Ultimate Guide To Solo Travel In Kauai
Kauai was an absolute dream week for me. I am already planning to go back ASAP and 100% would do it again solo.
It was my first trip to any of the Hawaiian islands, and the pull I felt to this lush tropical jungle was so strong that I got tired of waiting around for friends to join (no offense, I love you all), and just decided to go by myself for my birthday. I’ve gone on a few other solo trips, but this was the first time where I would know no one at all once I got to my destination. When I asked on Instagram what Kauai blog posts would be helpful, tips for doing it solo was the #1 response by a long shot… so here we go!
Why Travel Solo To Kauai
The Hawaiian Islands are such a close and affordable adventure from the west coast (from San Diego & LA, flights often get as low as $300 round trip on Alaska Air); and it honestly feels lightyears away from the mainland.
I chose Kauai for a few reasons.
It is the oldest and northwestern-most of the Hawaiian chain, so it’s a little more off the beaten path and gets less tourists per year than Oahu, Maui or the Big Island. It’s also less developed, with vast areas of protected wilderness only accessible by foot. People are happy and welcoming, and there are more one way bridges than chain hotels. YASSS!
Kauai is a longtime destination for spiritual seekers. The pristine, rugged green jungle is said to hold feminine, healing powers and that energy is evident as soon as you step off the plane.
It is the birthplace of Ho’oponopono, an ancient Hawaiian meditation for forgiveness (and one of my regular practices), and a popular Reiki lineage was brought from Japan to the west via a Master Teacher in Kauai.
It is truly a place for reflection, healing and connecting with nature, all of which are best done alone if you ask me.
Getting Around The Island
Getting around Kauai is super easy. It is still the U.S. after all!
First things first- you’ll definitely want to rent a car. I went with Alamo at Lihue Airport and it was the best rental car experience I’ve ever had. They have several kiosks where customers can pull up their own reservation, or initiate a rental without one. You just swipe your Driver’s License, print out your own paperwork, select your own vehicle from a row that meets your specifications, and then drive off into the jungle. There are plenty of team members there to assist, and you can always wait in line and do it old school if you prefer, but I found this smooth (and independent) process to be a very warm Aloha as I was dying to get my journey started!
One important thing to note is that you can’t drive around the entire island. There is essentially one road that goes around the perimeter, but it ends in the north shore town of Hāʻena, where Keʻe beach opens up to the Nā Pali Wilderness and famous Kalalau Trail. Here the land becomes accessible only by foot; so although Kōkeʻe State Park out west looks close geographically, it takes about 2 hours to get to from the towns on the north shore. Also important- due to historic flooding in April 2018, the last few miles of the road on the north shore are closed to tourists and a permit is required to enter, so the end of the road is currently in Hanalei.
All that said, it’s smart to choose your accommodation based on what you want to do most, so that you can limit time spent driving + spend more time adventuring!
Where To Stay ON KAUAI
The North Shore is the place to be in my opinion. It’s the quintessential Hawaiian postcard, and what I think of when I hear Kauai called “The Garden Isle”. The dramatic 4,500 ft spires of the Nā Pali Wilderness hug the wild south Pacific Ocean and consistent rainfall holds space for indigenous plants to thrive. It’s paradise.
The North Shore is comprised of the towns of Hāʻena, Hanalei, Princeville and Kilauea. It’s beautiful year round, but in winter, rainfall can be plentiful and huge swells can make the beaches dangerous to swim at times, so it’s not for everyone. If you’d prefer dry sunny beaches all day everyday, the more touristy town of Poipu at the south end of the island may be more your speed.
Another good option is to stay around Kapaʻa in the East, which is more centrally located and gives easy access to a lot of hikes and waterfalls.
Solo Accommodation On Kauai
There are a lot of great AirBNBs along the north shore towns for ~$150 / night (depending on what time of year you go & how far in advance you book). I stayed in a comfortable 1 bedroom in Princeville and it was a perfect home base for everything I wanted to do + I always love having a kitchen so I can cook for myself & keep leftovers while traveling. Hanalei is generally more expensive and has less to choose from, but would be the most ideal situation you could set up for yourself, I think.
Budget / Nature Options…
If you’re more keen to share space and pay less, the Kauai Beach House Hostel in Kapaʻa often has their shared dorm rate below $40 / night.
