Saturday, June 28, 2008

About This Blog

This trip was a belated honeymoon for my husband and me. We got married a couple years ago but weren't able to travel until now. That means I had a lot of time to plan and obsessively research this trip. Jody, my husband, had always wanted to visit a troipcal island, and neither of us had ever been to Hawaii. Our idea of what a Hawaii vacation might be like came entirely from ads that picture a couple lounging in recliners outside their private grass-roofed hut on a deserted white sand beach, sipping Mai Tais delivered by a waiter. I quickly discovered that a vacation of that kind would probably run us about $1000 a day. Plus, we would have to stay in a resort (somehow I'd never connected the idea of a planned resort community with my mental image. I don't know where I thought the waiter was going to come from.) Once I realized that our fantasy of an island beach hut wasn't going to materialize (at least, not on our budget), I started looking at vacation rentals. Originally, I was thinking of going to the Big Island until I found out that sandy beaches aren't really the thing there. We wanted sandy beaches. So I switched my focus to Maui, but it seemed that the sandy beach part of the island was clogged with condos, strip malls, and resorts. I briefly considered Molokai, but decided it might be a little too remote. Finally, I took a look at Kauai and went "aha!". This was exactly what I'd been looking for.

I immediately immersed myself in a search for vacation rentals and began visiting the Kauai forum on Tripadvisor. I had so many questions: where to stay, what to pack, when to go... it was so helpful to hear about other people's experiences. I decided that when I returned I would make a blog of our trip in the hope it might help others who are planning theirs. So here it is, for what it's worth. I hope it's a useful resource for you. If you have questions or comments, click on the "comment" link below the post. Or email me.

Mahalo for visiting. Enjoy.

The Fish at the End of the Road

The guy behind the counter at Peddle & Paddle was a man of few words. We asked him where we should go for our first try at snorkeling. Response: "go to the end of the road". Wondering which beach that might be, I tried to get an actual name out of him. Nope, he wasn't gonna tell me. "Just go to the end of the road, that's all you need to know". I found out later that the beach at the end of the road is called Ke'e. We liked it there. The next day, we tried Poipu Beach in the south of the island. It was a beautiful beach, but much more crowded. Jody shaved off his goatee in the parking lot so that he could get a better seal with his mask- it had leaked too much the day before. The snorkeling at Poipu turned out to be difficult; the surf was too powerful. I ended up with a mouth full of saltwater and a bikini full of sand. So the next time, it was back to Ke'e. We bought one a disposable underwater camera, but using it was more difficult than I'd anticipated. The fish just won't stay still, and I neither could I! I also found it hard to look through both the mask and the viewfinder at the same time. Next time, I would invest $100 in the mask/camera combo a friend had recommended to us.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Bugs and Crawly Things


Bring your mosquito repellent, or be prepared to donate blood. The mosquitos are silent and practically invisible-- I'm still not sure when they actually got me. I only know that I've been home for almost a week now and I'm still scratching. Spray that stuff on, even if you don't notice them, 'cause they're out there!


We saw a couple of them in our rental when we left some crumbs on the counter. They were just the little, regular kind-- not big scary tropical ones with wings. No big deal.


Lots of these little critters running around. They're adorable. And they eat roaches!

Sunday, June 8, 2008


I loved the Kauai Products Fair (pictured above) an open air market in Kapa'a. We bought a huge, beautiful mango wood salad bowl there ($60) as well as some smaller items. The Island Soap Company in Kileaua is great for for locally made soaps, lotions, candles, and other nice smelling things. Kilueua Bakery had some yummy-looking local honey, with mac nuts and honeycomb suspended inside for $8.50 a jar. (Unfortunately, airport security confiscated ours on the way home. Apparently you can't travel with ANY amount of a liquid substance unless you check it in. Since we only had carry-on bags, we had to abandon our honey at the airport. ) Yellowfish Trading Company in Hanalei has some gorgeous items, but is pricey. I saw a bracelet there for $16; later I saw the same one at the Kauau Products Fair for $10. Still, Yellowfish has some things that I didn't see anywhere else, and I did end up buying a few things from them despite their prices because I liked them so much. Hula Beach (also in Hanalei) is great for clothes, but also pricey. Mostly women's wear, but some men's stuff as well. They have some beautiful Hawaiian shirts, if you don't mind forking over $180. If you can afford it, this is a good place to get island-style clothing that doesn't look cheesy. If glitter is your thing and you want to buy some dresses that wouldn't look out of place on a Vegas hooker, check out Tropical Tantrum. They'll fix you up. We also looked at the Kauai Products Store in the Kukui Grove Center mall, and were unimpressed. Lots of ugly, garish clothing and a few crafts. Not nearly as good as the Kauai Products Fair. The Magic Dragon Toy and Art Supply is Princeville was a hit-- fantastic toys and a decent delection of basic art supplies. Again, not cheap-- but good stuff, and some of it is even made in Hawaii.

