Once we made all our travel arrangements, we only had a few days to prepare for the trip. What was there to prepare, really? I told Nancy, whenever we go on a Hawaiian vacation – shirts ,shorts, flip flops, swim suits, and toiletries….that’s it. I’m a believer in packing less and flying stress-free. Anything we might forget, we can easily purchase them when we get to Kauai.
As always, we planned NOT to check in any luggage. We’ve successfully traveled to Europe and New York at the tail-end of winter, and we managed to do this with a carry-on luggage and backpack for each person. It’s not only because of the added charges of $50 or more per checked luggage, but it’s all about the convenience in traveling with less to worry about. With this trip to Kauai, we will have access to a washer and dryer – perfect for the countless times we will be hitting the beach and swimming pools, and waterfalls. Most of the packing took place on Sunday night. It was hard not to stay up late, but we ended up going to bed around midnight. Our plan was to leave the house at 5am on Monday morning.
Finally, Day 1
We eventually got up at 4:35am. We all got ready, and made sure we didn’t forget anything. So what’s in my backpack? My MacBook Air & charger, iPad Mini & charger, iPhone car charger, AUX cable, Go Pro, back-up battery, toiletries, and meds. I promised myself that I will not work during this vacation (no work laptop), save for one important conference call that I simply cannot miss next week. Let’s hope I stick to my plan.
We left the house close to 5:30am. Nancy, Evan, and Madison slept during the 45 minute drive to LAX and we hit no traffic. We made it to LAX just before 6:30am, and it was time to say our goodbyes to Nancy. She had to attend a training class. She and Caitlin will be joining us in a couple of days, while Ethan will fly to Kauai on Saturday.
The benefits of no checked luggage
Once we entered the American Airlines terminal, there was no denying that it was a busy time of the day. It was packed. I printed our boarding passes and didn’t have to fall in line to check in any luggage. That alone saved us 20-30 minutes. We had 3 carry-ons, 3 backpacks, and a booster seat. Since I had two kids with me, we were flagged to go on a shorter line….sure, why not? Security was a breeze, and in no time, we made our way towards Gate 48. We had about 1.5 hours to wait and I took the kids to the Kogi BBQ truck located inside Terminal 4. I was going to be adventurous and try their Kimchi Quesadilla taco, but I opted for the French toast sliders with eggs and hash browns. Madison and I also shared a short rib taco, while Evan enjoyed the hash browns. Time flew by so quickly and next thing you know it was already 8:45am and it was time to board the plane.
New friends – flying the friendly skies
Our neighbor, Karen, works for American Airlines, and the LA to Lihue (Kauai) route is the typical route that she flies. However, Karen was not scheduled to work on the day of our flight. She advised us that a colleague of hers, another Camarillo resident, Kyra, also works the same route. The moment we boarded the plane, I found Kyra. She acknowledged that she was expecting us. She made very sure that we were comfortable and promised to take care of us during the flight. For this plane ride, we flew via economy, but received first-class service. Thanks so much, Karen and Kyra!!!
I listened to my feet
The trip to Europe last Spring required lots, and lots, and lots, and lots of walking, train rides, bus rides, and plane rides. It was rewarding, but undeniably tiring. I remember my feet were screaming, “please make it stop!!!!” So I listened to my feet. I told myself that if ever we pull off a summer vacation, it will have to be laid back. So why did we choose Kauai? There are quite a few reasons. It remains as our favorite out of the 4 main Hawaiian islands we’ve been to. We were on Maui and Oahu recently. This is our 4th time to visit Kauai – we honeymooned here in 2000, returned here on my birthday in 2008 (we only brought Caitlin with us at the time), brought all four kids with us in 2010, and now, as we continue to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary, we decided it was quite appropriate to return to Kauai. We love the easy-going feel. With the busy life back home, with all of the DIY projects we did over the past 2 months, a slow-paced vacation is what we needed, and I’m sure we’ll find that during this trip.
The nearly six-hour flight finally touched down in Lihue around 12:15pm. We thanked Kyra for taking care of us during our plane ride. It had to be one of the most relaxing plane rides I’ve had in awhile. I was able to close my eyes most of the trip, and woke up somewhere in between the beverage services during the flight. Evan entertained himself by playing Minecraft on the iPad Mini. After deplaning, we headed straight to the car rental pick-up point, and boarded an Alamo Shuttle bus. I rented a full-sized vehicle, and I ended up with a Chevy Malibu. It wasn’t really my first choice, but it was the only full-sized vehicle available at the time.
