Visiting Kauai, Hawaii? Only 10% Accessible by Auto!

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Kauai, Hawaii beach sunset - photo, Edward_Bryce (flickr CC)

Kauai, Hawaii beach sunset – photo, Edward_Bryce (flickr CC)
Secret Beach (HDR) by Bryce Edwards is licensed under CC BY 2.0. Image may have been resized or cropped from original

Kauai, Hawaii is an amazing island for adventure or just chilling. I first went there on a honeymoon back in 1987. I’d been living on Oahu for three years and Kauai was the first of the other islands I visited. To say I was hit with culture shock is an understatement.

To go from Oahu to Kauai is like going from New York City to Lima, New York. (look it up in Google earth)

The beauty of Kauai is astounding. As the plane flew over the island and I looked out the window taking photos mainly of the window, frame, and wing I could see hardly any buildings on Kauai. Kauai is remote! I remember thinking this was the best Hawaiian island for a honeymoon ever. I’d not seen the rest – but, Kauai had to be the ultimate island to getaway to from Oahu.

The Kauai airport was so small I had to, for the first time ever, walk down the plane steps to the tarmac to enter the 1-story airport.

We promptly rented a Jeep and got to exploring the island. There are few roads and streets on Kauai. There are few buildings. There are few people in comparison to Oahu or Maui. There are few touristy things to do – and all the tourists are doing them when you arrive to do them too.

The official Hawaii tourism site says that just 10% of Kauai is accessible by automobile. I thought I had seen a lot while I was there (been back since) and yet I’d seen just a thumbnail of what there really is on the island.

Next time I go back I’m going to do some hiking on the west side, in the Napali coast mountain range. I’ve been to the top peak and tourist lookout area, but never walked the trail more than a kilometer or so. Apparently camping is also possible if you get a permit, which I never knew.

Here is a video of some hikers on the Kalalau Trail along the Napali Coast:

Here is another one!



About the Author:

I’ve lived Hawaii since the mid ‘80s when I moved here at the age of 21. I arrived site-unseen in Honolulu with zero contacts and about $5k in savings. I worked from nearly zero and today Hawaii has given me the greatest gifts in the world in all aspects: spiritually, financially, romantically (married since early ‘90s w/ 2 children), and most important, peace. My goal with this site is to share the magic of this Land of Aloha and help others who are on a similar quest.


  1. Christian 09/10/2010 at 4:29 pm - Reply

    Yeah, Kauai IS amazing. I’ve been here for a week and to answer to your question “What are your favorite things to do?”, I’ll just say… Living here. Second thing will be taking photos of it, but that is what I’ll be doing more in the future, as I’m new here.

    I haven’t explored it much yet, but I do like what I’ve seen so far and the temperature. Also, according to Travel & Leisure magazine, Kauai is rated number 2 in the world as the best island (after Bali, Indonesia). I can see why. It is definitely a great place for vacation, and as far as living here, like you said elsewhere, it might not be for everyone – it all depends what are you looking for and at what “stage” in your life you are and what things are important to you.

    For a single person, moving could work out fine, but for a family, I’d still recommend a long vacation-type of stay first, without making a commitment right away. One person can pretty much adjust to anything and anywhere anyway, even for the time being only, while relocating with family is something that requires little more thinking and testing, especially if there are planned purchases, such as homes and cars. It is definitely not “cheap” to live here (groceries etc), but there are always deals and sales on items that make the price even lower (on some) than on mainland.

    So, so far I love Kauai. Even if I were to move elsewhere (like Europe), I’d definitely not regret a single day living here. If you live little of the main road, just driving to stores feels like really driving through a garden. Green is good for the eyes, as they say. Now, Kauai is not just green, it’s tropical. I really have no intention even checking out other Hawaii islands, and if I do, it’d probably be for a very short time. But, like with anything else, everything is relative and you never know.

    One thing you will notice if you live here is that there is lot of tourists at any given time in the busy (shopping, restaurants) areas, however after few miles drive of the main road(s), it feels as “local” as it actually is, which I personally prefer.

    That’s my take on Kauai, so far. Perhaps I’ll post some update later.

    If you will be visiting Kauai and would like to have memories (photos) of YOU (the reader) while you’re here and not just scenery (which is amazing, by the way – bringing camera here is a must), feel free to contact me @ You can also contact me if you have any general questions as well, but since I am new here, I can’t actually provide you with lots of info, and this website (aimforawesome) offers lots of great information already, which I am checking out as well, even while I’m here.

  2. Michael 11/25/2009 at 4:07 pm - Reply

    Thanks for featuring our video and pictures. Hiking the Kalalau Trail/Na Pali Coast is truly a great experience.

Join the conversation! What do you think?