By Virginia Beck

Time runs either fast or slow, depending on how much joy you are feeling. Vacations are times of celebration, leaving school and work behind. Try relaxing, melting into your days. Leave your phones in the hotel safe.

Climate, lush valleys, flowers and the beaches of the coast delight your senses. Or perhaps the food, the fresh fish, fruits and vegetables of our multicultural chefs will satisfy you. Relax in spas, sunbathe by the beach, swim in pools or safe bays and coves. Hotel staff are very conscientious about caring for guests, and keep you safely guided.

Kaua‘i is unique because there are so many places on this island. Our unique position, mid-Pacific, has heavy rainfall on the northern shore and parts of the eastern coast. The south and west coasts are dryer, sheltered in the “rain shadow” of steep volcanic mountains. Each turn on the road brings something different. But avoid driving as much as possible. Get outside.

Tourists usually feel rejuvenated after a few days of relaxation, and explore everywhere. All good, except everywhere is not safe. Follow the posted signs and play safely.

Signs are helping you to avoid a 200-foot hidden drop to a neck-breaking rockfall below. Our soil is lava rock slowly decomposing; porous, crumbly and unstable. Slippery as clay when rain soaks it into mud, and treacherous in slippers. Our state and county officials limit public trails to safer areas. We don’t want you ruining your holiday with injury.

Many a tourist believes they are on a path, which could be only a goat trail to an impossible ridge.

The North Shore during winter is dangerous along its steep cliffs, with major ocean swells accelerating into huge waves smashing into the Na Pali Coast with enough force to send the spray 30-40 feet high. You need to pay close attention to our beach warnings. They are specifically designed for you. Local folks have too much respect for the ocean to tempt fate.

Don’t kid yourselves. Our native-born surfers are skilled beyond imagining. It is off limits to those who do not understand the power of our waves and dangerous reefs. Safe surfing is available, and lessons are offered through reliable concierge services. Half the waiters on island are surfers during the day, and even they have had close calls.

Each year, we face tragedy when tourists drown because they thought the rules did not apply to them. Or because online they read it was the craziest thing you could do. It is crazy. Visitors who learn “secret” ways to trespass often write books about these dangerous sites. Visitors who follow these guides, can often wind up in danger, disaster or dead. Please don’t risk it.

We have no control over nature. Here we stand back in amazement, stunned with the force, the power and the beauty of the raging oceans. Respect the ocean, and never turn your back to it.

Our lifeguards are strong, courageous and wise beyond their years. Respect their advice when they say, “don’t go out.” Stick to safer beaches, those with lifeguards, and swimming pools.

There is so much beautiful, activity and endless pleasure to be had in the simplest things, such as lunch or a picnic on the beach. Visiting our heritage and cultural sites. Go to the farmers markets and craft fairs. Visit our art nights; Fridays in Hanapepe, and First Saturdays in old Kapa’a town, offering arts, crafts, foods, clothing and music with lots of street vendors.

Wander the towns of Waimea for a walking tour, the swinging bridge in Hanapepe, Waimea Canyon, Wai‘ale‘ale’s beautiful crater and waterfalls, helicopter rides, Lu‘aus at your hotel or Smith’s Paradise in Wailua. The Kaua‘i Museum, or the Koke‘e Natural History Museum.

Please take care of yourself and Live Aloha.

  • Virginia Beck, NP and Certified Trager® Practitioner, offers Wellness Consultation, Trager Psychophysical Integration and teaches Malama Birth Training classes. She can be reached at 635-5618.