One trip's pain is another trip's pleasure: A crazy hotel experience in London inspired a new way of travel in Hawaii.
London may have been our most amusing save, splurge, steal scenario but it's a system we put into action in just about every destination we visit. It's such a part of who we are and how we travel that we wanted to start an entirely new series on the blog dedicated to how we save, splurge, and "steal" all around the world. And there's no better place to kick things off than Hawaii.
While Hawaii has plenty of tempting splurges (check out our list of favourite indulgences on the Big Island!) it is also one of the most affordable, value oriented destinations we've ever been to. We love sharing our passion for the more affordable side of Hawaiian life and the island of Kauai in particular is the embodiment of the best of the save, splurge, steal ideals. Here's what earned our money and our affections on the garden isle.
Save: A morning of river kayaking.
Kayaking is a relatively easy, intuitive activity. Seriously, if I can handle it, anyone can (as per this anti-adventurist report.) But kayaking in the same boat as your spouse is one of life's unique challenges! Happily our guide didn't mind giving us some remedial lessons along the way to help us get in sync. The staff at Kayak Kauai were wonderfully patient and it was a pleasure to spend time with them out on the water - they clearly love what they do and are eager to share their enthusiasm with their guests. I'm really glad I was able to stop the grumbling in my head and enjoy the scenery as we made our way upstream.
Budget conscious travelers will greatly appreciate the option for a three hour tour as opposed to the more common 5 hour/half day tour. The shorter experience is gentle on the wallet as well as the body, making it the perfect option for beginners who aren't sure what their interest level will be. Cost is $55 per person (and $45 for children).
Splurge: Whale watching, snorkeling, and cruising.
Of course, when I speak of exploring by boat, what I really mean is that I sent Ryan to explore. My stomach is way too tricky to be trusted on the high seas! Given my notorious motion sickness, I felt it was best for all concerned (including innocent members of the public) for me to stay firmly on land.
The team at Holo Holo tours has an honest love of the ocean. The owners have made five pacific ocean crossings and have been offering tours since 1997. This is their life and craft and they do it well. Tours are capped at a manageable 37 people and there's a real emphasis on everyone having a wonderful time.
Steal: A value packed hotel win.
Sadly, this price isn't their standard rate. $140-$180 is more typical. But if you aren't opposed to doing a little research, you might be pleasantly surprised by what you turn up. Guests should note that the posted rates do not include a $20 daily "resort fee". I could rant forever on my true feelings about this kind of expense but I was happy that the Courtyard Kauai's fee did include two small daily Mai Tai's. It was nice to feel like we got a little extra bang for our buck.
This property was the perfect, just-our-size kind of place. It was big enough that we had the excitement of a different amenities and services but it was small enough that we never felt lost, overwhelmed, or stuck in a more corporate machine. Definitely an affordable, value packed steal.
Hawaii is one of those destinations we could return to again and again - and, in fact, we have! And it's the perfect place to pursue your own save, splurge, steal style challenge. There's always going to be plenty of temptations for the splurge but, happily, you'll find there's plenty of saves and steals as well.
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Our experiences with Kayak Kauai and Holo Holo Charters were provided as complimentary media tickets. All research, writing, and opinions are our own and we thank our partners for their support.