Fully equipped Volkswagen camper vans await free-spirited travelers to Kauai who would rather camp than stay in a hotel. The benefits: Staying on the beach at one of the island’s campsites within earshot of crashing waves.
“You can wake up at a different beach every morning, if you want,” said Josh Tjarks, who with wife Sarah Piano-Tjarks owns Kauai Camper Rental. “Wake up in the mountains [and] be the first one on the hiking trails.”
The couple own a fleet of VW Westfalia campers, easily recognizable by their pop-up tops that, when raised, create a sleeping area. Their six vans, four with automatic and two with manual transmission, were manufactured between 1985 and 1990. Tjarks said they are in pristine condition.
“They run and drive just as good as they did back in the ’80s,” he said. Josh Tjarks’ first car was a 1974 VW Beetle.
The vans sleep three adults or two adults plus two children, and come equipped with a stove and a sink. Renters use bathroom facilities provided at the various parks. The vans are fully stocked with everything including sleeping gear, linens and pots and pans.
“You really just need to bring your clothes and go shopping for food and you’re set to go,” Tjarks said.
Despite four-cylinder engines,the vans deliver enough power to easily move around Kauai, including up into the mountains adjacent to Waimea Canyon.
“You basically park right in the sand,” Tjarks said. “That is about as beachfront as you get.”
Van rental is cheaper than most brick-and-mortar accommodations on Kauai. The VW Westphalias rent for $150 a night for a week or longer, and $165 a night for less than seven days. There is a five-night minimum November through February, and a four-night minimum the rest of the year.
“One of the things I love so much about these vans is that they just represent such a chilled type of easygoing lifestyle,” Piano-Tjarks said. “That’s how Kauai is, so it’s just a great match.”
It is, if you don’t mind the low gas mileage: 17 mpg.