As a young adult I had heard many times that Hawaii (and surrounding islands) was an expensive place to vacation. If you are there on vacation it’s either because you are rich or retired (and rich at the same time). Well in my mind I thought, if you’ve see one beach, clearly you have probably seen them all.
I was DEAD WRONG. Trust me.
So when my hubby’s aunt moved there for work for one year it entered our minds that Kauai could be our spring break destination. Yes we were both in school and lived for spring break.
Well the winter came howling to Minnesota (have you been here? cause it gets real cold) and we did not need much more convincing to buy tickets for a week of paradise in March. When it came time for our trip we packed up the sunscreen, flip-flops and shorts and headed to the airport with our four month old munchkin. Here are my takeaways from our amazing experience.
- Get off the beaten path We were fortunate that my hubby’s aunt was renting a four bedroom house. Her house was located in Waimea, a small town on the western side of the island. Keep in mind that this island is small to begin with, I think about 60 miles to get from one end to the other. Anyway, this town was awesome because we got to watch kids get off the school bus, speak to their neighbor who lived there here entire life and it wasn’t overcrowded. When I travel I love to experience real life culture in the places I visit.
2. I hope you like chickens We landed late at night so didn’t get our bearings till we woke up in the morning. Our mornings started early as our son was not adjusted to the four hour time difference. We went out to the backyard and I was so amazed to see a chicken lurking about, and proud that my aunt had gotten one for herself. Later that day we saw them on our drive through towns. It wasn’t till somewhat later in our trip that we learned that the island has WILD CHICKENS! They were everywhere, ok fine they didn’t have their towels out next to us sunbathing but almost everywhere else you will see them.
3. Hike the Na Pali Coast We are not avid hikers, in fact we hike on flat ground, ground that remains flat, except for a few bigger clumps of dirt in our fields. I was hesitant on going on this hike because I did not know if I would make it. Also, my son loves to eat and he is healthy and hearty. So we decided that my hubby would carry him in the front-pack for the hike. We made it about two miles in (I think it is 11 miles to the end) and it WAS SO WORTH IT. The views, the sound, the smell, the height and sheer audacity of it will shock you and entice you to keep going. We were lucky enough to make it there on a clear day, so watch the weather or get up there bright and early, before the rain.
4. Save extra change jar for Jo-Jos So I like ice cream, but I’m not a major ice cream fan. About the second day we were there we were introduced to shave ice by Jo-Jos. Shave ice is flavored ice (with Jo-Jos homemade syrups) on-top of vanilla ice cream with Macadamia nuts. There is NOTHING more sweet and savory and just plain delicious than devouring shave ice sitting on the beach and then thinking about going for seconds. My favorite combo was Pineapple and Mango.
5. Visit Hanapepe for Art Night Friday Night Every friday night the cute town of Hanapepe has like a fair/festival. They open some of their galleries shops in town and have food. We had amazing Pad Tai and it was amazing to see all the artists work. Make sure to arrive early so that you can get a decent parking spot!
6. Go Ziplining When I was younger I went bungee jumping and absolutely LOVED it. Now that I’m a mom I haven’t done these kinds of things. But, when a group of girls that were there the same time we were decided to go I hopped aboard. We went in Poipu at the Skyline Eco-Adventures and had a BLAST. I would definitely recommend them.
7. Take a bath in a laundry tub Ok, I’m kidding. Well sort of. We bathed my son in the laundry tub outside in the carport because they didn’t have a bath inside and it was bigger than the kitchen sink. He LOVED it and it was amazing to think that we could be giving him a bath, outside in the middle of march.
8. Eat Breakfast at the Grinds Cafe We usually don’t eat out for breakfast, because my hubby is an AMAZING breakfast maker. But, we did want to bring my aunt out and she suggested we got to Grinds. Let me tell you, there french toast is out of this world. Thick and warm and tasty and delicious. After finishing it with orange juice, I sat there in my french toast coma and wondered if somebody could magically transport me for a nap on the beach. It is a decent price for a really good bite to eat.
9. Find a secluded beach One day when my aunt was working we took her car and drove a little west from Waimea. We found a beach with very few people on it and spent most of the day there. It was extremely relaxing and our little munchkin took a long nap and got to dip his toes in the water.
10. Drive up Waimea Canyon I think the drive is around 19 miles, but it switchback curves with a low speed limit so it will take you a little while to get to the top. There are many amazing places to stop along the way to take photos and see the canyon. When we got to the top it was raining so we could not see the whole canyon, the advice we heard was to go early in the morning before the clouds roll in. We didn’t make it in the morning, but it was still amazing once we got the top and the drive is totally worth it.
11. Rent a boogie board Boogie board is so much fun because it doesn’t take skill (like surfing). You just have to watch the waves and ride them in on your belly. How fun is that? You get to be a kid again. My hubby did more than I did as I sat on the beach mostly with our son. I did go out a few times and it sure was fun.
12. Plan to come again This is more like a fair warning. If you plan to make a trip to Kauai, make sure to PLAN TO RETURN. You will fall in love with the beauty, exoticness, local culture, food and atmosphere in Kauai. There is just no place like it, and trust me these beaches are definitely worth seeing.
Kauai definitely stole our hearts and we are hoping to get back there rather soon. Have you been to Kauai? Tell me about your experience.