Things I learned on my return trip to Hawaii

Things I learned on my return trip to Hawaii - HuntFishTravel Carrie Zylka

Despite the many places I’ve visited, Hawaii became my favorite. Specifically Kauai. The lush mountain interior battles with the coastal beach glory for my heart every time I look through photos, I could live anywhere on the island and be happy.

This was my third visit (and Aaron’s first) to the wettest spot on earth and I loved every minute of it.

Fun Fact:

Mount Wai‘ale‘ale on the gorgeous island of Kaua‘i is often referred to as the wettest spot on earth. While the more than 5,000-foot tall mountain that’s often enshrouded in clouds does receive a tremendous amount of rainfall each year, it’s more accurately “one of” the wettest spots on earth. The average annual rainfall is around 500 inches but some spots on the planet, such as “Big Bog” on Maui, typically acquire even more moisture.


Refuse the convertible upgrade. There is absolutely no room in the trunk and in the backseat, and it’s so hot that you probably won’t even put the top down.


Rent a motorcycle for two days, not just one.

For my birthday, Aaron rented us a bagger, it was a fun way to explore.

But one day was definitely not enough if you’re going to use it for touring the entire island.


A car is much better for touring the island than a motorcycle. Air conditioning is a blessing when it’s 90° out.


Rent a house instead of a resort room. Unless you want to eat out three times a day.

Food is probably one of the most expensive part of a trip to the islands. Everything is imported, and if it isn’t expect to pay tourist driven prices.

A conservative estimate for what we spent on eating out would be about $1500 for 9 days,


Expected traffic. Lots and lots of traffic. There’s only one road that runs the entire Island. And they have implemented this interesting thing called contraflow. I still don’t understand the concept.

I probably never will.


Stay away from the cliché resorts. I was so excited to eat at the Lava Lava Beach Club, and it was an extreme disappointment. $16 cocktails and $44 for bland mahi-mahi and broccoli.

We specifically chose Kauai Shore hotel because it was attached to the Lava Lava Beach Club. But we were not allowed to order a drink and sip it poolside. We were forced to drink it at the bar.

The rooms were nice, but the “upgrade” to a poolside room was an EXTREME disappointment.

Our room was in the Lani building. Yes, we could technically “see” the pool, but I wouldn’t consider that a value for the extra $70/night.

If you’re looking for more of a resort experience, I would not recommend this particular hotel, luckily there are about 83 gazillion other resorts to pick from!

While the food at the Lava Lava Beach Club was disappointing, Paniolo Santa Maria Style BBQ, on the other hand, was amazing!

It was $40 for two meals, and you received three hefty delicious pieces of Ono. Plus, they had live music that night.

And the music was FABULOUS.


If you’re visiting the island of Kauai, You WILL need water shoes.

Not might.

Not Maybe.


It’s possible to find a beach that has perfect sand and rolling, calm waves. My all-time favorite is Hanalei Beach.

Eventually we’ll be splitting our time between Hanalei and Wisconsin.

It rains a lot in Kauai, but it’s a warm rain and rarely lasts long. The clouds and the mountains alway make for a dramatic backdrop.

If you want to go to any other beach such as Po’ipu Beach, you will end up needing water shoes to protect your feet from coral and from the rocks if you want to walk farther out. They are about $30 on the island, but you can get them for about $20 on Amazon.


Always drive in the left lane if there are two lanes on the main road. If I had a nickel for every time I had to turn because I was in a lane that you could only turn right in, I would be a rich woman.


If you are a veteran, be sure to book directly with whatever excursion company. They may offer a veterans discount as long as you don’t book through a third party website.

Had we known, our Na Pali coast excursion would have been $70 less.


Pack an empty duffle bag in your checked bag so that when you buy souvenirs, it doesn’t cost you $135 to ship them home…


Bring a soft sided cooler, the ones you rent all leak, just bring your own.


Bring a hat of some sort. Even if you don’t normally wear one, the sun is exceedingly bright in Hawaii, and you will need something more than just sunglasses to keep the Sun out of your eyes.


If you’re going to take a sunset Cruise, forego the dress and remember to bring a waterproof jacket.


Uber is not your friend. Rent a car and you won’t get stranded.

You’d think with the car shortage on the island, Uber would be popular. We took an Uber to Duke’s Canoe for my birthday. Around 9pm we opened the app only to find there were zero Uber drivers in the area. We waited patiently before one became available.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t familiar with the entrance to Duke’s. You have to follow the shoreline access apath to get to the road. There’s no main drop off area.

The Uber driver went to the Noka Grill. So we tried to get there before he left. Which of course did not happen. Again – no Uber’s available. So we called a taxi service, and ended up spending about an hour hanging out in the Nawiliwili Tavern until they could arrive.

Lesson learned!


Pack light. I promise you won’t need 3 pairs of jeans and  6 dresses.

And if you do need 6 dresses, there are amazing stores with every color combination and pattern you could dream of!


And there you have it. Just a few tips to help you if you ever visit the most amazing place on earth!

One thought on “Things I learned on my return trip to Hawaii

  1. I love Hawaii, I went to Kauai for my honeymoon 21 years ago. THanks for the memories

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign up for the HuntFishTravel Newsletter!

Also, just so you know: I respect your privacy and will not share your personal information with third parties or partners. You and I are buds, and buds don’t share personal info!