We saw a lot of other cool looking shops that we didn't have the time and money for. Maybe next time!

4-1621 Kuhio Highway
Kapaa, HI 96746
Tel. (808) 246-0988

Hanalei Center
4504 Kukui Street
Hanalei, HI 96714
Tel. (808) 826-1227

Princeville Center
Princeville, HI 96722
Tel. 808-826-9144

Kong Lung Center, Kilauea (and other locations)

The Price of Paradise

Oh yeah. It's expensive. Our cost for a week in paradise:

Airfare and car rental (package deal): $1200
2 BR Cottage (including cleaning fee): $1349
Bars and Restaurants (including takeout): $533
Groceries (including things like sunscreen, shampoo, charcoal) $412
Activities/Entertainment: $541
Souvenirs/Gifts: $415
Gas: $50

Total: $4500


Airfare/car rental: we booked though Hotwire several months ahead of time. We got a decent price, I think-- but nothing spectacular. And when I tried to change our ticket (still with a few months notice) to give us a few more days there, Hotwire told me I'd have to pay an extra $300 fee PLUS another $1200 for the tickets (on top of what we were already paying). Needless to say, I didn't change the ticket. Just out of curiosity (because can a plane ticket really go up that much?) I checked with the airline (Hawaiian) to see if the airfare on that flight had increased. And no, it hadn't-- tickets were still available at the original price. So basically-- if I'd just booked directly through the the airline, I would have spent the same amount of money, but I would have been able to make changes to my ticket. Beware of Hotwire!

Accomodations: We found ours on Vacation rentals tend to be less expensive than hotels, plus if you have a kitchen you can save a little money by making your own meals. The high season starts around mid- June, and many rentals (including ours) jack up the prices then. You can save a few hundred dollars a week by visiting in the off season.

Restaurants: This is where a lot of the money goes. We ate breakfast at home every day, and dinner at home about half the time. Still, we managed to spend a lot in this category. A couple of ice cream cones at Lappert's will run you $14. Lunch-- even something casual-- will be around $25 for two (if you're not drinking.) Shave ice is $4. Our bill for 4 Mai Tais at Tahiti Nui (which is not by any means a swanky place) was $46 with tip.

Groceries: My husband and I don't eat meat, milk, or eggs, so our food costs might be lower than normal. On the other hand, we do like to drink, so that brings the cost back up. I normally don't eat fish, but I made an exception for Hawaii-- so our costs included a couple visits to the Dolphin Fish Market in Hanalei, which I highly recommend. The salespeople are great; just tell 'em what you like and how hungry you are, and they'll set you up. They've got some great condiments and sides, too--take a look in the fridge. Foodland is your best bet for groceries, unless you've got enough people with you to justify Costco. They even have a good selection of our favorite soy-based products, like Morningstar "sausage", and some good deals on California wine ($14 for Seghesio Zinfandel-- less than I pay at home in California.) Be sure to get a discount card-- you can pick one up from Customer Service right before you check out. Big Save in Hanalei is known by the locals as "Big Spend"-- enough said. The prices at Papaya Natural Foods in Hanalei were insane: ($17.00 a pound for coffee, $5 for a baggie of salad greens) and we found the quality of their offerings to be inferior to Foodland, where you can also get organic produce.

Activites/Entertainment: For us, this included renting snorkeling equipment and buying a beach chair, an underwater camera, and some water socks. In this category we also included books (since we spent a lot of time reading) and our helicopter tour.

Souvenirs/Gifts: Like everything else, you aren't going to get away cheap here. Of course, you don't have to buy anything. But you'll want to.

Friday, June 6, 2008


No matter where you are in Kauai, it's only a matter of time until a rooster shows up. The first day there, we thought it was really cute to have roosters in the yard, so we left popcorn out at night in the hope of attracting more of them. We didn't make that mistake again. Did you know that they crow all night long, not just at daybreak? Yep.

Opaeka'a Falls

You can drive right up to this viewing spot .There are warning signs about going past the fence, so I don't think you can hike down to the falls, at least not officially. Judging by the memorial on the fence (last pic) I don't think I'd want to ignore the signs.

Here's Jody at the lookout:

And here are some of the necklaces that are hung on the fence in memory of someone who died there. We wish we knew the story.