Mom and Daughter 18th Birthday Trip to Kauai

The Hawaiian Islands are the most isolated (populated) Islands on Earth.

Kauai is the most isolated of the main Hawaiian Islands and a nature lover’s paradise.

I promised my three daughters that when they turned 18, I would take each of them on a mom and daughter trip anywhere in North America. My eldest daughter, Mist, picked New York City. Tabs (in the middle) chose Kauai. The two locales couldn’t be more different: one an urban mecca, and the other a wild, tropical mecca. They both proved to be adventures of a lifetime. We navigated the jungle on each occasion: one an urban jungle and the other, a tropical jungle.

Sunset Dancing at Hanalei Bay

Hanalei Bay is one of my favourite places on Earth; it is Zen, spectacularly beautiful, and a water-sport lover’s paradise. We danced at sunset on the beach, boogie boarded, sunned our pale bodies on the sand, and tried the surf.


I’ve been to Hawaii, the Big Island, and briefly to Oahu. The Big Island has the most abundant and healthiest coral though, the Kauai vibe truly suits me best. I love the chill, no-hurry attitude. Traffic is a dream, everyone is so polite: cars stop and let you in even when they’ve been waiting longer than you.

Tabs by the banks of the Hanalei River

Below: Tabs at Queen’s Bath. Many naive souls have drowned when a rogue wave crashes over the rocks, fills the pool and then sucks the water and bathers into the raging ocean.

Navigating the rivers and hiking through the jungle was paradise. The tropical floral scents, warm water and complex root systems made each hike an ‘Indiana Jones’ adventure. We lept off cliffs (Tabs), swam underwater falls, and traversed swollen rivers.

Jungle Girl

Below: Tabs cliff jumping at Hoopii Falls

Rope swinging into pool below second Hoopii waterfall along Kapaʻa Stream

My favourite day in Kauai involved renting SUPs and paddling up the Wailua River. At a fork in the river, we paddled right, and the river eventually led us to a trailhead on the bank. We parked our boards and continued on foot through the jungle to Secret Falls.

We were warned that the hike into Secret Falls involved crossing an unpredictable river. In heavy rain, the river will swell to levels too high to cross. Thus, if it started to rain during the hike, we were advised to head back asap, otherwise, we might become stranded at the falls.

It did start to rain and thank goodness, Tabs and I have fast nimble feet.  We navigated back across the roots and pools of water in record speed.



Below: this is Secret falls hike. You can see the river’s edge is on the right corner of the second pic:

After we left Secret Falls hike, we returned to our SUPs and headed out on the river again.  This time we explored the left river fork. We stopped near Fern Grotto and tied our SUPs to tree roots bulging from the bank, and then used the roots to climb up to the trailhead to sacred Fern Grotto, where Kauaiians would honour the god of agriculture and peace, Lono.

We paddled back on the river, to where we parked the car (near the ocean), past an ancient Hawaiian village. Paddling against the fierce late afternoon wind was insane. At some points, we sat crossed-legged and paddled from sitting position. We were on the river for six hours that day!

Fern Grotto

Our trip Waimea Canyon was another nail-biting adventure. The pouring rain caused white-out road conditions and rivers flowing across the highway threatened to take our little Toyto rental car with them. Maneuvering the narrow, cliff-side canyon roads in white-out torrential rain challenged my Zen but I took them slow and steady. The views of Waimea Canyon are beyond stunning. The ethereal sunlight, blue sky, misty air, red soil, and deep green foliage made me think I’d stepped into a Maxfield Parish painting. We hiked down into the canyon in the pouring rain,slip-sliding through red mud. Tabs in her stylish sundress looked no worse for wear. Though, the white sneakers are permanently red-stained.

I love our mother-daughter trips. Tabitha is a fierce and fun traveling companion. She’s game to try anything and we explored the entire island with well-matched gusto.

Below: Tabs with ‘shave’ ice (rootbeer flavour). Hanapepe, the town that inspired the setting of Disney’s Lilo and Stitch,  is a classic “old Hawaii” style town with retro tropical-dream charm.Hanapepe swinging bridge:
Below: Tabs at Poipu Beach on our first Kauai morning. We were called out of the water to protect a monk seal that was passing through the bay. Due to the cyclone storms of 2018, the roads in the North East of the island are closed indefinitely and accessing the beaches and hiking trails is impossible. Which, was just as well as we could not possibly pack anymore adventure into our Kauaii week.
Below a little snorkeling and yoga at Anini Beach: When we left Kauai at eleven pm, after our amazing week, we had no idea that our Hawaiian adventures were far from over. Twenty minutes into our flight, both Tabs and I sensed something was wrong (but we were too nervous to mention it). We gazed at the star-filled sky and black ocean as the plane leveled out at an unusually low altitude and took a wide right turn. We were alerted by the captain that a warning light indicated a mechanical problem and we would be making an emergency landing in Honolulu. The next forty minutes were very long as we scanned the ocean for lights, desperate to spot the shores of Oahu.
When we finally spotted a few lights below, and Pearl Harbor came into view, we felt relief until we noticed a fleet of 10 fire trucks lined the runway and raced beside the plane as we landed. At two am we finally reached our Honolulu hotel, The Prince Waikiki. The luxurious hotel was a sweet welcome after spending most of the night under über stress.
Our Gilligan’s Island view:View of the harbour from the hotel pool.Below: the tall twin, mirror image towers are our hotel, the Prince Waikiki.In the morning, I was thrilled to recognize the harbour view from childhood memories: the very same harbour where the SS Minow started her infamous 3-hour tour. Gilligan’s Island intro credits and theme song played along with the harbour view on the TV every lunch of my childhood.
Thank you, my beautiful Tabs, for being my best bud on one fabulous Hawaiian adventure.
Below: Kauaiian wildlife we encountered on our travels:

Snorkeling with puffer fish @ Anini Beach

Sea turtle at Poipu
Lizard puffing out his fiery throat
Wild rooster (wild chickens are everywhere on the island)
Snail on Secret Falls Trail

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