Kauai – the garden island, but for us, the water sports island
We left Maui after having had a great adventure packed week. Yet, we were more excited to be flying to Kauai, the oldest and most remote Hawaiian island. Back in England, we had found and pre booked a great place to stay called the ‘Surf ‘n Ski Cottage’ at the back of a couples house, called Kenny and Kathy. So we new we were in for a nice peaceful stay with a self contained kitchen all to our selves. A luxury we have come to long for after a few months of hostel living.
We arrived at Kauai airport, which was a hell of a lot quieter than what we normally experience, it could of been 2am. We knocked on the window of a taxi with a small asian man inside. He informed us that he couldn’t give us a ride, as we had to book. He pointed us in the direction of a place to book a taxi. Fi hurried over to do so, quickly booking our taxi. And then one minute later, the same taxi man stepped out of the aforementioned taxi and waved us over – we laughed.
We arrived outside of this lovely looking house on stilts and followed our printed letter from Kenny and Kathy, and made our way down the side path with led to this tiny little cottage in the backyard. It was so quaint inside and had all the characteristics of a little Hawaiian hide out. Not forgetting a lovely little ukulele sat positioned proudly on the side. We’ve seen a lot of ukulele’s in Hawaii, I think we might make an investment in one when we get home, as we’ve grown pretty fond of them. Anyway, we made ourselves at home, admiring our little kitchen. We were without food, this became our first mission.
We walked out of the cottage, creeping past the small gecko’s that have made the kayak’s and paddle board’s their home and wondered down to the small shops, asking in the tour centre where the nearest supermarket or convenience store was. We were told that it was a twenty minute walk, which we had kind of expected. We marched on down, pretty much the hard shoulder of the Kuhio highway, to Foodland, where we even have a loyalty card now! We umm’d and arr’d about meal choices but eventually grabbed enough for a few days. We were excited about cooking something more substantial for ourselves, rather than hostel super noodles and instant risotto. Our meals over our time in Kauai included, a roast chicken with a balsamic salad accompanied by cashews and spinach, a teriyaki steak stir fry, beef taco’s, teriyaki steaks with mash and green beans and good old american hot dogs with cheese and Fi’s special caramelised fried onions. Not forgetting a daily dose of fresh pineapple! It makes me hungry just thinking about it, as I currently munch trail mix for lunch, a combination of peanuts, chocolate candy pieces, raisins, almonds and cashews – this stuff fuels us during the day. I know this all might sound a bit boring and routine, but you do crave this after a little while on the road. So we took full advantage.
On our first full day on Kauai we did the usual exploration of the surrounding area and popped up to Coconut Marketplace for their Thursday farmers market. This was slightly underwhelming as we had expected loads of bustling stalls – there were about five. We decided to browse the main shops in the marketplace and treated ourselves to some hand-made jewellery. I bought a very Hawaiian looking necklace in the shape of a fishing hook, called Hei-Matau. These used to be worn by Hawaiian travellers for safety whilst travelling over water. They represent strength, prosperity, fertility and a great respect for the sea. I’m in need of this when taking on the baby waves of Waikiki! Fi picked a pretty shell necklace to replace the one she leftt in Mexico (Zoe, you’ll know the one she means).
We spent the rest of the day body surfing in the waves at the local beach abundant in drift wood. Honestly, so much wood is washed up, it feels very castaway. Most of our evenings were spent sipping our Pabst Blue Ribbon beers and planning ideas for websites we’ve had.
The next morning, we strolled out of the cottage to find an amazing river effectively in the backyard. The dock we ventured out onto is where Kenny runs his Surf and Ski business, taking willing riders out down the river on one of his awesome looking motor boats. We decided to ease into the water sports by hiring paddle boards (aka SUP). Neither of us had ever paddle boarded and kenny gave us a brief demonstration. We went on down the river, Fi stormed ahead as I seemingly wasn’t gliding through the water as fast. Once we were used to the paddle boards we turned around to go back to the dock to grab the waterproof digital camera, at which point I fell way behind Fi again. The head wind (which was pretty calm compared to normal) was clearly holding me back (I thought). Passers by offered me advice and eventually I ended up on my knees. After finally catching up with Fi, we talked over my clear lack of technique, such as the paddle being the wrong way round (Fi did this too for those laughing) and the paddle not being levered in deep enough and then I was off. It just takes a a bit of time getting used to using an oar either side of you. I was making the error of not switching hands but reaching across myself each time, in turn, throwing myself off balance. We headed back down the Wailua river and the love for paddle boarding was born.
After enjoying some fresh juicy pineapple for lunch, we nipped to the shops for some more ingredients to make the previously mentioned super dinners and then finished up on the beach. Before the day was out, I managed to get back out on my paddle board, leaving Fi chatting away with Kenny, Kathy and their friends. Kathy was really enthusiastic about our travelling and was so helpful, telling us about all the great places they had been and we should go. Bali is now an imminent prospect.
