Kauai: The Garden Island

When I look back on old photos, I cringe a little. It’s not because I don’t like the subject of the photo, or the way I look, but because the photo itself is just bad. The composition, the lighting, everything. I’m happy that I’m improving as a photographer, but there are many places I’ve visited that I haven’t shared on this blog because I feel the photography doesn’t do it justice. Kauai is one such place.

But I’ve decided to let it go, despite my low quality photos because I want to share my story of Kauai.

I visited in 2008, the summer before my junior year of university. I hadn’t really traveled anywhere and the seed within my heart to travel the world hadn’t yet been planted. I hardly ever thought about the world, my mind was consumed with the drama that most 20 year-olds think about. My opportunity to visit Kauai was pure luck. My dad was given the chance to visit through work and my parents decided to extend their stay so my brother and I could join them for an extra week.

After 14 hours, we arrived at the Li’hue airport. An older Hawaiian woman with a handful of leis approached me, put one around my neck and smiled. No cheesy drawn out “aloha”, just a sincere smile, welcoming me to her home.

Hawaii 777

Aside from being the oldest and most beautiful Hawaiian island, I think Kauai is also the friendliest.

I’m not sure if Kauai is the reason, but after several days on the island I began to think about what I was doing with my life. At the time I was making horrible decisions and my group of “friends” only cared about things like skipping class and doing drugs. I had lost myself completely.

Slowly, each day, my thoughts began to shift. All of the drama I was caught up in began to feel irrelevant and even stupid. Why did I care so much about people who didn’t care about me? I started to let go and began paying attention to the things around me: the mountains, the rain, the energy of the ocean. I started to think for myself.

I noticed that a huge mountain in the middle of the island was constantly covered in clouds. Turns out, Mt. Waialeale is actually a volcano and one of the wettest places on earth.

Mt. Waialeale

I swam in the Pacific ocean for the first time and snorkeled above a colorful coral reef full of tropical fish and sea turtles.

Kauai Beach

Hawaii 476

I sailed around the Na Pali coast, admiring the rugged coastline and towering cliffs.

Kaua'i Na Pali coast

Hawaii 500

Kaua'i Na Pali coast

I was awoken by roosters every morning at 5 a.m.

Hawaii 849

I enjoyed the warm breeze and fierce rain of a tropical storm.


I hiked to a 100 year-old lighthouse.

Kaua'i lighthouse

I watched the sun set over the Pacific ocean.

Hawaii 370

I marveled at the rhythm, power, and serenity of the ocean.

Hawaii 797

Hawaii 791


“When patterns are broken, new worlds emerge.” – Tuli Kupferberg 

Most people have a certain moment that inspires them to travel. I think Kauai was mine.


What do you think? Have you been to Kauai? What was your “moment” that inspired you to travel?


You might also like...