Camping: 5-million star accommodationTales of tent posts

My family isn’t exactly a “camping” family.

In fact, our idea of camping was to have the front-row villa at the Caravan Park in Kiama, complete with spa bath and undercover parking.

Camping is just not genetically right for me.

But when Nemara threw the “how would you like to go camping for two weeks when we’re in Hawaii?” question at me one day, I decided to break down those “Princess Dara” tags, embrace the cold showers and get into it. I figured that it would be like an extended episode of Survivor or something, so it couldn’t be that bad.

We arrived late in the afternoon on Kauai with a vague idea that we would find a campsite just up the road for the night. After a delightful Subway dinner, we had the gentle (but not urgent) realisation that it was getting dark.


We scoffed our Tuna Melt and took to the road to find our first campsite: “Anahola”. Bear in mind that this is the FIRST TIME I have camped.

We arrived at a mostly desserted beach with high winds, a few suspect looking people and rapidly decreasing light. We have a tent we’ve never put up before and a fear factor of TEN.

Nemara at this stage is remaining optimistic at our situation:

– We’ve already had dinner
– We have each other
– We have thermals
– We have a hammer
– We have a big 4WD

At this stage, I put my little North-Shore Princess foot down and boldly requested that Nemara take me to the nearest hotel. I just wasn’t going to do it.

With the speed of a compliant partner, Nemara whisked me away and ironically booked us into the gay-est “camp-est” hotel on the island. We chuckled at the irony of “camping” whilst snuggled in our white sheets.

And so it is, that on my first night ever of camping, I ended up safely in a Jacuzzi:

From then on, it was a rapid learning experience. Below is a photo of Nemara on our first “official” day of camping, positioned in what we thought was the best spot on the island.

We were wrong.

Having not camped before, let alone RIGHT ON A BEACH, we were not exactly prepared for the onslaught of hammering waves during the night. It literally sounded like we were in a constant thunderstorm. It was anything but peaceful.

After my first night of sleeplessness, I took to the beach to at least cash-in on our million dollar views.

Let’s just say, from here on it was…challenging.

After having our tent pegs pulled out by an unhappy ranger, being woken up to the sound of locals drag racing past the campsite and generally living in a constant state of “we might get flattened by a tsunami” fear, it was time to move on.

Now this got a little better. We’d learned to sacrifice our water-front view for some well-needed peace and quiet. “Anini” beach was a delight. Lovely neighbours, crystal clear waters, good weather, a sheltered park, nowhere near a main highway and not too far from a supermarket.

We were living the camping dream.

I have no idea why we decided to leave.

After three days of utter delight (I was even embracing the cold showers and the sand in the bed by then), we decided for a change of scenery. We mentioned to one of the local campers that we were “going to head up into the mountains to camp there”, and he just gave us a toothless smile and said “good luck”.

We should have taken this as a warning.

We got up into the mountains on a Sunday afternoon, expecting to stay in one of the cabins up there. Unfortunately Sunday = Cabins CLOSED. After much deliberation, we decided that we would brave the cold and set up camp instead.

It went oh so terribly wrong.

It rained. It rained. It rained. And so again, just one week after my first camping/jacuzzi experience, I demanded a room. Any room as long as it was a room. A dry one.

So indeed we did “get the f#ck off that mountain” and found ourselves at a quirky little hotel, conveniently right across the road from the Marriott resort. I’d come home.

We showered, got dressed, I took out the hairdryer and we headed to the manicured lawns and multi-pool grounds of the Resort.

I ordered myself a cocktail and a fine prawn linguini. Things were looking up. It was a full three days before I was ready to go back into the elements. The home-stretch of our camping adventure was totally enhanced by the addition of a wonderful new invention: “Dinner in the Ditch” (which was so successful it got a blog post all on it’s own).

Let’s just say that my fine-dining needs were more than taken care of. You’ve never tasted fish and potato’s that were so scrumptious!

So look, it ended up alright. Out of a possible 14 nights, we camped for 10. nNot bad for a first attempt.

I won’t exactly be rushing back. Nemara still wholeheartedly believes that I’ll become a camping convert, but as long as there are resorts to stay in, jacuzzi’s to bathe in and cocktails to drink, I think I might trade in the 5 million stars for just the plain-old 5.