The one issue we did have being on Kauai, was not having a car. The island isn’t quite as geared up as others, in terms of public transport, with the bus running only every hour. Every two hours on the weekend. This meant seeing the Na Pali coast, the prettiest part of Kauai was a write off, as with the time we had left and budget we had, it would have been impossible to get there. One other thing Kathy said we must see was the town of Hanalei. So we located the bus stop about ten minutes away from the cottage and spent the next hour observing the locals. There were some characters and everyone seemed to know each other, which we found fascinating. By the time we got there, we’d made a few new friends, like Jimmy, who’d been on the Island for 36 years.
Hanalei is a kitsch little surf town housing arts and crafts stores, the usual gift shops, some cool restaurants and plenty of surf shops. It has a great little bay, which on our visit, was as flat as it will ever get. Kenny told us that in winter, big 30 ft waves break just on the edge of the bay, making it a great viewing area to see the local surfers. It’s also known to be a great beginners surf beach in the summer, but on this particular day there was literally nothing, so the paddle boarders were out in force. We had an unforgettable lunch in Bubba’s burger, where they ban lettuce and tomato and fill your teriyaki burger with double meat, fried onions and gooey american cheese. The burgers lasted a matter of seconds, leaving us debating a return visit that same afternoon. We did end up back there, but settled with a chocolate milkshake the second time round. We perused all of the local surf shops, once again cursing our budget and lack of backpack room.
Hanalei has a great little vibe and was described to a tee in the Hawaii Lonely Planet guide; “The surfer-chic town of Hanalei has more than it’s fair share of adults with Peter Pan syndrome and kids with seemingly Olympian athletic prowess”. This statement could not of been more true, when, after bumping into Jimmy again at the bus stop for our return journey, he introduced us to the local Police Officer passing by. This dude was on his bike and in nothing but board shorts. Jimmy asked him to show his badge, to which he replied: “err, can’t Jimmy, I’ve forgotten it”. He was chasing down a stolen laptop that some Hawaiian kids had pinched from and unsuspecting tourist. He later blamed Jimmy for his subsequent divorce, as all he did was get him in trouble. We rode the bus back to Kapaa, meeting some more interesting folk on our journey.
After watching Kenny pop in and out on his boat all week and seeing all of his amazing equipment such as the Hydro foil and endless amounts of wake boards and wake ski’s, we were itching to have a go at some wake boarding. I was a little more apprehensive than normal, as it was my first time riding since ruining my lower back again (for those wondering, I didn’t do it wake boarding, but doing dead lifts and then again, sneezing…I know). We were up early in the morning, nervous with anticipation. Fi was bouncing off the walls, as it’s one of her loves and she had to sacrifice it before travelling because of cost. Kenny, with his very laid back approach, took us out onto the Wailua river and manoeuvred the boat so Fi could lower herself into the water. Fi had a great set, we went right up the river and then turned around and headed back down. Fi only fell on the boat turn and completed a solid performance. She described the set as; “Amaze balls, the view was amazing!”. I felt like a journalist there!
I then switched places with Fi and nervously dropped into the water (forgetting to remove my vest and not realising until afterwards). I was also straight up onto my feet and for only my fourth ever set, I went all the way down, falling once and successfully avoiding the sea of kayakers. It’s such a buzz when you’re doing it and it leaves you desperate to go again and improve. Maybe this will happen if we do head to the Philippines. On our way back to the cottage, Kathy handed us some great books to read about Bali and New Zealand and recommended a beach (Kapaa beach park) just across the highway, we headed there in the afternoon. Amongst all of the drift wood covered beaches, we found a pretty little spot enclosed by huge rocks which created a small snorkelling area. This was perfect for us and our goggles, to go out and do a bit of make shift snorkelling. We spotted all sorts of huge and tiny fish, their names evade me right now but it was great fun. This was a perfect area to relax, swim and improve on our travel tans, which we’re making the most of before heading into the New Zealand cold.
Our remaining time on Kauai was spent back on the river, paddle boarding and photographing Kenny do phenomenal things on his hydro foil. Our stay was tranquility, combined with thrilling water sports in a Gecko friendly little cottage. Not forgetting the very cute and well behaved Coco (The resident doggy).
We’re now heading back to Oahu to spend a few more days doing some of the things we didn’t get chance to do first time around, such as Pearl Harbour. Then, we are off to New Zealand to pick up our camper van in Auckland, for five weeks of outdoor living, travelling from the North Island to the South.
The next time you hear from us we will be shivering in New Zealand! So, to briefly summarise, we’ve adored Hawaii! The climate, the ocean and the unbelievable volcano’s and Mountains formed over millions of years. We will definitely come back to Hawaii, to do more, see more and to surf more!
Love to all and don’t forget to show this post some love!
Lots of love to all back home who keep tuning into read what we’ve been up to. It’s fun for us to write up what we’ve had so much fun doing and it’s always great to hear you’re enjoying reading about it! I know we say it every time, but don’t forget to ‘love this post’, just click the heart on the left. Simples!
Big love Tom & Fi xXx