BrightSide and I took the kids to Kauai earlier this month, and paradise really is the only word to describe that island. We’ve visited the big island of Hawaii and Maui over the years, but Kauai is far and away our favorite one.
It’s fairly undeveloped. Yes, there are hotels and restaurants and such, but it isn’t built up commercially like the other islands we’ve visited. Since there isn’t a road that travels around the entire island, there will always be a part of Kauai that is unreachable by vehicle. It’s a buffer that ensures the Na Pali Coast (on the northwest portion of the island) will forever remain untouched. Kauai embodies the beauty of the natural world, and visitors of every kind (from mild-mannered tourists to hard-core adventurers) can find ways to appreciate this island and its culture.
Our family is blessed to be able to travel to some amazing places through BrightSide’s company, but he and I decided long ago to wait until the kids were old enough to appreciate Hawaii before taking them. I mean, we’re talking about a whole lot of travel (about 10-11 hours in the air), airport time, plus a six-hour time difference, and there was no way we were doing that so they could see “just another pretty beach” and beg to play in the pool. Until they were ready to appreciate the beauty of the island and the unique Hawaiian culture, we were committed to vacationing closer to home.
Until this year. This year they were finally ready.
We actually took them to Kauai over the 2014-2015 winter break, and they loved it so much that they begged for the chance to go back this summer. BrightSide was equally on board with the idea of spending another week in that beautiful place so we packed our bags for paradise.
Bear talked for weeks before we left about getting to rent a Jeep for our stay on the island. (She’s decided a Jeep is her dream car.) Things can sometimes be a little, um, unpredictable with arrangements there since they can be a little laid back. (What? You reserved a Jeep? Sorry, man, the last one just went out.) This possibility planted me firmly in the “I’ll believe we have one when I see it” camp. You should have seen the look on the kids’ faces when BrightSide picked us up at the terminal in our very own Jeep. I believe there were actual squeals of delight involved.
Please note: I, too, have always loved a Jeep. What’s not to love? They’re sporty, rugged, and just plain old fun. But you know what’s not fun? Being forty-something with lower back problems, riding around in a Jeep all week. Turns out that part kind of sucks donkeys.
T-man and Bear were so excited about the week’s plans. Being there in the summer meant more manageable oceans (you’ll notice I didn’t say gentle, just more manageable – those people have got some serious waves, y’all) and a chance to get into the water. Winter ocean conditions are generally rougher so they weren’t able to log a lot of water time on our last visit; this time they couldn’t wait to snorkel and boogie board and explore this beautiful island.
Funny enough, one of the things they were most excited to return to was the pineapple. They did all but openly scoff at me in December when I told them Hawaiian pineapple would change their lives, but they were singing a different tune by the time we left the island. Bear probably ate her body weight in pineapple daily on this trip, and every night like clockwork she’d moan that she’d had too much…but what did she reach for the next day? Pineapple galore. (And she’s our carnivore!)
We had all kinds of adventures during our week in the Pacific, and I’m planning to drop some of our better stories on here. But for now, let me share (what I thought were) some interesting facts about the island. (If you’re one of those people with absolutely no interest in this sort of thing, feel free to let your eyes glaze over for a few minutes. Or put your head down and take a nap. Go on, you know you’ll love it.)
- Missionaries created an alphabet when they discovered the Hawaiians had no written language. The Hawaiian language has only 12 letters: five vowels (a, e, i, o, u) and seven consonants (h, k, l, m, n, p, w).
- A few of the Hawaiian words our kids learned while visiting Kauai:
- Aloha = hello and goodbye
- Keiki = child or children
- Mahalo = thank you
- ‘Ohana = family.
- Kauai is home to one of the wettest places on earth. Mount Wai’ale’ale is in the center of the island and it rains there nearly every day.
- Waimea Canyon (“the Grand Canyon of the Pacific”) is on the west coast. Each layer represents a different eruption and lava flow on the island.
Note: We used The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook while visiting the island and it’s an incredible resource. All of the facts above (and much, much more) are in that magic blue book, which is actually fun to read (a strange thing to say about a guidebook, I know). We highly recommend this series if you’re ever heading to one of the four islands Andrew Doughty has researched.
(Okay, factoid session over. Wakey, wakey!)
We may have returned to our regular life, but I have to admit I’m still dreaming of those beaches and beautiful ocean waves. And I’m determined to hang onto at least a bit of that Hawaiian rhythm with its overwhelming sense of peace and serenity.