It’s a little crazy to think that our big Kauai trip was only a couple of weeks ago. We packed so much into our week in Kauai, we honestly needed about four days to fully recover. (It didn’t help that we flew back on a red eye and were hit with daylight savings all at once.) But I also couldn’t wait to right a Kauai travel guide a little differently than everyone else because the majority of our trip we were traveling around in a VW campervan.
What to camp in
Hands down I couldn’t suggest Kauai Camper Rental enough.
When I first got the idea of camping around Kauai I did quite a lot of research and there are definitely some other VW camper options out there on Airbnb. But I won’t even be linking to them because the reviews, at best, seemed odd. Basically, the difference comes down to about $30 more a day and a whole lot more peace of mind.
Kauai Camper Rental is also ran by locals and they are were so communicative our whole trip, plus actually pick you up at the airport in the camper you rent. (We got Mr. Salt and LOVED him.)
Where to Camp
Campsite cost – $3/person
Hands down my favorite place that we camped. Not because of the great views (there are definitely better on the island), but because if you wake up early enough and drive the camper to the actual Anini beach, you get a peaceful and stunning beach all to yourself to eat breakfast at.
It was a bit rainy when we were in the North Shore so we didn’t get the chance to snorkel here, but it looks amazing. The shore is protected and this was easily the least crowded beach we were on.
Kumu Camp Anahola
Campsite cost – $30
The campsites are right on the beach and quiet hours are also strictly enforced, but the girl’s bathroom was constantly flooding and the shower was either scalding or freezing. I talked to a few campers on our last day and they said they ended up using the boy’s bathroom the majority of the time because it was nicer.
So if you are thinking that a $30 campsite has to be 10 times as good as a $3 campsite… it’s not necessarily true. Definitely book a couple nights here for some hot showers, but I wouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket with this one campsite. It’s just not worth the price tag. (I would much rather rough a few more nights and splurge on Kauai restaurants.)
Campsite cost – $3/person
This beach is my happy place and hands down the most stunning place I’ve ever been lucky enough to travel to. It’s a great place to escape to because it’s on the west side of the island and rarely gets any rain.
Though, forewarning you aren’t able to bring the VW campers out to Polihale and will have to camp in a tent. (The road to the beach is ridiculously rough and I wouldn’t suggest anything that doesn’t have 4 wheel drive.)
DON’T – Salt Pond Park. Ugh the only place we ever felt uncomfortable. It was the busiest and LOUDEST place we camped.
Where to Eat
If you want allllll the details I’d definitely check out this post to find all the places we tried, but the great thing about a camper is you kind of get to crawl all over the island and try so many different places.
So here are our top favorites:
The Show Room
Wishing Well Shaved Ice
Koloa Rum company (technically where to drink)
White Pineapple Phrosty
What to do
First off, Kauai is known as the adventure island. There is just so so much to do here. From some of the best hikes in the world to some of the best beaches, there really is something for everyone.
I’ll be up front and let you know that I was beyond terrified for our open door helicopter tour from Jack Harter, but I also look back and it’s my f a v o r i t e thing we did. This is such a unique way to see the island, so if you miss out on some of the activities it doesn’t seem so bad, as you already saw the island from the air.
We also got a half day of surfing on Wailua Beach Park. Wailua waves were r o u g h, but the bottom was sandy so falling off wasn’t too much of a worry. Whereas we noticed the South shore had a much rockier bottom when surfing.
While we were visiting we were bummed we didn’t get the best of weather because we ended up missing out on a lot of hikes. Actually, we tried a short one and I promptly slipped about 30 feet in and destroyed my thumbnail. We took it as a sign and packed up for Polihale beach instead. SO here are a few of the hikes we really wanted to take, but it was too slippery or I was too clumsy for:
- hike down to Wailau falls
- lookout hike in Kokee State park (again you are going to want something with 4-wheel drive as you go allll the way to the end of the trail)
Where to Treat Yourself
At the end of our trip we stayed at the beautiful resort Koa Kea on the South shore in Poipu. Poipu is well known for it’s protected shores, meaning it’s a great spot for snorkeling and surfing. I definitely recommend buying your own snorkeling gear because they’ll fit better and you can prep them to not fog up.
We loved staying at Koa Kea because it was right off the ocean and it was a two minute walk for us to find an absolutely beautiful place to snorkel. (Plus, the free bottle of wine wasn’t too shabby either.) They did a beautiful job of making the hotel feel luxurious, yet also laid back and natural.
And of course treating yourself includes indulging in really really good food!
We both picked out Eating House 1849 due to the rave reviews and weren’t disappointed. I’m already scheming of how to recreate the delicious Rosé Sangria I had, since I’ve already perfected recreating their Mango Mule.
Possibly one of my favorite things we did was waking up before sunrise on our last morning. It was a quick 5 minute walk to the state park from Koa Kea to see the sea turtles and Hawaiian monk seals on the beach.
It probably won’t be very surprising that we are already dreaming of returning to Kauai. The road to Haena was closed due to a record breaking storm in 2018, so we figure that’s a sign that we just need to come back and explore North Shore a bit more. And for all of those who have asked was the camping part of our trip worth it?
Riding around in Mr. Salt for five days was such a unique way to see the island and gave us so many wonderful memories. (That being said I did declare my love for the modern marvel of indoor plumbing when we got to Koa Kea.)