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Sunny Travels: Hawaii’s Kauai Relaxes the Senses

by kelly / March, 1 2017 01:30

Sunny day at Hanalei Bay in Kauai, Hawaii

I feel fortunate, this year we were able to get our extended family together for another annual trip. We went to Kauai over President’s Week and it did not disappoint. It left me in awe and happy.

Stepping Into Island Life

This year we came with a whole big family in tow – there were nine of us including two toddlers. Let’s just say we made a big impact everywhere we went.

We flew into Lihue airport. I love Hawaiian airports – upon arrival you immediately feel like you’ve stepped into island life. They feel airy, bright and relaxing.

Garden Isle

Kauai is the oldest, I had no idea, and northernmost island of the Hawaiian island chain. It’s known as the Garden Isle because 97% of its land is composed of undeveloped mountain ranges and rainforests. Most of the center of the island is impossible to access by car and extremely hard even on foot.

As a result Kauai is one of the least populated Hawaiian Islands with a little over 65,000 residents most of whom live in small coastal communities. I found them to be some of the nicest people I ever met.

At only 25 miles long and 33 miles wide but has 43 miles of beaches, Kauai has the most beaches per coastal mile of any of the island chain. It was fun dipping my toes into the few I got to see.

Relaxation to the Max

Enough education let’s get to relaxing! That’s basically what I did everyday – after eating a large buffet breakfast. I found myself eating a lot of fruit from the buffet. Something I wish I was better about at home.

Lagoon at Lydgate Beach in Kauai, Hawaii

Much of my time was spent at the pool or on the beach (with lots of sunscreen of course). I found myself practicing my swimming in the pool – I’m still a little afraid of the water – and wishing I was brave enough to jump in the waves.

One of my sister-in-laws and her boyfriend went snorkeling and saw a sea turtle (jealous!). The other actually took a surfing lesson which looked really cool too.

Our hotel was located in Hanalei Bay, the largest bay on the north shore of Kauai. Hanalei Bay has really awesome rolling waves so it’s great for beginner surfers.

However, Kauai actually has a lot of microclimates. The north, where Hanalei Bay is, can get up to 80 inches of rainfall a year vs. 20 inches in the south. We didn’t experience much rain even though it was the rainy season but we did get some overcast days. If you want to guarantee sun the whole time stay on the island’s south or west side.

To do just that, one day we headed to Lydgate Beach. It’s about 40 minutes from Hanalei – even though it’s less than 20 miles - and features a manmade lagoon right off the beach, a perfect protected spot for little kids to play in the ocean. My niece and nephew loved it!

Bird’s Eye View

One of the highlights of our trip was taking a helicopter ride to see the entire island. I’ve never been in a helicopter before and was really excited about it. A little scared but really excited too!

Remember I said much of the island isn’t accessible by car? You need to hike, fly or boat to see it all. The drive-able road is a horseshoe shape – it doesn’t go around the whole island.

So to see things like the beautiful Napali Coast – one of the most spectacular coastlines I’ve ever seen - you’ll need to copter there, endure a 10 rating hike (which is intense) or take a boat (but apparently the ocean doesn’t always cooperate).

Napali Coast in Kauai, Hawaii from a helicopter ride

I also got a full view of Waimea Canyon - aka as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific - and the waterfall from Jurassic Park (and many other waterfalls).

Now I know that’s not easy to do especially if you’re afraid of heights but it’s well worth it. I loved it even though I threw up at the end of our ride!

Lava flow from Wailua Shave Ice

Tasty Shave Ice

Kauai is home to many shave ice shops, who knew? I think it’s a must in Kauai. When I first heard of shave ice I thought of a slushy or an Italian ice but neither are quite right. Shave ice is different because it’s made by literally shaving a block of ice.

Our hotel recommended Wailua Shave Ice – an awesome food truck in a town called Kapaa. I got the Lava Flow which had fresh pineapples, strawberries and coconut foam. There was also a Nutella based shave ice that I would love to try one day. Our hotel recommended this place because they top the ice with fresh fruit, juices and more. Apparently a lot of them use syrups instead.

Chickens Galore

One last interesting thing - Kauai is home to thousands of wild chickens. You’ll see them everywhere – on the roadside, at the beach, by the pool, everywhere. They may even wake you up in the morning. Here’s one passing by our hotel lawn.

Kauai chicken on a hotel lawn

Sunny Travels

The few times I’ve been lucky enough to go to Hawaii it’s felt like a fantastic treat. A treat that I’d love to have again – fingers crossed!

If you get the chance to visit let your worries go, say hi to some turtles and try the Nutella shave ice for me.

Find even more advice on travel to Hawaii and other sunny destinations in our Sunny Travel or Discovering Block Island series.

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