Slow down and enjoy living on Kauai

Hanalei Sunset

Hanalei Bay Sunset Late on a lazy August afternoon (photo: beach at the Hanalei Pavilion)

Many people spend years planning and saving to escape to Kauai for just a week or two. Part of the joy of living here comes in sharing the island with them.  A constant stream of visitors from around the world flows here each week and they are a daily reminder of how lucky we are to “Live Kauai”.

Life here can be simpler and less stressful than other places but it doesn’t just happen. Things definitely move at a slower pace so bring your smile and a relaxed attitude from the start. If you allow more time to get things done and embrace the notion of things happening on “Kauaitime”, you’ll enjoy a new way of life here.


It’s been called the “Perfect” Climate

bgKauai has one of the most temperate climates in the world. The trade winds naturally cool things down as they caress your skin. Many of the homes here don’t have air conditioning and the windows are open most of the time. As you might imagine, the winter is generally cooler and wetter than the summer. In the winter temperatures can even drop below 60 degrees at night, although that is considered really cold here! The daytime temperature during the winter months is generally in the mid seventies. On summer days it usually gets up into mid 80’s. The South Shore and West Side tends to be drier and hotter than the East and North Shores. Rainfall varies considerably depending on location.

Kauai is of course surrounded by thousands of miles of ocean. Imagine the weathering that objects receive on a ship at sea and that’s just about what it’s like outdoors on Kauai. Even stainless steel is not immune to the salt-air! Electronics and computers simply don’t last as long as they do in other climates. Automobiles need to be rinsed regularly and stored in a garage to prevent them from rusting. And parts of your home will require ongoing maintenance to keep it from succumbing to the elements.

Of course your body is also suseptible to the elements! When you live here you naturally spend a lot of time outdoors. Whether you’re walking on the beach, hiking on the trails, or just hanging out on your property and lanai, it’s wise to always have a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen handy.

Small towns and open spaces

Kauai is made up of several rural communities and towns linked together by a few small mostly two-lane highways. The towns each have a unique character and are separated by wide-open spaces with a sprinkling of homes, open agricultural lands, and estates. Each area of the island is visually unique as well, ranging from the lush tropical North Shore to the dry canyons of Waimea.Hanalei

The most popular areas for tourists are the designated Visitor Destination Areas. These areas include Princeville on the North Shore, the coconut coast of the East Side, and Poipu on the South Shore. Also known as VDA’s, these areas have more of a real tourist flavor to them. This is were you’ll find most of the time-shares, hotels, and vacation rentals. There are vacation rentals outside of the VDA’s as well but this is only done legally with a special use permit.

In some ways living on Kauai is like stepping back in time to a world that is simpler and more trusting. As you drive down the road many times you’ll see kids hitch-hiking with their surfboards.

My favorite rainbow

Young children will be walking and riding their bikes to school or the store. You might see volunteers cleaning the roadsides and beaches. If a car breaks down or when someone is in need, people will stop what they’re doing to help out. This is not to say that life here is without problems. We face the same issues as all communities and additional challenges because we are a small island. However, we are bound together by the spirit of aloha and a helpfulness that is inherent in our island community.

Music & the Arts:

Kauai’s population is rich with creativity. There are musical activities year-round. There are 3 jazz festivals, a songwriter’s festival, tons of Live Theatre, and countless cultural events for Hawaiian Music, Hula, Dancing, and Slack Key guitar. You can check out the local music scene for ongoing activities at both the Kauai Festivals site and Kauai Music Scene. Live theatre is especially popular with many local productions through-out the year by the Kauai Community Players, Hawaii Children’s Theatre, and Women in Theatre.


Kauai has three major medical facilities around the island: Wilcox Hospital (part of the Hawaii Pacific Health medical system), Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital on the west side, Mahelona Medical Center on the east side, which has special programs for the aged and disabled. There’s a good variety of alternative health providers as well. Naturopaths, Chiropractors, Acupuncturists, Massage, and many alternative modalities can be found in abundance.

Retirement on Kauai

Kauai is a wonderful spot to retire for those who love a warm climate and desire an active lifestyle. Kauai offers an endless array of water activities, hiking, golfing, fishing, and pristine beaches as well as beautiful scenery and glorious sunsets. A great source of information on our beaches, surf conditions, and water safety information is the Kauai Explorer website.

Some questions to consider before making a retirement move to Kauai: 

Do you like living in a small close knit community? Would you like living in a place where nightlife is almost non-existent after 11pm? Will you be too far away from my family and grandchildren? Would you miss the traditional four seasons? Do you like tropical fruits and vegetables all year long from local growers?

