about the ingredients in foods before consuming.

If going to a foreign country, have an index card  written out in that language so wait staff will understand your condition.  You always bring your meds and over-the-counter meds with you, right? If prone to illness, ask your doctor for an antibiotic prior to your departure. Believe me, having your stuff on hand is better than wasting half a day looking for a pharmacy.  And that foreign pharmacy’s products may or may not work on you!


Young woman applying Suntan Lotion at the beach.

5. Sunscreen yourself several times daily especially in tropical and sunbelt regions such as Hawaii or the Caribbean.

Use SPF 30 or higher.  I learned this on the beaches of Fiji when I forgot my precious tube of SPF, and I thought I was invincible since I never get sunburned in California.  Oh, the folly of that thinking! Lying on my bed to recover  from a toasted  back for the next three days did not make for a romantic  honeymoon.  Oh the pain I could have saved myself if I were not so proud.


6. Protect your scalp and your eyes with a hat and sunglasses.

In Fiji,  the sun is so bright tourists  feel  their pupils are being tasered if they fail to wear protection. Also , skin cancer is a reality, and you must do all you can to guard against it. I try to keep brimmed hats and sunglasses on travel packing list every time I hit the road.


7. Track your weight. Succumb  to  the evil machine – the bathroom scale.

You can weigh yourself before you depart and determine  to maintain that weight or tell yourself you will not go over a certain poundage. Only you can be the judge of how you manage your food intake. Hey, I am not the Diet Police, but note that most  hotels have a gym, and you can find a scale somewhere.


8. Maintain  a food diary.

Apps such as Lose It! will enable you to record your calories, foods, exercise regimen, and weight if you desire. Buffets are deadly, I know. Choose wisely, Young Grasshopper!


9. Integrate movement as much as possible.

On active vacations where you hike and ski,  but do not overdo the eating and drinking just because you think you earned it. When you embark on  an  inactive vacation, force yourself to walk faster, or incorporate exercises in the privacy of your hotel room. The free Move app offers exercise routines to get that blood flowing.


10. Nourish and cleanse  your face and skin by maintaining your schedule.

Bring samples of the face products you use at home to keep your skin fresh and pristine. Do not cut your skin routine short on the road.


young beautiful woman sleeping in bed with eye mask

11. Sleep well.

Get quality sleep so you are not prone to illness. Once I stayed up in my cabin until 2 a.m. on a cruise ship, and I got so worn out I got a fever and chills the next day. It ruined my only sightseeing day in Italy.


12. Destress and relax! Determine that nothing will destroy your good mood.

Your mental state has much to do with your health and quality of life. When you are anxious, angry, worried, or fearful, your body will tebel.  Want fewer wrinkles? Smile more! So what if that waiter in Monaco was a jerk? Prepare yourself mentally with a positive state of mind and refuse to let mishaps or rude waiters upset you. Get over it, forgive quickly, and move on. Life and vacations are way too short to hold a grudge!


Kathy Chin Leong is an award-winning travel journalist who has trekked the world. As founder of www.bayareafamilytravel.com, she is passionate about helping people step out of their comfort zones and challenge themselves to try new things and visit new places. Her work can be found in National Geographic Books, Sunset Magazine, and many others.