Enchanted by the Garden Isle (Kauai)

“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls.”  –Anais Nin

Ke'e Beach, Kauai, HawaiiI haven’t felt so nostalgic for an island as much as I have for the Garden Isle. Not since Tahiti in 2009.

You’ll often hear travelers say that people are what make a place feel like home.

And it wasn’t so much that we built lasting relationships with people this time around, rather everyone was different. And I loved it. Everyone whose path we crossed was genuinely interested in who we were, where we came from, and what we were up to. And even the smallest of conversations stirred my core in ways I did not understand then.

It’s funny, though, as I say these words about Hawaii.  If you had asked me years ago, whether I ever wanted to travel to Hawaii, I would have said, Heck no! Why would I travel within the USA when there are thousands of other tropical paradises around the world? Go big or stay home. I’d rather go international.

I had been so wrong. I must have been sleeping before finally waking up…

Last year I visited Oahu for the first time. I had not planned for it, nor had I ever considered Hawaii a travel destination for myself. But we flew in for a wedding, and so we took advantage of the time. I loved exploring the island, but ultimately if fell short to my island experience in Tahiti. It felt too overpopulated and urbanized, and felt as if the Hawaiian culture had nearly disappeared.

“Every Hawaiian island is different,” they say. You will hear this a thousand different times. You will hear it, and you will believe it. But it won’t truly make sense until you are in the middle of it all.

Holy smokes. Kauai is so different.

We spent eight magical days on an island that would keep a part of my heart. One that broke me to tears and built me back up. One that challenged, yet nurtured and cleansed my soul.

Somewhere, somehow, in the waves of the crashing sea, I lost my mind and found my heart. And I have no intention to recover it. Would you?

Love and Magic,

Denise

Ke'e Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

PS: Below are photos and blurbs from the first few days we spent on the island. I also included some travel tips toward the end, for any first-time visitors. If you’re on Instagram, find this trip under #OfWildestKauai. Enjoy <3

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KAUAI, HAWAII, USA

I was eagerly anticipating this trip. Have you ever seen photos of the incredible coastlines that exist on this island? The Garden Isle. Home to the wettest spot on Earth.

When we landed, we had a few hours to ourselves before checking into our AirBnB in the town of Kapaa. So, after filling our bellies with food, we drove around taking in the scenery and trying to adjust to the humidity…

Kapaa, Kauai, Hawaii

Kauai, HawaiiOur AirBnB was the cutest cottage in the middle of a jungle! Waking up to pouring rain, singing birds and insects was everything I ever wanted to experience from the moment I saw this listing…

Kapaa, Kauai, HawaiiScroll through the gallery below.  We also had an outdoor shower, but I forgot to snap some photos. Taking a shower under the stars (or under the pouring rain) was absolute bliss!

We spent the following day driving from beach to beach :)

Kapaa, Kauai, HawaiiAnini Beach

Anini Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

Anini Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

Not a bruise, in that photo below. I promise. Lol! The dye from my tapestry was rubbing off. It got all over my white bikini. But at least it dyed a cool design onto my bottoms. Haha.

Lumahai Beach

Anini Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

Anini Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

Town of Hanalei

Hanalei, KauaiI fell in love with this little town. It had everything — shops, restaurants, rentals, and lots of shaved ice! Probably my favorite little town in Kauai, filled with travelers and hippy souls…

Hanalei, Kauai, Hawaii

Hanalei, Kauai, HawaiiTwo days later we would have picked up two hitch-hiking travelers along these roads. Larry and Kevin. They had been in Kauai for three months now. They each shared their favorite places in Kauai, and when we parted ways, they disappeared into the jungle.

We had no idea that in the late evening, they were embarking on an 11-mi hike to Kalalau Beach along the Na Pali Coast. They were probably hiking it for the something’th time already. Troopers.

Kauai, Hawaii

Ke’e Beach

Ke'e Beach, Kauai, HawaiiWe drove through winding roads, rainbows, and rain, and finally made our way to Kee Beach for sunset.

Anini Beach, Kauai, HawaiiAt the time, we had no idea this would be the starting point to our 22-mile hike along the Na Pali Coast. We were so naive.

Ke'e Beach, Kauai, HawaiiKe'e Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

Ke'e Beach, Kauai, HawaiiThese very shores would soon break us in ways we could never imagine…So beautiful and so challenging.

Kee Beach, Kauai, HawaiiA few tips if you’re planning your first visit to Kauai:

  • Rent a car. I rarely saw buses. And biking seemed dangerous with most roads having no shoulder.
  • Lather on the sun screen. It’s so easy to burn, and it happens quick!
  • It rains. But it quickly passes. Plus, who doesn’t like rainbows?
  • Stay friendly. Everyone is here to relax.
  • Do not disrupt sea turtles (or seals, or other wildlife). Your bright camera flashes can damage their eyes. Plus it’s illegal to harrass or touch them. Please! Don’t be that tourist :(
  • This is probably the one island you’ll want to tour by helicopter.
  • Take a hike! Some of the most incredible views are only accessible by foot.
  • You cannot drive around the entire island, per se. The Na Pali Coast is the breaking point of each road, breaking the island into East and West
  • The east coast was my favorite. It was so lush and rainy and lovely.
  • Spend time in the towns of Hanalei and Kapaa — my two favorite.
  • Have conversations with locals or travelers or anybody, really. People are so amazing.

I think I’ll be updating this list as things come to mind. If you have any questions, drop me an email or comment. I’ll be posting more stories and photos in the coming days. Kauai was incredible.

Until next time…

Anini Beach, Kauai, Hawaii***

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Want to see more photos, recent travel updates, and inspiration? Check out my Instagram! Interested in working with me, or simply want to meet? Email me at ofwildestheart[at]gmail.com

Stay curious, wild hearts!

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5 responses to “Enchanted by the Garden Isle (Kauai)

  1. Pingback: Photo Diary: From the Depths of a Red, Red Earth (Waimea Canyon) | Of Wildest Heart·

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