Back in May, I visited the Hawaiian island of Kauai for the first time. Being so overwhelmed by it’s beauty, I couldn’t resist visiting Kauai again this month. Result: a summary of my experiences and advice for your future trip to the Garden Island below!
Which Hawaiian island should I visit?
This blog post will cover Kauai, one of the 6 Hawaiian islands. If you’re not sure which Hawaiian island(s) to visit, check this infographic.
Pic: New SWISS B777-300 Business Class from Zurich to Los Angeles
Flying from Europe to Hawaii is quite a trip with 8500 miles to be covered and a 12 hour time difference. Economy class tickets can easily set you back €1000 or more if you don’t hunt for a bargain. If you were lucky, you noticed my tweet or facebook update a few weeks ago when tickets were selling as low as €405 for a round trip from Brussels to Honolulu (HNL, Oahu) Lihue (LIH, Kauai) Kahului (OGG, Maui) or Kona (KOA, Big Island). Missed that amazing deal? No worries, here are some tips to score a good deal:
- Read my flight booking advice.
- Can’t find cheap flights to your Hawaiian destination? Look for tickets to Los Angeles (LAX), San Francisco (SFO) or Honolulu (HNL). If you find a good deal to LAX or SFO, you can use miles for the connecting flight to your Hawaiian destination. If you find a good deal to HNL, you can book cheap a domestic ticket between the Hawaiian islands.
- British Airways charges just 12500 Avios + €5 each way to book LAX or SFO to your Hawaiian island on American Airlines.
- Lufthansa Miles & More charges 20000 miles + €12 each way to book LAX or SFO to your Hawaiian island on United. Need more Miles & More miles? Sign-up for the Brussels Airlines American Express card and get 12,000 bonus miles + 2000 miles when you pay your cellphone bill with the card.
Where to stay
Pic: Aqua Kauai Beach Resort (May 2016)
Kauai has a limited number of chain hotels which are generally not worth the high rates (and resort fees) they charge. Don’t even think about redeeming your points, keep them for non-US destinations! My advice is to use Airbnb. For my stay in May, I managed to get a room at Aqua Kauai Beach Resort for half the price the hotel charged on their website. A similar deal at Islander on the Beach for my stay in August. The trick is to book privately owned units at the resorts via Airbnb. Hula Now is one of the agencies listing these units on Airbnb. In most cases you can also avoid paying the high resort fee! If you haven’t used Airbnb before, this is the right time to sign-up, even if you don’t intent to make a booking right now. Airbnb currently offers €30 or $30 free credits which can be use as discount on your first Airbnb booking.
What to eat
Fastfood chains have found the way to Kauai, but hipster go for quality food. Here are some of my favorites on the Garden Island:
- Java Kai: Breakfast & Coffee on the terrace
- Hippie Cafe: Acai Bowls & Smoothies
- Kauai Juice Co: Cold Pressed Juice
- Pono Market: Excellent Hawaiian Poke
- Tiki Tacos: For a quick Mexican bite
- Bubba Burgers: Best Burgers on Kauai!
Things to do
Pic: The Na Pali Coast seen from secret Kalalau Lookout trail
Kauai offers great beaches and excellent hiking. What makes Kauai unique are the Waimea Canyon, also know as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, and the Na Pali coast.
The Na Pali coast can be enjoyed in several ways:
- Kalalau Lookout at the end of Kokee road in Waimea Canyon
- By boat or kayak
- By helicopter
- On foot via the famous Kalalau trail
Pic: Viewpoint at the end of the secret Kalalau lookout trail
At the 18 mile marker on Kokee road you’ll find the Kalalau Lookout, an outstanding opportunity to enjoy Kalalau Valley and the Na Pali Coast. For even better views, you can hike the secret Kalalau lookout trail. Have a closer look at the fence on the left side. Descend on the secret trail and enjoy what might be the most spectacular hike of your life! Note: this is an unofficial unmarked trail which might be dangerous, use at own risk!
Na Pali Coast Boat Trip
Pic: Na Pali Coast seen from boat
Another great option to discover the stunning Na Pali Coast is making a boat or kayak trip. You can spot whales (Dec-Apr) or dolphins and there are plenty of turtles to snorkel with.
Kauai by Helicopter
Real adventurers apply for a permit and hike the famous Kalalau Trail. I hiked the 22 miles roundtrip in two days and stayed at Kalalau beach for the night. Don’t worry if you don’t have camping gear, you can get all you need at Lihue Walmart on Kauai!
Have you visited Kauai before? Or any other Hawaiian island? Feel free to share your experiences and tips in the comments! Thanks! 🙂