The “Tentalow” at Kumu Camp between Kapaʻa and Kilauea offers a distinctly Kauai experience at <$80 / night. Expect near solitude at the remote Anahola Beach.
Another solid adventure move would be to camp for part of your trip. Kauai Camper Rental has tents and all the other necessary gear at affordable prices (+ they have camper vans if that’s more your style!) Next time I will likely get a tent & some cooking equipment from them and stay in Kōkeʻe State Park for a night or two to have access to all the amazing hikes out west (more on that below).
Kauai Shores Hotel in Wailua is cute and has rates as low as $150 / night that include an economy rental car (which would be the only perk of staying in a hotel in my opinion).
When the whole North Shore opens back up, a stay at Hanalei Colony Resort after hiking & camping at Kalalau would be my dream splurge!
Dining Solo On Kauai
Deciding what to eat is one of the hardest parts for a lot of people when considering traveling solo. I don’t mind going places alone, however if it’s not something you do regularly it can be intimidating. This is where the real fun of traveling solo starts though. It doesn’t matter what anyone else wants to eat or when… you’re on this journey alone, and the only needs you are looking after right now are your own.
Kauai is full of low-key cafes where locals pop in for a bite to eat on the go. Plus, many restaurants, bars and food trucks have healthy vegan and vegetarian options. The real MVPs of my trip though were natural grocery stores with epic smoothie and snack bars and the tropical farmer’s markets.
BEST Solo Activities On Kauai
I spent my time on Kauai chasing waterfalls, discovering secret beaches and challenging myself on jungle hikes that rewarded me with the most breathtaking views my eyes have ever seen. I went to yoga, got out on the water to see the Nā Pali coast, and kept myself more than entertained with nature walks, bike paths and all sorts of mini adventures hidden right in town.
My only hesitation with traveling solo to Kauai was that I thought some activities I wanted to do may be too dangerous to try alone, or that I’d only see honeymooners & couples. I was pleasantly surprised that neither of these concerns seemed valid or affected my trip at all.
I did most activities alone, but also made friends with cool people on the trails and at yoga that I met up with later in my trip, too.
Check out my Kauai Bucket List for all of best the adventures on the island!
Final tips + WHAT I SPENT
It sounds nerdy, but for solo trips I like to buy guide books by Lonely Planet or Fodor’s to have handy. They always come with a map and basic things to know bout the destination, so it’s a nice way to have things in one place & trigger other ideas to research.
When hiking by yourself (or any trails you don’t know for that matter), it’s a good idea to download a map of the area you’re in. AllTrails Pro App is awesome and it’s only $30 / year.
Have a plan but go with the flow. I met so many people while I was on Kauai just with the activities I chose to do. I was amped on my alone time but I urge you to be open to making friends, too!
The most difficult part of traveling Kauai solo is the cost. Here’s a breakdown of what I spent in 5 nights / 6 days.
Flight: $365 (nonstop round trip from San Diego with Alaska Airlines)
Accommodation: $750 (AirBNB in Princeville at $150 / night) - although you could easily spend less than this if you’re cool with hostels and / or camping!
Rental Car: $230 (economy vehicle through Alamo at the airport)
Food: ~$250 or $40 a day. Again, you could spend a lot less than this but I’m never really stingy with what I eat. I went out for coffee & breakfast most days for about ~$10 and got a filling mid afternoon meal for about ~$15. I loaded up on snacks from natural grocery stores & the farmer’s market a couple times to keep myself satiated throughout adventure days, and treated myself to a sit down meal and drinks with friends I made just once (where I spent ~$60 of the $250).
Activities: $200 - Another big appeal about Kauai for me was that most of the things I came to do are free. The only activities I paid for all week were the catamaran excursion & yoga! (Catamaran excursion $129 + $20 tip & two $24 drop in yoga classes)
Total - ~$1,800. Now that I have a lay of the land, next time I will probably spend less on accommodation & more on unique activities. :)
I hope this encourages you to take a trip to Kauai, and to not be intimidated to do it solo if you want or need to! I can’t think of a better place to soak up your own vibrations, heal, goal set, and ground in nature.
Mahalo for reading, and feel free to leave a comment with your own tips!