Kauai known as the Jurassic Park Island. In fact, the movie Jurassic Park was filmed in Hawaii on the the island, Kauai. I have visited Kauai this summer for 10 days and it was one of the most spontaneously and adventurous trips that I have did. This trip was very unplanned and well, I went with the flow with a bit of stress going into this.
Travelling Last Minute
My boyfriend and I found really cheap tickets to Kauai, Hawaii. We were at our local Starbucks working away and we took a small break. By the way, if you want to work smart, download the extension“ Pomodoro” on Google Chrome, which is a timer that makes you work efficiently with 20 minute increments with a 5 minute break. This allows you to focus and allow the brain to function more effectively instead of dreading hours and trying to multitask and get carried away every 10 minutes. I know I was very guilty of working this way. This is also a very effective way of studying if you are in school. Anyways, during our break time, we spontaneously thought lets look at some flights as we were talking about travelling. We had no clue where to go but we love to look at the website called “Next Departures” which shows cheap flight finds in the airline industry during certain periods of the year. This allowed us to find a flight to Kauai, Hawaii for only $425.00 CAD compared to the usual $650.00 CAD.
I kid you not we found this flight during the afternoon and it was booked in the evening, departing in exactly 4 days. We threw it n our credit cards and we were booked. To be honest, we didn’t do much research into accommodations but we figured it can’t be that expensive. However, booking last minute through AirBnb is kinda expensive. However you can do some hotels starting at $250/night and/or you may find motels ( in advance) for a little less than the average hotel night. Airbnb can be cheaper if you book in advance otherwise you are looking anywhere from $150/night and up. However, there is also limited availability since you are booking last minute. But booking up to six months in advance you are can find places for less than $80/night.
On a Budget
Long story short, we were shocked by how much accordions were. But we have looked up on Google, “How to stay for cheap in kauai, Hawaii”. Every link we clicked, the first thing that came up was, camping! The first thing that came into my mind, well Hawaii is a tropical country aren’t there going to be lots of bugs and just creepy crawly’s? I was wrong. Yes there are but they are more in land in the forests/mountains. I know we wanted to do camping during the summer, and it was kinda difficult to schedule in camping so we were set to camp in Hawaii. This was the most adventurous thing, I did so last minute.
Did We Bring Our Camping Gear?
Next. we were wondering how on earth do we travel with camping gear on the plane. Not sure how you all travel, but I don’t usually check in my luggage. Instead, I just take a carry on. I pack really light. Travelling minimally is important! I always say, if you are travelling somewhere civilized, worst comes to worst, you can always buy something you forget. When you think of camping gear… you think tons of stuff, heavy and large things. Well, we didn’t bring anything other than our clothing, our toiletries, tech stuff ( camera, drone, tech gimbals, aux cable, earphones, phones), a frisbee, two books and a speaker for music, lol. No camping gear was brought from Toronto, Canada. Instead we planned on purchasing everything in Hawaii.
Finding Places to Stay
Because, everything was so last minute and our flight came in late in the day, we were ready to pay at least $150 for the first night at a hotel Inn, since nothing was planned. We found airbnb that were equivalent to the hotel but we thought lets get comfortable and figure our sh*t out.
On our way to our car rental place (mentioned below, in section Car Rental) from the Airport, we took a taxi. It was a 15 minute ride and we had the sweetest driver ever. We ended up in a conversation what we were planning to do. And she was like well she has a good family friend that does Airbnb, thats not listed but is more for like family guests and that we were invited to her guest house, if we wanted since we had not concrete plan the first night. It was so funny but we had to trust with our gut and instinct. We went with our gut and we got her family friends contact, in order to contact her if we wanted to stay at her guest house. We arrived at the car rental place, and we got our vehicle. We loaded our trunk with our luggages and backpacks and we signed off our papers and off we went to find somewhere to eat since we were hungry, and that time change didn’t help either with the heat. Time change ** hours behind.
We went to Costco ( you need to be a Costco Wholesale member in order to shop here). Josh, my boyfriend got a hotdog and I had some bananas and a large pineapple. Since we didn’t know much what was around, we saw Costco along the way so we just went there.
Doing Research on Camping in Kauai, Hawaii
We then went to their local Starbucks, which was really cute. We ended up getting drinks and using the WiFi to find out what we were doing. We contacted the lady who owned her private Airbnb and we got the cutest guest house for only $80 USD/night cash. We were glad we got to save a bit which allowed us to spend for camping gear the next day. With doing so much research into camping and where we wanted to go, we ended up the next day at Walmarts parking lot with tons of roosters running around. It was so weird! Literally, you will find roosters running wild everywhere.
So on our quest to Walmart, we bought a whole bunch of simple camping gear.
