Beach House Restaurant, Da Booze Shop, Grand Hyatt, Hanalei, Hanapepe, Hawaii, Hiking, Jurassic Park, Kalalau Trail, Kauai, Kauai Coffee Company, Ke'e Beach, Koloa Fish Market, Koloa Shave Ice, Na Pali, Poipu, Polihale Beach, Puka Dogs, Secret Waterfall, Shipwreck Beach, Spouting Horn, Sunrise, Sunset, Uluwehi Falls, Waimea Canyon
This week’s falling temperatures make me fantasize about my vacations in warmer climates. One of my favorite places is Hawaii and I somehow always want to live there when I visit because:
- The weather is consistently awesome, no need to switch up seasonal clothes. Dresses and sandals all year, yay!
- Everyone is very chill and friendly. How could you not be when you live in paradise?
- The speed limit is 20-35mph. I’m a nervous driver, and anyway, with all the gorgeous views around you and usually only 1 lane, where do you think you’re going, Ms. Fastlane?
- The sunrises and sunsets over the ocean are one of the most spectacular ones I’ve ever seen. There’s also no shortage of coastline or beaches where to view this, sometimes it’s just right by the side of the road, or behind your hotel.
The food is always awesome. If you are a big seafood lover, then you’ll be happy with all the fresh seafood choices, along with the beloved different kinds of poke or a type of sashimi. There are plenty also for the meat lovers, and the servings are always huge.
- For nature lovers, there is so much to do and discover. The beaches are stunning, whether they have white, black or green (Yes!) sand, the snorkeling is breathtaking, the hiking trails in various levels of difficulty all offer marvelous views, and of course, the surfing seems awesome from what I’ve observed. If by any chance you get bored on one island, you can also take quick trips to the other islands.
Kauai, most famous for the place where Jurassic Park was filmed, is one of the islands I have visited. It is a bit more “rural” than Oahu or the Big Island (like, chickens walking around the airport type of rural) but if you are looking for a family vacation or a nice, quiet time with a fair amount of hiking, laying out at the beach, and checking out quaint neighborhoods, then this is where you should go. We stayed at The Point at Poipu, which was an excellent family-friendly hotel, so most of the places I visited are closer to this area.
Since quite a few friends have asked me what to do in this part of Hawaii, I decided to make it the first feature on my Fantasy Adventure series.
Here are my top 10 must do’s in Kauai, not in any specific order:
- Kayak and hike to the Secret Waterfall, also called the Uluwehi Falls. The kayaks leave from the Kamokila Hawaiian Village, and you can either go at it on your own or get a tour. This one is for the adventurous. In the hiking part, there will be some stream crossings where you will need to hang on to a rope and wade across the water with the height depending upon how much water the area got. The water was waist deep when we went. For reference I am 5’1″ so for normal sized people, it may be hip deep. There will also be walking through plants taller than you and some walking on slippery trails or stones so wear some grippy sandals or water shoes to be safe.
There is no cellphone signal in the area so definitely put your navigational cap on. You will be rewarded with one of the most breathtaking falls you have ever seen.
- Hike the Kalalau trail (at least partially) and go for a dip at Ke’e beach nearby.
Full disclosure: I did not do the full 11-mile trek. Hiking the full trail takes a couple of days and some camping from what I hear. At the time, we really just wanted to see as much of the island as possible. We decided to just see how far we can go and head back to the beach when we have had enough. The trail has mile markers so you can gauge how far you would want to go, but even in the early parts of the trail, you are rewarded with some amazing vistas. Also visit the nearby caves by the side of the road,
and try some fresh coconut from the guy on the street.
- Stop by the artist town of Hanapepe, where art studios and galleries keep their doors open on Fridays from 6-9pm to celebrate art.
- Visit the surf town of Hanalei, where tourists and locals mingle. You can pick up some interesting souvenirs here too.
- Go for a hike at the Waimea Canyon, considered the Grand Canyon of Hawaii.
This is a very easy hike,
It was hard to believe that we were still in Hawaii when we saw this!
- Local foodie trip: poke from Koloa Fish Market, shave ice with snow on top (condensed milk!) at Koloa Shave Ice, loco moco at Da Booze Shop after hiking Waimea Canyon,
and nice dinner and sunset views at Beach House Restaurant.
- Watch the sunrise, or sunset, or both as much as you can. Behind The Point at Poipu, Shipwreck Beach is rocky but a scenic place to walk along at with breathtaking sunrise views. Viewing the sunrise by the beach just has the power to make your little worries seem insignificant (at least for 15 minutes or however long the sun takes to rise).
I woke up nearly everyday at 6am to watch the sunrise when I was there, even when I was on vacation (Yes, it was easier the first few days since I was on East Coast time still.). And if I don’t catch it, I’ll catch the sunset somewhere, usually at Poipu beach because it was nearby.
The Grand Hyatt next door was really gorgeous,
and they have Starbucks right in front for those of you who will go into withdrawal without it.
Both hotels have a lot of fun family activities, but Hyatt seems to have a lot of other amenities, restaurants and a luau, which, if you have never been to Hawaii at all, you must do. I’ve been to a luau in the other islands so I didn’t go to one here.
- Enjoy the beach. Poipu Beach is very kid friendly in that it has a shallow protected cove, and there is a sandbar that disappears during high tide. Sunset is absolutely mesmerizing here.
Polihale Beach, where the souls of the departed go according to legend, is a very secluded beach that you will have to get on rough roads to get to.
It is a violation of your car rental agreement to get on it, so if you insist on going like I did, go very, very slow and don’t mind all the other cars and SUVs whizzing past you. Again, if you get stuck somewhere there, it is at your own risk. The beach is beautiful,
and you have an awesome view of the Na Pali cliffs
and the ‘forbidden island’ of Ni’ihau because it’s the furthest you can go by car to the west. The waves were not swimmer-friendly when we went, and there is nothing there so bring your own shade, water, food and other supplies.
- Visit the Kauai Coffee Company,
tour the plantation,
taste all their different coffee flavors for free, and ship home some coffee for you and for family and friends so you don’t have to carry them. Trust me, they will appreciate it. My favorites are the Chocolate Macadamia Nut and Hawaiian Hazelnut (Yes, I like my coffee sweet). There are also other coffee type products in the shop like chocolate covered coffee beans that were really good.
- Check out the Spouting Horn.
The sound alone was pretty cool, even thought at the time we went the water spouting out of the hole was not that impressive. I am a big fan of nature stuff so I personally enjoyed it.
One thing I did not get to do but must be amazing is the Na Pali coast sunset tour. The only way to access that part of the island is through hiking or by boat, but even the boat tour was 4.5 hours and I just could not do it at the time. For all of you Jurassic park fans, you can also take a helicopter tour and land in the waterfall area like the movie but it is on the expensive side.
If you are going to Kauai, take lots of pictures, wear plenty of sunscreen, get used to the island pace, and remember, you’re on vacation so have fun!