A big hello to all reading this, and I hope you’re having a good week so far!
I am very excited to write my first ever travel blog post, and that too about the very enchanting Kauai. Our vacation was in lieu of a long due vacation for my husband and I. It was also very special to us, because our one-year wedding anniversary was a few days earlier on November 27. It felt like a celebration for us to vacation in a blissful, warm island outside this rainy city we call home.
Kauai is one of the eight major islands in Hawaii, and is known fondly as ‘The Garden Island’. It truly stands for what it is called, as it is lush with green beauty and the deep blue Pacific Ocean. And one more unique fact to Kauai is the number of roosters and hens that populate the island-they are everywhere!
We planned our vacation details mid-October, so that we had a few days to settle on our accommodation and activities. While looking for flight tickets, I did check the price ranges on Google Flights to figure out when was a good time to fly out. Comparing a few dates in December, we decided on the first week because the flight tickets were quite affordable and the weather was also good in Kauai then.
We also booked a car rental service online in October, because the best way to move around in the island is to drive by yourself to places. We partook the service of ‘Avis’ car rentals, who are located within the airport complex. You can choose from car model options, and we settled for an economy model because we didn’t have too much of luggage. We were taken by shuttle to the company’s store, filled out details and then we were handed our car keys for the next few days.
When it came to accommodation, we booked our 8-nights-9-days long vacation stay at ‘Aston Islander On The Beach’, which was about 15 minutes away from the airport. My husband arranged our vacation stay at the resort through AirBnB, where the prices for the resort rooms had more discounts.
We had also paid and booked two activities beforehand through hawaiidiscount.com, which were kayaking and a dinner cruise respectively. We decided to explore more activity options after we landed in Kauai, and there’s more on that as you read on.
AND SO, THE VACATION BEGAN!
TRAVEL- We departed from Seattle on December 2 and reached Lihue Airport in Kauai roughly 6 hours later, with an hour’s layover in between at the San Francisco Airport. We flew with United Airlines, and the flight experience overall was fairly pleasant. For travel within the island, we drove around in our rental car. We did not see any taxis anywhere, and almost all tourists were seen opting for rental cars.
OUR RESORT- Our stay at ‘Aston Islander On The Beach’ was very comfortable, since we could explore many places in opposite directions without much travel hassle. The resort was well maintained, and our room had a pool and ocean view from the balcony. There is a food and shopping complex called ‘Coconut Marketplace’ right outside our resort- we were sorted. Our lunch and coffee visits were super convenient after tiring trips outside, thanks to two awesome places right outside the resort called ‘IMUA Coffee Roasters’ and ‘Sleeping Giant Grill’.
MISCELLANEOUS SHOPPING- There was a Safeway about 0.6 miles from our resort, where we did go often to buy small miscellaneous food items and some medicine. We bought snacks to munch on the way, because it was not the easiest to get food in the afternoon post lunch. We also did buy medicine for sea-sickness (Dramamine), since I am very prone to motion sickness.
CLOTHES & ACCESSORIES TO CARRY- The weather was quite warm and in the 70 degree range when we visited. And so, we carried a lot of summer clothes to Kauai- think shorts, swimsuits, tank tops, and knee length dresses. Keep your SPF in hand at all times, a mosquito repellent cream, some light makeup and jewelry to enhance your beachy, natural aura in Kauai.
I carried a pair of sandals for general sightseeing, flip flops for the beach and my sports shoes for physical activities. My husband carried a pair of flip flops for casual days out, and his hiking shoes for rough and tough activities. In luggage terms, we carried two carry-on bags, one large tote and one backpack.
FOOD & RESTAURANTS- We are vegetarian, but had no dearth of options while eating out. We ate breakfast almost every day at the local restaurants, offering pancakes, waffles, omelets, toast and coffee as signature dishes. Lunch and dinner would vary day-to-day, but we did try a lot of restaurants and dishes in that one week span. Here are my restaurant recommendations in Kauai, other than the usual Subway and Starbucks-
- Sleeping Giant Grill
- IMUA Coffee Roasters
- Kountry Kitchen
- Ono Family Restaurant
- Shivalik Indian Cuisine
- Street Burger
- Monico’s Taquerio
- Bangkok Beach Grill & Bar
- Bobby V’s Italian Restaurant
- Pho Kauai
PLACES & ACTIVITIES IN KAUAI- Kauai is a small island with a size of 552 square miles, meaning we were literally and figuratively driving in circles. From our resort, we had travel on two opposing directions majorly. The places we explored were mostly a lot of beaches in Kauai, quite naturally.
But the interesting point to note was that while there was the sea on one side of the road, there were green carpets of grass and looming mountains on the other side.
There we were in between on the road, driving amidst the coastal scenery unfurling around us. The air was fresh and heady, the winds were pleasant, the weather was warm- we were soaking in nature’s beauty, like human sponges.
There are places to visit other than the plentiful beach parks, with the grounding element being ‘all out nature’s extravaganza’. Here are the places we visited and the activities we enjoyed doing in Kauai.
