Kauai is the Garden Isle. Kauai used to be the island that locals living on surrounding islands would go to for vacation. It's way too expensive now and instead locals go to Las Vegas - which is known as the 9th island. Sad.
Whether you are moving to Hawaii or just visiting, there's a Hawaiian legend - that Pele, the volcano fire goddess, will either take you in or spit you out. You will know if you are meant to be here or not soon after you arrive.
I can attest that this is true! And that it varies by island.
When I moved to Maui 12 years ago, I thought that I would only be here for 6 months!
In all the time that I've lived here I hadn't been over to Kauai yet.
My one and only visit to Kauai was for only a few days over 20 years ago on a family vacation. This year we travelled back to Kauai because my dad decided this is where he wanted to spend his 70th birthday.
It was a DISASTER.
Everything that could possibly go wrong did - starting with our flights.
I was coming over from Maui and my parents were coming from the mainland and we were both flying Hawaiian Airlines. Hawaiian Airlines had a server meltdown on the day we departed.
When my cab pulled up to the airport my driver said, "I hope you're not checking any bags!" I was. I looked and saw that there was a line wrapped around the outside of the airport. Great!
None of Hawaiian's self check-in kiosks were you can print your own bag tags were working.
It was disorganized pandemonium inside. One poor elderly employee was failing miserably at directing traffic. You'd think the airline would have an emergency plan in place in case of system failure. Nope.
I didn't think I'd make it to my gate in time because the line to check-in was so long. But what I didn't know at the time because they were not communicating was that all Hawaiian interisland flights were grounded.
Fortunately, I have TSA Precheck so I skipped the second long security line. Not only did I make it to my gate on time but I sat on the floor for 4 hours waiting for their server to come back online. Mind you this was for a half an hour flight!!
The terminal was completely stuffed full of people not able to move anywhere, during an ongoing pandemic. There was not enough space for us all. It was a nightmare that had only just begun.
My parents had a connecting flight in Honolulu. Their wait to get on the plane to Kauai was even longer than mine and they had already been traveling since before dawn from the mainland.
When they finally arrived in Kauai their luggage wasn't there and wouldn't show up for another two days. We had to go back to the airport to fetch them even though Hawaiian Airlines originally said that they would deliver them to us the next day. LIES.
When we got to our hotel, our room door wouldn't open. We went back and forth to the front desk getting different sets of keys 3 times and none of them worked.
We had to wait for security to come and let us in - and his golf cart wasn't working. Our patience had long since expired.
By the time I left my house in Maui to the time I stepped foot inside my hotel in Kauai - it had been 10 hours. I could have gone back to New Zealand or Australia in that amount of time. Kauai is practically next door!
The condo was infested with ants, the washing machine didn't have a knob to turn on, the refrigerator was red from rust and there was construction going on right next door constant table saws and hammers.
A good memory we all had from 20 years ago was a boat trip to the Na Pali coast where we saw probably a dozen rainbows.
This time the trip left quite a different impression. Oy.
We went with Captain Andy's on their Na Pali snorkel BBQ sail. I'm not affiliated with them and after reading this I doubt they want to be affiliated with me!
Many factors determine whether a boat trip is going to go well. The Captain, crew, fellow passengers, the food, the service, the snorkeling, the ocean conditions & the weather.
Everyone has off days. Ocean conditions vary greatly day to day. Plus everything was already going wrong on this trip to Kauai. Add this outing to the list.
I have been on many many snorkel trips in the last decade. This trip was not the worst trip I've ever had but it's on the bottom half of the list.
I have no idea on Earth why we were taken to this particular snorkeling location. We were in rough open water way above any coral reef and fish. I started swimming towards land you know to try and see some fish and one of the crew members told me to turn around. I think this was my one and only interaction with the crew on a 5.5 hour trip.
I am an avid snorkeler and underwater photographer. I am used to being right above coral and getting close up shots of sea life with my GoPro. GoPro doesn't zoom so you have to be close. I didn't take one picture.
This location was not suitable for snorkeling. It was a waste of energy swimming in those conditions to not even see anything. It absoletely sucked and I heard other passengers say as much once back on board.
We continued on towards the Na Pali coast and encountered a pod of Hawaiian Spinner dolphins. This was the highlight of the trip.
There was a passenger who had the most primo spot for viewing who was not even taking any pictures. He hogged the space the whole time.
Shortly after this lovely interaction things started to take a turn. The ocean got rougher and by the time we got to the magical cliffs of the Na Pali coast I could barely open my eyes because I was trying not to throw up. And yes I had taken Dramamine before the trip, as always. I could not get up from my seat to take pictures because it was taking everything I had to hold my stomach together. All the while another passenger was hurling over the side. It was a very unpleasant experience.
The Na Pali coast stretches 15 long long miles.
The Captain said we would sail a portion of the way back. I'm glad we didn't. It was brutal.
Hanalei on the North Shore of Kauai is one of the most picturesque locations in all of Hawaii. Hanalei Bay is so beautiful. It's like Heaven on Earth with it's waterfalls cascading down in the background.
Even though it's pier is one of Hawaii's most photographed locations - pictures do not do this place any justice. It has to be seen in person to get fully experience the sensation of awe.
This is a real place!
Tahiti Nui is a restaurant used as one of the film locations in The Descendants. We went there for my dad's birthday. While eating, three young shirtless guys came in trying to get a table. The hostess told them they'd have to get shirts on to be seated as it was the restaurant's policy. She apologized and said she even had to make Jason Momoa put a shirt on.
Waimea Canyon is known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. Being from the Grand Canyon State I can say that it's an accurate description.
Because our condo was a disaster we eventually got moved to a spectacular beach front unit - and then it rained for the next 2 days - and the TV didn't work.
Nevertheless, I got a rare glimpse at a Hawaiian Monk Seal which was a treat.
Poipu Beach is supposed to be the best place to snorkel. Seriously? Unsurprisingly, I had a terrible time here. I just entered the water with all my gear when the life guards got on the loud speaker and said to move to the left because of the current. I did not see one damn thing and was scared to death of getting scraped up by coral over there it was too shallow.
Kauai is beautiful. Yes.
But this trip was a disaster.
They can't all be winners.
I hope you have better luck than I did.