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Kauai Paradise

USA | Saturday, 20 March 2010 | Views [2693] | Comments [4]

I recently returned from an amazing trip to Kauai. I went there by myself, without actually knowing a soul. This is the second time that I’ve traveled alone and I highly recommend it! However if you are a woman traveling alone you must be extra alert. There are things I do differently when I travel alone. I always carry my cell phone with me. I do not go out alone after dark. I do not go anywhere with men I do not know and if you are lying alone on the beach you will most likely be approached by men and asked out. I always say no. If you want to chance it, do not go back to their home – only meet them in a public area. Do not meet them on a secluded beach after dark!

I also highly recommend asking your friends if they know people in the area you are going to travel solo. More likely than not, your friends will know someone personally. If they do not they will often know someone else who knows people in the area. Before I left I put out a call to all of my friends asking if they knew people in Kauai and I was given the name and email of a woman there. Through her I met dozens of other amazing women and was invited to hang out with them every night I was there. But for the traveler that has no contacts, the local youth hostels are great places to meet people. I met 2 women there and spent one day with them going to beaches, laughing and being silly. I feel like they will be friends for life. I thoroughly enjoyed their company and we got to explore the lighthouse and “secret beach” together and even stop by the side of the road to pick passion fruit.

I think there are at least 3 hostels on Kauai. One of them is not recommended. In order to find the one I stayed at I did a lot of online research. At first, the one that comes up is the International Youth Hostel but the reviews are scathing and I did end up talking to quite a few travelers who had gone there and they all had negative experiences. It is said that the owner is very difficult. He also makes his guests do housework, in addition to paying for their accommodations. He is creepy towards women. He is mean to everyone and refused to turn down his blaring music at a guest’s request. These are the experiences that were told to me first-hand. The reviews online are much more graphic but it is through them that I found the youth hostel that I stayed at (The Beach House) as someone recommended going there in their review.

The Beach House (http://www.kauaibeachhouse.net) has a lovely atmosphere. The owner’s son, Brian, is a sweetheart and made my stay enjoyable and pleasant. You cannot beat the location as it’s right on the water with a spectacular view. The kitchen is airily open and the cardinals (birds) that stop by to eat food out of the sink are adorable. I stayed in the women’s dorm room. The first mattress I chose was old and the springs stuck out a bit but the second bed/mattress I chose was fine and comfortable. The women’s dorm is comprised of 4 queen-sized bunk beds and couples are allowed to stay in them too. They have curtains around each bed for privacy. The staff at the Beach House are nicer than nice and helpful too! My only complaint would be cleanliness and I am a stickler when it comes to that. The upstairs women’s bathroom was not that clean, nor was it that dirty either – it was somewhere in between. The carpeting in the women’s dorm room was old and dirty and I would think that wood floors would be much more sanitary and easily maintained. However, that said, I had no allergies or negative health reactions.

Another alternative is to look on craigslist for people renting out their condos. I talked to one gentleman who rents a studio condo in Lihue for $35 per night, fully furnished – which is the same price I paid per night to stay at The Beach House. The advantage to staying at a hostel is that you do get to meet people, so if you’re a social person and traveling alone, the hostel might be a better bet. If you’re traveling with a friend or spouse, I’d recommend a condo.

My goal, in other words, the phrase I told my friends when they incredulously asked, “what are you going to do there?” was “lie on a beach and read my book”. And that is exactly what I did. I decided to go to a different beach each day. When I was on the Big Island this was not possible since they only have a couple of sandy beaches and the rest are black rock. I personally, prefer sandy beaches. Kauai has tons of sandy beaches putting me in absolute sandy beach heaven. The first day I walked to the beach near my hostel and watched kite surfers and swam. The kite surfers were amazing. There was one woman learning how to kite surf in her 60’s. It looked really hard but also really fun.

As the long/short days went on I managed to hit Secret Beach, Annini, Moloa’a, Polihale, Hanamaulu and others I can’t remember the names of in Kapa’a, Hanalei and Kilauea. I spent most of my time on the East and North side of the island driving between Hanalei and Lihue.

