Dave and I have been anticipating this vacation for awhile now. We found ourselves saying “Hawaii” whenever we would feel the least bit of stress or worry over our jobs. I also may or may not have practiced hula dancing in our kitchen the night before when I should have been packing instead. Kauai is the only thing that got me through the end of the school year. We knew we wanted some faraway tropical place we had never to, and since we don’t have kiddos yet, we decided to fly 13+ hours to the little heavenly island of Kauai. We stayed on Kauai’s North Shore in a town called Princeville, and we traveled five minutes into our favorite little town called Hanalei. Yes, the place where Puff the Magic Dragon lived by the sea. Hanalei is the cutest little surfer hippie town where there are no chain restaurants or stores. Everyone drinks smoothies, practices yoga, surfs, cares about the environment, and lives an active lifestyle. Dave and I found ourselves asking, “How can we move down here? What could we do for work?” Don’t get me wrong, East Tennessee is home, but we left a little piece of our heart in Kauai. While we were in Chicago awaiting at the gate for our flight to Honolulu, a Hawaiian lady asked us which islands we were going to visit. I replied, “We’re going to Kauai and staying in Princeville.” She quickly responded, “That’s my favorite part of Hawaii. The Kauai spirit is amazing. You will feel the atmosphere as soon as you get off the plane.” I didn’t understand what she meant until I actually got there. All I can say is that Kauai is physically the most gorgeous place I have ever seen- waterfalls draining off the lush mountains, rainbows appearing several times throughout the day, sapphire Pacific waves, and a constant ocean breeze. Oh, and chickens and roosters. There’s an overpopulation of them there because rumor has it that when they were filming Jurassic Park, the movie crew had chickens to feed the dinosaurs. A bad storm blew through, and the chickens and roosters kind of went MIA. If I were a chicken, I would totally go MIA in Kauai, too. Here’s a few things I learned in Kauai:
1.) Everyone really does say Aloha (hello) and Mahalo (thank you).
2.) Wear bathing suit bottoms that fit kind of snug when trying to surf. My precious native surf instructor, Holo, saw “A Bad Moon Arising,” but he was sweet enough to act like he didn’t.
3.) Research where you snorkel before you go there. Dave and I went to Tunnels Beach near Hanalei, and it was incredible. We saw a sea turtle while snorkeling and another Hawaiian monk seal resting on the beach (earlier we saw a seal on the south shore of Poi’pu). We heard some people talking about reef sharks, which aren’t known to be aggressive. However, this is the same beach where a tiger shark attacked soul surfer Bethany Hamilton and ripped off her arm. I would have reevaluated our decision to go to Tunnels had I known that.
4.) Hiking 8 rough miles to see the Hanakapi’ai Falls is totally worth every step.
5.) The Napali Coast is breathtaking. This is where they filmed part of Pirates of the Carribean, but unfortunately I didn’t see Johnny Depp.
6.) The Waimea Canyon is worth the drive.
7.) The people of Kauai are ALL about supporting the locals, their own people. They take care of each other, and they all put in an effort to take care of their island. I wish we could adopt this mindset. There’s too much litter in our beautiful state.
8.) Why did the chicken cross the road? Because it’s Kauai.
9.) The north shore of Kauai where we stayed is the second rainiest part of the planet. This worried me before we went, but I just thought, “Well, I’ll just buy a rain jacket if it’s really that bad.” It honestly was not bad at all. It would barely sprinkle at various parts of the day, but it was refreshing. It’s not the kind of rain that hangs around like we’re used to in East TN. Princeville is so green and lush in vegetation, and the waterfalls and rainbows would not be possible without all the rain. There is always something beautiful in the things we often perceive as negative.
10.) I met an older native surf shop owner in Hanalei named Mitch when Dave was golfing at The Prince Course. Mitch and I talked about various subjects, from the art of paddling while surfing to taxation in Hawaii. At one point, crazy haired, barefooted Mitch quoted scripture about having faith as small as a mustard seed and moving mountains. Although I thought I understood those lines fairly well, Mitch made me think differently about them. He said that it’s often the mountains we create for ourselves that we have the power to move. He went on to say that we must take time to breathe and experience the breath of life itself. This just goes to show that the people we meet in life, even just the ones we encounter for a few minutes and will never see again, have the ability to influence us. Here’s to creating less mountains and taking more time to breathe. Mahalo, Kauai, Dave and I needed just that.
(Images are taken with my Nikon and iPhone).