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Five Things to Consider When Visiting Kauaʻi

You’ve finally booked your dream vacation to Kauaʻi, secured your lodging, and confirmed your car rental reservation. You now daydream of all the exciting fun you’ll have exploring the island, indulging in the fresh, local cuisine, and relaxing beachside on the warm, golden sand. You can almost feel the warmth of the sun on your face and smell the coconut-scented sunscreen as you envision yourself unwinding on your beach towel, the light blue cloudless sky overhead, palm trees swaying in the soft breeze, and the tropical tradewinds gently blowing your troubles far, far away.

Kauai photographerDepending on what you are most interested in doing while on vacation, Kauaʻi offers something for everyone. There are a million and one ways to uniquely enjoy your stay, and a big part of the magic is created in the moment, going where the island and day take you. That being said, there are a few key things to consider when visiting Kauaʻi. This consideration guide is by no means an exhaustive list of what to do and see on the beautifully lush Garden Island (there are plenty of resources out there for that, although you absolutely MUST join us on one of our unforgettable Holo Holo Charters boat tours), but rather a short list highlighting information and suggestions often overlooked, and meant to support you in enjoying the best vacation possible.

1. Weather: Some of the best advice I’ve ever received is “Be ready for anything.” This tip is especially applicable when traveling and regarding weather. While preparation for and on your trip is key, there is no way to plan for everything, including the weather.

Kauaʻi has two distinct seasons: Winter, which is our rainy season and lasts from November through April, and Summer, which lasts from May through October, respectively. If you visit during the winter months, know that rain is likely, especially on the North/East Shores, where the waves and surf will be more treacherous. Be prepared, pack a rain jacket and/or umbrella, and watch for rainbows.

The waves and surf switch in the summer months, and the South Shore sees larger swells while the North Shore waters become calm as glass. A popular local saying on Kauaʻi is, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait a few minutes.” If you give in just enough to the ebb and flow of weather on Kauaʻi, you’ll enjoy your trip, rain or shine.

2. Swimming Conditions: Swimming conditions are closely related to the weather and vary with season and weather patterns. Kauaʻi waters are both beautiful and strong, and it is important to educate yourself on rip currents, know/respect your swimming limits, and swim with a buddy rather than alone. There are 11 Lifeguard towers located island-wide, and swimming while on vacation at one of these locations is wise. If you are unsure whether swimming is safe, ask a lifeguard. If no lifeguard is present, ask a local.

When you arrive at the beach, watch the surf and water for a while before you enter. The water and currents can switch fast, and it is a good idea to watch the wave sets to get an idea of the current situation before you swim. Swimming after heavy rains, when the water is brown, near river mouths, or after dark is not recommended.

3. Hiking: Kauaʻi is well-known and revered worldwide for its stunning hiking trails, and many varying lengths and degrees of skill levels are available. No matter where you decide to hike, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Weather (sun, rain, flash floods, etc.) plays a big part in where to hike on any given day. Depending on the weather the day before/of your planned hike, assess the conditions and whether it is a good day to hike that specific trail. Safety first, fun second!
  • Sun and mosquito protection are essential, and so is hydration. To be prepared for whatever the day throws your way, dress in layers.
  • Proper footwear is vital, and be ready to get your hiking or tennis shoes muddy. Kauaʻi red dirt is real and will most likely return home with you.

4. Traffic: With one main two-lane highway running roughly 75 miles from Keʻe Beach in the North to Polihale State Park in the West, be prepared for slow-moving, bumper-to-bumper traffic, specifically at certain times of the day.

  • If you are headed to Lihuʻe from the North/East side, go early in the morning when Contra Flow is up. An additional southbound traffic lane is open from approximately 6am-11am on weekdays and 8am-11am on weekends.
  • Traffic often backs up in Kapaʻa Town, heading South, from roughly 12pm to 3pm.
  • Another place you may need to exercise your driving patience is during rush hour, from Lihuʻe to the South/West sides. Traffic tends to build up in Puhi, near KCC (Kauai Community College), where the lanes merge from four lanes down to two.
  • Local tip: When you are feeling stressed about traffic, take a deep breath, look at the beautiful landscape surrounding you, trust you will get where you are going in perfect time, eventually, and use the extra time to count your blessings!

5. Vacation in the Spirit of Aloha: This is the most important thing to pack and keep with you at all times. It is useful across the globe, where ever your travels bring you, and most certainly here on Kauaʻi – ALOHA! Aloha is so much more than a greeting and goodbye; it is a way of life, being, speaking, acting, and respect. The University of Hawaiʻi states in the Hawaiʻi Law of the Aloha Spirit that “Aloha Spirit is the coordination of mind and heart within each person.”

Visiting Kauai

Five Hawaiian words comprise each letter of aloha and help encompass this multi-layered, meaningful word:

  • “Akahai,” meaning kindness, to be expressed with tenderness;
  • “Lōkahi,” meaning unity, to be expressed with harmony;
  • “Oluʻolu,” meaning agreeable, to be expressed with pleasantness;
  • “Haʻahaʻa,” meaning humility, to be expressed with modesty;
  • “Ahonui,” meaning patience, to be expressed with perseverance.

While visiting Kauaʻi, keep the Spirit of Aloha alive in all you do, and you will experience a trip unlike any other. If you keep it with you when you return home, it may just change your life. We look forward to welcoming you to the gorgeously green Garden Island for a vacation of a lifetime. Now that you are all packed and ready to go, equipped with an insider’s scoop, all that’s left to do is to get here. Aloha, and see you soon!

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