It was just over 15 years ago that my wife and I first visited Hawaii. She had come on a business trip and her company paid my way as well. Being from the East Coast, Hawaii seemed very far away. We spent a week on Oahu, most of it in Waikiki due to her meetings. We did have time to explore a bit of Oahu, but, when we learned that there was an opportunity to take a day trip to Kauai, we jumped at the opportunity.
Our Kauai day trip was with Polynesian Adventure Tours. We were picked up early in the morning and flown over to Kauai on Aloha Airlines. At the airport we were met by a local guide whose name was Alicia. She explained that she would be our driver and guide for our full day exploring the island of Kauai. It was just almost three years earlier that Hurricane Iniki had struck Kauai on September 11, 2002. The damage done to the island can only be described as catastrophic, yet as Alicia drove us around the island, we saw so much progress in rebuilding and restoration. Still, we saw areas of the south shore near Poipu where many homes had disappeared in one day. We saw thousands of trees on the way to Waimea Canyon that had been sliced in half. The Coco Palms Resort was destroyed and stood sadly with no signs of any restoration.
It was on that day on Kauai with Alicia and Polynesian Adventure Tours that my wife and I fell in love with Hawaii. We saw that, despite such tragedy, the island remained a paradise. The people we met all day, especially Alicia, showed a sense of resolve and determination that we'll never forget. As we said goodbye to Alicia at the end of the day, she asked us to tell our friends and family that Kauai is alive and well. So it was then, and so it is today, over 15 years later.
My wife and I also spent several days on the Big Island of Hawaii on that trip. I remember how I returned home and was depressed for months since I knew that I would never get back to Hawaii. Little did I know then that fate would take me to where I am today, a travel writer who writes exclusively about Hawaii. Needless to say, the island of Kauai and our day with Polynesian Adventure Tours will always have a special place my heart.
As I was planning my September 2010 trip to Kauai, I learned that Polynesian Adventure Tours was now offering an Ali'i Movie Excursion and Scenic Hanalei tour on Kauai. I had not toured with Polynesian Adventure Tours since that first tour on Kauai, so I jumped at the chance to spend a day with them again.
As I waited for my pickup for the movie tour, I noticed a Polynesian Adventure Tours bus parked waiting for guests. Soon the driver appeared and I realized immediately that I knew her. I ran over and asked her name. When she said "Alicia," all of the memories I just related came back. I said, "You live in Hanapepe, right?" Alicia was shocked. I related the story I just shared with you. We had a pleasant, but much too short, chat. Soon, Alicia's guests arrived and off she drove to take another group on a full day tour of Kauai. Never did I ever expect to see this wonderful woman again.