In order to save some money I didn’t eat at any restaurants. The hostel had a kitchen and I ate my usual fare which is peanut butter (sunflower seed butter actually) and jelly sandwiches, salads and fresh tropical fruit. For breakfast I grabbed cereal and hazelnut milk. I found the farmer’s markets and the health food stores (Papayas and Hoku Whole Foods). Eventually I discovered Poke, which was very reasonably priced and absolutely delicious!! In case you don’t know what Poke is – you can look it up here -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poke_(Hawaii) It can be found in supermarkets, health food stores and even at some gas stations. I tried it from the supermarkets and gas stations and it was always fresh and superb!

The farmer’s markets are a great place to grab organic local produce at reasonable prices. There is one every day at a different location. You can stock up for the week or go back every few days. It’s also fun to try local in season fruits that you’ve never tried before. I had one, the name eludes me now, that tastes exactly like maple syrup. I also discovered passion fruit and found that the kind that are sweet, as opposed to the tart ones, were my absolute favorite! And the fresh coconuts abound. You really can’t go wrong at the farmer’s markets. You can ask your hotel or hostel for a list or check online. (http://realkauai.com/FarmersMarkets)

If you are looking to rent a car I highly recommend looking in the phonebook for some more reasonable alternatives to the “big companies”. I spent quite a bit renting from Avis for 10 days. I think it was $300 or close to that. However some of the people at the youth hostel rented from a place called “Island Rentals” and got a clunker for less than half the price I was paying. Here are some numbers for less expensive car rentals: 808-822-3656; 808-246-6000; 808-632-0741. You can also try hotwire or priceline for both car rentals and hotels.

As the sun rose, the ocean glistened like a many faceted jewel. The light of the orange orb playing on the surf I noticed how everything looked different there. Like my friend Andrea recently told me about Brazil. The colors, she said, are brighter there. I told her that’s how Hawaii looked to me but she disagreed since she was recently in Hawaii as well. And though I cannot speak for Brazil because I haven’t been there yet I do know that for me, the daylight in Hawaii looked like magic hour back home. Magic hour is the first hour of sunrise and the last hour of sunset, when the light is “perfect”. So while the colors weren’t overly saturated as Andrea says they are in Brazil, they were “perfect”. The flowers were succulent and grew unabashed throughout the streets. In Kauai I felt like Charlie in Willy Wonka’s backyard.

The sunsets are incredible and the lush vegetation in the north east, near Kilauea is stunning. You cannot drive around the island as the Napali coast in the north is rich with foliage. If you are driving up from the east, you have to stop at Haena State Park and hike in. In order to hike all the way around, it is about 27 miles on the Kalalau Trail (http://www.kayakkauai.com/na_pali_by_backpack.html). Otherwise you can drive from one side of the island around to the other in a horseshoe shape. That will take you quite a bit of time (about 7 hours). On one of my day trips I drove from Kapa to Port Allen, went on the Napali Coast boat ride and then drove up to the beach at the very end of the road on the west side of the island – Polihale, which is Kauai’s longest white sands beach stretching 17 miles. Polihale is also very hot as there are no trees for shade here! You have to drive on a dirt road for about 5 miles. (http://www.kauai-hawaii.com/destinations.php?53)

I like to challenge my fears, not all of them and certainly not all of them at once but when I can, when the opportunity presents itself I am known to take the bull by the horns and ride, ride, ride. For some, unknown reason, surfing has always been one of my greatest fears. I have all the reasons in the world why. I am afraid of getting hit in the head with the board and either being knocked out or needing stitches. I am afraid of being tumbled and tossed and turned under the ocean and not being able to find my way up. I am afraid of sharks. I am afraid of being hit by another surfer. I am afraid of being carried out too far. I am afraid of hitting the rocks. And I could probably find more things to be afraid of but I’m running out of steam here.

