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Belated Trip Report - Kauai March 21-31

Denver, Colorado
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Belated Trip Report - Kauai March 21-31

My wife and I traveled to Kauai for a 10-night stay back in March and the following is our trip report:

US Airways

We flew from Denver to Phoenix, and from Phoenix direct to Kauai on US Airways. I must say this was hands-down the worst airline experience we have ever experienced. Sitting with your spouse and/or traveling companion is not guaranteed on US Airways. In fact, it appears to be their policy to split up couples and families on purpose. It is even difficult if you "upgrade" to their special seats (which consist of exit rows, and similar leg-room seats). The planes were old, dirty, and poorly appointed. The boxed "meals" were nothing more than stale crackers and dried fruit. You have to pay for everything and nothing is included. Awful, awful, awful.

Prince Kuhio Condominiums

We decided to save some money on this trip by avoiding the resorts and renting a condo unit on the south shore near Poipu for our stay. The owners of the condo were relatively easy to deal with, although they didn't respond as quickly after receiving the full payment for the unit. The condo itself was a small (about 400 square feet) studio layout. The bed appeared to be two twin beds pushed together. The bathroom was small but OK. The kitchen (which was pretty tiny with limited counter space) had a small refrigerator, microwave, and all utensils. The unit included an entertainment center with LCD TV, DVD player, and stereo system. Wireless internet access was included free of charge. It also had a nice balcony with a partial view of the ocean. The ever-present Kauai chickens were often near the condo, and we were woken several times by the crowing. Ultimately we were satisfied with our decision to stay at a condo because of the significant cost savings.

Dining

We ate a several of the eating establishments on Kauai, mostly on the south side. We splurged and had our anniversary dinner The Beach House, despite some reservations due to some of the reviews on TA. Although it was quite pricey, we had a wonderful experience at the Beach House. The sunset view from the patio, along with a very good meal, made it very worthwhile. Other restaurants included TomKats Grille (lunch there twice, very good mahi burgers, good service), Pizzetta (dinner once, excellent other food in addition to the pizza, good service, reasonably priced), Koloa Fish Market (numerous take-out meals, great poke and fresh fish, reasonably priced, only accept cash), Savage Shrimp (the whtie truck in the parking lot behind Old Town Koloa, ate there twice, decent prices, good fish tacos), and several others not really worth mentioning.

Beaches

We went to numerous beaches on Kauai including Poipu (nice, clean, overcrowded, mediocre snorkeling), Salt Pond (less crowded, nice sand, bigger waves, marginal snorkeling), Hanalei Bay (didn't swim, just looked, OK but crowded), Tunnels Beach (big waves, good for watching surfing), and Ke'e Beach (beautiful scenery, hard to find parking, decent snorkeling, reef protected). Our favorite beach was Prince Kuhio Beach, which just happened to be right across the street from our condo. Snorkeling was surprisingly good here, seeing large schools of a variety of fish, and even a turtle one day. However, strong currents were somewhat tricky here and sometimes difficult to deal with. This beach was sometimes crowded with snorkeling groups and the snuba people, but wasn't too bad most of the time.

Diving

We did one day of diving with Fathom Five dive shop. Not much to report here... the diving was a huge disappointment with little to see as far as sea life goes. Fathom Five did a fine job as far as dive shops go. However, the 2-tank dives were way overpriced, especially considering the complete lack of anything interesting to see. I would advise other activities while in Kauai, or other destinations if you are big into diving.

Waimea Canyon

This attraction is one of those things that you kind of have to see while visiting Kauai. It is strikingly beautiful and awe-inspiring. However, like the Grand Canyon in Arizona, once you see it and take a bunch of pictures, you can move on to other things.

Kauai - Overall Impressions

My wife and it traveled to French Polynesia in 2011 (Huahine, Bora Bora, and Tikehau) for our "dream" vacation. It may be unfair, but Kauai cannot even begin to compare with that experience. The pervasive wind, overcrowded beaches, rude locals, high-priced activities, and overall "touristy" feel of the island made the trip somewhat disappointing. Kauai definitely has its good points and we still had an enjoyable trip.

French Polynesia is only slightly further (about another two hours of flying time from the west coast) and only slightly more expensive. Needless to say, we will not be returning to Kauai.

Kaua'i, HI
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for Kauai, Poipu, Lihue
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1. Re: Belated Trip Report - Kauai March 21-31

Aloha from Kaua'i!

Mahalo for your Trip Report.

Very interesting to say the least.

I've also been to Tahiti 3 times (Mo'orea mostly) - and I personally have found it very similar to my island home of Kaua'i actually. More rural, smaller, but still very much the same "feel" of Kaua'i. The Hawaiian culture is kindred to the Tahitian culture and there are many cultural similarities between the two.

"Rude locals" - you don't give any examples of why you feel this way or where you experienced this. Would be interested to know why you feel people here are rude?

It takes 5 hours to fly from here to Pape'ete (not 2 hours) - unless you fly a different route from California than we do here in Hawai'i (which is possible).

You gave many positives, but overall seem to be unhappy with your experience here due to rude locals, overcrowded beaches (have you been to O'ahu or Maui?), and the fact that we had some heavier tradewinds than normal when you were here.

