Part 1...Why would YOU visit Kauai?...Facts about the island...



If one can safely make it down the cliffs in Kauai to the beach, a treasure awaits them such as in this location, Kauapea Beach, also known as Secret Beach. This is my sister Julie's photo.

Many people we've met during these past 2½ months in Kauai have asked if we'll ever return to Kauai. The answer for us is clear. If and when we ever stop traveling the world, having decided to somewhat settle down, perhaps living between one or two or three locations Kauai would definitely be on the list. But, then again, so would Marloth Park, South Africa, certainly my two favorites to date. Tom says he can't commit as to his favorite location since he hasn't been there and its yet to come.
Many paths down to the beach begin innocuous such as this ending up to be quite challenging as it nears the ocean.  One must exercise extreme caution on many of these trails.  Almost every evening on the news we hear of a yet another tourist falling to their death on difficult treks.
Today, based on our longer than usual vacation/holiday than the average traveler, we offer our perspective, as to why you, our reader, may choose to visit Kauai (and tomorrow, why not).
 
First, let's start with some basic facts about the "garden island" as Kauai is so well known.

    Kauai General Facts

    Kauai Highlights:
    Napali Coast: Take an air tour or a boat tour to witness the towering cliffs along Kauai’s North Shore.Waimea Canyon: Enjoy the panoramic views of “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific.”Wailua River: Kauai has the only navigable rivers in Hawaii and Wailua is one of the most popular.Daniel K. Inouye Kilauea Point Lighthouse: Visit this beautiful scenic point at the northernmost tip of the island.Kauai Beaches: From Poipu on the South Shore to Hanalei Bay on the North Shore, explore Kauai’s amazing beaches.
    Airports:
    Kauai’s main airport is Lihue Airport (LIH) in southeastern
    Lihue.
    Kauai Resort Areas:
    There are five major resort destinations on Kauai:
    North Shore (Princeville), East Side (Coconut Coast), Lihue (Kalapaki), South Shore (Poipu), West Side (Waimea).
    Capital City: 
    Lihue
    Population: 
    68,434 (2012)
    Time Zone:
    Hawaii Standard Time (GMT-10 hours), 5 hours behind the US East Coast, 6 hours behind during Daylight Saving Time (Hawaii does not observe Daylight Saving Time).

    Languages:
    English, Hawaiian

    Flower:
    Mokihana
    Kauai's island flower is not a flower at all but a tree producing these beads used for leis.  The state flower for Hawaii is the Hibiscus which is abundant year-round.
    Highest Point:
    Kawaikini Peak (5,243 feet)
    Island Color: Purple
    State Bird:
    Nene
    Land Mass:
    552 Square Miles
    Currency:
    US dollar. Credit cards are widely accepted. Traveler’s checks are accepted at many businesses.

    Climate:
    Average temperature: 75˚ - 85˚F.

    Ocean Temperatures:72- 80 degrees year-round
    Average Daily Visitor Population:
    16,160
    Five Largest Towns:  
    Kapa‘a 9,472, Līhu‘e 5,674, Wailua Homesteads 4,567, Kalāheo 3,913, Hanama‘ulu 3,272
    Miles of Shoreline:  
    90
    Number of Beaches:  
    59
    Area Code/Cell Phones:
    The area code for all of Hawaii is (808). Cell phone coverage is readily available in most places if you’re coming from the United States.

    Internet Access:
    Internet access is readily available on Kauai and at many hotels.

    Accommodations:
    Luxury
    resorts, hotels, vacation rentals including cottages, homes and condos, as well as bed and breakfasts are located throughout the island.
    Transportation:
    Rent a car at Lihue Airport (LIH) to explore the island. Other options include tour buses, taxis or city buses.

    Clothing:
    Dress casually. Bring a light jacket for nights. Semi-casual dress clothes for restaurants and nightlife. Suits and ties are rarely worn.

    Tipping:
    U.S. standards apply: 15-20% on meals, at least $1 per bag for porters and at least $1 - 2 per night for housekeeping.

    Kauai has more miles of beach:
    And hiking trails than any other island in the Hawaiian Islands.
    Kauai has been the backdrop to many Hollywood movies including: Soul Surfer, Pirates of the Caribbean, Six Days Seven Nights, Jurassic Park, South Pacific, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Honeymoon in Vegas, Tropic  Thunder and many more.
Some of the above facts may be useful in aiding you in making a decision to visit Kauai.  Of course, when arriving in the Hawaiian Islands, most visitors tend to stay a few nights or more at the other major islands, as we've done since arriving in late September by cruise ship:  Oahu (where Honolulu and Waikiki are located; Maui (where Lahaina and the road to Hana are located); Big Island, aka Hawai'i, where Mount Kilauea is spewing lava at present) and of course, Kauai, the garden island.

Many palm tree grow giant pods such as these from which more leaves and flowers bloom.
There are other islands to visit, also beautiful but, more remote. Many tourists visit these four major islands before heading out to Molokai and Lana'i which we haven't visited at this time. 

Plumeria are often used in making leis.  Many years ago, when I visited Hawaii, (before Tom), one would exit the plane via steps down to the tarmac.  Waiting at the entrance gate, Hawaiian people would be waiting to drape a plumeria lei over the heads of visitors.  This tradition has long since passed, unless privately arranged in advance for a fee. 
As appealing as it would be to see these other two islands, the cost to travel to stay for a night or two wasn't included in our budget.  And, of course, we've been happy being able to visit Oahu, Maui, Big Island and Kauai during this extended period of time.

