You know the rest of the world thinks American's are crazy, right? I mean, their list of reasons is probably long, but I'm specifically referring to our resistance to taking vacation. I simply do not understand this. According to a recent Fortune.com article, "U.S. employees typically leave about 429 million paid vacation days on the table every year." WHAT? Not me. I will use them every chance I get.
While unfortunately I do not work for an employer who offers unlimited vacation days, so we typically plan one 'big' trip a year, then smaller 'long weekend' trips a couple times a year. One of our favorite 'big' trip destinations is the Island of Kauai, in Hawaii. It is basically our heaven on earth.
I had been to Kauai with my family as a kid, but it had been many years since by the time we went on our honeymoon. It was an amazing trip (and not just because it was our honeymoon, ;) ) Our favorite place to stay is the Sheraton on the south shore near Poipu. They have a great pool and beach. If you're going with a group and want a cost-efficient place to stay, we've had a really good time at the Koloa Landing Resort. They have great, spacious multi-bedroom condos with full kitchens and big lanais (patios). Its a great place to stay with kids, there are activities and a great family pool. The south shore is the sunnier of the shores, with calmer waves and beaches. But the Island isn't very big, and you can easily drive to the east and north shores and back in a day. The western most part of the island is privately owned and can only be visited by air and sea (with a few private exceptions.)
Kauai is called the Garden Island because it is so green, and it is home to one of the wettest spots on Earth (Mt. Waialeale.) Everything is so beautiful because it is clean and alive and so refreshing. The atmosphere of the island is very relaxed (there really is such a thing as "Island Time") which helps force you to chill out and relax. We always return home feeling refreshed. Which is the point of vacation, right?
If you're going to go, you HAVE to get this book: The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook. Kauai is not super resort-y, so this book will help you find the best places to eat and best activity vendors to use and best hikes to take. It is written by a local who knows the best little local food joints that you wouldn't know about otherwise, and we take it everywhere with us when we're there. It was actually first given to us by a friend who had recently honeymooned there, and as a wedding gift to us she gave us the book with post-it flags and notes about all the places they'd tried and liked. We have since lent the book to several friends on their Kauai trips, and everyone adds their own notes when they go. Its a fun, now extra-customized Kauai bible.
We have gone kayaking, hiking, whale watching, zip-lining, horseback riding, and on a helicopter tour and a catamaran tour. The food is always good and fresh, and we've never had bad weather (we've gone in January, April, July and August.) The rain comes and goes, and the sun can be intense, so be sure to bring lots of SPF!! And then RELAX!!