This last weekend I flew to Hawaii for the first time in my life. What. An. Experience. Before leaving I read a couple of travel guides online, but nothing prepared me for the beauty of this island.
The flight I chose was on a Friday night. By 0330 I was done with my work for the week; quickly grabbed enough clothes for 4 days, my travel backpack and I was on a Lyft to the airport. In the car the familiar adventurer smile surfaced again and nothing mattered anymore. The flight was an hour late, but I didn’t have anywhere else to be, so I enjoyed the airport as much as I could.
A little bit more than 5 hours later, the aircraft doors opened and the fresh ocean air welcomed us to the warm and windy island. I was astonished: Lihue airport has almost no walls. Luggage pick up is just under a roof. I picked up my rental car and off I went into the dark towards the hostel. The air smelled like flowers. I was happy.
The Kauai Beach House is a nice highly frequented hostel located in Kapaa, on the east side of the island. It offers private and shared bedrooms with ocean views and a nice and warm environment to meet new friends. Windows cannot be closed and a constant breeze comes through so you can fall asleep to the sound of the ocean.
The next morning I was so excited (and jet lagged) that I woke up at 0430 and went to see the sunrise, which actually occurred an hour and a half later. As soon as the island woke up I realized I just stepped in a paradise. Feral chickens with chicks running behind them, singing roosters, palms and beaches just a few steps outside my room made me start the day full of energy and eager to explore as much as possible.
I found “the ultimate guide to Kauai” in the hostel library and from there planned my next few days. I would go North the first day, South the second, scuba diving the third with some time to see a waterfall and then some new beaches the hours before catching my flight back.
So, North I went. First stop was Kahili Beach Preserve. When I arrived, there were two surfers in the water, no one on land. It felt so peaceful that I couldn’t believe I was actually there. But I still had the city rush on me and felt as I needed to get going in order to see everything else on the North shore.
That day I visited three more beaches before giving up to the island’s groove and slow down and relax. Unfortunately the road was closed right after Hanalei because of the flood they had this spring, so I reached the closest beach and spent the rest of the afternoon there. Right next to me there was this family with 3 children that moved to the island a couple of years ago and they really enjoy living here. They were all tanned, fit and with a big smile on their faces. What a great place to live this should be.
On my way back to the hostel I picked up an hitchhiking high-school kid. He was so enthusiastic about living here that started listing all the cool spot to be and things to do just to make sure I could appreciate the island as much as possible! It was nice meeting someone this excited about these places.
Kauai has one of the most rainiest spot on earth, the top of the central mountain. Thanks to at least one storm per day on the North and East side, the vegetation here is luxuriant. It is not uncommon to let the rain pass on the beach and keep enjoying the sun afterwards. During the entire day I spent on the East shore, I got three quick rainstorms that lasted at most 10 minutes each!
The next day I decided to go South and drive until the end of the road up in the Waimea canyon. I stopped along the road to admire two sea turtles that were enjoying the waves and then to smell some giant and colorful flowers (they were bigger than my hand!!).
It took me a while to reach the end of the road, the sceneries were breathtaking and I couldn’t just ignore them. So I stopped every mile or so to take them in. I found I nice little spot overlooking the canyon to had a picnic there.
When I reached the end of the road the temperature dropped to 15°C and lots of clouds started rolling in. No cell reception and no other way to reach that point made the hike not look too safe to go alone. Fortunately a Canadian family and a couple from the island were just starting the trail I was interested in, so I strolled behind them. I decided the trail looked good enough to go barefoot, and told to myself I could always go back.
Past the first kilometer the trail got really muddy, but it was so much fun that I couldn’t stop. After what seemed just a few minutes we arrived at the main junction, took some photos and then decided, with the Canadian family, to keep hiking. They officially “adopted” me and shared their snacks, water and stories. The forest was magical. Nothing mattered anymore, it was just us, the rain, the mud and wet and mystical trees.
We decided to turn back and walk towards our cars after two hours and a half. We then reached the parking lot all covered in mud. I successfully hiked 10 km barefoot in the mud with only one major fall. I was satisfied for the day.
I would have never done this hike if I didn’t ask myself: “What could actually go wrong? What’s the worst scenario that can find myself in?” Turns out things get a lot less scarier than they are, when you rationally analyze all the possible outcome.
The next morning I had the booked dive with Bubbles Below. I didn’t dive in the last 6 months and was eager to go back into the ocean. When I arrived they had all the equipment ready for us. The sky was cloudy and the temperature was not too hot. A perfect day for an amazing dive!
Where can I start describing the beauty that I discovered on the bottom of the ocean? It filled my heart with joy and excitement. It made me want to stay down there all day long, no matter what. Observing for the fist time so many tropical fishes brought up so many emotions I could have never prepared for. The divemasters knew all the strange names and habits of the creatures we met and showed us where to find them.
The most amazing fish we saw was a white frog fish. These guys don’t like to swim, but, instead, they walk on their fins. They are really fast predators and camouflage themselves in the corals to catch their preys.
It took me a while, once on land again, to stop jumping and smiling like a fool for the great experience I had. I am really glad to be able to dive and have the opportunity to discover so many different animals.
The last day was the day I met a new friend. This Australian guy at the hostel was looking for a rental car for the day in order to go and see a waterfall. I had no particular plan, just needed to be on a plane later that afternoon, so I offered myself as his driver. We chatted a lot and wandered on the island looking for a waterfall and a beach to take my last bath. It is nice to meet new people. It is even nicer to meet new people to spend the day with!
I fell in love with this island. Most of the people I met, are truly happy and grateful for the life they have. I also met someone so passionate about what he does all day long that made me feel as there is nothing better on the entire planet. It’s been seven days since I got back home and the only thing I can think of is how to go back and spend as much time as possible underwater!