The Hawaii guidebook is 600+ pages. Sleep deprived and jetlagged from a States visit, I set about the task of tackling the pages, fully knowing the exercise would take 1-2 months to complete. But our experience says great holidays don’t plan themselves and well-focused and timely research nets the best results. So, I spent W’s summertime nap hours reading of tropical beaches and little known swimming holes in the Hawaiian countryside. As a result of my complete immersion in Hawaiian life, by the time I finished the book, I was convinced we should move to Hawaii rather than simply visit for a couple weeks mid-winter. That prospect was short-lived (due to an exploding cost of living, prejudice against non-natives, few peers, travel time to the east coast and a volatile job scene). Alas, a holiday in paradise would have to do…
From our experience and given our travel style, accommodations are of little importance. Of course we want to stay someplace safe, clean and well-located…but we’re never ones for the 5-star resorts which tend to book up. We tend to prioritise destinations/home bases over the actual accommodation. So, the first choice was the hardest. Which island? Oahu for excitement. Kauai for lush green and adventure. Maui for exotic luxury. The Big Island for live lava. We would venture to all the islands aboard a cruise with G’s extended family, so eventually decided to focus our solo week in Kauai, spending a few days in the north at Hanalei Bay. And a few days in the south at Poipu Beach.
During the winter months, Hanalei Bay is a surfer’s paradise. The 6-10’ waves literally pound the shore. In fact, while we rented a cottage a couple rows back from the sea and though our windows were closed at night, we could still hear the rhythmic pounding of waves at night. Days were spent grabbing yummy coffee at the local café in town, visiting the local farmers’ market for fresh fruit and veg (incidentally, a fresh local pineapple goes for $6-10?!), playing on the sand and generally enjoying a healthy dose of sunshine and vitamin D. The bay is said to be one of the most pristine and ‘old style’ escapes in Hawaii. Taro fields grew in the valley set back from the bay and being Hawaii, there are wild chickens EVERYWHERE with lots of green grass for our little guy to make chase.
The islands are relatively small, so in the case of Kauai, it’s possible to drive from the north to the south in ~1.5 hours. So, our journey to the south would be low stress. We hopped into the car [all the while W urging us that he should drive ☺], stopped at a little greasy spoon whose fish wraps were featured on The Travel Channel’s Hawaiian special for lunch and finally arrived in Poipu, a resort town. Being honest, Poipu is a mecca for tourists. There’s very little of ‘authentic Hawaii’ left as most of the area’s been overtaken by strip malls and resort-style accommodation. But, we chose this bit of the island as our second homebase as the surf is calm, there’s plenty of native wildlife to spot (whales, turtles and seals are regulars along this spot of shore) and little protected tidal pools are great to keep kiddies safe and busy by day. We rented a condo within a resort very near to the local ‘shopping pavillion’ (ie strip mall) so we could walk to dinner and drinks if we chose not to cook in our flat. And, Poipu was located very near to Waimea Canyon and the Na Pali Coast—so we spent a day hiking the trails and enjoying the rugged green cliffs and landscapes. With me ~5/6 months preggo and W strapped to G’s back, we passed a labour and delivery nurse. She was very impressed by our 6.5 mile hike (the awaawapuhi hike)—though to us, despite the incline, by our usual standards this was a ‘baby hike’. In fact, after his insistence, even W did 1.25 miles of the hike independently on foot… Though we’re not resort folk, Poipu was heaven-sent and exactly what we were looking for. In the end, our research paid off and we feel certain that we chose the right homebases for our family’s interests.