Kaua'i isn't for everyone - sorry you found it disappointing - but kind of confused as to your reasons why.

Malama Pono,

Janet

P.S. - Savage Shrimp is not located "behind" Old Koloa town - it has been located at the Kukui'ula Shopping Village for about 6 months now - the only place I can think you mean would be "Chalupas", which is a Mexican food truck on Weliweli Rd. behind the Island Soap and Candle Co.

Brisbane
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2. Re: Belated Trip Report - Kauai March 21-31

Sounds like a gorgeous trip. Thanks for posting! :-)

Denver, Colorado
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for Tuamotu Archipelago
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3. Re: Belated Trip Report - Kauai March 21-31

My husband had the taco truck name wrong, it was Chalupas. THey were great. BUT, the flight time as he said is only a couple hours further from the west coast.

Overall, the trip was a huge disappointment, in large part, as he said, because diving sucks. It is extraordinarily overpriced and you see pretty much nothing. When we asked the guides about sharks and manta rays, they laughed. We didnt even hardly see any fish. We cancelled our second day of diving for that reason. Not the dive shops fault, just the locale, you are stuck with waht's there (or not there).

Tradewinds: From what we were told, they are always present, and people like them. We did not.

Locals: They were not friendly, and were far different from the locals in french polynesia. Huahine was especially delightful. The feel was so far removed from the polynesian experience in FP that it really is tough to describe. In FP people were happy to talk about their island, to share their language, and just generally welcoming. Hawaii is very different.

Beaches: These cannot even be compared. THere is continual issues with strong current, and there are no reefs protecting you. The water in FP is crystal clear almost all the time. You asked about maui and oahu, we excluded those right away, because of expected overcrowding. But Kauai was also over crowded. In FP, there were nowhere near as many people everywhere.

That said, we did enjoy some things, but had heard it was a nice and less expensive substitute for FP. That is not at all true, and not even close. It's just way too touristy, american, and has marginal diving.

Denver, Colorado
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4. Re: Belated Trip Report - Kauai March 21-31

I guess it is not completely accurate to generalize the locals as being "rude". Many were quite friendly. However, driving in Kauai on the small and congested road systems was challenging at times (due to the impatient local drivers). Also, road construction, heavy traffic, and parking problems were experienced throughout the island.

The flight time from LAX to Pape'ete is a little over 8 hours, while it took us over 6 hours to fly from Phoenix to Kauai.

I think you are correct about Chalupas.

Denver, Colorado
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5. Re: Belated Trip Report - Kauai March 21-31

About the flights: AIr Tahiti is awesome in every way compared to US Airways. And once you add in the added costs just to sit together on an overnight flight, or eat, or use a blanket, and pay for luggage, you are about equal to what it would ahve cost to fly to Papeete.

La Mirada...
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6. Re: Belated Trip Report - Kauai March 21-31

Thanks for sharing. I know Kaua‘i is not for everyone, those that don't like it usually complain about not having enough to do and not being entertained, but over-crowded beaches? The weather this past March was not the norm either - too bad.....

Edit - I just read your other post - how much research did you do on Kaua‘i - from the sound of it, very little....

3Chihuahuas

Edited: 02 June 2012, 00:23
Healy, Alaska
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for Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
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7. Re: Belated Trip Report - Kauai March 21-31

It is always good to read trip reports, even if they aren't glowing. I haven't been to FP yet - on my bucket list someday when I can afford the flight.

However, had you really wanted a positive diving experience in Hawaii, Kauai should have been your last choice - The Big Island is known for the best diving out of all the islands and I am sure you would have been much happier there. Just a thought - maybe someday you can go there to see that. :)

Princeville, Hawaii
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8. Re: Belated Trip Report - Kauai March 21-31

Thanks for sharing your trip. Sounds like the bad airline experience could with your dislike of your accommodations, started things off on the wrong foot.

Kaua'i, HI
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for Kauai, Poipu, Lihue
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9. Re: Belated Trip Report - Kauai March 21-31

Aloha from Kaua'i!

Wow - exactly the opposite of what I've found on my visits to Tahiti - but everyone is different, no? I adore Tahiti, but it is certainly far more expensive there than here on Kaua'i - people think things are expensive here? Try Tahiti - where groceries are even higher priced! The only thing I can remember being less expensive than here was pizza - interestingly enough!

But of course we didn't eat out at nice restaurants there, basically ate at our fare at a local's home by the lagoon - and had pizza a couple times - but mostly made our own meals. So I can't comment on high-end restaurants there anymore than I can here, since I don't go to them at either place,

The people of Tahiti are wonderful - but I've lived here on Kaua'i as a haole mainland transplant for 14 years - and certainly have found the people here to be as welcoming and friendly as Mo'orea - not sure why you didn't.

I live in Koloa, so the "Chalupas" truck is indeed no doubt what you are thinking of - the "Savage Shrimp" truck is long gone and she is in a shopping center now here.

At least you've decided that not all the locals are rude here? lol

Malama Pono,

Janet

10. Re: Belated Trip Report - Kauai March 21-31

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