I did a lot in Kauai and I also did a lot of nothing.
I had a two luxurious weeks for this trip so I was no hurry to race around the island and fit in everything possible.
Instead I took it slow. Some days I was up early and went to the beach to read. Other days I worked first (yes, the site requires work even when I'm traveling) and then went for a hike in the afternoon. I went to the museum in Lihue and the Waimea Canyon on the west side. I went kayaking up the Wailua River and stayed at a resort for a couple of days. This trip was probably the most relaxing trip I've ever taken.
I loved it!
And, on top of that, it wasn't too expensive given that I was away for two full weeks.
Now, I had an advantage. My plane ticket was purchased with a credit I had from my trip last spring the “Just Wasn't Meant to Be.” So my costs really were based on my time there.
Kauai: $2,000 in 2 weeks
Clearly, I could have done Kauai cheaper than $1,000/wk or $141.25 a day. And I probably will next time. I think there will be a next time because I really liked being there. I will cut some of the expensive things I didn't enjoy enough and keep some of the perks that I felt really worthwhile. I'll get to the details on this in a bit. But first, let me tell you what my trip was like.
I arrived late on the night of January 4th, picked up my rental car and headed to the hostel in Kapa'a which was already dark for the night. The next morning I awoke to my first sunrise. All I had to do was sit up in bed as there was an east-facing window at the foot of it. Fantastic!
I started by exploring the island by car. On day one I headed south and west. The island is small and there is a horseshoe-like road that covers most of it. The section along the Na Pali coast is not accessible by road. On the west side of the island I drove up the windy route 550 to the Waimea Canyon – the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. The next day I drove east and north stopping in at the Kilauea Lighthouse, Hanalei and driving to the end of the road at Ke'e Beach and the trailhead for the famous Kalalau Trail.
On subsequent days I took a photography tour of the north and east of Kauai and a few days later a kayak tour on the Wailua River that included a hike to the (not so) Secret Falls. (You can contact my guide, T, to book your own private tour on a Sunday when it's more quiet than on any other day of the week. T is at firstname.lastname@example.org). Then there were the resort days and the hiking days (read Another Hiking Humiliation and Then… Redemption and beach days. And on the second to last day I flew to Honolulu to get a feel for that city and see the USS Arizona Memorial.
Here's the breakdown of what I spent (less airfare of course). All prices are in US dollars.
- Accommodation: $992.22 (you can read my reviews and see pictures of the places I stayed here.)
- Food and drinks: $607.12
- Car rental: $261.23
- Flight to Honolulu: $104.00
- Gas: $64.74
- Museum, Kayak Tour: $65.00
- Shuttle in Honolulu: $30.96
- Walking around money (miscellaneous): $150.00
My 2017 Budget for Kauai. What I Will Cut. What I'll Keep.
What I won't spend money on next time:
- First thing to cut will be the resort. I was really happiest at the hostel. It was warm and friendly and easy and central. Yes, if you can believe it, I would stay in the hostel dorm every night next time. At the resort I felt cut off from the island and on an island as beautiful as Kauai I would rather be connected to the land. Savings: $273.54 over two nights.
- I would also cut the yurt camp. The best thing about Kumu Camp was waking up in the morning and having the beach all to myself. However, the evenings were very quiet. My yurt had no electricity so by the time 6pm rolled around I was reading by flashlight. Savings: $81.00 over three nights.
- The theater. I live in Toronto. I see theater all the time. Why I would go to a theater on a small island with no reputation? I wasn't expecting much and I got less. It was $89.58 with dinner. Savings: $69.58 allowing $20 for the dinner.
- Honolulu. Honolulu is not my scene and was simply an endurance test until I boarded the plane home. Don't get me wrong. I'm glad I saw it but I don't need to again. Savings: $133.96 for flight and shuttle bus to and from the airport. The savings would actually be higher if I were to include the higher cost of food in Waikiki.
Total savings: $558.08.
What I absolutely will spend money on next time.
- I will rent the car again. At $261.23 for two weeks, it was excellent value and really allowed me to explore the island.
- I will stay at the hostel. I really enjoyed it in the dorm at the hostel though I know that not all readers would. At $38 a night it was a real deal.
- I would hike, swim and read more. Free. Now that's a bargain.
With the cuts I'll make next time and my focus on enjoying Kauai's nature, I believe Kauai can be done for, or even less than, $100/day. But with having to pay for my flights next year I will likely come in just above $2,000 again.
I'm a budget traveler. Not everyone is. To determine your budget, please read How to Plan Your Solo Travel Budget – on Any Budget and check out the post I wrote on accommodation in Kauai as it will give you a sense of four ways you can stay and what it will cost.