This photo, although taken on a cloudy day easily bespeaks the beauty of mountains, lush greenery and the sea. 
Let's review some of our reasons why we'd suggest visiting Kauai, in order of our preferences:

1.  Kauai is the most beautiful island we've seen to date:  If you've followed us in our travels its evident we've visited many islands to date, some for only a day on a cruise ship and others for longer periods.  Without a doubt, the combination of the vast coverage of lush green vegetation over land and mountains and, the aquamarine sea and pristine beaches have made Kauai the most visually appealing island we've visited to date.
2.  Friendly people: Aside from South Africa, there is nowhere in the world we've visited that is easier to meet people.  Not only have we been fortunate to meet friend Richard who's been instrumental in including us in many social events with the local residents, which has extended to many budding new relationships. But, on our own we've met literally dozens of friendly tourists most of whom have frequently visited Kauai and keep coming back for more.

Although there are many beaches in Kauai in some areas such as the northern coast a hike is often required to get down to the beach, at times treacherous and difficult unless one is in great physical condition.
3.  Grass fed meat, non GMO products, organic locally grown produce:  Although prices on food are high in the islands, we've found the prices on grass fed meat, free range chicken and eggs and organic products to be slightly less than we'd paid three years ago on the mainland in Minnesota.  The Hawaiian people are dedicated to keeping their meat, fish and poultry and eggs as free from chemicals as possible.  Of course, there's plenty of lower priced farm raised fish, poultry and beef available at the grocery stores if one so chooses.
4.  Low crime:  Lihue is the largest city in Kauai where the airport, many restaurants, shopping centers (Costco, Walmart and more) are located.  As is the case in most larger cities, the crime rate is considerably higher than in other quieter areas.  It is these numbers that throw off the overall Kauai crime rate statistics. We'd never stay in Lihue with our aversion to larger cities with traffic, lines and higher risk of crime.  Away from the "big city" the crime rate is low.  Bear in mind, our comments are based on our perspective both from experience and speaking with locals. There are no available statistic on this variance from Lihue to the more remote areas.   Never on a single occasion during our time here in Princeville or in visiting the resort areas and sightseeing in other areas of the island away from the big city, have we ever felt unsafe.  That feeling of safety doesn't prevent us from locking doors, securing our equipment and keeping a watchful eye wherever we may go.

Its only a one minute walk across Ka Haku Road in front of our condo to the ocean and this beautiful coral sea.

5.  Chickens and birds:  Although most of Hawaii's wildlife lives in the sea and we've certainly seen our share of the Humpback whales who's season in the islands is coming to a rapid close, we've particularly enjoyed bird watching; the Laysan Albatross and the wide variety of birds even seen from our lanai on a daily basis.  But, the chickens have provided us with an enormous amount of heartwarming and laugh worthy experiences we'll always remember.  Sure, many locals are annoyed by the constant presence, some taking extreme measures to keep them off of their property.  We've heard tourist's complain about being unable to sleep with the rooster's crowing beginning as early as 4 or 5 am.  For us, in a matter of a few days, we adapted to the noise eventually not hearing it at all, as is the case for most locals.  As for them running around parking lots, on the side of the road, at every venue where food or people may be present, we've loved it all.  Also, Hawaii is a bird watcher's paradise particularly when hiking and visiting more remote locations. 
6.  Multitude of recreational activities:  At this point, we've toured almost all of the island accessible by our tiny rental vehicle.  There are endless opportunities for surfing, swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, zip lining, hiking (a hiker's paradise but with many dangerous trails) or simply walking and taking in the scenery. With 59 beaches in Kauai, one could easily enjoy visiting as many as possible.  Also, a strong sense of community pervades Kauai and many planned social activities and events are open to the public, some at no cost and others for a nominal fee. 

Ah, a lazy day sitting under a tree with a cold beverage and good book in hand is all many visitors to the island require to make a glorious vacation.  Not everyone is into adventure hikes and sightseeing.  Many tourists come to the islands to get away from a "must do" lifestyle, preferring to relax and unwind from busy everyday life.  Lounging on the beach, dining in a fun popular restaurant and drinking Mai Tai's is all some travelers need for a perfect vacation.

7.  Easily accessible roads:  Its easy to get around Kauai and almost impossible to get lost.  There are only a few highways that wrapped around the island from beach town to beach town.  If traffic and road construction weren't an issue, one could easily travel from one side of the island to the other in 90 minutes.  However, with traffic in certain areas and road construction often in the works, one must plan their travels accordingly.  The northwest coast of the island is inaccessible by road suitable for most cars.  Thus, one cannot drive around the entire island.

A scene of a part of the grounds at the Dolphin Restaurant in Hanalei where Julie and I had lunch a few weeks ago.

Other travelers may add to or change this list based on their personal preferences.  For us, senior citizens, world travelers, these are the reasons that we've love Kauai and are most glaring.  If you've spent time in Kauai please comment sharing your experiences at the end of today's post.  We'd love to hear from you!

We'll return tomorrow with "Part 2, Why would YOU visit Kauai?" including some of the reasons, you may not choose to visit Kauai or for that matter, Hawaii in general.  Please check back!
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Photo from one year ago today, March 30, 2014:

We posted this video when it was raining inside our riad in Marrakech.  During rain storms we stayed in the salon, one of the many rooms that surrounded the open air courtyard.  For details of that day's post, please click here.

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