About a year ago, my mom and dad surprised us with an amazing gift. They have always wanted to take the entire family to Hawaii for vacation. Since my dad is nearing retirement, he wanted to fulfill this dream while finances allowed. What does this mean? My entire family; husband, daughter, son, mother, father and brother all went to Kauai, Hawaii for 9 days. The only summary I can conjure up is…it was the trip of a lifetime.
I have an extreme affinity for the water. I grew up near and on the water my entire life and now live near the Atlantic ocean. The ocean is my happy place. It lightens my heart, eases my stresses and gives me peace. It’s also so much fun. My favorite activity of all time is paddleboarding and I try to get out on the ocean every chance I get. I’ve been told by many that Hawaii fits me perfectly and that I would love it immensely. Well, they were right.
There was a cancelled flight, a lost day and an overnight layover in a cold city but none of that mattered. All we wanted to do was get to the island. I was privileged enough to sit on the side of the plane that had the island view as we approached Kauai. I was immediately blown away. I’ve seen pictures of Hawaii my entire life and have always thought that there is no way that it is truly that beautiful. I assumed that the photos were all a bit embellished. I was wrong. The island looks like a real life postcard. It really is just as pretty as the pictures; maybe even better.
Kauai is more rural and is called the garden island which fits perfectly because it is so green and plush. It is exactly what you would expect a very tropical, rural Hawaii to be. The weather is perfect; never too hot and never too cold. None of the homes have heating or air conditioning and are built with many windows that crank open. I loved going to sleep every night to the cool outside breeze and the sound of the ocean waves; and waking up to the ocean waves and the sound of birds chirping. The island is a bit overrun by feral chickens and roosters. Apparently, the roosters have the hang loose, anything goes mentality because they crowed at midnight, 2am, 4am; whenever they felt the urge. It was a bit annoying at first since we slept with the window open, but we got used to it pretty quickly.
We stayed in a house that was located one house away from the water in Hanalei Bay. My dad rented 5 paddleboards for the week which we used everyday, sometimes multiple times a day. The first day we got there, we paddled up the Hanalei River to see the breath-taking views of the mountains with waterfalls. I had a waterproof case on my iPhone specifically for this trip to take pictures. Well, the phone was waterproof but not sink proof. Of course I dropped it in one of the deepest parts of the river on that first paddle out so now my phone lives in the Pacific Ocean. This was a blessing in disguise because it allowed me to focus more on the scenery and my family.
It was the rainy season on the north side of the island so it rained almost everyday, but that didn’t stop us. We did a ton of paddleboarding in the river, paddleboarding in the ocean and paddle surfing. We went to see the Napali Coast via a muddy hike as there is no road to it. The Napali Coast is where parts of the Jurassic Park movie was filmed. It was made up of beautiful and colorful cliffs. We did some snorkeling on a couple of different reefs where we saw some very bright and beautiful tropical fish as well as a large sea turtle. One of the coolest places that we went was Queen’s Bath which is a lagoon/pool in the lava rock. Getting there required another muddy and steep hike which was met with a sign that read, “Queen’s Bath Drownings 29. Unexpected large waves will knock you of the rocks and sweep you out to sea!” After walking past two of the pools, we can see why this sign was posted. The waves were huge and the current swirled liked a whirlpool. At the end of the walk was a completely calm and enclosed pool with deep water and cliffs for jumping. We came at low tide to ensure the waves weren’t breaking into the pool. It was perfect! We jumped and jumped and jumped for hours. It was a blast. We also went to a traditional luau which was an amazing experience. They cook a pig in the ground all day long. Their cooking and seasoning method is call kalua pork. They only season it with sea salt and their cooking method melts away all the fat. It is by far the best meat I have ever put into my mouth. They ended the night with dances from each of Hawaii’s ethnic influences. Of course this included the hula.
Hawaii has the “hang loose” mentality which I had heard of many times in the past and have seen many people doing the sign with their hand; thumb and pinky raised. Seeing that and experiencing it are two totally different things. I have never felt more laid back and more at peace in my entire life. I want to bottle it up and keep it with me always. The feeling I have about this island simply cannot be put into words. Yes, it truly is the place for me. I felt at home immediately. I’m planning to save my money and go back just as soon as I can. In a few years when my kids are gone and off to college, my husband and I planned on selling everything and buying an RV to travel around the U.S. Now we may have changed our plans. Early retirement in Kauai? Maybe so.