The island of Kaua’i is spectacular – beautiful views, cultural fusion, diverse activities, delicious food and engaging locals. As with any trip, though, it is helpful to set your expectations before arrival. First, make peace with the fact that it will likely rain every day. This is what keeps the island so lush and green. The rain passes very quickly so you can usually just take cover for a few minutes and then resume to your activities with little inconvenience. Depending on which month you visit, it can also be very hot and humid. For example, July through September are sunny months, but you can also expect 90°F temperatures along with 90% humidity even if the rainfall is low, simply because this is an island. It is not uncommon for your clothes to actually feel wet when you put them on due to the humidity. Keeping hydrated is important.
Another point to note before travel is that because this is a small island and the Na Pali coast is not accessible by car, all of the island traffic follows the same general route through Lihue and dead-ends on either side of the island. You will want to plan activities regionally – for example, see the South side of the island on a different day from when you plan to see the North side. Road traffic on this island is awful during rush hour. While it does not take long to drive the entire highway under normal conditions, an accident or rush hour (morning or evening), can easily add hours to your drive in bumper-to-bumper lines of cars. This is not pleasant and there are few options once you are stuck in a traffic jam. Be sure you always have enough fuel in your car if you are driving yourself.
Visiting Kaua’i can be a costly experience or reasonable, depending on your choice of accommodations and food. A budget traveler can still enjoy this island with a little planning. Flights to Kaua’i generally come through Honolulu. It is common for luggage to miss the connection, though. Not to worry – your bags will generally arrive later in the evening or the next day. To be safe, pack your critical items in your carry-on (e.g., toiletries and swimsuit) so you can still go have fun.
There is much to see and do on this island depending on your interest. Activity options range from snorkeling at “The End of The Road” (Ke’e Beach) to zip lining in Princeville, taking surfing lessons, kayaking the river, viewing the waterfalls, hiking Waimea Canyon, touring plantations (coffee, guava, sugar cane), guided or self-guided tours through the beautiful Tropical Botanical Gardens, seeing the Na Pali coast cliffs by helicopter or experiencing a traditional luau. The fruit (especially the pineapple and papaya) on Kaua’i is some of the most delicious I have ever had. Don’t forget to try the local macadamia nuts too!
Below is possibly the worst underwater photo ever taken but it holds a special place in my heart. This is the fish (and the photo) that inspired me to become a certified diver and learn underwater photography. I was so taken by the colors of this little fish when I was snorkeling at Ke’e Beach but it certainly did not translate in the photo I captured. This may “date” me, but this photo was taken with a disposable underwater camera where I needed to have the film developed in order to obtain printed pictures. At the time, the printer offered a free CD-ROM disc with developing in case I might want a computer copy of my photos (novel concept, right??). Back then, this was considered progressive. I guess I had to start somewhere!