What to Know About Kauai Tour Guy
Aloha! My name is Doug and I am the Kauai Tour Guy. Kauai tours are my passion, and people are always curious about how I came to live on one of the most beautiful islands in the world. This is my story...
A Florist friend of mine was invited to do a floral exhibition for the Kauai County Fair back in 1993 and at the the last minute couldn't go and asked me if I would like to go in his stead. I jumped at the chance since I had been a bit envious when he first told me about his trip to Kauai. At that time I had just started my floral business in Long Beach, California and had little opportunity for travel. Doing the florals I learned a lot about working with tropical flowers but the locals who came to my demonstrations on floral design wanted to see roses and other mainland flowers! The faded pic is me at the fair. The "burn spot" is where I had this pic pinned in my shop so I would remind myself about why I wanted to move to Kauai. Hair highlights and all.
I came and fell in love with Kaua'i and the wonderful people I met here during my working vacation. Now, Kauai had just gone through the trials and tribulations of a category 4-5 Hurricane Iniki the year before on Sept.11th,1992. The citizens of Kauai had experienced a direct hit by this monster storm near Poipu that decimated the south shore and caused 3 billion dollars worth of damage. Areas of the island were without power for 3 months. To this day Iniki is remembered by locals who were here every Hurricane season (June through November). My recollection was that the trees on the mountain ridges looked like toothpicks silhouetted against the blue sky and popcorn clouds.
As my business became more successful I did have the opportunity to visit Europe and other parts of the world but it was Kauai's siren song that kept calling me back. If you are familiar with the song “Bali Hai”(Bali Hai, calling me, Bali Hai) from “South Pacific” then you know it is one of Rogers and Hammerstein's most beautiful songs from the movie. “South Pacific” was the first major film shot here in 1958. Bali Hai is Mount Makana but to this day it is known as Bali Hai that overlooks Tunnels and Ke'e Beach.
After several years, three visits and life's ups and downs I decided that I had to live here and visited with the open eyes of living on Kauai. New Friends on Kauai encouraged me to move here and so I did on April 23 of 2007, a day I consider a birthday of my new life on the Garden Isle.
My first job on Kauai was folding T-shirts at the Kilauea Lighthouse. I'd taken a couple months off after selling my successful flower shop in Santa Barbara(how I got to Santa Barbara via Santa Fe, NM and Washington DC and LA is another story) but I needed a job so I didn't lose too much track of time visiting glorious beaches on my new island home. Back to the lighthouse, when things were slow I would go see if there might be a Hawaiian Monk Seal hauled up in the bay down below the lighthouse. If there was a seal, I would come back into the gift shop and have people follow me out to see the seal where I would point it out to them. Then they would come in and want to buy one of our stuffed toy seals! I guess I was playing tour guide even then!
That lasted a while until I went to driving School Bus at Island School, our private school on Kauai and a very good one I might add. I drove for 4 years, picking my K-5 kids up in Hanalei at 6:30 am and bring them back at 3pm. I loved driving down the steep hill overlooking Hanalei Bay. In the winter months, the sun would just be rising as I reached the overlook of Hanalei Bay. If there was a full moon over Hanalei Bay that was a bonus and it was spectacular!
I moved on to trying driving for a tour company and the Kauai County Bus. I have to admit that having been my own boss for 25 years working for others was difficult for not only me but my bosses as well. I went on to work at the largest private plant nursery in Hawaii here on Kauai and then I got a job as a concierge. I hoped my concierge job was going to hit the points for me and would be my last job but corporate style management and I were very foreign but, the concierge job is where the idea for the Kauai Tour Guy was incubated. I became very familiar with how the internet and the smartphone were revolutionizing the tourism business, let alone the rest of society. I soon realized that people were pre- booking before they got here or could find activity information on their smartphones with the internet after arrival. Then I saw indications that perhaps a live person as concierge was going the way of the travel agent and bank teller. I saw that out of the tourists staying at the hotels I worked at I was booking a very small percentage of them and that the old model of concierge/activity booking was in steep decline.
It was after 2 years of being a concierge that I thought of going back into business for myself. I had considerable knowledge of Kauai from my bus driving days, I knew a lot about the flora and fauna from my Plant Nursery days and I liked to drive and I loved telling people about all the activities and beautiful places they were going to see during their visit. I knew people were not always excited about doing a big bus tour and I realized I could offer an alternative.
Being a concierge would be my last "job".
I could build a website, I already had a nice touring car, and Kauai Tour Guy would be ready to hit the road offering Kauai tours, private island tours and sightseeing day trips.
You can follow a tour guide book, but now you can join me on a private tour and you will experience Kauai as I have learned to love it.
Sit back, relax and look, and Leave the Driving to Me!