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Make Kauai your perfect Valentine's Day escape

Make Valentine's Day and everyday memorable with a vacation on Hawaii's Garden Isle, Kauai
Make Valentine's Day and everyday memorable with a vacation on Hawaii's Garden Isle, Kauai
copyright, Lee Daley

Kauai: "The Garden Isle"

Sunset at Beach House Restaurant, Poipu, Kawai
copyright, Lee Daley

More than 500 million years ago, Mother Nature swept over the Pacific Ocean and in a burst of hormonal ecstasy. created the first of the Hawaiian Islands, that green pearl of paradise called Kauai. Caressed by warm tropical breezes, Kauai’s idyllic beaches and its ageless, majestic canyons and cliffs seem tailor-made for lovers. The island is small enough to explore over a long weekend while still leaving space for coveted cuddle time. Locals cherish the beauty and serenity of Kauai; that feeling of calm and kindness permeates the island, setting the stage for romance.

Where to Stay. Say good bye to your winter blues on Poipu’s sunny South Shore. Wherever you stay here, you are merely a stroll from the area’s mile-long stretch of glittering sand beaches. Grand resorts, boutique hotels and more modestly priced bed and breakfast type accommodations are plentiful. Island cuisine is fresh and flavorful with farm-to-fork menus, fresh baked goodies and a plethora of eateries that run the gamut from roadside shacks to five-star white-tablecloth dining.

Beaches: Some of my favorites:

Poipu Beach: Named America’s best beach by the Travel Channel, Poipu Beach is actually a series of golden-sand crescents fronted by Poipu Beach Park. Tide pools to the east have been created by lava formations where tiny fish and hermit crabs abide. Protected by off-shore reefs and centrally located, it is an ideal spot to swim, surf, snorkel, sun bathe.

Shipwreck Beach: Carry a camera to capture snapshots of surfers climbing waves at this local favorite. While pounding surf makes swimming a challenge, the trail head for Mahaulepu Trail starts here. If you are adventurous, this is a great hike with an opportunity to photograph and explore otherwise inaccessible coastline views.

Baby Beach: Small, secluded and calm, this protected cove lends itself to tide-pooling and snorkeling. A rocky reef absorbs the energy of breaking surf before reaching the calm, crystal clear waters near the shoreline. Keep an eye out for monk seals and sea turtles. Romantics are welcome.

Where to Dine: Beach House Restaurant: Celebrate your Valentine by watching the sun set from your beach-front table at the Beach House Restaurant overlooking spectacular Lawai Beach. This south shore favorite matches its romantic setting with generous Hawaiian hospitality and exquisite Pacific Rim cuisine. Be there before sunset where you will sit out on the open patio or at a cozy table and feel as though you are on the beach. The dining room is beautifully set with open full length windows affording unparalleled sunset views and warm ocean breezes. This time of year you might bear witness to the mating migration of singing humpback whales who often pass by within sight of diners.

Chef Bio: A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park, New York, Executive Chef Marshall Blanchard brings to his stewardship of the Beach House’s kitchen a commitment to high quality food and locally sourced ingredients. His credentials include a teaching stint as well as host of a monthly television cooking show and a collaboration with Bon Appetit and Food & Wine Magazines. Before moving his family to Kauai, Marshall spent 11 years as Executive Chef at Restaurant D’Oro and The Golden Eagle in the Vail/Beaver Creek area.

Marshall sources fish directly from Island fisherman. On the menu, local fruits and vegetables emphasize the bounty of neighboring farms as does its beef and coffee. The open-air bar and patio is another favorite way to sample a signature Mai Tai or light fare.

Often the sunset watching at Beach House is so attention-grabbing that it seems as though everyone is holding their breath. Silence prevails as the blue of the sky and sea slowly warms to flame and clouds frame their edges in gold. Call it a “being in the moment” experience.

Beach House Restaurant, 5022 Lawai Rd., Koloa, tel: 808-742-1424. Dinner reservations recommended.

www.the-beach-house.com.

Kauai embraces the senses like no other island. This year, Valentine’s Day comes over a long weekend and gives us an extra travel day or two.

Be sure and visit the official Kauai Travelers site at www.gohawaii.com/Kauai for information on planning your trip.

From the USA’s West Coast and many other departure gates, Hawaiian Airlines specializes in flights to all the Hawaiian Islands. www.hawaiianairlines.com

Read more than 100 of Lee's travel articles here.