Just over a month ago, my wife Heron and I returned from our first trip to Hawaii. We stayed on the island of Kauai, which is the fourth largest of the islands on the archipelago, and it’s nicknamed the “Gardens Isle” because it’s filled with rain forest, beautiful hibiscus, and incredible birds, including the Brazilian Cardinal. It rains quite a bit, but the weather is pleasant (I’m sure some entrepreneur could bottle the air and sell it to snowbirds), and the ocean is refreshing. If you look at a weather report or the North Shore, then you’ll probably see that it’s supposed to rain all week, but it rains somewhat like Florida: on and off. Kauai also has an extensive cinematic history. Jurassic Park and a scene from Indiana Jones were filmed here. According to local legend, Ben Stiller lives in Kauai and runs around the island, and Peter, Paul, and Mary wrote “Puff the Magic Dragon,” when they came and visited the “Garden Isle.” Because I loved the place so much, I decided to write a top 10 list of things to do with you wife before you die. Since I’ve had such fun experiences with lists and dying, I thought I would try it again. Here we go.
Hike Kauai with Erik
We wanted to hike, but we wanted a guided tour — someone to walk us through hidden spots and tell us about local culture — and we were lucky to find a great guide (Hike Kauai with Erik) on travel advisor who brought us to some interesting locations that most tourists probably wouldn’t get to see. He took the photo above.
Zipline at Koala
Before Hawaii, I had never been zipling, and it’s something I have wanted to cross off the bucket list for years. I finally convinced my wife to join me, and we ziplined on the property of Steve Case, one of the founders of AOL. The property was also used for filming the newest Jurassic Park. It was a rainy day, but the rain doesn’t stop you from zipling. As the guide said: “It’s a Hawaiian blessing.”
Wonderful food truck. Definitely off the beaten path. It’s kind of in an industrial complex. The owner is crazy energetic, and the food is unique and fresh. Don’t miss.
The photo above is the view from the St. Regis. It’s expensive to stay there, but I recommend at least stopping in for a drink and watching the sunset. By the way, would you say the mountain looks like a dragon? That might actually be puff.
Na Pali Coast
The Na Pali Coast is considered one of the deadliest hikes in the world, and we ventured about two miles along the path. The photo above is taken from a spot on a ledge. The wind was blowing so hard that I lost the cap to my lens. I did not venture down the ledge to find it. The hike is actually slippery and, at times, treacherous. But don’t let fear stop you from witnessing all the beauty out there.
Paddle Boarding in Hanalei
In Hanalei, which is on the North Side of the island, there is a river that runs into an animal sanctuary. We rented a paddle board right near the center of Hanalei and paddled into the animal sanctuary. We saw a family of turtles resting on a log and heard countless birds that we could not name. If you think of the word animal sanctuary and you’re worried about being in the wild, then keep in mind that Hawaii has no predatory species. (Nothing that will hurt you.) At least, according to Erik, our hike guide.
The Prime Rib Night at the Westin
We stayed at the Westin Hotel on the North Shore the first two nights, and I took the photo above from our balcony. Our room overlooked the golf course. It was pleasant. The best part about the stay, however, was their prime rib night. I believe it was Thursday, and it was probably the best prime rib I have ever had.
Friday Night Festival in Hanapepe
On Friday nights in Hanapepe, the home of the most western bookstore in the United States (you’ll have to buy a book if you have to take a piss), the town closes down the main street for a fair. They have incredible food, including hot dogs with lechon, and many other delicacies served from food trucks and carts. They have music and are so friendly. This is on the south side of the Island, so I suggest pairing it up with a trip to Waimea Canyon if you’re staying on the north.
9. Waimea Canyon
On the south side of the island, the landscape changes, and you will find what Mark Twain called “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” It’s a far drive to the south side from the north side, but you’ll be grateful you made the trip to see the site above.
While there is a lot to see in Kauai, just make sure you find some time to reflect with your wife. You only have one life, so I suggest you take the time to be in the moment before it’s gone. Breathe in the fresh air from the top of a fucking mountain and be in love. Do it!