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Local Girl’s Guide to the Garden Island

Local girls guide to the Garden Island

By: Stephanie Shinno

Aloha, and welcome to Kaua’i, or better known as the Garden Island. Did you know that Kaua’i is the oldest island in the Hawaiian chain? And that it was the only island that King Kamehameha could not physically conquer?

With that said, know it has a unique charm and strength within its land and people. If you are not careful though, you might be faced with some consequences due to lack of knowledge of the island ways.

To help you survive Kauai’s land and people, here are 10 tips to live by when visiting the Garden Island.

  1. Be mindful. The first thing you should keep in mind is how small this island is.
    • It is so small that you can’t get away with doing something wrong. Also, there is only one highway that will take you to the North Shore and back to the Westside Polihale Beach Park in a few hours. But it’s not small just because of its size but its people. So be mindful of where you go and be respectful when around the locals and native Hawaiians, you might run into them on the same day.
  2. Clothes & Shoes. When you are packing for Kaua’i, keep your name brand shoes at home, because Kauai is known for its red dirt.
    • Once your white shoes or clothes get red dirt on it, it will leave a permanent stain. Pack light clothes and slippers during the summer. For the winter season, you may want to bring a rain jacket and purchase an umbrella when you get here. It doesn’t snow but it sure does rain. People compare Kaua’i to Seattle when it rains.
  3. Hotels & Timeshares. Google Kaua’i hotels beforehand, there are some great hotels to stay at and some that are not up to par.
    • There are some vacation rentals or gems available on this website. Also, if you think you will be back a few more times within the year, ask the hotels about timeshares. It might save you money in the long run.
  4. Drive with Aloha. Unlike the cities in the mainland or like Honolulu, some of the road here has a starting speed limit of 25 miles per hour, and 10 miles per hour at local schools. You can legal drive 10 miles above the speed limit but it’s not an 80 mph speed limit that you might be use too.
    • Also, the locals love to let people pass, so there is no need to rush or cut. Make sure to let others go and throw a shaka (Hang loose) sign. It is a sign of gratitude.
    • If there is no U-turns do not make one and watch the contra flow. If you are trying to make a left turn, wait for cars to pass.
  5. Food for thought: Not all Hawaii residents are native Hawaiians.
    • In fact, Kaua’i has a melting pot of people who came from Japan, Philippines, Korea, China and Europe during the old plantation days. But just like visitors, they have to respect native Hawaiians and their land. There are places where you should not go to, like Hawaiian Burial grounds or sacred places. There are signs to point them out, so just stay clear of them.
  6. Laidback Nightlife. Unlike college streets or party nights in the mainland, Kaua’i has a laid back night life.
    • You could walk into a bar or a restaurant and have a few drinks or play pool. But don’t expect to go club hoping, because there is only a couple of places you can dance and then the bar is closed around two am. This island has more families than college students so drink responsibly.
  7. Beaches. If this is your first time to Kaua’i, make sure you go to beaches that other locals and visitors are on.
    • If not, you may get caught up with the wrong surf crowd or your car may get broken into. It happens to locals too. Make sure to lock your doors no matter what and do not leave valuables in your rental car.
  8. Waterfalls. Although, it is a leap of faith or jump that locals do at certain waterfalls, please do not jump off a waterfall or trespass to a waterfall without anyone around.
    • There have been reports of people drowning or visitors died during their vacation here due to a wrongful jump. Or simply getting too close to the waterfall when waters were rising.
  9. Hikes. Summer is usually the best time to go hiking. Do not try to hike after a storm. The trails are muddy and slippery.
    • The streams will rise and may be hard to cross. Make sure to pack water, snacks, suntan lotion, lip balm, a first aid kit and a two way radio. If you are new to a trail, you may follow or ask for directions. There are some regular hikers that will show you the way. Be careful though, not all locals are friendly at first. They might be shy or not friendly at all, so ask respectfully.
  10. Kuleana: The Hawaiian word for responsibility. You will often hear the Hawaiians or locals say: “It is your kuleana.” Which means: It is your responsibility.
    • If you bring things with you, make sure to take them back with you. Kauai is a beautiful island and trash is frowned upon. To help keep the island safe and beautiful make sure to throw away your trash and to not throw out cigarettes, because it does start fires in the fields. Also, there is so much great things you might want to take back home. Make sure you are not taking back anything illegal, and or bringing anything illegal to Kaua’i.

Remember to live with Aloha (Treat others the way you want to be treated), and you will be fine. Make sure to tip your guides, hotel bell or restaurant waiter. Some locals work 2- 3 jobs just to live here on this beautiful island, so it makes there day when they are shown some appreciation. Now that you know the ins and outs, go ahead and book a vacation rental at our website.