After almost two weeks of traveling around Maui, island of lovers, and Oahu, island of excitement, Ania and I landed in Kauai on a dark evening. From the airport, a chatty teenager drove us to our rental car agency where a newly married girl and her boss expressed their gratefulness for our visit on their beautiful island. “You’ll see, the girl said excitedly, Kauai will soon become your favorite hawaiian island. There is really nowhere else like here!” And she was right, Kauai did become my favorite island. There is something magical about its seemingly unexplored and uninhabited wilderness and the infinite possibilities that it holds.
Our cottage for the week was hidden far away between mountains, in the middle of a twisting road puzzle. When we finally got there, a small light lite up on the second floor of the residence. We got out of our car and said hello to the women stepping on her balcony to greet us. We were happy to have arrived safely and were ready to sleep.
Later that night while falling asleep to the sound of the reassuring air fan, a loud alarm abruptly woke us up. Ania jumped up next to me and screamed “Oh my God Gab, what is happening?!?” Still confused about whether this was a weird dream or not, I moved my shoulders up expressing I had no idea. We went back to sleep, but the minute round two started, we decided that we needed to do something.
After calling the owners ten times in a row without answer, we started imagining every scenario possible. Maybe this was a robber alarm…we had been swiping on Tinder earlier and thought that one creepy guy might have tracked us down. “No, I said, they can’t find out our exact location.” We discarded that theory and checked if something was burning instead but found nothing out of the ordinary. “I’m scared, Ania said, maybe it’s a gas alarm and we can’t see the gas and we’re going to die intoxicated in our sleep!” At that point, we just couldn’t go back to bed.
We put our flip flops on and walked out of the house. We didn’t see a thing and didn’t know where to go because we were only guided by the moonlight and our faint iPhone light. Desperate, Ania yelled the name of the owner, trying to wake our host family up. Immediately, dogs barked and I swear I heard a wolf howl! I grabbed her arm, we screamed in panic, and ran back to the house almost losing our flip flops along the way. That’s it, we were done playing heroes!
We took every alarm off the walls, deactivated them and went back to bed, still worried but exhausted. The next morning, the man owner apologized endlessly and told us that he had been testing a new alarm system that obviously wasn’t working well. We were relieved that no weird fire or monster was after us.
We gazed at our peaceful surroundings, the avocado trees, the wild vegetation and chickens walking around the cottage like they owned the place and let all our stress go. Without even trying to look decent, we packed our daily backpack and went to the tiny town of Kapaa for breakfast at Java Kai.
Hiking the Na Pali Coast
Being prudent planners, we asked our host for advice before starting our Kauai exploration. Gladly, the nice man revealed that Kauai could be very unpredictable and that lately, mother nature had been playing funny weather games. The island suffered from flooding and rumors of a possible tsunami was going around. He suggested that we review our grand hiking expectations and be careful before embarking on adventures we weren’t prepared for.
His precious advice in mind, we drove to the Na Pali Coast but it was almost noon when we finished circling around to find parking next to the hiking trail. We were disappointed that we wouldn’t have enough time to reach the beautiful Hanakapiʻai Beach before feeling hungry, but we decided to go for a short hike anyways.
Even if we didn’t reach the beach, hiking the Na Pali Coast to the first view point was worth it, and allowed us to take these gorgeous pictures…
We hiked back down and stopped for lunch in the small town of Hanalei, walked around all afternoon and went to bed early, very grateful that no alarm woke us up this time.
Finding peace at the Sleeping Giant
On our second day, we grabbed a couple of old brownish touristy books laying around in our cottage and left on the quest to find the perfect short hike. A couple of pages flipped later, I gently tapped on Ania’s arm and pointed to the travel guide. “Look, I said, this is so cool! At the top of the Sleeping Giant mountain, there is a box where we can deposit a small prayer!” Ania and I suddenly got very excited about the opportunity of leaving a trace somewhere on Kauai, and quickly grabbed our pro hiking gear (running shoes!), some paper and a pen, and drove to the trail.
By the time we got to the Sleeping Giant, the sun was out and shining. We hiked in the heat and sweat for about an hour, endlessly talking, trying to stay on the right path, sometimes even climbing on strange rocks, hoping our trail radar was on track.
When we arrived at the top, it was like fairytale land: three kids were running around playing together while their moms were setting a picnic. We looked around for the prayer box, behind trees, bushes and flowers, but unfortunately couldn’t find it.
In the end, finding the box didn’t really matter. We were so glad that we had hiked all this way and had a taste of the fresh air, silence and joy. We sat on the Respect Kauai wood bench and gazed at the beautiful view in silence, happy to be where we needed to be.
