Hayley Holt found that a little application solves solo travel angst, writes Stephanie Holmes.
As a woman, travelling alone has its ups and downs. There's the freedom to do what you want, when you want . . . but there's also the worry that you'll be lonely, with no one to share with the excitement of seeing a new destination.
Hayley Holt has a solution . . . although possibly not one everybody will want to follow.
Visiting the Hawaiian island of Kauai for a solo holiday last year, the TVNZ Breakfast host decided to experiment.
"This is a bit naughty, and I'm not sure I should suggest this . . . but I went on to [dating app] Bumble and matched with a couple of guys," she told me and Trip Notes co-host Tim Roxborogh, for the latest episode in our podcast series. "Then you meet up and they just basically become your tour guide. It's great."
As with using a dating app at home, this story comes with a word of caution — don't put your safety in jeopardy. Tell someone you trust who you're meeting and where you're going, and meet your new friend in a public place. Bumble and other dating apps offer more tips for safe use on their websites.
For Hayley, meeting some locals helped her see the best of Kauai, and enjoy experiences she might otherwise not have had.
"I went surfing with one guy. He has been a champion stand-up paddleboarder apparently . . . and I saw the sunrise on a walk on the east coast. It was just beautiful."
To hear more about Hayley's time in Hawaii, listen to Trip Notes — the new episode will be available free on Tuesday August 6 at iHeart Radio, Apple, Spotify, Stitcher ... wherever you usually get your podcasts.
If you're not in the market for a Bumble blind date to show you around, here are some other tips for what to see and do on Kauai.
Need to know
Kauai is nicknamed The Garden Isle thanks to the tropical rainforest that covers much of the island. The fourth-largest of the Hawaiian islands, it has stunningly dramatic landscape — towering mountains, waterfalls and coastal cliff-faces. You'll recognise it from numerous films and TV shows, including South Pacific, Jurassic Park, Lost, Six Days, Seven Nights, The Descendants and Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Get a car
There are five distinct areas on Kauai — The North Shore, the East Side, Lihue, the South Shore and the West Side. All offer different things — the best way to get around them all is to hire a car and explore at your own pace. There's a highway that almost circumnavigates the island, and driving in Kauai is reportedly much more relaxed than in mainland America so you don't need to worry too much about being on the wrong side of the road.
There is a bus service but it's limited and won't get you everywhere you need to go. Guided tours are available if you'd rather let someone else do the driving.
Things to see
Waimea Canyon is nicknamed the Grand Canyon of the Pacific and it's 22km long, 1.6km wide and more than 1km deep. There are various lookout points around the canyon, as well as hiking trails. The best way to see its scale is by air — take a helicopter ride and you'll see not only the canyon, but also Jurassic Park filming locations, the Na Pali coast, the Hanalei Valley and Mt Waialeale.
Kauai offers many adventures for active travellers, including ziplining, kayaking, horseriding, snorkelling, mountain biking, golf and 4WD tours around expansive ranches.
Whale-watching season runs from December to May, with peak months from January to early April.
Things to eat
Kauai's farmers markets — also known as the Sunshine Markets — are dotted around the island from Monday to Saturday and give you the chance to sample the best local produce. Check out kauai.com/kauai-farmers-markets to find one near you.
Shaved ice will provide easy refreshment on a hot day, and you'll find poke and acai bowls everywhere.
Macadamia nuts are grown on the island and you'll find them in everything from salads to lattes. The fresh tuna is to die for.
To hear more about Hayley Holt's favourite travel memories, listen to Trip Notes.
Subscribe, and each new episode will automatically download every fortnight — ready for you to listen on your way to work, while you dream about your next holiday. You can also go to nzherald.co.nz/tripnotes to watch video from the podcast.
For more travel inspiration, go to intrepidtravel.com