Can you believe that, in the entire 7+ years H. and I have been together, we’ve never taken a real vacation together? Sure, we’ve visited friends in their cities and gone for a few long weekends away, but not a week-off-of-work, time-to-relax-and-explore vacation. After spending a week in Kauai, I now know we were definitely missing out. Vacationing is the best, and vacationing in Kauai is the best kind of best.
We took awhile to decide where in Hawaii we wanted to honeymoon. We wanted someplace relaxing, and since we go to bed so early, nightlife wasn’t really essential. We wanted a place with gorgeous scenery and delicious food. When we found a beach-side private cottage on the North Shore of Kauai (Hawaii’s Garden Island), we knew it was a perfect fit.
The North Shore is beautiful, quiet, and super-secluded. To get to our cottage, we had to drive along a several-mile stretch of curvy highway that overlooks the ocean. It was terrifying, but also insanely gorgeous. And then we got to stay in this adorable cabin that was right on the beach!
That was the view from our yard. Oh, how I miss it.
In addition to its astounding beauty, here are some of my favorite things about Kauai:
1. People are nice.
No, really. I read in my guidebook that Kauai is one of the warmest, friendliest places you can visit, but I wasn’t prepared for how truly helpful and kind people were. Everyone was nice. The people at the car rental. The people walking around. The waiters and waitresses. Also, people almost always let you over when you want to merge in traffic, and it’s considered rude to honk your horn. Heaven.
2. It’s relaxed.
This is one of those Hawaiian stereotypes I didn’t necessarily expect to be true, but it was. Even in the nicest restaurant we went to, everyone was just wearing shorts and flip-flops. We didn’t go anywhere that the most casual dress wouldn’t seem appropriate. Also, oddly enough, nearly everything closed at around 8 pm. Nightlife was almost nonexistent, which was fine with me. We got to go to bed early and wake up super early the next day to hang out on the beach, which worked out pretty well for our serious jet lag.
There are chickens everywhere. On the sides of the road, outside restaurants, in yards, just chilling all over Kauai. As squirrels are to Ohio, so chickens are to Kauai. Here’s a chicken that was just raising its babies in a parking lot:
Also, lizards were all over the place, including inside our cottage. Here’s one that we found outside:
4. The residents truly care about their heritage and land.
There aren’t exactly a ton of radio options in Kauai (it’s a small island), so H. and I spent most of our driving time listening to the community radio station. One morning, right after H. asked, “Do you think people in Hawaii like being part of the United States?” a song called “Living in a Sovereign Land” came on, and it was all about how the United States took over Hawaii and destroyed its culture. So, yeah, it is weird to visit a place that has a pretty love/hate relationship with outsiders. On the one hand, tourism is the main industry! But on the other hand, tourists don’t necessarily have a reverence for the land that native Hawaiians do. Also, the US sort of forced out traditional Hawaiian culture and stopped Hawaiian language from being taught in schools (the US sort of has a track record for that, right?). In more recent years, there’s been a big resurgence in Hawaiian pride, but if listening to community radio and reading bumper stickers taught me anything, it’s that there are still some hard feelings. It was still cool, even as an outsider, to be somewhere where people seem to truly care about preserving their land and their heritage. Also, I should probably add that I learned this in my limited experience listening to community radio, which tends to represent a certain sort of person. So, maybe take what I just said with a grain of salt.
Okay, so I’ll have to do an entirely separate post about the food. For now, just believe me that it was great.
6. It’s BEAUTIFUL.
I know, I know. I already said that. But seriously, I’ve never been anywhere so spectacular. We were able to drive up to the Waimea Canyon State Park (nicknamed the Grand Canyon of Hawaii, for obvious reasons), take a (super short) hike up a small portion of the Napali Coast, check out a lighthouse, and take a riverboat ride to see the Fern Grotto.
Here are just some of the awesome things we saw:
I’ll be honest: I didn’t want to leave Kauai. I cried when we got back to Columbus (and I love Columbus!). I’ve rarely felt as good as I did when I was there, and I don’t think that’s just because we were on vacation. It’s sort of a magical place (I mean, Jurassic Park was filmed there!) and I already want to go back. If it wasn’t so terrifically far from our families, I’d probably be trying to convince H. to move there. Basically, Kauai is the best and everybody should visit!
Next week, I’ll have a whole post about the food, because holy moly. We ate a lot.