Nobody wants to be a clueless traveler.
I hate arriving at a new location without a clue of where to go, eat, drink, see or do. When I told people I was visiting Kauai late last month, a number of people recommended I check out the “Hawaii Revealed” guidebook series by Wizard Publications.
I can see why. The books are incredibly detailed with lots of great recommendations (even reviews for places the anonymous writers don’t care for). Even locals treat this as a bible of sorts. One person I met in Kauai said he spent the last four years trying to complete every activity mentioned in “The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook: Kauai Revealed,” and he’s still not done.
But the book also has a corresponding iOS app — and that, I would say, is the ultimate guide to Kauai. It has all the comprehensive reviews of the paperback but also includes a host of other great features that take advantage of mobile technology, namely its detailed high-resolution location-aware travel map that works even when you’ve been abandoned by cell service. The authors of the book drove these roads, hiked these trails and explored every venue mentioned, adding in accurate road and trail markers, beach access paths and shaded relief evaluation contours. (Thanks for the hard work. It has not gone unnoticed.) If you think Google Maps will suffice, think again. You’ll spend 20 minutes circling an adjacent area in your rental car before asking for directions and realizing there was some easily missed turn you passed. That’s what happened the one time I didn’t bring my iPhone along. Having the copy from the book further helps navigation, with detailed descriptions of the surroundings.
The app centers around this map and includes a lot of functionality helpful for the on-the-go traveler. When reading about a particular beach, activity or shop, a “Map It” button will show a red dot for the destination and a blue one for your location (when the two converge, you’ve arrived). Tap a particular area of the map to see what’s nearby, and the app populates a list of shops, restaurants and activities. You can also bookmark your favorites for quick access, but the search functionality works very well too.
What’s especially great about the Revealed guidebooks is the authors are continually updating the content with new gems, taking into account reader feedback. The app helps continue this conversation by making it easy to send notes to the authors and app developers. Emails don’t end up in a black hole. These are real people who will read your messages. The only drawback I can point to with this app is superficial; the user interface looks a bit like a dated website, but that’s a minute detail. The app is otherwise beautifully executed.
So far, there are only apps for Kauai, Maui and the Big Island. Another one accompaying the Oahu book will debut later this year, I’ve been told. These mobile apps are also a steal at $5.99 a piece, since it includes all the content of the books (retailing for $18.95) with added functionality. The paperbacks are also great buys, but you won’t be losing much by going the app-only route.