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  • 5 Tips for

    Travel on Kauaʻi

  • Ocean spray texture
July 27, 2021

Formed by a volcanic eruption more than six million years ago, Kauaʻi is both the oldest of the Hawaiian Islands and the smallest by population. Affectionately dubbed the “Garden Isle”, Kauaʻi’s rustic beauty, verdant landscapes, and off-the-beaten-path feel offer visitors a more intimate experience than bustling destinations like Waikiki.

Kauaʻi is a melting pot of cultures tied together by a strong Polynesian influence. Locals here refer to the 49 continental United States as “the mainland”. This separation is about more than simple geography: Hawaiʻi was the last state to join the union in 1959, and many residents still refer to it as the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi, denoting a strong connection to their ancestral lineage.

Here are a few tips for visiting Kauaʻi, and traveling around Hawaiʻi in general.

Embrace a Slower Pace

Kauaʻi may be a small island, but it can still take a little extra time to get from point A to point B. There is essentially one main road around the island, so it pays to build some buffer time into your day trips to account for delays. Kauaʻi’s “big cities”, Lihue and Kapaʻa, see the most congestion, especially during morning and evening rush hour.

Of course, everything runs a little differently here on island time. Embrace the slower pace of life here on Kauaʻi, and take time to truly appreciate the beautiful scenery along the way. With Hōkūala’s convenient location just minutes from nearby Lihue Airport, you’ll have plenty of time to do just that.

Mālama ‘aina

Around here, locals are fond of the phrase mālama ʻaina, which translates to “protect the land”. Indeed, sustainability is a way of life here on Kauaʻi, and the island is home to a multitude of endangered animals in need of special protection.

Many nene (a Hawaiian goose and the state bird of Hawaiʻi) frequent Hōkūala’s grounds. If you are fortunate enough to spot one — or one of the monk seals and honu (Hawaiian green sea turtles) known to take refuge on our shores — please be sure to observe from a safe and respectful distance of 50 feet or more. It’s just one small way you can help mālama ʻaina, respecting the land and the creatures who call it home.

Donʻt Forget Your Slippahs

The culture in Kauaʻi is casual and relaxed, and so is the attire. When packing your suitcase, all you really need are shorts, tank tops, flip flops (or “slippahs”, as they are called in Hawaiʻi), and hiking/water shoes.

Keep in mind you are visiting a tropical jungle environment, and plan for rain and wet conditions. The trails on Kauaʻi can get pretty muddy, so proper footwear is critical. That said, if you book a hiking tour with our Adventure Guides and forget your water shoes, there’s no need to worry — we’ve got you covered with some to borrow!v

Support Local Business

Tourism is the primary industry through which most Hawaiians and locals are able to support their livelihoods and families. Buying from local businesses and farmers on Kauaʻi is a great way to be pono (right or good).

One opportunity, without even leaving the comfort of Hōkūala, is to check out our weekly pop-up market. Each Friday on the pool deck, we feature fantastic local Kauaian artisans and vendors selling their one-of-a-kind wares.

Everything on Kauaʻi Costs More

The Hawaiian Islands are among the most remote in the world, which means many items, supplies, and consumer goods must be shipped in. That means the cost of gas, food, and other supplies will typically be higher than on the mainland.

If you’re looking to save a little money while also supporting local vendors, why not take advantage of the many farmers markets here on Kauaʻi, where you can score the freshest Hawaiian-grown fruits and veggies. Not sure where to start? Hōkūala’s helpful Concierge is happy to assist you — or to offer a restaurant recommendation in line with your budget and mood.

Armed with these helpful travel tips, your visit to Kauaʻi is sure to be one of your best vacations ever. With so much to do, see, eat, and enjoy, the Garden Isle will not disappoint. We look forward to seeing you soon. Aloha!