Category Archives: Travel

Diamond Head State Monument

Diamond Head State Monument
Location: Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii
Length of visit: 2 hours
Major draws: Scenic views, popular trail
Strenuosity: 1 out of 10
Cost/Fees: $1 per person walk-ins or $5 per vehicle
Additional considerations: Very limited parking, people jams on trail
Description: Diamond Head is an internationally recognized landmark standing above bustling Waikiki Beach. A continuous line of humanity climbs the 1.5-mile roundtrip trail to the top all day every day.

Malaekahana Beach Campground

Malaekahana Beach Campground
Location: North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii
Length of visit: multiple nights
Major draws: Beachside camping, surfing
Strenuosity: 1 out of 10
Cost/Fees: about $20 per night to camp
Additional considerations: Chickens provide free wakeup service, showers without hot water, campfires allowed
Description: We enjoyed 7 nights at this quiet (other than the chickens) campground where we fell asleep to the sound of crashing waves and witnessed some incredible sunsets.

WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument

WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument
Location: Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii
Length of visit: half day
Major draws: USS Arizona Memorial, submarine, museum
Strenuosity: 1 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free
Additional considerations: Free tickets for ferry limited each day
Description: We achieved our goal to witness the 75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 2016. We also managed to nab two of the limited tickets to ferry out to the USS Arizona Memorial that day where we saw scuba divers preparing to inter two survivors remains on board the ship.

Spouting Horn

Spouting Horn
Location: southern Kauai, Hawaii
Length of visit: half hour
Major draws: Natural blowhole, scenic views, sea turtles
Strenuosity: 1 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free
Additional considerations: Limited parking and viewing space
Description: Two lava tubes that open to the ocean create the Spouting Horn, which splashes out one and breathes out the other. The south shore of Kauai tends to be the sunniest part of the island and has plenty to see.

Alakai Swamp

Alakai Swamp—Koke’e State Park
Location: northwestern Kauai, Hawaii
Length of visit: half day
Major draws: Scenic views, unique species
Strenuosity: 7 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free
Additional considerations: Muddy and steep trail
Description: The wettest spot on the planet (averages 452 inches of rain per year) takes time to drain, so it naturally creates a swamp with plant and animal species unique on the island. There is boardwalk in the swamp, but to access that we hiked miles of muddy, slick trails.

Luau Kalamaku

Luau Kalamaku
Location: Lihue, Kauai, Hawaii
Length of visit: 3 hours
Major draws: Food, hula lessons, entertainment, fire twirlers!
Strenuosity: 1 out of 10
Cost/Fees: About $100 per person
Additional considerations:
Description: We chose this luau because it had the best reviews for its entertainment program, which told the story of discovering Kauai from Tahiti through song and dance. The food was great, too, especially the pit roasted pig.

Kauai Backcountry Adventures Tubing

Kauai Backcountry Adventures Tubing
Location: eastern Kauai, Hawaii
Length of visit: half day
Major draws: Tubing, historic hand-carved tunnels
Strenuosity: 1 out of 10
Cost/Fees: About $100 per person
Additional considerations: Water temperature is invigorating
Description: To get the rainwater from the wettest spot on earth to the sugar plantations below, workers dug miles of irrigation ditches and tunnels by hand. Now it’s a really fun not-so-lazy river.

Anini Beach County Park

Anini Beach County Park
Location: northern Kauai, Hawaii
Length of visit: half day to overnight
Major draws: Cheap camping, snorkeling, chickens
Strenuosity: 1 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free day use, $3 per person per night camping
Additional considerations: Must purchase camping permit in Lihue prior to stay, feral chickens provide wakeup call every morning before sunrise (and sometimes around midnight just for fun)
Description: One of the best spots in Kauai to see sea turtles (including the very rare and endangered hawksbill), the offshore reef here protects a large snorkeling area from the large north shore waves. We moved our tent from underneath the beachfront trees the second night due to large numbers of roosting chickens.

Hanakapi’ai Falls

Hanakapi’ai Falls
Location: northwestern Kauai, Hawaii
Length of visit: half day
Major draws: 300-foot waterfall
Strenuosity: 9 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free
Additional considerations: Multiple waist-deep stream crossings, flash floods, trail slippery when wet (all the time)
Description: This trail follows the treacherous Kalalau Trail for the first 2 miles then heads up the soggy valley an additional 2 strenuous miles to reach the impressive falls. It is incredibly difficult to photograph due to the spray at its base, so be sure your equipment is waterproof.

 

Kalalau Valley

Kalalau Valley
Location: northwestern Kauai, Hawaii
Length of visit: multiple nights
Major draws: Uninhabited beach, scenic views, birding
Strenuosity: 10 out of 10
Cost/Fees: $20 per person per night
Additional considerations: Permits limited to 60 people per night and they sell out months in advance, feral goats but no chickens
Description: The trail to Kalalau is hell, but the place itself is paradise—the most beautiful place in all the Hawaiian Islands. Two nights is the minimum amount of time we would recommend staying.