Dreaming of visiting somewhere exotic but dreading the hassle of international travel? We’ve partnered with travel and lifestyle writer Angie Orth from Angie Away to learn about an exotic island paradise with all the comforts of home: Kauai, Hawaii.
I love traveling internationally and I do it frequently as a travel writer. Sometimes, though, I just want to visit an exotic paradise but leave my passport at home.
I’ve just been to the Hawaiian island of Kauai for the fifth time, and I fall in love with it more every visit. With its rain forests, lush mountains, deep, dry canyons, fun resorts, and some of the most untouched, unexplored land in the United States, the Island of Discovery is an obvious choice for my list of favorite destinations.
What I love most about the Garden Isle is that you get all the thrill of a tropical, wild, foreign destination with none of the hassle and stress that can accompany an international journey. Read on to see what I mean.
7 reasons Kauai offers paradise without a passport
1. Leave your passport at home.
Visiting a distant, lush paradise doesn’t have be a planning headache. I’ve visited almost 50 countries in my lifetime, and while international travel is thrilling and challenging and wonderful, sometimes it’s just nice to step off the plane and straight into a postcard scene without going through seven circles of Hell . . . I mean, customs and immigration.
2. Feel at home and away.
Visiting Kauai is a true escape. It’s a land of mystical jungles, red waterfalls, endless, secluded beaches, the most scenic flight experience in the world, and intense outdoor adventures—yet it’s still a part of the U.S. You feel both at home and 10 million miles away from your normal life. Check out Kiahuna Plantation and Koa Kea Hotel to feel familiar enough to be comfortable, yet exotic enough to be completely captivated.
3. Taste new foods.
One of the most amazing parts of traveling is trying new foods, and in Hawaii, there’s a whole new menu to taste, including poi and poke and opah and kalua pork and shave ice with ice cream and azuki beans! There are also a few recognizable chains for the non-adventurous eaters in your traveling party.
4. Get a cultural education.
Embracing a different culture is one of the most personally enriching experiences you can have while traveling, and Hawaiian history is one of the best-preserved indigenous cultures in the U.S. From hula to the legend of Pele, Hawaiian history is just as fascinating and exotic as any you’ll encounter abroad, and you won’t have any trouble finding a friendly Hawaiian to tell you all about it! Many of Kauai’s resorts, like the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa (Learn more about this Roaming Gnome Top Pick!) and the Westin Princeville Resort Villas, offer educational programming, classes, and shows to share the Hawaiian way.
5. Learn a new language.
Hawaiian and its more casual, conversational dialect, Pidgin, are languages you’ll encounter while cruising around Kauai in your rental car. You’ll easily pick up words without having to take lessons or study in advance, though some are tougher than others to pronounce. Aloha and mahalo quickly become second nature, but it may take a bit longer to get the hang of humuhumunukunukuapua’a. (It’s Hawaii’s state fish!)
6. Forget about currency exchange.
It’s hard to imagine flying halfway across the ocean, landing in paradise, and not having to switch currency upon arrival, but that’s the case in Hawaii. It’s just one less to-do-list item to worry about, and after traveling internationally for two years and losing Lord-knows-how-much-money in currency exchange fees, it’s nice to go somewhere where Franklins, Jacksons, and Benjamins do the trick.
7. No vaccinations for you!
I loved almost every moment of my international travels to date, but having my arm jabbed before departure did not make the list of favorite experiences. Hawaii doesn’t require any special vaccinations for U.S. travelers, so if you like, you can dream up a trip and leave the same day without any medical preplanning.
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