You know Kauai’s scenery is incomparable (if you didn’t know, then gaze at the screen for a while). But here’s the big question: what would it be like to move to, not just travel to, Hawaii’s Garden Isle?
1. Home from Above
It isn’t like you can walk out the front door and stroll on over to the famed Na Pali coast. But people who live on Kauai can, and do, take a look by boat and by helicopter. One lady who grew up on Kauai pays $239 once a year to fly over the Na Pali Coast on a Jack Harter helicopter tour. “The view makes me cry every time,” she says.
2. Home on the South Coast
Home could very well be on Kauai’s south coast, in a new community called Kukui’ula. A home overlooking the Pacific off the front porch and Mount Wai’ale’ale out the back sells for about $4.5 million.
3. Why You Need a Truck
Getting to this spot over Waimea Canyon required 4-wheel-drive and good hiking shoes. Local friends like Robert Miguel are priceless sources when it comes to knowing where to be awed. “We’ll show our favorite spots when we know someone is serious about living here, and not just looking for a photo to post on Facebook.”
4. Who Lives Here
Surfer Bethany Hamilton, who inspired millions of people worldwide with her courage and faith after a shark attack left her with one arm, grew up on Kauai’s north shore. Her parents, Tom and Cheri, live in the same modest home on a lot they bought 25 years ago for $69,000. He’s a waiter at the St. Regis Hotel and she just finished a book, Raising a Soul Surfer. “Living modestly is both a choice and a necessity. We like simple, and some things here are really expensive, like electricity.”
5. Healthy Lifestyle
Hawaii as a state has the highest average life expectancy in the U.S. Outdoor hobbies are exercise (no need for a gym), and local produce makes a sweet lunch.
6. Everyone Has a Garden
With the daily combination of sunshine and rain, plus the rich volcanic soil, everything grows on Kauai. No fertilizers necessary — in fact, they’re strongly discouraged.
7. It Is Not Sunny 24/7
The highlands here are among the rainiest on earth, with precipitation feeding the incredible waterfalls and providing pure runoff for the aptly named Garden Isle.
8. The Ideal Kauai Home
This 4,000 square foot home with pool and outdoor kitchen (because really, who wants to stay inside?) is listed at $3.9 million. Go to Kukuiula.com.
9. The Weekend Getaway
Many people who live on Kauai say they rarely drive outside of their little slice of the island. A one-hour drive is considered a vacation, and done once or twice a year. There's no need to drive far to find a beach, as there are more than 100 public beaches around Kauai. We found this one at the end of a bumpy gravel road and through a barrier of tall pines.
10. Local Protocol
This is how you go beach hunting on Kauai. Do not bring a ton of gear and overwhelm the places that locals consider private and sacred. Notice the nutrient-heavy dirt. Now you know why it’s also standard protocol to take off your shoes before entering a home.
11. Live Large
This is an example of going big and going home. It's a custom-built house on a hill overlooking the ocean, with infinity pool and access to guides armed with surprising Kauai-only adventures. It's in the $8 million range through Kukui'ula.
12. Start with a Vacation Rental
Before buying a home it's a good idea to experience Kauai for at least a week as if you were living here. To do that you can rent a condo unit for as little as $98 a night or rent a cottage like this (with a plunge pool, detached garage, and an "ohana" or guest house) for $4,200 a week. Check out a variety of rentals through The Parrish Collection.
13. Remember Why You Moved Here
One more shot of what draws people here in the first place — and brings tears to the eyes of locals whose families have been on Kauai forever.