Here is what we bought…
- 3 people tent – $29.99 USD
- 2x sleeping bags – $9.99 USD each (remember you don’t need sleeping bag up to -20 degrees celsius, it’s Hawaii and it’s warm)
- 1 blanket throw – $ 1.99 USD
- 2x regular pillows – $ 3.99 USD each
- 1x blow up double mattress $14.99 USD
- 2x 9ft by 9ft tarps -$3.99 USD (it rains there at least once everyday, we always hung one tarp over the tent, because tents are usually only water resistance and not waterproof)
- 4x pegs (putting up tarp) – $0.39 USD – for putting up the tarp
- 1x roll of plastic string – $ 3.99 USD – for putting up the tarp
- 1x roll of thick fishing line – $1.99 USD – for putting up the tarp
- 1 small flashlight – $1.99 USD
- 1 medium cooler to keep food cold – $11.99 USD
- Optional: buying cutlery/ napkins/ baggies or you may take free plastic cutlery and napkins from fast food places or any cafes.
- We ended up buying a few basic things:
- 1x small cutting board $0.79 USD
- 1x (2 pack metal forks) $0.89 USD
- 1x small proper knife $1.99 USD
- 1x (4 pack of toilet paper for napkins) $0.99 USD
- 1x towel paper $0.89 USD
- 1x (2 pack hard plastic bowls) $1.39 USD
- 1x (20 medium plastic bags- ziplock baggies) $1.50
- 1x cloth $0.99 USD
- depending on what you eat you may purchase matches for cooking your food on the bbq ( however not all campsites allow you to do a fire!*)
Total: $113.86 USD (excluding ice packs)
*ICE PACKS – Cheapest at Costco for a 15 lb ice bag that lasted almost three days were only $2.99. Ice packs range from $2.99-$5.99 USD depending where you buy it. This ice was put right into our cooler, to keep our food and water cold.
We then went to buy some basic groceries both at Walmart and Costco Wholesale and their local grocery store, Safeway. We bought water and some staples like packs of water, fruits, vegetables, bread, nut butter, cold cuts, trail mix and etc. Don’t forget you can go shopping whenever you want, since you have a car at your disposal.
From here, we were set. We bought our camping gear for a total of approximately $130.00 USD including ice packs which is cheaper than a single night at an airbnb or hotel when booking last minute. This gear would last for the 10 days and more. Campsites were $3.00 USD a person a night which was so cheap for country parks. For state parks and actual camp ground parks it costs anywhere from $12.00-$22.00 USD. For county parks, which are native to the Hawaiians, the campsite was “park your tent wherever there is room” and depending on which state park, you could also pitch your tent anywhere and/or unless there were designated lots. In order to camp, you need a permit. Permits are need that can be bought at the local city/town hall, that give you the right to camp. You had to prepay your stay at which county park you wanted to stay at. For state parks, you needed to book online or at the state park (only some parks, require this option).
We chose various camp sites and stayed 7 nights at various locations at campsites. A total costs of , $3USD per person/night x 2 people = $6 USD x 6 nights = $36 USD for the 6 nights. An one night at a County Campground Park which was $6 USD per person x 2 = $12 USD. And one night, that was the only available state park (Polihale State Park) that night that was $18 USD/night.
In total for accommodations we spent
first night at guest Airbnb: $80 USD Cash
6 nights at country parks: $36 USD
1 night stay at county campground: $25 USD
1 night at State Park: $18 USD
Total : $159.00 USD
Now, lets encounter the cost that we spent on camping gear which was $130.00 USD.
Let’s total this all up… A total of approx. $289.00 USD was spent on accommodations alone for the entire 10 days, compared to spending more than close to $1000.00 USD if we were to do hotels and Airbnb. If you are on a budget, defiantly try camping. It is a lot of fun! Defiantly recommend it to those who have been camping before and are a bit more knowledgeable in the camping world. * Below in section Accommodations; camping you will find what campsites offer.
Once we figured out where we wanted to stay, we finally started driving to our locations. Remember, you can drive the entire island in only a few hours. You will also need to pay for gas as well depending on how many miles you drive. We found places where we wanted to go check out from attractions, to restaurants, to cafes. There is so much to do.
However, when we travelled to Kauai,Hawaii a month earlier they had really bad rain storms that closed off the entire north coast a.k.a the jurassic park mountains, valleys and gorgeous beaches. Unfortunately we did not do the North Coast. The most North we went was to Hanalei Bay which was beyond gorgeous too.
Let’s see what we did and where we visited throughout our 10 Days of our Adventure in Kauai, Hawaii.
Use the site above to find cheap flights in the airline industry for certain times of the year.
- Airbnb (book in advance at least 6 months if you are staying in hotels/accommodations to get the best price)
- Camping (County Parks & National State Parks & Campgrounds)
- For County Parks visit here : County Parks
- For County Park Camping, you must get a camping permit at neighbourhood centres & civic centre, and pay for your duration of stay in cash only, for the county camp grounds excluding Lydgate Park Camp Ground. Check link : Kauai Camping Information
- Favourite parks: Anini Beach, Anahola Beach, Hanamaulu Beach, Salt Pond Park,
- You will need a car to get around the island to be as comfortable as possible in terms of flexibility, as public transportation isn’t reliable
- We rented a car from Island Cars
- You will need to purchase gas as well! Costco Wholesale had the cheapest gas, again you need to be a Costco member in order to shop here.
- We spent about $120 USD for the 10 days. We had a early 2000’s Toyota Camry.