Bathing in the Ho’opi’i Falls
I don’t know why we are so obsessed with bathing in secret greenish waterfalls, but every time the opportunity presents itself, we can’t help but jump right in! I guess the experience makes us feel truly adventurous, like modern Pocahontas.
On our arrival in Kauai, our hosts had informed us of a beautiful waterfall hidden very close to their cottage, which got us very excited. We would only have to hike a couple of minutes to get to our destination and so we planned this perfect adventure for our last day. Hair tided up, flip flops and bathing suit on, towel under our arms, we headed towards our secluded waterfall.
After 20 minutes of actively looking for the waterfall alone in the forest, hiking on muddy flip flops, stepping over twisted branches and pointy rocks, we wondered if we were lost. Fortunately, we heard voices getting closer.
A group of 3 women approached us and invited us to follow them to the hidden Ho’opi’i Falls. One of them was a local, and she couldn’t wait to share the waterfall experience with her two friends visiting from other Hawaiian islands. After climbing for a couple more miles, and decrypting strange code language such as an Arizona bottle directing us into the right path, we finally reached the beautiful falls, where the women shared with us their mosquito bite lotion, since our legs had been completely eaten by the little bugs.
Our super trendy water shoes on, we climbed on the waterfall rocks and then jumped in the cold green water. We swam towards the Tarzan rope where I took a couple more minutes than Ania to climb up the rope and laid there, circling around with it. “Climb higher! Ania said, you can do it Gab!” But that was it for me, I was perfectly happy at this moderate height.
Other visitors had now joined us in the waterfall, and they all looked impressed by Ania’s rope climbing skills, as she gracefully lay up there, smiling. When she jumped off and swam towards me, the other visitors grabbed the rope and swung themselves into the water making huge splashes.
We were gathering our stuff and starting to head back when a random guy yelled at us. “Hey girls!” We looked at each other, wandering what he was going to say. “Be careful climbing back in flip flops!” he added with a half smile. We thanked him for his precious advice and got on our way. He didn’t need to worry. After spending 4 days on Kauai, we had become professional flip flop climbers.
Kauai restaurant suggestions for the foodie
Food trucks Al Pastor Tacos and Small Town Coffee Co.
Food trucks are so great because they make you feel like you have found a restaurant that isn’t there to stay, and therefore you should absolutely enjoy every single bit of food, since you might never have the opportunity to taste it again. Also, you kind of feel like you have found a secret gipsy place, which is very cool.
Small Town Coffee Co. has coffee and pastries that will wake you up with their absolute goodness, that you can enjoy sitting at the few wood tables under the morning sunshine. Also, a very cool thing happened to us there: a man mistook us for two Brazilians. We must have looked very tan and our French Canadian accent very exotic!
Al Pastor Tacos serves Hawaii’s best: Fish Tacos. They melt in your mouth. That’s all I need to say!
Breakfast at Java Kai was perfect for us since the place was located just a short drive away from our cottage in Kapaa. They serve lattes with white floral designs on top like we like them, and a large selection of smoothies and juices that will reboot you with fruity energy!
We unfortunately couldn’t eat at Tahiti Nui since we arrived at a random time in the afternoon where they didn’t serve food, but it is very cool since Georges Clooney was there in the movie The Descendants.
Even if Ania and I are two single women in our mid-twenties, we surprisingly did not seek a lot of boy action during our adventurous trip to Hawaii. Actually, the action came to us when we did not expect it, during a night out at the Olympic Cafe.
It was our last night in Hawaii, and we had promised ourselves that after days of coming back home, eating light homemade dinners and hopping into bed after watching television shows on the dangers of sharks and flash floods, we had to at least try to find some nightlife. So we put on our usual jumpsuits and flip flops and went makeup free for a casual night out in the town.
Walking around calm Kappa, the Olympic Cafe stood out with its open-air second floor terrace. We entered to find out that most tables were filled out with people cheerfully drinking beers, loudly talking and watching sports. We stood at the entrance in our cute jumpsuits, not really fitting in but so happy to experience something new and fun.
The waiter sat us down at the bar where we ordered two large Lava Flow drinks. I don’t know if the cool drinks did the trick, but the man next to us started a conversation.
Turns out he was a young professional who had studied and worked a 9-to-5 job in Florida only to realize he did not want that life and had decided to come back to Kauai to live as an adventure tour guide. That night, we chatted for hours learning very useful information, such as what to do if a tsunami hit us the next day, and how dangerous flash floods are, which were very big concerns of ours. We also asked him why there were so many chicken running free on Hawaii, but this mystery was unfortunately left unsolved.
The next morning, we left beautiful and peaceful Hawaii, paradise of wild chicken and blooming friendships. Recharged with positive and calm energy, we were ready to get back to our friends and family.