The Hawaii islands seem to have different characters. Oahu is like the arrogant older brother who likes to show off, where Kauai is the quiet, spiritual guy in the corner. When you arrive you get a feeling you’ve landed somewhere ancient with stories to tell. I mean 70% of the island is inaccessible by foot, it really makes you wonder…
I arrived early morning & had arranged to meet up with a friend from Switzerland, Carlos. I found a hostel named ‘Honu’ea Hostel Kauai‘ in Kapaa which has homely feel, mainly because I think it is part of someones home, the owner was really welcoming. I will say though it helps to be a deep sleeper as the roosters are relentless at 4am. I met Carlos & we went to hire a car, which is a must in Kauai as the bus system sucks, the other option is to hitch hike everywhere, its completely normal in the whole of Hawaii, honestly try it. So we hired a beaten Toyota from Paradise Rentals Kapaa, with all kinds of issues, it was rugged, just like us. So we decided to take it the rental guy seemed cool & it was the cheapest he had. We drove to the north of the island checking for surf & to visit Kilauea Lighthouse & Secret Beach which were beautiful, theres was only 4 others on secret beach with us, it’s a big beach too, so either it really is a secret or we were blessed with timing.
The weather was pretty mean to us for a while so we planned a mini road trip round the south side to go & see the stunning Waimea Valley Canyon. Me & Carlos aren’t known for rushing anyway so we took our time, went full tourist & stopped at any spot which snatched our interest. From Poipu & Spouting Horn to Kauai Coffee Co. We both love coffee & stopping by the coffee plantation is must, it’s the largest coffee plantation in the United States. They have around 4 million plants so it’s no surprise they offer over 30 different tasting samples for free, just head in to try it’s totally worth it, even if you end up wired from the caffeine.
Our day then took a serious & literal U-turn. We were 15 minutes from the canyon when we got pulled over by not one but 3 police cars. I was planning on staying on the islands until my Visa had run out so for me the last thing I needed was trouble, also between you & me i wasn’t supposed to be driving, Carlos had rented the car, but i have a full license & my friend was bored with driving. Anyhow it turns the car we had been cruising around Kauai in for a couple of days was totally illegal, no insurance, no test, no rear lights! The police took down details of the rental place & although they were scaring us with arrest they told us to turn around right there & take the car back. It meant our day of exploring was over, man we were so close. So we took the car back at which point another guy swapped it for a much nicer minivan with room for surfboards & it even had insurance. But seriously a valuable lesson learnt, check for insurance or at least brake lights, they can be pretty useful.
After a heavy day of rain (good to know, Kauai…wettest spot on earth) we were ready to do more adventuring, the Napali coast was calling! We were over excited but we would always pick up hitchhiker’s, the first time we did we scored free Avocados, so be kind & it will come full circle. This particular time we stopped for this older man, he had long grey hair with a huge mustache, dusty clothes & ripped jeans. We continued driving & had great conversations with the hitchhiker about his connection to the ocean & earth, then he told a story about the ‘Menehune’s’ Hawaiian mythical legends who are dwarf like & live deep in the forests, right where we were headed. He became quite overwhelmed, seeming like he was tripping & began crying in the back seat chanting up to the sky. Shortly after we reached his destination. The old guy stepped out of the van, I helped him out to check that he was doing ok. I shook his worn hands & asked for his name…he replied “Truth”!
The Kalalau Trail is known for its stunning cliff drops beneath the trail, Jurassic coastline & secluded, uninhabited beaches I’m not kidding this place is pretty out there. Unfortunately we didn’t have permits for this monster 11 mile hike & there were none available whilst we were there. I don’t like planning ahead too much but I fully recommend grabbing a permit before you visit Kauai, through the state of hawaii website. If you find yourself in the same shoes as us, do what we did, take them off & hike a third of the trail through the mud, across the rivers, over the roots & rocks till you reach the mind-blowing Hanakapi’ai Valley waterfall. I love to get dirty & the waterfall made it so much sweeter.
After another night crashing on the couch we finally made it to Waimea Valley Canyon, best described as a mini Grand Canyon, it’s not so mini though. The road up to it is insanely beautiful winding up the mountains, although you should get some gas before heading up, we didn’t & had to coast almost the whole way down. Once you reach the top I urge you not to just visit the viewpoints, dig those hiking shoes out, the hikes aren’t so long or tough but the views are way better off the beaten path! To cool off after a sweaty hike there’s Kekeha black sand beach at the bottom. If you drive to the end of the south highway you’ll reach Polihale state park, a remote wild beach, the last accessible point on the west coast of Kauai.
So I made it a week with the crazy portuguese Carlos & on our last day we decided to go & hunt for the Uluwehi aka Secret Falls. To can get there by kayaking 15 minutes up the Wailua River, followed by a 30 minute hike along muddy terrain & across more rivers, it was heavily raining when we decided to go, meaning warnings were out for flash flooding, everything was fine but its something to be cautious of for sure. When you reach the falls it’s obviously secluded, its pretty shallow so best not to bomb straight into a dive, but you can swim no problem. Once you’ve hiked back to your beached kayak you can paddle further up-stream to a small cliff jumping spot, who doesn’t like jumping off high things into water? Go to Village Kauai on more info to reach the Secret Falls.
To finish my Kauai trip we took a trip to Tamba Surf Co. the most famous surf shop in Kauai established in 1999. We had spent all week searching for surf but amongst our adventures & the shitty weather we had only found one plastic wave to ride… I decided it was time to check out the Big Island & find some more surf. Carlos wanted more time in a Kauai so I left the comfort of his Hilton couch for the airport. I have to say that Kauai is a pretty unique island on the North side its dense rainforest with dramatic coastlines & the south side is drier with huge canyons. You have to go for hiking & adventure. Peace out Kauai you were an awesome host!
If your looking for a run down & pretty comprehensive list of what you could be doing in Hawaii go visit RV Lifestyles Blog:
The list is very diverse & whether your an intrepid explorer or just looking to cruise the islands there’s something here for you. Much Aloha!