1) Queen’s Bath
We visited this tide pool on the island of Kauai a day after our arrival, and drove to Princeville to do so. Queen’s Bath is described as a sink hole surrounded by igneous rocks. The first thing to do is find a parking spot here, because it is not easy at all in the limited space allotted. We luckily got ours after circling around the neighborhood one time, and then we decided to do a short walk to the tide pool. But, not everything turned out as we expected.
Firstly, the whole walking path was marshy and swamped with wet, sinking mud due to the previous week’s rains. Secondly, my choice of attire for that day was clearly not appropriate for the activity (the activity that followed is another story altogether). After attempting twice to walk through the swamp, I gave up and my husband decided to hike instead to Queen’s Bath.
Once he was back, he told me that I made a good decision not hiking to the tide pool with him. It was dangerous and slippery due to the track conditions, and I would have been down and dirty in the most un-sexy way ever. But he did click some pictures down there, which you can see below.
We then proceeded to do the next activity, that is the hardest hike I’ve done till today.
2) Hanakapiai Falls
God do I want to smack my own head silly for taking a hike here, while WEARING A DRESS of all things. But you know what, I did this terrifying but awesome hike in that black calf-length jersey number and I live to tell the tale. My husband even told me many times that he was amazed by how I managed to do a tough hike in a dress. Gal Gadot, looks like you’ve got competition. *lol, who am I kidding*
All the blabbering aside, the shorter hike was 3.6 miles roundtrip atop a mountain’s curving paths. The full hike would be 8.2 miles, which I can’t even begin to comprehend doing, ever. As we climbed up the mountain and went into even swampier, dirtier and breath-catching territory, we chanced upon beautiful sea cliff views. The ocean was so blue, the wind was soothing and cool and the dense trees framed the whole area beautifully. There were even views of green hills rolling around us, all so picturesque.
The terrain was rocky, very muddy and very dirty; our shoes were almost destroyed at the end of it. I held onto rocks for support while crossing tiny waterfalls and marshy ponds, and questioned myself umpteen times for doing this hike to the beachy falls-that-were-promised at the end of it.
We did not make it to the beach at the very end, because there was a large waterfall running in between. And the only way I could have crossed it without flashing everyone was by being carried by my husband, Bahubali-style.
But on a serious note, there were some astounding views to contend with. And I will show you them below.
3) Maniniholo Dry Caves
This was a duck-in and duck-out stop on the way to Hanakapiai Falls, with very little to see. But it does look intriguing from the outside, with the come-hither grunginess. On the inside, there is nothing but a short walk on sand inside the dim caverns of the cave. There are some odd weeds growing here and there, but that’s all there is to it.
On the plus side, I did get a cool twin-me shot suggested by my husband!
4) Wailua River & Secret Falls
The next day, we went on a supremely cool kayaking and hiking expedition in Wailua River State Park. We first congregated with our fellow explorers and our guide, Thomas. He made good conversation with the both of us, talking to us about Kauai, politics and his journalist experiences.
This was my first time kayaking, and it was truly an amazing experience. We rowed the length and breadth of two miles to and two miles fro, with sunny skies and dancing trees around the river. After the kayaking, we did a short one mile hike to Secret Falls. This falls can only be reached by foot, and we hiked through the forest to get there. We had a simple but delicious lunch of a vegetable sandwich, pineapples and cake slices right by the gushing waterfall.
5) Spouting Horn
In the evening, we visited Spouting Horn in Poipu, made up of a formation of rocks blowing out a strong gush of ocean water every few seconds. We watched the sunset, and then headed back to our resort to retire for the day.
6) National Tropical Botanical Garden
The next day, we headed to National Tropical Botanical Garden in the south shore of Kauai for a relaxing day ahead. It was a 2.5 hour tour through the artistic architecture called Allerton Garden, created by John and Robert Allerton. This place is famous for having movies such as ‘Jurassic Park’ and ‘Pirates of the Carribean’ shot here.
But there was more to the garden than its famous movie leanings- its beautiful flora bursting within its expanses. There were breadfruit trees, elephant leaf trees, bamboo trees, Moreton bay fig trees, mother-in-law’s tongue plants (I swear I’m not making it up) and many more. There are open-aired rooms/garden spaces which were used for hosting parties by the Allertons, a hunter’s resting spot with a statue of goddess Diana, and bronze mermaid statues with a water path that can slow down your heart beat to 55 bpm in 10 minutes. We were also given a background of the interesting history behind NTBG and Allerton Garden, as well as about the flora. It was truly a calming experience, but the ticket costs are pricey for this relaxed stroll through the garden.
7) Opaeka’a Falls
Yet again, we made a quick visit to Opaeka’a Falls in the evening and saw the 151-foot waterfalls cascading from million-years-old volcanic eruptions. There is no network reception here, so do take any important calls before you are set to visit here.
