Adventures in Kauai
From Camping to Hotels, Hostels, and Resorts
David and I went to Kauai, Hawaii in October 2018 to celebrate our 3rd anniversary! This trip entailed a lot of moving around, hiking, eating, and sweating. Have fun reading about our trip and I hope it inspires some ideas for your own future travel plans!
We arrived October 4th, late at night and even then, the humidity was ever present. We picked up our rental car and drove to our cute hotel, The ISO. We couldn't see much because it was dark, but the hospitality was fabulous. In the morning, we woke up to roosters crowing at the crack of dawn! 🐓 In case you didn't know, Kauai is famous for its roosters; they're as common as crows in Idaho! We took some time to explore the area and found a nice courtyard where people could relax, do yoga, or just swim in the pool. We had just enough time to stop by Coconut's Fish Cafe before heading off on a helicopter tour around the island!
We used Safari Helicopters for the tour and it was super fun! It was our first time in a copter and my stomach could definitely tell, ha. Luckily, I didn't get sick, but there were for sure moments where I just looked straight ahead and reminded myself to breathe! The guide was extremely knowledgeable about the island's history and made sure to keep it entertaining. When he wasn't telling us about the nature or history, there was various Hawaiian themed music, like Lilo and Stitch playing in our headsets. We were able to see some beautiful views of the Napali Coast, beaches, and waterfalls! It was a great way to start our trip.
After exploring the rest of the day, we headed Kōkeʻe State Park where we camped for one night (there was lots of moving around)! Before we went to set up camp, we ate at the Kōkeʻe Lodge and had Loco Moco, which consists of rice, hamburger, fried egg, and gravy. It was so good. Once we stuffed ourselves, we purchased a dollar bag of chicken feed and went to feed the roosters. It was a blast and I saw so many different stages of development! When we finished feeding the birds, we started to set up camp. Funny story, David packed the air mattress and pump and when we went to blow up the mattress, we realized we had a car pump, not a hand pump! It wouldn't have been an issue except our tent was in the middle of a field, so we pumped it up at the car, carried it over our heads to the tent, and shoved it in.
Anyways, the park was extremely beautiful and felt remote, like we were a part of nature. There were roosters running around and a light fog rolling in. All of the state parks we stayed in were fairly well kept, although the bathrooms never seemed to have any soap (so if you're planning on visiting, I'd bring some). When we woke up, the sun was just rising. It felt almost like we were in a horror movie with these random roosters walking around silhouetted in the fog. We ate some apples and pastries that we picked up at the store and made our way to the first hike of the day!
Our first hike of the day came very early, but we managed to beat the crowd! We did the Pihae Trail along the Napali Coast. The trail was primarily made up of red mud, similar to the picture above. There would be parts of the hike where footsteps formed stairs in the dried mud, which made for a very unique and fun hike! The views were spectacular as as we walked through the valley, then descending into a marsh and hiking over swampy ground. I was very thankful to have hiked this one in the early morning so that the temperature was still relatively cool! If you're ever in Kauai, you should totally try this trail. It wasn't too difficult (that I can remember) and the sights were well worth it! 🙌
Later that same day (because David likes being active), we went into the Waimea Canyon on a trail to Waipo'o Falls! I think this turned out to be my favorite hike, because the views of the canyon walls were gorgeous. 😍 There was red rock, covered in green that created such a beautiful picture! The 2 mile hike in took you directly to the waterfall, where there was a small pool that you could swim in. The water was a bit cold for me, so I sat out, but naturally David went straight in! My feet were a little sore for this one, but I'm so glad we ended up going!
After our first two nights, we traveled South to stay at Salt Pond Beach. The first thing we noticed and you can tell by the picture above, is that there were a ton of people! Unlike the previous spot, this one had people all over. It was fun to watch them and see them swimming, but it also made sleeping a little harder. There was always rustling from people, roosters looking for food, and bright lights keeping everything lit up. Of course this was good for safety, so I just threw a shirt over my face to keep it dark. One thing that we didn't think of was the temperature change from the mountains to the beach. In the mountains, it was nice and cool at night, but on the beach, it was muggy and warm! Oh to be back in the park!
We snorkeled at a boat launch area called Koloa Landing where we went looking for sea turtles. 🐢 Although the water in that particular area was pretty cloudy, we did manage to find a couple of them swimming about! The rest of the afternoon we explored Poipu Beach as we waited for our next check-in!
The humidity in Hawaii was unlike anything we had ever experienced before. During our adventure around Poipu Beach, we had to sit in the car with the air conditioning to stop sweating for even a minute! After our stay at the Salt Pond Beach, we needed some relief from the outdoors. Luckily, the next spot on our adventure was the Grand Hyatt Resort that David managed to score on points. We scheduled the resort to overlap with our anniversary so that we'd have the most relaxing part of the trip to celebrate!
