Sure, certain sections of Hawaii seem to bustle with sun-kissed, freckled families vacationing en masse or relaxed, hand-holding couples.
But every once in awhile, you meet an inspirational solo traveler here who visibly thrives – muddy boots strapped to backpack; bright eyes and a gigantic smile; and that easy-breezy, conversational vibe that solo adventurers seem to have mastered so well.
As a destination that's safe, English-speaking and easily navigable, Kauai, in particular, offers activities that prove both rejuvenating (beachside massages) and empowering (like getting up on a surfboard for the first time). The truth of the matter is this: Kauai's fantastic regardless of the company.
Kauai's beauty dazzles and awes — Photo courtesy of Corinne Whiting
Thanks to the island's exquisite beauty, welcoming locals and bounty of tour companies, countless ways exist to maximize the experience if you land in this tropical paradise as a party of one. In fact, traveling by oneself might offer the best way to truly slow down and dive into the rejuvenating powers of this invigorating place.
Kauai's landscape ranges from tropical rain forests and forking rivers to cascading waterfalls, crescent-shaped beaches and dramatic cliffs. And thankfully, an abundance of adventure companies make it easy to explore the island with expert guides and amiable company. Perhaps you'll even pick up new friends along the way!
Consider getting your paddle on with Kayak Kauai, riding a tube down an old sugar plantation irrigation system in Lihue, perfecting your horseback riding and ziplining skills with Princeville Ranch Adventures or cycling into the beautiful Waimea Canyon with Outfitters Kauai.
Sign up for a Kauai Sea Tours catamaran excursion that allows you to spend the day with dozens of other visitors as you snorkel, sail and relish up-close exposure to the dazzling Napali Coas. If you're lucky, you'll catch glimpses of gliding sea turtles and playful pods of show-off spinner dolphins.
Ride the waves at Titus Kinimaka’s Hawaiian Surf School, or rent surf and paddleboards from outfits like Hawaiian Surfing Adventures, where instructors instill confidence in students and pass on powerful lessons that translate from the ocean to real life: "When a wave comes, go deep."
Surf's up in Hawaii – any time of year — Photo courtesy of Corinne Whiting
Since 90 percent of Kauai is inaccessible by road, hiking proves a wonderful way to experience the island's natural splendor. Although countless trails exist for exploring this lush and varied land, many come for the most popular: the challenging-but-worth-it, 11-mile Kalalau Trail along the dramatic Napali Coast.
(Although hiking by yourself is not recommended, if you decide to, be sure to research ahead of time, inform someone of your whereabouts before you push off and stick to the marked trail.)
Other daytime activities include exploring gems from Kilauea Point Lighthouse to the Hanalei Pier; after the sun sets, buy a ticket to a festive luau that showcases Hawaiian culture. Or if it's Friday, attend the weekly Hanapepe Art Walk – a gathering of artists, musicians, food vendors and happily roaming fest-goers.
Although the nightlife scene in Kauai tends to match the island's mellow vibe, if you're feeling social, head to a bustling restaurant or bar with a friendly crowd and built-in entertainment.
Since hotel bars often prove a good way to connect with other travelers, look up the live music schedule at Stevenson's Library in the Grand Hyatt (Think sprawling patio overlooking perfectly manicured lawns and tiki torch-lined paths.); splurge on a St. Regis cocktail as you take in the loveliest sunset you might ever see; or gather around the firepit at Aqua Beach Resort, where you can sip cocktails next to new mates under the stars.
In downtown Port Allen, find “The World's Westernmost Brewery” (and Kauai’s only brewpub): Kauai Island Brewery & Grill. In Kapaa (on the east side of the island), look into laid-back spots like Oasis on the Beach, where a boat-shaped bar draws loyal patrons who dig the locally-sourced menu and relaxed atmosphere, matched by the overhead reggae beats.
Whatever your scene, Kauai will gladly cater to your wishes, allowing you to socialize in the sun or just unwind in solitude. (You can go easy on the budget with these money-saving tips, too.)
This island goes with the flow, and it'll encourage you to do just the same.