First meal, Mark’s Place
It was quite warm when we arrived at the airport. As much as we wanted to go to the beach or jump in the pool, we were all quite hungry. I took the kids to Mark’s Place, located about 10-15 minutes from the airport. It’s in the Puhi Industrial district, they cater to many locals, and many tourists have caught on as well. We kept the choices simple for our first meal on the island…a big plate lunch with Chicken Katsu, Teriyaki Beef, Beef Stew, Mixed Greens salad and noodles (all for around $10). Just one plate lunch, and that fed the three of us. The beef stew reminded me so much of the Filipino mechado or kaldereta. The beef was extremely tasty, and tender, so easy to chew. It’s what I fed Evan, and he enjoyed it a lot.There were so many items on the menu, but I just knew that I’d be back at Mark’s Place 2-3 more times during our stay, so I’ll save the other menu items during our next visit.
Costco, why not?
Madison pretty much predicted what was next on the agenda. Whenever we go to Hawaii, a stop at Costco is almost always a part of the plan. For today’s stop, I purchased bottled water, Aloha Maid drinks, ahi limu poke, and a portable cooler for our visit.
Finally, Kauai Coast Resort
Nancy and I stayed here in 2000 for our honeymoon. The newbies that we were ended up buying a timeshare. At first, we had buyer’s remorse. But once our family started growing, timeshare ownership was perfect for us. We’ve used our timeshare wherever we found an affiliated property – Princeville, Oahu, Big Island, Las Vegas, New York, Napa, San Francisco, Anaheim, San Diego. But there’s no denying that we love using it on Kauai. The Kauai Coast Resort is in Kapa’a (behind the Coconut Marketplace), a short 10-15 minute drive from the airport. There’s a pool, jacuzzi, and views of the Pacific Ocean. The last time we stayed here was in 2008, and I’m glad that it was available in the heart of the summer (even though I booked it at the very last minute). I booked a 1-bedroom unit equipped with a kitchen, living room (with sofa sleeper), laundry room, bathroom, and a lanai. I booked a garden-view unit, but upon check-in, I was given a unit with a garden/partial ocean view….no complaints here. After unloading our luggage, and resting for a bit, the kids wanted to go for a swim, and I asked them if they would like to go to the pool. Madison was quick to reply, “Uhmmm, Dad, we’re on Kauai….we should go to the beach!” I raised her very well.
No itinerary…..no agenda
Visiting Kauai is like riding a bike. My intent is to revisit places we loved, and discover new places we find along the way. As we made our way out of the resort, my first instinct was to take them to Lydgate Beach Park. It meant I had to take a left from the resort, but I noticed that the traffic wasn’t moving. So I made a right, hence, back to my point, I was quite flexible, I have no itinerary. I decided to drive 10 minutes north and we ended up in Kealia Beach. This beach area was quite vast. The lifeguards directed us to go to the left side of the beach where it was safer for the kids to play, swim, and body board. To the right were lots of surfers who enjoyed the 84 degree sunny afternoon. After applying sunscreen, the three of us jumped and played in the water. The kids also had an opportunity to chat with their mom via FaceTime. To this day, technology still amazes me!
Again, since we had no itinerary, I looked at my list of places we’ve eaten before, and a list suggested by friends on TripAdvisor, and noticed Kilauea Fish Market. It’s located next to our resort. We ordered two entrees – Korean BBQ Chicken with the ginger soy dressing, and Spicy Seared Poke Bowl. The only complaint I had with our visit was the time that it took to place the order. It was around 7pm when we ordered, and the line was long. There was only one lady who took the order. However, all of that was history when the food came. Evan and Madison shared the Korean BBQ chicken, and they were quite vocal as to how good their meal tasted. My spicy poke bowl did not look all that appetizing when it was served. I’m all about presentation. It was served in a paper bowl with rice and sesame seeds on top. But once I started to dig in, it was seared to perfection and the poke taste came about. The kids didn’t finish their salad greens. So why let that go to waste? I added the poke to the greens, I just created my own seared spicy poke salad.
That was Day One
By 8pm, we walked back to our room, took a shower. We talked to Caitlin via FaceTime, we can’t wait to see them on Wednesday. We were all in bed by 9pm (local time), after all, we’ve been up since the wee hours of Monday morning. That was our Day One….aloha!