When we arrived at the resort, we were greeted with leis and found cookies and champagne in our room (for our anniversary)! The cookies were delicious, but we enjoyed the view even more. The first thing we did was shower, since we didn't have access to any at the parks. We loved lounging in the salt water pool, jumping from hot tub to hot tub, and taking many, many, many trips down the lazy river! While this lazy river required you to exit to get back to the start, it was by far the coolest one we had been to. It was designed to look like it was natural rock and had caves and other cool aspects! You could even take drinks in if you wanted. We were on the first floor, so all of this was essentially in our room's backyard. It was wonderful!
Since the resort was more of a luxury than any of our other locations, we didn't leave once we got there. We ate at a variety of restaurants and relaxed the whole time! For our anniversary, we booked a reservation at Tidepools, which is a restaurant that sits on a koi-filled lagoon at the base of a waterfall. We were seated by an open wall so we could look down and see all the koi begging for food. The service was great and the food was scrumptious! They even surprised us with a delicious chocolate lava cake for our anniversary which, as a dessert lover, was perfect. The atmosphere was incredible; all meals should be eaten on a koi pond, really!
We had to say goodbye to the fancy resort and move on to the next destination, Kumu Camp Beach Retreat, a campground on the east side. It had a lot of potential to be awesome, but we had a rough first night. The ground where we chose to place our tent was a bit hard and tilted, so we didn't end up sleeping well. Luckily, the next morning, we decided to go on another hike, Okolehao Trail (rated hard...), sure that it would make up for the rough sleep. It did not. It had rained a bit during the night, so the mud trail we went on was wet. It was comical how difficult it was not to slip! If you want to do this trail, you should look at crampons or something. After what seemed like forever, we ended up at a vista with a nice view, only to find out we had only made it a quarter mile! We decided that was probably enough and headed back down, which was almost as hard as going up because everything was so slick. We eventually made it back safely although David fell in the mud and I received around 25 mosquito bites. 😂 Needless to say, I wouldn't recommend going on hikes after it rains!
I believe it was later that day, we headed back to the campground. It was located right next to a beach, so David thought he'd attempt to surf. He rented a surf board and I a bodyboard and off we went. The area we were at had signs that recommended "Swim at Your Own Risk," but there were tons of people in the water and lifeguards around, so we went anyways. I rode a super fun wave and tumbled. I was fine, but my nose needed a rest after taking in so much water! I watched David work on his surfing.
Clearly we weren't experienced though because he was doing alright until the waves slapped him into some rocks! After helping him out of the water, we noticed a dime size chunk of his foot was gouged out. It was pretty gross, but the lifeguards were able to take a look at it. While he was being tended to, I had to run back to our campground to grab the car. Once I picked him up, we got him loaded into the car, packed up our campsite, and found a hostel to stay in instead so that David would have an easier time getting around.
We ended up going to a CVS like 5 different times to get various medical supplies to deal with David's foot and my mosquito bites; it became a running joke by the end of the trip! 😅 We stayed at Honu'ea International Hostel Kauai, which was really nice and cute! We were able to get a private room and as a bonus, there was a cute white cat on the property. We arrived, unpacked, and cleaned up just in time to head off to a luau at the Smith's Family Garden! It was an awesome experience where we saw traditional Hawaiian dancing, learned about their history, and ate SO much delicious food. That was probably our favorite part of the trip, besides the amazing views, was all of the wonderful island food!
Our last few adventures on the island came with a canoe rental from Wailua River Kayaking. We traveled up and down the Wailua River, where we took in the sights and appreciated the nature. David hates feeling like he missed out on something, so he was pretty bummed when we couldn't go on a waterfall hike or go cliff jumping because of his injured foot. However, the canoeing was awesome and it was important to make sure his foot healed properly! We spent the last day relaxing and soaking up all of Hawaii. We went to Kapaa Beach Park, chilled in a hammock for a bit, and road bikes along the the beach.
This trip was a roller coaster, that's for sure! There were super high highs and a couple low lows, but the trip as a whole was one we will always remember. Kauai is absolutely stunning and the roosters were one of my favorite parts! The community was friendly and helpful and we definitely started to understand what island time was. If you're looking for your next travel destination (once it is ethically safe to travel again), you should totally check out Kauai and see if it would be something you'd like! ❤️ It's warm, beautiful, and full of awesome hikes and food. You'll be sure to make lifelong memories here!
If you have any travel spots you love, make sure to send them my way! We're always looking for more places to explore. 😊
Your traveling photographer,