8) Kilauea Lighthouse
December 6 dawned bright on us, and we drove to the much-clamored Kilauea Lighthouse in the morning. It is atop the edge of a cliff near the sea, and the views are gorgeous from here. We paid an entry fee of $5 each via cash (no card payment here) and walked around the lighthouse. We could hear the ocean singing and crashing on the jagged rocks, and the salty breeze playing with my hair. There is a tour of the lighthouse, but we didn’t opt for it. We just kicked back and let the sea take over us.
9) Waimea Canyon Lookout
To be fair, the lookout is only a small attraction next to the Waimea Canyon State Park. But my toes were hurting a lot during the trip, and I was unable to walk even up and down the stairs without wincing in pain. So we skipped the hike, and instead took a lot of photos of the red-hued curvy, majestic mountains stretching as far as the eye could see.
10) Ocean Raft & Snorkel-Napali Coast
We went for a 5-hour ocean rafting and snorkeling expedition at Napali Coast on December 7. Early in the morning, both of us and fellow explorers sat on the raft and set sail into the blazing blue ocean. The wind was cold and whipping my hair, but boy did I enjoy it! We were surrounded by stretches of blue ocean, riding the waves and looking at the faraway rocky formations that could not be reached by land or even ocean.
We stopped for snorkeling, but I do not know how to swim. So with the guidance of the lifeguard, I did get into the Pacific ocean and move around a little bit. I donned my snorkeling glasses and looked into the deep water below. I saw coral reefs and fishes in the calm, mysterious ocean depths. Unfortunately, we forgot to take our camera underwater to take pictures. 😦 But the memories, they swim in my head.
11) Kauai Hindu Monastery
In the heart of Kauai, the last place we expected to find was a Hindu temple. But our souls were truly happy after visiting the Kauai Hindu Monastery in Kapaa on December 8. This is a Saivite temple, dedicated to the worship of Lord Shiva and principles of Saivism. The guru at the temple whom we even saw sitting inside, is Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami.
At the entrance, there was a short history of the temple and some sarongs to tie for those wearing short clothes before entering the temple. There was a statue of Lord Ganesha, Lord Murugan sitting inside his banyan abode and a beautiful shrine for Lord Shiva and other deities. There was a pool to wash the feet before and after entering the temples, and beautiful flowers blooming everywhere. We felt like we were transported back home in India, so authentic was the temple.
12) Napali Coast Dinner Cruise
We boarded Capt Andy’s cruise boat in the afternoon, which set forth for a 4 hour Napali Coast sail. We whipped through the blue ocean, soaking up the warm sea breeze and clicking pictures. The dinner was served at around 5 PM, which comprised of a tasty salad, bread, a vegan patty, another vegetarian side dish and cheesecake. We didn’t eat much, because we were afraid we might throw up fast if we did that. But the food was tasty in itself, and we were even offered extras to take home if we wanted to. Since I took Dramamine before the cruise, I didn’t have motion sickness and it was a smooth sail. 🙂
13) A Few Short Visits
We did stop by a few more places for a few minutes, which the pictures would just about explain better.
14) Cycling Around Town
A day before our departure, we hired two cycles for the day at $10 per person. We drove around the resort, covering many beaches on the way. It was truly enjoyable, and I got a good bit of workout in there as well. Cycling is a common tourist activity in Kauai, I guess, because I saw many others of all age groups doing the same.
Before we knew it, we had cycled 11.5 miles in and around our resort! Here are a few memories we captured while cycling around Kauai’s shores.
TRAVEL TIPS IN KAUAI
These are travel tips I would suggest based on personal experience:
1. Carry some cash in hand, up to $100. This might save you time from going to an ATM and then back again to the tourist spot or cafe.
2. Carry sea sickness medicine from your hometown/city, or buy it later in Kauai. But don’t scrimp on this step, because it really comes in handy if you’re going snorkeling or cruise tours.
3. Restaurants close by 3 PM for lunch, and traveling around doesn’t always ensure you get lunch on time. So buy some snacks from a local supermarket in Kauai. There is a Walmart near Lihue Airport, and a Safeway close to Aston Islander resort. There are also local, small stores where you can pick up small nibbles on the go.
4. Wear sunscreen at all times, even in the evening. My face has tanned unevenly, with a darker forehead and nose bridge as a result of inadequate sun protection.
5. PLEASE carry a mosquito repellent cream. My arms and legs were covered with mosquito bites, that are still taking their time to completely fade away.
6. Hiking shoes, hiking shoes aaaand hiking shoes. Don’t wear tennis shoes or trainers while going on a hike, because you might end up injuring your toes like I did. The hiking trails are rougher in Kauai than in the city, and hiking shoes will do you complete justice.
I hope this post was enjoyable and informative to read, because I really enjoyed writing it for y’all. Have you visited or would you consider visiting Kauai or any other island in Hawaii? Do you have any awesome places to suggest for the next vacation? Do let me know in the comments section below. 🙂
Until next time, see you!