OTN Guide to Kauai | One To Nothin'

OTN Guide to Kauai

You guys! I cannot believe how long it's been since I returned from my 2-week Hawaiian adventure and I've only told you about ONE island. Check out my thoughts on visiting Maui and traveling the Road to Hana here and here, or just keep reading for my favorite of the three islands visited: Kauai.
Kauai is the Garden Island, meaning more nature and fewer people, which is already a recipe for Kensie-love. I was entirely enamored with the green, people and untouched beauty I found absolutely everywhere. We stayed at an Airbnb in Hanalei for the first few nights and after an amazing dinner at Tahiti Nui with live ukulele accompaniment, we headed out early the next morning to hike the Kalalau trail. I do a lot of hiking, exploring, running and lifting, but I don't think I've ever been less prepared for a hike in my life. We only brought one small water bottle and it was 80+ degrees and uphill almost the entire time.
Not only were we dehydrated and struggling up the hills, but we also had to cross rivers on slippery rocks and try not to fall face first into mud. It was a challenge for sure, but so worth it. I smile every time I look at these photos and the fact that I can still see the bruises on my toenails from it just makes me wish I was there sweaty and covered in mud all over again.

The first incredible site we came across on the trail was this rock beach. Stacked rocks were everywhere and I honestly had no idea this was a thing, so it blew my mind. It was such a unifying moment admiring the natural beauty mixed with the effort so many other humans who had experienced the majesty and chose to make it more beautiful just for the sake of delighting others. Naturally we stopped to take photos and create a few stacks of our own.

Then we set off for the waterfall. With a permit, you can do the full 11-mile out hike, camp overnight and head back the next day, but like I said we were ill-prepared and opted for the 4-mile out falls (and thank Buddha because 8 miles turned out to be all we could handle in that heat).

I slipped on rocks trying to cross the river at one point and got some gnarly cuts and bruises, but I rinsed them off in the freezing water and stared out at the massive waterfall in complete awe.

Then I felt totally lame as I watched little kids hop around the rocks and some dude carry a cooler full of beer to the falls. I may need to hone my hiking skills before my next big adventure..

The hike back was rough without water, but the sense of accomplishment, lack of sunburn and Puka Dog at the end made it a total success.

The rest of the trip was spent at the Sheraton Resort where we finally saw a luau and tried poi (hint: it's gross). I was way too excited to finally wear a lei and it was rad watching the hula dancers do their thang. I was particularly fond of the fire eater guy.

At the last minute we decided to book a helicopter tour of Jurassic Falls and while I wasn't all that impressed with the VHS and "free screen saver CD!" in the lobby, the ride itself was absolutely breathtaking. I kept thinking we were going to smash straight into the ridge, but instead we just hovered, perfectly steady admiring the massive waterfall featured in the Jurassic Park movie. It almost didn't even feel real, kind of like that time I went powered paragliding. There's really no other way to see views like that, so if you get a chance, I'd definitely encourage you to go on a helicopter tour.

Wailua Shave Ice was the other highlight of Kauai. I loved shave ice everywhere we went (I seriously had it about six times), but this one is particularly amazing. I got the Almond Joy flavor with Nutella and Chad got the Orange Creamsicle. All their flavors are made of natural, local fruit juices and the creamy goodness on top is made out of coconut cream, not cow's milk, so I was especially stoked on not having a stomachache afterward.

Basically what I'm getting at is if you ever get the chance to go to Hawaii, Kauai is a great island to visit. If you like hiking, low-key beaches, chill people and roosters (those dudes were EVERYWHERE), this is the one to check out. It was definitely my favorite.

Have you been to Hawaii? What islands did you visit?

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