Kauai: Getting There (Musings, Tricks, and Resources)

Saturday, May 16

We woke up early, around 5:30 am, to assemble the last of our provisions. We had two carry-on bags, each including wedding clothes and casual wear, and two personal items bursting with essential documents and food…items like avocados, nuts, sardine salad (to be consumed ONLY while at the airport, NEVER on the plane), fruit, and chocolate, of course. Our plane was scheduled to depart at 9:55.

We called an Uber (ah, 21st century, you devil) and after a little mix-up we were off! We sped down the highway the ten or so minutes to Philadelphia International.

What followed is about as smooth a trip as you could write. We hopped over to LAX (about five hours) then immediately found our way to the USAirways/American Airlines lounge. I had two complimentary passes, you see, and we were determined to use them to the fullest. What an oasis it was! Snacks and beverages galore (more of the latter), and comfortable seating all around. And showers! And clean bathrooms! It was a treat and perfect for the five or so hours we spent there.

5:00 pm came and we strolled over to our gate. It, just like the first flight, was on-time (a rarity). We approached the agent only to be asked if we’d like to sit in the exit row, thanks to my very tall, dreamy husband (!). We found our way to my version of first class and settled in for the next six hours. And by settled in I mean L read while I pestered him with questions as he turned each page.

We arrived in the dark so it wasn’t as dramatic, but we were there! By this time we’d been traveling for about 15 hours, so we were ready to get to our cabin. With with our luggage in tow, we found our way to the exit before I called the car rental agency to find out the location of our car. In island fashion, it was left in the parking lot with the key hidden discretely. It was a dream to just walk right on out of those doors into the warm Hawaiian night and have a car waiting for us.

We typed our destination, Anahola, into the GPS of my phone which, thankfully, had service. And we were off. We stopped at a supermarket and scoffed at the prices before we continued on. At a point, we reverted back to the primitive skill of paper map navigation, The road was dark, windy, and times it was unclear where to turn, but at last we made it to our perfect cabin.

We parked under the trees as instructed. The smells of the blooms all around us were overpowered only by the symphony of sounds. The lights were on in and outside the cabin for us. Helpful for us, the bugs, and the geckos. I gathered my courage to march past the wildlife and what awaited us was a piece of paradise. A big, beautiful room (by our standards) perfectly island without going overboard on theme. There was a big ceiling fan and windows all around so the breeze was out of this world. There was no air-conditioning. We walked through to the bathroom and were pleased with the size and closet space for our once-in-a-lifetime (sort of) garments. A small door on the right wall led to my favorite part: the outdoor shower. Is there anything better?

A lanai (front porch) led us to the small kitchen equipped with a full-size fridge, hotplate, microwave and other essentials.

We were in paradise. We fell into bed at around 5am our time.

Here’s a peek in the daylight:

Tricks and Resources

Uber With promo codes and ease of use, this little luxury is comparable to a cab ride. Want a free Uber ride (and to gift me one, too?)? You can use this code: pjilb

Flight A flight from the East Coast to Lihue, Kauai is not cheap. It can be, sure, but as a general rule it is not. This means you have to get creative if you’re goal is to do this on a budget. We did it with points and credit card sign on perks.

First, I had about 30,000 miles from good ‘ol travel over the past 6 years. In December I applied for the USAirways credit card offering 80,000 miles after first purchase and payment of the yearly fee. We bought, we paid, and were awarded our points (on Christmas Day, no less!)

While sticking to certain dates would have yielded us a flight paid for entirely with points (20k per leg per person), we weren’t that flexible. If you want to do that, start this process far ahead (I’d venture to say a year, but do what you can). Instead, we used the points to buy direct, round trip flights Los Angeles-Lihue. Next, I used the Companion Ticket for the Philadelphia-Los Angeles leg. I bought a full price ticket, then for $99 got an identical ticket for L.

Lounge The USAirways/American lounge at LAX is really lovely with all the amenities you could want like snacks, a full bar, TV, showers, you name it. This was also part of the sign-on bonus with the credit card I got. Without the bonus it is $50 per person. I’d venture to say that if you have over a 5 hour layover it’s worth it…especially to not have to worry about your belongings and have somewhere peaceful to relax.

Car Our car was the greatest, honestly. We booked through Kauai Rent-A-Car; they are are local outfit that rents local cars. By that I mean you are getting a car that can blend in anywhere and won’t draw attention to you. I also mean that it will likely be 10 years old and have dings and bumps. We loved it. It was clean, well-maintained, and we weren’t driving around worrying that any bump in the road would result in a hefty car rental agency fee. That and it’s waiting for you at the airport…no shuttle or waiting required. And it was $300 (inclusive) for two weeks(!!).

Cabin Our cabin was one of my favorite parts of the trip. It was a dream, truly. We booked through homeaway after a couple phone calls with the owner and couldn’t be happier. Homeaway has been around longer than AirBnB, but it’s quite similar. One difference is Homeaway doesn’t charge you a fee to book like AirBnB. My understanding is that that they charge the owners more actually. Anyway, it is wonderful to have your own peaceful enclave versus an ordinary hotel room, but that’s just me.

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