I was supposed to fly into Honolulu for an early morning meeting, but as happens from time to time we encountered some pretty rough weather in the air. They decided that they should reroute us around the storm, so we wound up landing on Kauai – Lihue to be exact. Lihue is a small airport, and there are not many flights out. Therefore, I found out once we were on the ground that I would be on Kauai for approximately 24 hours before I could head back to my now-rescheduled meeting in Honolulu. I had never been to Kauai, so I was pretty excited. The only problem was that I had nowhere to stay. Fortunately, I knew I could hop onto HotelTonight and find a number of Kauai hotels within seconds. That’s exactly what happened, so I was all set.
I walked over and rented a car, and before I knew it I was driving down one of the lushest and most gorgeous highways I had ever seen anywhere in the world. I was on Kauai, and I was going to make the most of my opportunity. I dropped my things off at the nearby hotel and I was off, ready to see what the “Garden Island” had to offer visitors who had 24 hours to enjoy this place. Thanks to the concierge, I had a plan of attack.
Kauai is unique in that its highway does not go all the way around the island. Therefore, rather than making my way around the island and driving back, I decided to drive to what is known as the North Shore and work my way back. Princeville is a resort town, but it offers a glimpse of what life would be like if you wanted to enjoy this lifestyle. This is the lap of luxury, and it’s here because of the stunning landscape that surrounds it. It was a great place to start making my way along the North Shore.
It wasn’t too long before I was pulling into Hanalei. No, this isn’t the town where Puff the Magic Dragon lives, but it is a local haven that is as pure Kauai as anything you could possibly encounter. There is a little downtown area here with food stands and shops, and if you drive past town a bit you’ll see gorgeous homes on stilts and eventually Ke’e Beach, one of the most beautiful scenes you could ever hope to witness. Hanalei was a wonder. You could get lost here and never really know what day it is nor would you even care. It’s “aloha” personified.
Leaving Hanalei was difficult. I wanted to stay there. My pain was soon eased, though as I drove along the Na Pali Coast. It was breathtaking. It also made the short drive to Waimea Town even shorter. I pulled into town and soon realized that this was going to be a good look at how the locals lived. It was midday and I was hungry, so I pulled into a local place and sampled some poke. Poke is basically raw ahi tuna that is seasoned in many different ways. My favorite was the wasabi poke – it mixed flavor and heat in perfect balance. Nothing like a Hawaiian lunch.
I pulled off of the highway and ventured into what seemed like a deep rainforest. I actually was, or so I thought. What I was driving through is known as the Tunnel of Trees. It’s a line of Eucalyptus trees that form the perfect canopy over the road, and it’s famous with the locals. I followed the Tunnel of Trees into Old Koloa Town, which is less a town than it is a gathering of quaint and unassuming buildings where the locals come to trade and eat. I picked up a few memory pieces and decided to keep going towards the ocean. I parked and walked what is known as Poipu Beach, and it is famous not only across Hawaii but also the world. See it – you won’t regret it.
I wrapped up my day in Lihue, which made sense since I’d be flying out of here the next day. Lihue is a mixture of locals and tourists, but at this point that was great because I was hungry. I chose a fantastic Italian restaurant – who knew? – and I was more than satisfied with the results. I took a stroll along Kalapaki Bay and listened to the waves before turning in for the night. It had been a great day. It had been a fulfilling day. It had been a tiring day. I was asleep in my comfortable room in no time.
I love Kauai. I didn’t know the first thing about Kauai before today, but I now know that I will be back. One of the visitors I spoke to here said that he comes for a month every year, and I understand why. Time stands still here, and you get to truly Live Aloha on the Garden Island. Thankfully, HotelTonight had Kauai hotels ready for me, as that’s usually the biggest problem with impromptu trips like this one. It wasn’t at all, and that left me all the time I needed to enjoy a place I cannot wait to see again.