Feature Stories

Surfing led Jay Furfaro to life & wife on Kauai

Jay Furfaro surfing for Kauai StoriesMany of us on Kauai know Jay Furfaro as a County Councilman or as a retired hotel general manager of 40 years. What most of us don’t know is that Jay was once a champion surfer whose passion for the sport led him to discover the perfect occupation to support his recreation, meet the love of his life and create a home for himself on the island of Kauai.

Furfaro grew up on Oahu, where his Illinois-born father settled after falling in love with a West Kauai girl who was working at Tripler Army Medical Center. Here’s an excerpt of Jay’s story from my forthcoming book, “Kauai Stories II.”

“I got into surfing when I was about 8. I acquired an old balsa board on Kauai, and it just took off from there. As I got a little older, I’d come over from Oahu with my high school friends to camp and surf at Black Pot Beach on Hanalei Bay. That was when a one-way flight between the islands cost only $6 on a turbo prop plane.


Mahalo Costco for the book-signing!

Wilfred Ibara at Costco for Kauai StoriesIt was wonderful to see so many friends at the Costco Kauai Stories book-signing Saturday!

Ever-thoughtful Wilfred Ibara, whose charming and humorous stories of growing up Kauai-style and working for sugar plantations are included in the book, brought me a lovely pakalana lei that matched perfectly with my outfit. He got to sign autographs, too!


Kauai music prof Greg Shepherd shares Zen journey in “A Straight Road with 99 Curves"

Greg Shepherd for Kauai StoriesFor Kauai Community College Associate Professor of Music Greg Shepherd, the process of writing his new book “A Straight Road with 99 Curves,” about his road to, away from then back to Zen, was itself something like Zen’s unsolvable riddles called koans, designed to help one become enlightened.

“ ‘A Straight Road with 99 Curves’ is a good title for my story because the road I’ve been on has been straight. The 99 curves were of my own making,” says Shepherd, who has lived on Kauai since 1988 and is head of KCC’s music department. “I was going around and around in circles for a long time. Zen brought me back to itself. The road for me all along was Zen.”

Zen, the Japanese form of the Sanskrit word for meditation, is an eastern philosophy whose purpose is to gain an insight into one’s essential nature. While not a religion per se, it is practiced by people of many faiths, including large numbers of Catholic priests and nuns.

Hula talk story & performance wows audience

Leinaala Pavao Jardin's halau for Kauai Stories
Mahalo Leina'ala Pavao Jardin for your heartfelt talk story about hula at the Kauai Museum today, and for your students who danced so beautifully. With a kumu (instructor) like you, it's no wonder your halau is tops! You shared your passion for hula in a way that touched everyone's hearts and helped us all understand more deeply the history of this beautiful traditional Hawaiian dance. 



Thank you also to Elvrine Chow for the lovely haku lei that Leina'ala and I are each wearing.


We are blessed on Kauai with so many talented people who are willing to share their culture. 

"Kauai Stories" finalist in National Indie Book Awards

Kauai Stories kauai book finalist indie excellence awards

I'm thrilled to report that Kauai Stories is a finalist in the National Indie Excellence Book Awards in the Biography – Historical category.

How wonderful that the people of our island are now known across the country for being as interesting, courageous, inspirational and all-around special we always knew they were! Mahalo everyone for sharing your Kauai stories for this book. 

Kauai Stories Kauai book group photo mahalo party


Following his joy brings jazz pianist to Kauai

Lao Tizer for Kauai Stories Kauai bookJazz pianist Lao Tizer’s life is an example of how things fall into place while you’re doing something you love.

Ever since he was a 14-year-old performing on a keyboard for shoppers strolling through a Boulder, Colorado pedestrian mall, he has connected with people through his music. It was through one of those connections that he discovered one of his favorite places on this planet: the island of Kauai.

Former Colorado and current Kauai resident Ron Horoshko and his wife, Mona, used to listen to Tizer play on Pearl Street, a four block street mall lined with shops, restaurants and street performers, when Tizer was 15 or 16 years old.

“Five years later, I’d moved to Los Angeles,” Tizer says. “Ron calls me up out of the blue and says, ‘We’d love to bring you over to Kauai to do a fundraiser for Kauai children’s theater.’ Who’s not going to jump at the chance to come to Hawaii for a gig?”

But Tizer’s first visit to Kauai was more than a gig. It was an emotional opening.

Keeping Hula Alive

Kumu Leinaala Pavao Jardin for Kauai StoriesKauai kumu hula (hula instructor) Leinaala Pavao Jardin began dancing hula when she was three years old, continuing through high school and college, after which she began teaching. Here is an excerpt of her journey from a little girl dancing hula to becoming an instructor from“Kauai Stories.”

Note: Hula, the iconic dance of the Hawaiian islands, was almost lost entirely in the 1820s when missionaries, who came to Hawaii to share their values, pushed heavily for the cultural dance to be prohibited. Hula was banned until the 1870s when laws against “public hula” were gradually lifted.

"Hula is my passion. When I dance, I feel humbled but filled with pride. We are fortunate to be able to dance hula because it was lost for so long.

Enjoy Kauai’s Beaches Safely

Kauai Water Safety Video - Kauai StoriesIn six minutes you can learn how to enjoy Kauai’s beautiful beaches safely, thanks to a brand new water safety video that plays on a continuous loop in both of Lihue Airport’s baggage claim areas and on YouTube at Kauai Water Safety Video.

“Since 1990, 200 people have drowned in our oceans; 150 of them have been visitors,” says Dr. Monty Downs, an emergency room physician who knows only too well how heartbreaking it is to let families know that one of their loved ones has drowned while on vacation. “Our beaches are beautiful. We want everyone to know how to enjoy them safely.” 

Bringing Kauai to Carmel-by-the-Sea, California

Kauai Stories Carmel California Pilgrim's WayWe had a lovely time in California earlier this month, including a Kauai Stories book-signing at the charming Pilgrim's Way bookstore in beautiful Carmel-by-the-Sea. When we arrived at the store we were greeted by a young couple in their 70s, Kathleen and John, whom we had met the day before while riding bicycles from Monterey to 17-Mile Drive (they had been walking along the beach), and their friend, Mary, who founded Papaya's Natural Foods on Kauai - our first and only large scale natural foods store for many years. Kauai connections are everywhere! Mahalo for joining us and to all who took Hawaii home with them by buying a copy of Kauai Stories. We look forward to seeing you next time.

Thank you Kauai's WWII veterans: Turk Tokita, Jiro Yukimura & Kazuma Monty Nishiie!

An especially warm thank you to Kauai's World War II veterans Turk Tokita, 92, Jiro Yukimura, 92, and Kazuma Monty Nishiie, 97, for sharing your stories with a very respectful and adoring crowd of about 60 people this morning at the Kauai Museum. You continue to inspire all of us and I am honored to know you.

Jiro, left; Turk, right, chat with audience members after their talk and autograph copies of Kauai Stories in which their stories are included.


From left, Kazuma, Jiro, Pam (me) and Turk

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