Australians Learning To Drive In USA

Kauai – Hawaii … The beach life

And Why Airbnb isn’t always fabulous

Our single parent travel has so far been very interesting. No luxury travel experts would have prepared us for the great experience we have had because what we thought was an alternative and tranquil accommodation setting turned into a disaster!  We have spent a wonderful week in Honolulu, Hawaii so far.

We have discovered this amazing ice-cream that looks like tiny balls – our favorite is Rocky Road, but we may change that – the more we eat. It is super cold and gives you brain freeze. What a family travel experience this is!

ice cream

©Exploramum and Explorason – discovering new ice cream

But it is time to venture further and explore more of Hawaii and USA.

We leave Honolulu and have booked a “Cabin in the Jungle” on AirBnB with what looks to be an incredible experience – set amidst the natural vegetation and in the foothills – it sounds perfect!

We arrived at the Lihu’e Airport and yet again we find people love to assist us but give us all the wrong buses to catch and places to get off. We try to call a taxi.  Seriously – taxis and taxi ranks do not exist in Hawaii. If you think you are going to get a taxi or a shuttle bus, it really is nothing like Australia.  Do not plan for it.  You must call ahead, or book transport online first.  It’s quite a nightmare.

We take two buses although they do not like luggage on the buses, and then get off at a shopping center in the hope of getting a cab.
The store calls 3 for us and we are told all the cabs are on the other side of the island and it is a 3-hour wait. Finally, we get a ride to our accommodation and my eyes nearly fall out of my head in shock.

Not glamping

Unfortunately, the accommodation owner has vacated and left the premises in the care of other people – and to us, it is a tip – it is certainly NOt glamping but t could be with more effort. It hardly has a curtain and is so dirty. It has wild roosters. To get to the toilet is to sort through trash, and the cold shower is outside – and has 3 feet high weeds – and I do not lie! Weeds inside the shower – what is this?  I can’t believe this has happened in a few short weeks of the owner being away.


©Exploramum and Explorason – weeds in the shower

Airbnb dramas

We reported it to Airbnb – it took two days of fighting and photographic evidence before we received our money back. But that left us way out in the never-never with nowhere to sleep that night. It also means in these cases we have to find our own ride back and are out of pocket – again.

Fortunately, a guy (staying there from France who had hired us a car) offered us a ride.
I found another hotel online (the place at least had free Wifi and I spent 2 hours on Google finding nearby alternatives).

It takes ages until I finally secure a place and we check it out. It has a swimming pool and we get the corner bottom room which is right close by and we feel we have struck gold.

Tip – if you book AirBnB accommodation check it out very thoroughly. Do not stay if it is not up to your standard. Hygiene is paramount. Take photographs if it is dirty, or doesn’t match the pictures you have seen in booking sites.

Report it within 24 hours and you will get a full refund – do not cancel the booking as they may not give you the balance of your refund – I fought for mine and won.

Alternative accommodation

©Exploramum and Explorason – We find a fantastic alternative

Kauai Sands

The hotel is neat and clean and the lady on reception is lovely, and what is more, offers us a discount. It is the Kauai Sands and I recommend it if you want a bargain hotel. Though I do hear it is about to be renovated for $15 million; so I doubt it will remain this relaxed for long.

Still, it is right in the heart of things, and just past the pool is the ocean. And to top it all up, there is an endless free coffee in the morning.

We rise early, and I grab a coffee and we take a morning walk. We discover that many guests do the same. It just feels awesome to appreciate the wonders of nature at this time of the day.

morning walk

©Exploramum and Explorason – Morning walk

Monk Seal

If you look at the back of the picture below, you can see a Monk Seal. There are only 1100 left and they are protected. This female Monk Seal comes to rest on the beach a couple of times while we stay here. We learn a lot about her and her relatives. “Ha’upu” is seven years old. She is tagged and they can track her family. The volunteers give us a lot bit of information – even though it is not yet 7:00 a.m. This all forms part of the “un-schooling” we are now doing.

family time

©Exploramum and Explorason – time with my son

Sacred Site

This is a sacred site right next to our hotel – you can see the decorated rock. It is called Kukui Helai and is also a navigational point and a famous place of refuge. You are not to sit on the ground, have a wedding, meditate or do a stack of other stuff.

sacred site

©Exploramum and Explorason – sacred site

Farmers Market

We decide to go for a walk and the Farmers Market is set up in the shop’s car park. We can buy and taste some interesting new fruits. This Hawaiian lady teaches my son all about how they grow.

farmers market

©Exploramum and Explorason – Farmers market

Locals on the island

We then take a walk along the beach. The locals have caught octopus, and teach my son about it. He refuses to hold it, but they agree to pose for a picture.

catching fish

©Exploramum and Explorason – catching fish

Next day we are up early again as I am feeling energized by the beach.

feeling alive

©Exploramum and Explorason – feeling alive

World schooling

I enjoy seeing my son run in and out of the beach as the sun rises. We start to collect interesting pieces of driftwood and soon have quite a collection. I have to take off my jacket and we tie it all up to bring it back to our hotel.

beach fun

©Exploramum and Explorason – beach fun

We arrange the driftwood by size and sound. We make a xylophone. We realize this is our first official world schooling experience. Quite a few people stop to add their comments. He spent hours working through the wood and picking the ones that made the best sound.

If I could have made a souvenir out of this wood and sent it back to Australia, then I would have loved to, but alas customs might not agree. It is so smooth but I bet it is time to say goodbye.  So we practice our underarm throws as we send it back to the ocean.

world schooling

©Exploramum and Explorason – first world schooling lesson

Local deals, coupons, and bargains

When you arrive at the airport or your hotel, you will find a myriad of tourism booklets and coupon books. I suggest taking the first day (or at least the evening) and ripping out the ones that might work for you.

Australian Learning to drive in the USA

We find an inexpensive car rental in Kapa’a. Paradise car rentals is a bit of “rent a bomb’; but at $25 US including insurance, this is a great deal. The owner collects us from the hotel and is a nice guy. He also gives us lots of tips on where to go and what to see. Highly recommend his business for a great deal.

Driving Tip

I was told by a Canadian friend, Brian back home in Adelaide, to stick an arrow to the dash – towards the curbside. I grab some masking tape and do this – it is a great tip!

international driving

©Exploramum and Explorason – arrow on the dash towards the roadside

As I drive, I love how there are so many old surfers around this island. Kauai is said to be for the “newlyweds or nearly deads”. Seriously it is full of retirees – there are few jobs, so it is surf bums and old people.


©Exploramum and Explorason – retirees everywhere

Another tip when driving internationally is to remember ‘driver in the middle’.  That also helps a lot.

Follow other cars where they turn – that assists too.


©Exploramum and Explorason – finding a cave

We drive on cautiously, and I head north to Ha’ena and discover some caves by the side of the road.


©Exploramum and Explorason – exploring a cave


Then we pull over and find Lumaha’i Beach. My son can have a swim and a boogie board. He could have spent hours here.  It is really blue and pretty.

beach time

©Exploramum and Explorason – fun on the beach

We head on to a horseshoe bay named Hanalei.


©Exploramum and Explorason – exploring the island

It has a covered end to the jetty. Millionaire houses line the beachfront.

beautiful island

©Exploramum and Explorason – beautiful island

As we drive home, I realize how much I enjoy all of the beauty. The sea is so relaxing. There will be more to discover tomorrow.

Questions and Comments

  • Are you an Airbnb regular?
  • Have you had bad experinces using airbnb/
  • Whatever your experience has been, we would love to hear your comments.

©Exploramum and Explorason – gorgeous sunrise

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