I think you see where we are going. It’s a slower pace of life, a vibrant and artistic community, the aloha spirit, and a place where people love to help each other. If this type of lifestyle resonates with you, Kauai may be a place you wish to call home.

The cost of living is relatively high on Kauai. Gas is of course expensive (but that’s true anywhere nowadays). Food costs are generally higher than on the mainland because much of it is shipped in to the island. Milk, eggs, and fresh vegetables can cost almost twice as much as they do on the mainland. But by shopping at our many farmers markets and buying locally, you can economize on healthy, local grown produce. Our home prices are high but our property taxes are relatively low. And some of the most enjoyable activities, like walking our east side path, Ke Ala Hele Makalae, or going to beach, are free!

Bringing your Pets

Hawaii is free of the Rabies disease. We also do not have snakes! And we are home to many rare and exotic species of plants and animals. In fact, Hawaii has more endangered species than any other state. Not surprisingly, we have strict regulations regarding the importation of plants and animals. Some pets are simply not allowed here and for the ones that are permitted, there is a strict quarantine process. In order to qualify for the short 5 Day or less quarantine program you need to work with your local Vet in advance to avoid a much longer quarantine period.

Golf on Kauai

Kauai is a golfers paradise. Spectacular ocean and mountain views surround every one of it's 6 resort and 3 public courses. The courses offer lessons, driving ranges, pro shops and clubhouses.

Princeville Resort Golf Club
(808) 826-5070

Makai course is in Princeville, Prince course is 2 miles east. Makai course is actually made up of 3 nine hole courses; Woods, Lakes and Ocean. Prince Course is very challenging- and golf digest has rated it the best in Hawaii.

– Designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr.

Kauai Lagoons Resort Golf Club
Adjacent to the Marriot Resort Hotel in Lihue
(808) 241-6000

Mokihana Course- A player friendly course with open fairways and links-style play. Kiele Course- A top-rated challenge with ocean breezes overlooking Kalapaki Bay.

– Designed by Jack Nicklaus

Wailua Municipal Golf Course
2 miles south of Wailua on the oceanside
(808) 241-6666

This is where the locals play alongside the ocean and among coconut and palm trees. Excellent rating. Say Hi to Ronnie for me when you play this course.

– Designed by Tony Shirai

Paukea Golf Course
Near Kukui Grove Shopping Center in Lihue.
(808) 245-8756

This 18 hole golf course on Kauai plays through deep ravines, across mountain streams and has amazing pacific ocean views.

– Designed by Robin Nelson

Poipu Bay Resort Golf Course
Near the Hyatt Regency Resort and former host to the PGA Grand Slam of Golf Event.
808 742-8711

Located on old sugar plantation land, this sunny course is consistently ranked high by Golf Digest.

– Designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr.

Kiahuna Golf Club (Resort)
Enter from Poipu Shopping Center, A 5 minute drive from Poipu Bay
(808) 742-9595

Tradewinds, water hazards, fast smooth greens makes this course a challenge for players at all levels.

– Designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr.

Kukuiolono Golf Course (Public)
Located in Kalaheo, turn left from Rt.50 on Papalina Rd. 1mile
(808) 332-9151

You play this 9 hole course twice and it’s par 72. In a Japanese garden, its inexpensive and popular with locals.

– Designer is unknown


Picture Perfect!

Hollywood film makers love using Kauai’s exotic locations in their productions. Millions of people around the world have seen the wonders of the natural beauty that abounds on our island without realizing where the locations were actually shot. Kauai not only attracts major films but many independent film productions, television shows, music videos, photo shoots, and commercials which contribute millions of dollars to the economy. Local actors, extras, crew, catering, and transportation companies all benefit from this infusion. In many cases the Kauai Film Commission through the Office of Economic Development assists productions. The State of Hawaii also provides tax credits to movie and television projects which further assure the continued presence of the industry on Kauai.

Over 70 Hollywood films have been shot on Kauai. Some of the better known films include South Pacific; Blue Hawaii; Donovan’s Reef; Raiders of the Lost Ark; Throw Mama from the Train; Honeymoon in Vegas; Jurassic Park; Six Days/ Seven Nights; Mighty Joe Young; Blue Crush; Tropic Thunder, and The Descendants.

Much of the filming takes place in the hidden mountain valleys and pristine beaches of the Eastern and Northern parts of Kauai, however some locations are instantly recognizable. A many scenes in The Descendants were shot in Hanalei with a special scene taking place in the Tahiti Nui restaurant and bar.

Many celebrities also escape their own hectic life style by owning homes on Kauai. It is pretty exciting to run into a well known celebrity when you are shopping or dining in one of Kauai’s local eateries.