My friend Erinn just left after an awesome two-week visit to Hawaii! We decided to make the most of her time here by island hopping over to Kauai for 5 days. Now, I have only traveled to Kauai and the Big Island, so I am no expert on the different islands of Hawaii, but we picked Kauai so we could see the Na Pali Coast, hike through Waimea Canyon, snorkel, and lay on the beaches.
We also picked Kauai because it is just so charming and rustic. There is a definite island-living vibe that sometimes makes Oahu seem like a busy city. No buildings area allowed to be taller than a coconut tree, and there is only one main highway – one that takes you along the coast. Aptly named “The Garden Isle,” everything is lush and green, and there are so many little places to just pull over and enjoy the views. It’s also quite accessible, with waterfalls and a beautiful canyon you can drive to and beaches you can see from the road. Erinn and I ate ice cream every day, drank lots of coffee and fruit smoothies, and had so much fun just driving around the coastline.
I’ve known Erinn since I was one year old! When she was 6, she moved away, but our parents made sure we stayed friends. There was no Internet, texting, or FaceTime (wow, typing that makes me feel so old!), so the only way to do that was through visits! Our parents would drive for hours and hours, taking turns watching us for the weekend. When we got older, we started going to camp together – first a sleep-away camp, and then a travel camp, so we would go to different places for 3-4 days at a time over the summer. Erinn was my first partner in crime, my first travel buddy apart from my family, and my first friend to have a sleepover with, so it was only fitting that we should spend a few weeks together exploring these islands. I was so touched that she came all the way from Boston to spend this time with me!
When looking at places to stay on Airbnb, we found this treehouse in Kilaeua, on the North Shore. It was pretty close to a lot of things we wanted to do, and I think that the North Shore of Kauai is the most beautiful part. So we decided that when you are given the choice between a hotel and a treehouse, you should obviously pick the treehouse. Especially when you are traveling with your childhood friend. So this was our home on Kauai:
View from our porch!! How lush and perfect is that to wake up to?! Luckily for us, it rained every night and was sunny every day. I don’t know what the weather is usually like, but it worked out perfect for us!
As soon as we got to Kauai, we headed down south to Port Allen so that we could go on a boat ride that would take us along the Na Pali Coast. Before we got on board, we went to Glass Beach, a beach literally in the middle of an industrial park that is completely filled with sea glass. Basically, it was a dumping ground for crap and the ocean turned it into this:
The Na Pali Coast cruise was incredible! I had done this exact same cruise before with Nick and I loved it, but I was pretty sea sick, so I didn’t really get to enjoy it as much as I could have. I knew I would go back, and this time, I wore sea bands and took some anti-nausea medication. I felt great the entire time! No sea sickness for me, just a beautiful coastline.
The next day, we got up early and drove to Waimea Canyon. We checked out some lookout points along the drive up to the top as soon as we got there. I’ve read that you have to get up there early because as the day goes on, it tends to get foggy up towards the top. We checked out some incredible viewpoints:
I had done this trail before, with Nick, and it was probably my favorite thing that we did in Kauai, so it was the one thing that I wanted to make sure that Erinn got to do with me. It was just as gorgeous as I remembered, and it was worth doing again.
On day 3, we were going to hike the Na Pali Coast trail, but instead, we decided to take it easy. We slept in and just took a drive up to the North Shore of the island. We had two beaches in mind to go snorkeling at. We didn’t go to either one, but we ended up at Haena Beach instead. This beach is almost as far north as you can go – it’s right before the Na Pali Coast trail begins. We got to lay on the beach and see these mountains.
We also got to do some snorkeling.
We spent the whole day hanging out with the fish and laying on the beach. When I was walking back to our car to get something, I found this Hawaiian monk seal bathing in the sun. They are super endangered so it’s pretty rare to see them.
On our 4th day, we took it easy again. We stayed around the North Shore, went going to a couple of beaches, had some smoothies, and just enjoyed Kauai. We had two more hikes planned, but we decided that the beach was calling us instead. I think we made the right call!
On our last morning in Kauai, we didn’t have much time, but we did manage to check out Wailua Falls before heading to the airport! It’s a great little spot that you can drive right up to. I love Kauai! I might be a bit biased. I have been there twice but haven’t really explored many other islands yet, but I just love the relaxed, island-y vibe of the place. Erinn and I had so much fun exploring. I still can’t get over how beautiful it is there.
I love how the main city is more of a small town, how quaint the little towns are, and how seriously the people take their coffee. I loved that Erinn and I have the exact same idea of what makes up a perfect vacation – beaches, hiking, relaxing, and of course, lots of ice cream! We woke up each morning to the sound of roosters and birds and were in bed by 9 pm. She has always been the perfect travel buddy, and I don’t think I stopped laughing the entire time we were together.
It was a blast.
Plus, the only thing aside from food and our lodging that we paid for the entire time was the Na Pali coast cruise. Everything that you would possibly want to do is free – hiking, beaches, and driving around to see waterfalls.
Have you ever been to Hawaii? Which is your favorite island? I really want to check out a few more before we move, but I am having trouble deciding!