- Public transit (you will need to be very effective in terms of travelling on a very tight schedule since there are reduced hours)
- There are many various level trails from easy, moderate, hard to very difficult trails. We did not do much trails during our stay but we did do the Sleeping Giant and Awaawapuhi Trail.
- 1. Make sure someone knows (even you family back home) what trail you are doing and when you plan on coming back.
- 2. Bring lots of water. Keep hydrated as you are hiking in heat and sun.
- 3. Food: Bring snacks to fuel your hike. Excellent snack and light: Trail Mix
- 4. Weather: Look out for the weather as weather changes really fast in the mountains and on islands.
- 5. First Aid: Keep basic first aid necessities on you throughout the hike, as anything can happen.
- 6. Footwear: Bring comfortable shoes with you. They can be running shoes instead of proper hiking shoes if you aren’t professional. Please do not bring new shoes that haven’t been broken into yet.
- 7. Clothing: Wear appropriate light layers for your hike. You can always undress your layers. Wear a hat, sunscreen and sunglasses is important.
- 8. Backpack: Bring a light backpack, not a purse, to carry your stuff.
Trail One: The Sleeping Giant Trail (Kuamoo Road, East Side)
- Difficulty of trail: Moderate
- Distance: 1.5 miles each way
- Features: Birdwatching, forest, wildlife, views
Trail Two: Awaawapuhi Trail (Waimea Canyon, West Side)
- Difficulty of trail: Moderate
- Distance: 3.2 miles each way
- Features: Birdwatching, forest, wildlife, views; ocean, hills)
- Elevation: 4120 Feet in Kokee State Park
- Trail runs through the rain forest, high dessert like terrain and some of the Kauai’s Napali Coast.
- Food is quite pricey on this island since majority of groceries need to be transported from the Main Land.
- Walmart ( basic food staples)
- Costco Wholesale (basic food staples including larger packs of fruits, bread, vegetables)
- Safeway, Hawaiian local grocery store ( staples/ packaged to go foods/ snacks)
- Starbucks (coffee, tea and snacks)
- Small Town Coffee (Kappaa)
- Kilauea Bakery (Kilauea)
- Kalaheo Coffee Co ( Kalaheo)
- Little Fish Coffee (Hanapepe)
- Kauai Coffee Company (Kalaheo)
- Anahola Cafe (Anahola)
- Rainbow Living Foods (Kapaa)
- Java Kai (Kapaa)
- Trilogy (Kilauea)
- Acai Bowls + Fresh Vegan Foods:
- Aloha Juice Bar (Hanalei)
- Anake’s Juice Bar (Koloa)
- Aloha Aina (Lihue)
- Healthy Hut (Kilauea)
- Wishing Well (Hanalei)
- Kauai Juice Co. (Best Kombucha, & Fresh Juice)
- Federico’s Fresh Mex Cusine (Hanalei)
- JoJo’s Shave Ice (Hanalei and Waimea) – It is a Hawaiian tradition
- Local Farmers Market (Check which locations have are having local farmers selling fresh produce)
Buying papayas ( it is a must to try local papayas and Hawaiian pineapples)
- Local Farmers selling fresh local produce on the side of the road
Various beaches to choose from every coast ( North, East, South and West)
The link below shows you the various beaches for you to choose from.
You can defiantly visit all the beaches listed in the link above!
Other than hikes and beaches
Very popular places to visit is …
- Polihale State Park ( My absolute favourite)- In order to get to the west side of the island to the park, you will properly drive over the most rockiest, pebbly, and most pot hole road ever for about what I can remember like about 30- 40 minutes at a speed of 5/MPH. Take the drive, bumpy but so worth it! P.S Be careful, as you will be driving with a rental car, you don’t want unnecessary dents on the car, as rocks fly everywhere. If you have an SUV, you have an advantage! But don’t worry, we did it with the size of a compact car. The view from Polihale State Park is unbelievable, like at the end of the world. Peaceful and relaxing overlooking the mountains, forest, and an endless ocean. Perks: The SUNRISE is incredible!!
- Waimea Canyon
- Dolphin boat tour to see the famous Na’pali Coast aka the “Jurassic Park”
- Helicopter tour through the Canyon
- Kauai Coffee Company – Tour the coffee plantation and sample various coffee roasts. Perfect if you love coffee. They do have decaffeinated options for those who don’t drink coffee and water!
- Na’Pali Coast can be seen through a drive up the North end.
- Wailua Falls
- Waimea Canyon State Park- Many trails and hikes. Drive to the top of the park to see unreal views from the Na’Pali Coast and Ocean.
- Sprouting Horn – Watch the waves crash into large rocks with the occasional sprouts of salty water. Be prepared to get a little wet!
- Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge
There are a ton of stuff to do! Research more!
For more information…. click here – Kauai
*You can not drive around the island due to the Na’Pali Coast (North/West Side is mountainous where no roads have been built)
*Plan your day trips accordingly
*You can drive the island from one end to the other in about 3-4 Hours
I defiantly recommend this trip if you are adventurous, love nature, and could go for an authentic Açai Bowl!
Love you all,