Kauai! Kauai is Hawaii’s oldest island. The island is not very big… roughly 30 miles long and across so you can drive around most of it in less than 2 hours. So far I’ve only been to the island of Oahu and now Kauai.
In comparison the feel of it is very much countryside mountains, small towns, and gorgeous beaches versus Oahu’s big city feel. The highways are generally only 1 lane each way. I took a lot of photos while traveling in the car… the scenery is beautiful no matter where you go.
Stores and eateries generally close very early. Shopping and nightlife isn’t prominent, but if you’re looking for a romantic, outdoorsy paradise with phenomenal beaches then this is it!
The flight wasn’t too bad… One stopover in Oahu and then you have to take a second flight (only 45 minutes long) to Lihue, Kauai. I don’t think there are any direct flights from the mainland, but please correct me if I’m wrong.
After doing some research on car rentals on Flyertalk, I scored an awesome deal at Hertz. 9 days for roughly $40/day after taxes and fees! And we were upgraded to a Mustang convertible! I suggest if you go to Kauai, though, try to get a 4WD vehicle. A lot of beaches are only accessible using 4WD. Oh well! I had never been in a convertible before and Justin was very excited to drive it!
Oh and if you’re curious… here are the approximate gas prices when I visited:
Justin and I stayed on the east side of the island in Kapa’a (KAH-PAH-AH). In this town there’s an interesting mountain called the Sleeping Giant.
Can you see him? Head, neck, torso, legs?
When I visited Oahu, I was surprised by the amount of Japanese tourists. In Kauai I saw mostly locals, young families, and retirees from the mainland.
We stayed at a private vacation rental at the Islander at the Beach (which I found through vacation rental ratings on Tripadvisor for ~$90/night after taxes and fees). I highly recommend this resort as it was central to everything. Close to the airport and equidistant from the prime north and south beaches.
The resort had a pool, bar and jacuzzi (which we used quite frequently)
View from the lanai with a bit of ocean peeking out:
Our room was a small furnished studio complete with kitchenette. No maid service here, since it was a vacation rental. I found it to be a plus though. It helped us keep things tidier in the end and we felt our belongings were very secure.
The couch converted to a bed as well. You can easily fit in 4 people and split the $90/night costs quite nicely.
To save money we managed a lot of eating in with our little electric burner, cooking tools and rice cooker. (Yes! Rice cooker! I was so happy!) Most days we went to the beach, and by the time we got home a lot of eateries were closed or too far to drive (street lights on the road are sparse).
Before I go on with this post, I want to mention this travel book. This is the first trip I’ve done with a travel book and I’m hooked! I highly recommend this series. No ads, honest opinions, and no BS. There are also travel books for all of the other islands as well. We bought this one for $12.99 at their local Costco. But you can buy it via Amazon prior to your trip as well.
Another random fact about Kauai: There are chickens EVERYWHERE. In the parking lot at Walmart, in the mountains, on the road, EVERYWHERE. They crow at all hours, not just the morning. This is another reason why Kauai is a true “country” island. Lots of plantations, cattle ranches, and green lush land.
Shopping really only consists of smaller boutiques or shops. The only really big places to go are Walmart for basics and a small outdoor mall with a Macy’s.
Our first beach stop was Moloa’a Beach. This beach, like a lot of the beaches, is close to privately owned homes. So you have to park on the road instead of a designated lot.
I noticed a lot of these homes are off the ground with parking underneath, probably to get a better ocean views. Almost like living in a treehouse!
Rough waters at Moloa’a Beach:
An interesting seashell from the beach! Did you know its illegal to take shells from Hawaii? I had no idea until this trip. Honestly there weren’t a lot of shells to be found. But a lot of the touristy shops sell shells, mostly from other places like the Philippines though. Nothing local.
I wish I could buy a beachfront home. I wonder how much these houses cost.
Next up is our favorite beach in Kauai: Secret Beach. Secret Beach is a little difficult to get to; you have to park on a dirt road walk a short hike down a hill. Supposedly nude sunbathers come here but we didn’t see any.
The trail to this beach is right next to a new, beautiful house. Seriously this is my dream house!
Graffiti on the construction site:
Good things happen to good people!
The start of the trail:
This is such a secluded beach!
No one was around for miles! I think because of the hike down not too many people visit. Especially families.
After the beach we decided to check out the grocery stores and stock up. We bought a few groceries to cook with at Safeway and Foodland. Grocery prices are high in Kauai, unfortunately. One local we befriended said one time a gallon of milk was ~$9!!! Kauai has a lot of cows but non are dairy cows.
Many varieties of poke at the deli:
Local sodas (unfortunately I didn’t like the pink one… tastes like cough medicine to me)
Our favorite snack from Foodland: Butter mochi!!
Coffee for the mornings in our little coffee machine: Kona vanilla mac nut!
Ok this isn’t food, but do you remember this from the Charlie’s Angels movie? 😉 That’s what it reminded me of. This helps you stick to your surf or boogie board.
Some loco moco in Princeville… unfortunately I’ve had better.
A hotdog with bacon (Justin’s choice):
Lappert’s Ice cream! Supposedly this has originated from famous locally made ice cream to hit-or-miss flavors. We still loved it.
We chose Kauai Pie!
Black Pot beach: There used to be a huge black pot here for residence but now its gone. A really nice place for boogie boarding or to watch the sunset.
The water is SO shallow so its easy to go far out. We saw a lot of surf classes here.
Boogie boarding on our cheap board from the ABC store:
One nice thing we bought from Walmart that helped with shade: a little cabana! We split the $40 cost and took it home with us! Easy to assemble and great for taking naps and preventing too much sun exposure. Little bags can be filled up with sand on the sides so it won’t blow away.
More Kauai posts coming soon!
Read Part 2 here.