So maybe that’s why, when my friend Tali walked toward me on the beach with her surfboard I said, “I want to try too.” She pointed down the way a bit and told me to go rent one from this guy she knew so I did. He told me to carry it on my head. This was another fear I had, carrying my own board. I was sure it was far too heavy for me to even lift it, let alone carry it!! I was wrong. They’re not heavy at all. In the end I carried it back under one arm J And so that’s how it started. I got out on the board and paddled all the way out to where the other surfers were. I found out later that was impressive because paddling is one of the hardest parts. I didn’t know. I just knew they were out there and I wanted to find Tali and she was out there too. So without thinking about it at all I paddled out. I watched some people and taught myself how to sit on the board, how to paddle properly, how to get out of other people’s way and even how to catch a wave without standing up. It was enough for me to want more. I stayed out until my fingers went numb.

A few days later I decided to take lessons for real and was referred to a great guy, named Cliff who is reasonably priced, patient and knowledgeable. Cliff took me to a beach with very very small waves. He taught me how to stand and there I was, standing every time. He gave me a lesson for about 2 hours and I felt confident and was having a lot of fun until I got tired and decided to spend the rest of the day lying on the beach reading my book. Oh, and I was the ONLY person on that beach all day long = absolute paradise.

Tali told me if there was one touristy thing to do it would be to take the Blue Dolphin Charter boat to the Napali Coast and so I did (http://www.kauaiboats.com). The boat trip was grand and I’m glad I got to see the Napali Coast. Scuba diving or snorkeling is part of the package but the place they took us was sub-par. There were only a couple of colorful fish and some dingy looking reefs. I am spoiled since I went snorkeling last year on the Big Island and it was literally like being in a technicolor aquarium! The staff on the boat were friendly and lunch was included. Also, for those who drink alcohol, that was included as well. I’m glad I did it but I probably would not do it again. On my next trip to Kauai (this November) I will drive up the coast to Ke’E beach and do some hiking into the Napali coast (http://www.gohawaii.com/kauai/plan/things_to_do_on_kauai/attractions/points_of_interest/napali_coast). However, seeing the entire coast from the ocean side was indeed a sight to behold.

I did not get to the famous Waimea Canyon though I hear that’s spectacular (http://www.hawaiiweb.com/kauai/html/sites/waimea_canyon.html). There was only so much I could do and this particular trip was all about R&R, which I happily achieved.

I love the feeling of Kauai, it’s so laid back and slow. All of Hawaii is slow, but Kauai is even slower than the Big Island. The population is small and there are not a lot of tourists here. Often times I was alone on a beach or with just a couple of other people. There’s not as much to do touristy wise but there is a lot to do outdoors including: hiking, swimming, surfing, kayaking and snorkeling. I am told that the best snorkeling is in Poipu (http://www.bestplaceshawaii.com/tips/10_best/snorkeling.html).

So whether you’re looking for adventure, outdoor delights or just plain old rest and relaxation – Kauai, in my opinion, is one of the most spectacular places to go.

Kauai Map: http://maps.google.com/maps?q=kauai+map&oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=Kauai,+Kalaheo,+HI+96741&gl=us&ei=2ryjS67fCYyENunm2MoI&sa=X&oi=geocode_result&ct=image&resnum=1&ved=0CA0Q8gEwAA

Tags: alone, hawaii, hostels, kauai, paradise, solo, sunset, tips, woman, women

Comments

1

Also try being a member of Zipcar which is global. It's not as cheap as a rental for extended times, but it's a way to have a car for a part of a day that's really hassle free.

  Suzanne Mar 22, 2010 6:03 AM

2

Great tip, thanks for posting Suzanne!

  Kimberly Anne Mar 25, 2010 5:34 PM

3

Hey kimberlyanne,

We really liked your story and have featured it this week on the WorldNomads Adventures homepage so that others can enjoy it too.

Happy Travels!
World Nomads

  World Nomads Mar 30, 2010 1:03 PM

4

Wonderful, thank you!!!

  kimberlyanne Mar 31, 2010 4:04 AM

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