Who doesn’t love a beautiful tropical island. It’s what most people think of when they think of paradise. Warm breezes, warmer water, beautiful beaches, and tropical drinks on the beach or by the pool. There are also usually great hikes through lush rainforests to see waterfalls, and scenery that will nearly stop your heart. Visiting tropical islands regularly is definitely part of my plan for a full life. For 2011 that means doing it on a pretty tight budget. Notice I didn’t say unfortunately, because I don’t intend to have less fun. In fact I hope to have more fun than I have ever had before. It’s all in the planning and the attitude.
I’ve been very lucky in my life. Altogether, I’ve lived on tropical islands for a little over 7 years. Four years on Oahu and three years in Okinawa. I can thank the Marine Corps for those opportunities. I’ve also visited Oahu more than a dozen times for business and pleasure. Several years ago I was also lucky enough to spend a couple of weeks in Puerto Rico on a business trip. Puerto Rico is a beautiful place and I’d like to go back there for pleasure.
This year it will be Kauai. Although I lived in Hawaii for more than four years I only visited one other island during that time and that was for military training so I didn’t see much. So while much will be familiar, the Aloha spirit, the lush landscape and beautiful waters, this will also be a new experience.
I’ve been using a couple of the travel resources I posted about on this site, Vacation Rental By Owner (VRBO.com) and Armed Forces Vacation Club by Endless Vacation Rentals, to track down better deals on lodging, but last night I found an even better deal. I’m a retired Marine and have access to base lodging, but I never knew there were military cottages in Kauai. A quick Google search cleared that up. There are 26 beach cottages on Barking Sands Missile Base. They are remote, have a 3 mile stretch of beach, and access to at least limited base facilities, like a gas station and Naval Exchange. But best of all they will only cost $85.00 a night for a two bedroom cottage. There are two couples going so that will be 42.50 per room per night for a cottage on the beach. If you have military exchange privileges check out information on the cottages at the greatlife.com site.
With a little early planning and flexibility it also turns out that our flights may be completely covered by airline miles. So instead of more than $1200 of airfare, it will cost $20 and 80,000 airline miles. That makes the overall trip such a great deal we can afford an awesome vacation even on a tight budget. A rental car will be about 200 dollars, so we will be paying about $500 dollars for two people for a week in Hawaii. That’s the kind of deal I love! (Update: The other couple did some more research and found that there are some downsides to the Barking Sands Cottages. They are very remote and swimming in the waters on the westside of Kauai is not recommended due to strong currents. So, we decided to spend 2-3 days at a different location to throw a little variety in and to make it more convenient to see other parts of the island. Well worth an extra 1-2 hundred dollars.) Of course there will be food and entertainment while we’re there, but the great thing about paradise, is there are awesome things to do without spending much. The beach – free, hiking in Waimea canyon – free, hiking to a waterfall – free. I’ll practice a few tropical drink recipes, pickup the fixings, and we’ll be set!
So don’t assume you can’t afford a great vacation to a tropical island, use all the resources you have access to and you may be able to enjoy a great vacation in paradise even on a tight budget! If you can’t get quite as good a deal, start saving. Living a full life means taking advantage of every opportunity you have to enjoy life. Live every day, whether you are enjoying something in your local area, going on a dream vacation, or just hanging with friends, family, and/or loved ones. A trip to a tropical island should definitely be listed several times on your bucket list. What the heck put them all on the list and give it your best shot!
For an update on how the trip went see my post:Kauai! Part 1