Kaua’i: the Garden Isle

Waimea Canyon

For my most recent bout of wanderlust, my friends and I wanted to go somewhere tropical, and flights from Los Angeles to Hawaii at certain times of the year can be dirt cheap – especially compared to flying from the east coast. The four of us decided to split lodging and car rental costs to make our trip more affordable!

Although we wanted to see all of the classic touristy spots on Oahu such as Waikiki and Pearl Harbor, we also wanted to experience old, traditional, natural Hawaii. So, we added another island to our trip – Kaua’i, the Garden Isle. We decided on five days there and five days in Oahu, and we were so glad we added Kaua’i – everything was so quiet and peaceful, and life moved a little slower on Hawaii’s oldest island.


We stayed at the Castle Kaua’i Kailani in Kapaa, a quiet town near the airport. We were lucky enough to get an ocean front condo, which split four ways was very reasonable! The condo had one bedroom plus a little closed off area just off the living room with a fluffy pullout, so both couples slept comfortably at a lower price than a two bedroom. Plus, it was so nice having a full kitchen stocked with pans and utensils so we could cook a few meals at home. Above is the view of the sunrise we got to see just steps away from our doors every morning.

polihale-road polihale-road

The first day in Kaua’i, we ventured over to the Polihale beach, which we had read is the longest stretch of beach in Hawaii. It turned out to be much more remote than we had planned. Getting to the beach requires driving down a very long, bumpy red dirt road, which was the opposite of a pleasure cruise in our tiny Chevy Spark rental. The beach turned out to be beautiful despite the cloudy day, and we already had our snorkel gear in hand thanks to Snorkel Bob’s. The beach was also almost completely empty – another thing I loved about Kaua’i. We never felt like we were competing for space. I am now obsessed with Hawaiian sand – it’s so much more beautiful than the dirty, litter filled sand of the popular Los Angeles beaches.


One of our days was dedicated to making it up to Waimea Canyon, often described as “the Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” While not quite as mind boggling, Waimea Canyon was much more lush and beautiful than the Grand Canyon in Arizona. When the fog lifted, we saw every color of the rainbow, and marveled at the gorgeous waterfalls in the distance.




We made sure we made it over to Kaua’i Coffee to taste their samples, do a tour, and pick up some authentic Kaua’i grown coffee to enjoy at the condo.


My two favorite days on Kaua’i were exploring the famous Nāpali Coast. It’s inaccessible except by water and by hiking along the 11 mile Nāpali Coast Trail. One of our biggest splurges of the otherwise inexpensive trip was a raft tour along the coast. Although I get very seasick, the tour was amazing and provided stunning views of the cliffs and sea caves. Not wanting to risk losing my camera overboard, we brought out the GoPro. In my next post about Kaua’i, I’ll add stills and video from the raft tour. I’ll also talk about the crazy 8 mile adventure we had getting up to the Hanakāpīʻai Falls on the Nāpali Coast Trail. We also hopped over to Oahu, so stay tuned for that post!


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