This past March I was lucky enough to spend a week in Kauai with my best friend. We are both nurses and have flexible schedules that allow a Monday through Friday vacation to happen, unlike my husband who spends m-f in the office.
If you’ve never been to Hawaii, GO! I was certainly skeptical before my first trip, having traveled to Brazil multiple times as a young adult I thought I knew what a real “beach vacation” was. Hawaii however is spectacular in it’s own ways, not to mention the fact that it’s significantly easier and more affordable to travel to than most tropical locations. If you are traveling from the west coast you can typically find some great deals on airfare to the islands. For more details on how we managed to make our trip affordable see the Real Talk Section down below.
Some background on Kauai, it’s the most tropical of all the Hawaiian Islands and the northern most point is actually considered one of the rainiest points in the world. However don’t let that deter you, sun can be found easily by traveling south. With all the rain Kauai sees it’s incredibly lush and green, which made it the perfect setting for the filming of the original Jurrasic Park! In fact you can even take a helicopter tour to the Jurassic Park waterfall.
Nearly the entire eastern border of Kauai is unreachable by car. The eastern side is made of sheer cliffs and canyons, known as the Napali Coast. Just because you can’t drive along it doesn’t mean you can’t experience the breathtaking views. On our trip we explored both by foot and by land.
I have to say my number one Kauai recommendation is hiking along the Napali Coast. Not only are the views are incredible, but you are surrounded by lush tropical rainforest. I will mention that we only hiked about 4 miles in, although the trail continues on for many more miles for those who are eager enough to tackle more, and for those who are more prepared than we were! (oops for not bringing enough food / water – rookie mistake).
The Napali Coast Trailhead. The parking lot for the state park can fill up quickly, so getting there early is a good idea, although we were able to park in a dirt lot about 0.5 miles from the trailhead.
Much of the trail looks like this, it can be very muddy / slippery in spots. Old shoes are definitely recommended. We saw many people hiking in sandals, i would not recommend this, I’ll add those people looked fairly unhappy.
Some of the vivid botanicals seen along the hike!
Parts of this hike can be very steep & rocky. My partner in crime hiking down one of the steeper parts of the trail. When we researched the hike, there was little mention of the difficulty / trail conditions. Luckily for us we wore appropriate shoes & are generally in shape. But I definitely felt bad for those who were surprised by the tough conditions.
By the end of the hike our shoes were pretty much done for. Luckily there is a shower / faucet for you to rinse off. I’d strongly recommend a change of clothes and shoes though.
One of our days we spent on a guided boat tour, exploring the Napali Coast from the Southern end. It’s canyons and cliffs for miles. You can tell by the photos the day we went out wasn’t the sunniest. The water was actually quite rough and we weren’t able to explore the caves but it’s on my list for next time. We did manage to see packs of dolphins and whales so can’t complain!
Another Kauai highlight – the best snorkeling can be found easily off shore, no need for expensive boat tours. We found excellent snorkeling at Poipu Beach, located south. It’s a safe well populated beach location that does have on duty lifeguards as well for those who are nervous about ocean swimming.
Poipu Beach – where the snorkeling photos below took place!
Enough fish for ya?!
On our trip we rented an Airbnb near Lydgate Beach, which is located on the western side of the island about halfway between Poipu and Princeville. We were able to catch both a spectacular sunrise and sunset at Lydgate Beach.
Can you tell I was excited to be celebrating my belated birthday on the beach!?
The morning before our flight we forced our nightshift bodies to wake up early and catch the sunrise. A must if you’re in Hawaii.
My best friend makes for not only an excellent travel companion but she’s a great model 🙂
We made this trip economical by booking on off season and were able to find a good deal on our flights. We also found an airbnb that was minutes from Lydgate beach and only ran us about $50 / person / night! having an Airbnb makes meals significantly less expensive than staying at hotel or resort. We went to a nearby grocery store and bought simple things for breakfast as well as wine / beer. Food can be one of the most expensive additional costs to any vacation, so being able to store / prepare your own food can help save big bucks!
Hope you enjoyed this peak at our Hawaiian getaway 🙂