I can blame nothing more than fate for how I ended up in Kauai. Going to Hawaii was never a huge part of me, though I grew up a little orange county kid, dreaming of the idea of being Hawaiian- so much so, that over the summer of 2007, I tried to learn the Hawaiian language, thinking that would make me cool. Newsflash, none of my friends who were born on the Hawaiian islands know fluent Hawaiian.
I ended up in Kauai by chance. Funny story- it was for a boy. His name is Koa! Koa has grown to be not only a best friend, but my literal family. My cuttlefish nature documentary buddy. I swear, we were separated at birth, and finding him was like finding my other human half. Here’s a secret; he has a weird hat collection in his closet. Koa and I met back in 2015 and talked for a while. He was in Kauai, and I was in California. It wasn’t really planned that we would ever meet any time soon. That is- until a trip to Oahu I had planned with my girl friends fell through, and I was still longing for adventure. I shot Koa a text and let him know that I was supposed to come to Oahu and wasn’t anymore, and that’s when he invited me to come to Kauai instead!
It was actually pretty insane. I mean, I had never met this guy before, and within two days, here I was with nothing but a carry on, flying to a place I’d never been to stay with him and his family. Koa picked me up in his truck (shirtless and barefoot, of course) at the Kauai airport, and off we rode to his house and into my first Kauai adventure.
The first morning of Kauai was intense. Unlike visiting somewhere as a tourist, I was molded into the life of a wild pack of local boys. We woke up at 8 am and immediately drove to an intense work out course. I literally felt like I was going to die. I’m not kidding. I wanted to throw up during it, but I pulled through. I couldn’t be embarrassing myself in front of this cool Hawaiian family. Right after, we “Wim Hof” meditated on the same floor. Wim Hof looked at me straight in the eye for 30 seconds. Koa was very impressed/jealous. After Wim Hof, we grabbed food at Harvest Market (one of my favorite little spots now), and headed to the cold pond.
The cold pond is an amazing little spot off the side of the road in Kauai, where you can really test how free spirited you are. What is it? It’s a literal cold pond. It’s freezing- sorry- “refreshing” is what the boys call it. Basically, you jump in a freezing cold spring water pond filled with black prawns and it’s supposed to make you feel good. The boys coaxed me into jumping, and I think this was my way of being baptized as a reborn again Hawaiian, because from then on out I’ve been pretty fearless in life.
After every cold pond jump, you have to stop by your nearest acai bowl spot and grab a bite for lunch. Wishing Well is a cool spot for acai bowls. It’s got cute little purple picnic benches fit for the smallest child, and you can curl up on one while sucking in a papaya acai bowl.
It wouldn’t be Kauai without a little surfing, so of course, we brought out the Catch Surf foam boards. It was pouring rain, cold, and the waves were choppy, but we paddled out anyway. I took the 8ft board and Koa took the beater board (who would have known 7 months later we’d be using that beater board as a rescue device to float back to shore). I was freezing and only had on a rash guard, but Koa really wanted me to stay out until I had caught a few good waves. I had goosebumps all over my legs and wanted nothing but a warm bath, but I was also really happy that Koa was so passionate about me getting better at surfing. Jumper, the Smith family dog, came along too and had a great time running on the beach in the crappy weather.
On the last day in Kauai, the sun peeked out for just an hour. In that hour, Alex and Koa led me up a vertical hike that really just consisted of sketchily pulling yourself up a wall made from the roots of trees until we made it to the best possible wave vantage point on the shore. It was pretty damn cool.
If you’re looking for a sunset spot to go with family, head to the St Regis. Their view of the sunset is pretty epic. We did this the first night I was in Kauai, and the sunset was beautiful. Kauai was beautiful. Every day was an adventure there. Every day was truly wild. I didn’t care what I looked like, and neither did anyone else. Kauai was all about living and breathing. It’s about seeing something you’d normally talk yourself out of- and just doing it. Thank God I didn’t end up in Oahu that week, because Koa and the entire Smith family showed me their home in a way I’d never seen a home before, and now I consider a little piece of it my home too. Shoutout to the Smith family, the greatest second family I could know!
Have you been to Hawaii? What island?! Let me know!