Even if you’ve visited Kauai before, there are still quirky things to discover that the guidebooks won’t tell you. Guidebooks focus on things like sightseeing, excursions, and where to eat out. But there’s a lot more to know about Kauai.
We put together this list after living here for almost a year. A younger friend of ours, whom we met in Phoenix when she and we were moving out here – yes! on the same day!, contributed, too. It turned out to be a bunch of random things about Kauai that make Paradise personal: amusing, annoying, mysterious, memorable. Here goes (click here if you’re in a reader):
Things About Kauai the Guidebooks Won't Tell You
There's a lot more to know about daily life in Paradise!
Water will rule your life.
Sky to mountain, waterfall to river, valley to sea. Rain, flood, surf. You will come to respect the power of water to influence your mental health, physical safety, and daily plans. "It all ends up in the water," as a friend says.
There are totally different vibes on each side of the island.
The three inhabited sides of the island are unique. South = dry and hot, east = more urban, and north = rainier. You'll probably prefer one over the other two. Some people visit and never get out of Poipu. Others, like us, avoid travel outside the North Shore when at all possible.
You'll see lots of skin, and therefore, tattoos.
Hawaiians and visitors alike love their tatts, and they're amazing. On a tropical island, everyone wears fewer clothes. Be prepared.
Yeah, stuff is expensive, but it works out.
You'll be horrified by prices. Dude, it's an island in the middle of the Pacific! Everything has to be brought in. Then, as you stay longer, you'll realize you've modified your lifestyle and habits. You're probably spending about the same every month as you spent on the mainland, but the money is allocated differently.
It's okay to pick up most hitch-hikers.
Particularly on the North Shore, where we live. All ages: many middle-aged and older people, male and female, regularly hitch into town and back. We picked up our landlord once! Backpackers hitch daily to the end of the road at Ke'e Beach for the Kalalau Trail beyond. People hitch to work, and when their cars break down. Lend them a ride!
Forget leather for the long haul.
The climate is just too humid here. Leather handbags and shoes are extremely vulnerable. Go fake. If you must, here's a way to clean that might work: http://www.mywomenstuff.com/2011/05/mould-on-your-leather-bag-some-tips-on-how-to-clean-a-mouldy-leather-bag/
Shoes are removed at home and when visiting in others homes. You'll want appropriate footwear for activities like hiking and riding, of course, but you'll be wearing "slippers" (flip-flops on the mainland).
If you come looking for your soulmate, they're probably not here right now.
Let's face it, part of moving to Kauai is leaving the past behind. If that includes a failed relationship, you might be tempted to think you'll discover your soulmate here. It could happen, right? Save yourself some heartache. Develop and enjoy your island lifestyle for you. Don't be a player.
You might have a washing machine, but that doesn't mean you'll have a dryer.
Electricity on Kauai is expensive, so you may have to get acquainted with a clothesline. You'll learn to take advantage of a dry day. It can be kind of relaxing to hang laundry, and there's nothing better than line-dried bed linens!
Come to grips with geckos and lizards. In your house.
If you've only stayed at resorts on Kauai, you may never even have seen a gecko. People on Kauai will tell you they're good luck, they eat the bugs, therefore geckos are desirable creatures to have in your house. Up to you. You'll get complacent about them after a while, just like the rest of us. But the poop will still be annoying.
Mildew has evolved into a super-organism here.
It's damp on Kauai. Mt. Waiaeale is the second-wettest spot on earth. Stuff like upholstery, kitchen and bath towels, and even clothing hanging in your closet can retain moisture, which turns into mildew. Your bathroom will surprise you, and you'll be grateful for the properties of bleach.
These are gnarly bastards. More here: http://pamelakinnairdw.hubpages.com/hub/Big-Centipedes-in-Hawaii-Paradise-Anyone
Time is elastic on Kauai.
Days and weeks fly by. You may not know (or even care) what day it is. Yet an individual moment will expand into a vivid state of suspension. It's part of Kauai's magic.
It's a very small island. Everybody knows everybody. And what they're doing.
While people on Kauai value their privacy, it can be almost impossible to retain anonymity. On the North Shore where we live, we've been told there are about 600 permanent residents from Hanalei west to the end of the road at Ke'e. My high school was larger than that. Everybody knows you, or thinks they do. Be aware of the implications.
Cable guys, firefighters, cops and rescue personnel are as rugged as the environment.
We've marveled at the cable and highway guys in the cherry pickers, suspended and working around non-grounded wires. Rescue workers who carry surfboards or helicopter in. Cops who've seen it all. Impressive.
People are serious about their aloha, but they're human, too.
Aloha is everywhere. People work on their aloha, practicing a gentle, kind, helpful and understanding spirit. Reciprocate.
Drive like the locals.
The speed limit is lower here for a reason. Learn the one-lane bridge etiquette (hint: sometimes you're the one who will have to wait). If you can't navigate the narrower parking spaces here in your rented SUV, back out and try again. No honking, brah.
The frame of reference is different.
Even though you're electronically connected, you're still very far away. So you'll be in touch on one level with what you left behind, but it will matter differently. Flip side, you can't escape your past, but you may finally accept it. Popular culture stuff like movie megaplexes, franchise restaurants, stadium events and Powerball do not exist here. You might miss these things. Or not.
Environmental douchebaggery is hated.
Non-GMO/pesticide legislation is pending signature. The Kalalau Trail is feeling the effects of too many visitors and their waste. Respect fragile and endangered species. If you're tempted to take a piece of coral home, know that this is a living organism - order a fake from Pottery Barn instead. Leave the turtles and monk seals alone - or risk a $25,000 fine. http://www.kauaimonkseal.com/GuidelinesForViewing.html
Embrace the journey.
The beauty and magnetism of Kauai is intense. People come to live on Kauai for a variety of reasons. Many are seeking a deeper, more spiritual connection within themselves or a closer relationship with the natural environment. Whatever your expectations, you'll be shown much more. Kauai isn't easy to get to, but it's well worth the effort.
Check out our Kauai Flipboard Magazine! View my Flipboard Magazine.
Tips for Trip Success
Book Your Flight
Find an inexpensive flight by using CheapOAir, a favorite of ours because it regularly returns less expensive flight options from a variety of airlines.
Book Your Hotel or Special Accommodation
We are big fans of Booking.com. We like their review system and photos. If we want to see more reviews and additional booking options, we go to TripAdvisor.
You Need Travel Insurance!
Good travel insurance means having total peace of mind. Travel insurance protects you when your medical insurance often will not and better than what you get from your credit card. It will provide comprehensive coverage should you need medical treatment or return to the United States, compensation for trip interruption, baggage loss, and other situations.
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