Kauai is calling for your next adventure. Will you answer? I recently returned from a 2-week stay on the island of Kauai. I miss the island terribly, but I am full of knowledge to help you plan your perfect Kauai adventure.
For an overview of the “bests” of Kauai then check out Part 1 of my Kauai posts. Don’t miss the perfect Hawaii packing list while you’re at it!
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Two Weeks on Kauai…Now What?
The great thing about having an itinerary is that it can be changed. I love researching and planning our trips, but the glorious thing about Kauai is the laid back, aloha vibe. If you fall in love with a particular beach then you want to have time to return to it. The important part is to have the “big ticket items” planned and reserved before you arrive on the island. Now for the fun part…how to spend precious time on Kauai.
We arrived in Lihue Airport around 4:45 pm and got our rental car. We reserved a 4 door Jeep for our stay. I love unpacking and making condos feel like home so we headed to Kapa’a Sands Unit 3 to unpack and do inventory on the pantry.
After unpacking, we headed north to catch the sunset. For a fantastic sunset, I suggest heading down Kilauea Road towards the lighthouse. You will see a small gathering of people watching the glorious sunset too.
Once the sun set, we headed back to Scorpacciata for some pizza. The pizza is very good, but the portions seemed a bit on the small size for the price. We didn’t make time to get groceries, but we stopped for the essentials…obviously. 😉
Adjusting to a new time zone meant waking up at sunrise for most of our time on Kauai. For breakfast I fixed up banana pancakes with coconut syrup, fried Spam and eggs, and Kauai coffee. After a yummy breakfast on the lanai, we were off to Lihue for our helicopter tour! Make sure to reserve your helicopter tours before you arrive.
I highly recommend taking a helicopter tour of the island because so much of it can only be seen from the air. For a private tour book through Mauna Loa Helicopter Tours and fly with the doors off. 🙂
Wow is all that I can say. Flying over Kauai in a helicopter was one of the most exhilarating things that I’ve done. After the tour, we stopped by a fantastic restaurant, Verde, for lunch. If you go to Verde make sure that you order the beef tostada. It is delicious. They use fresh and local ingredients. It was so good that we ate there twice. 🙂
Lunch wasn’t complete until we had a shave ice from Hee Fat General Store (my favorite!). After we spent a couple of hours in Safeway buying groceries, it was time for some beach time. We headed out to the small beach in front of our condo and soaked in the last of the sun rays.
Early to the Kalalau Trail for parking and a less crowded hike. It took 50 minutes to drive to the end of the road on the north shore. We arrived with plenty of parking. The hike was gorgeous. We hiked to Hanakapai Beach, took in the sights, and ate a snack. You can hike another 2 miles to the waterfall, but we didn’t want to spend our whole day hiking so we turned around after the beach. 🙂
It took us a little less than 4 hours to hike the trail, but we weren’t rushing (plenty of photo ops). Ke’e beach is right next to the trail head. Unfortunately we experienced our one and only rainy afternoon on the beach at Ke’e. We had a picnic on the beach before the light rain shower started.
The great thing about Kauai is that there is no shortage of beaches. During the light rain we visited Tunnels and Lumahai beach and watched the snorkelers and surfers. Next stop, was the North Shore General Store for Kauai beef steaks and some Lappert’s ice cream. 🙂 On our way back east, we hit up Moloa’a Beach and hiked the short coastal trail on the south end of the beach (turn left once you hit the beach and walk all the way down to access the trail).
Started the day with lilikoi (passion fruit) pancakes with macadamia nuts and sliced apple bananas with coconut syrup, bacon, strawberry guava juice, and Kauai coffee. 🙂 Today we explored the east side and all it has to offer. Opaekka Falls and the overlook of the Wailua River are easy to access and fun to experience.
Lydgate Beach Park is a great place to practice snorkeling or get used to new snorkel gear. While in Kapa’a we did a little souvenir shopping at the Sunrise Emporium and The Kauai Store. At 3:00 pm every Wednesday there is a large farmers’ market held at the baseball park in Kapa’a. Be on time and bring a bag. The produce is beautiful, and it’s fun to experience. 🙂
We also tried Street Burger which is fantastic. The Wailua burger has fried Spam on top. Yum! Their french fries are great, and they make all of their own sauces.
Apple banana, passion fruit, papaya, lychee smoothies for breakfast before heading to Tunnels to snorkel. It was a gloriously sunny day. 🙂 After some awesome snorkeling, we headed to Hanalei to walk around town and check out the pier before our boat tour with Holo Holo Charters.
Following the boat tour with Holo Holo, we decided to get some food at Kalypso (very good!) and then head to Princeville for our sunset golf-cart tour at Princeville Makai Golf Club. It’s $50 for the tour and well worth it!
Time to head south for the day! Wailua Falls, Shipwreck Beach, and one of my favorite trails, Maha’ulepu. After the gorgeous (and hot) hike, we ate our picnic lunch of sweet Hawaiian rolls, ham, Mauai onion chips, and fresh fruit at Poipu beach. We spotted two Hawaiian monk seals sunning on the beach. 🙂
After lunch, we checked out Spouting Horn before heading to the Kauai Coffee Plantation, Glass Beach, and Hanapepe Art Night. Every Friday night from 6-9pm Hanapepe is filled with food trucks, live music, and local shops.
We decided to head back north (our favorite area), to see the Kilauea Lighthouse and Wildlife Refuge, hike to Secret Beach, lounge at Anini Beach, and swim with sea turtles. 🙂
Today was spent on the beautiful east side. We hiked to the chin of the Sleeping Giant Trail and saw the gorgeous views from the top. After the 4 mile hike, it was time for a HUGE P.O.G (passion fruit, orange, guava) shave ice from Hee Fat General Store. We ended the day with tacos from Tiki Taco and sunset at Kealia Beach Park. Topped the day off with ice cream (peanut butter & guava jelly, and pineapple upside down cake) from Tropical Dreams.
Kauai has two rivers that you are able to kayak on: the Wailua River and the Hanalei River. We took a self-guided tour of the Wailua River and hiked to Secret Falls. We did get lost at one point because our map got wet and fell apart, but we eventually found it. 🙂
The hike was muddy, slippery, and a little long, but the waterfall waiting at the end was well worth it. On the way to the trail you will be kayaking upstream. On the way back you will be kayaking against the wind. It’s a work out!
The rest of the day was spent resting. We decided to make a reservation for Duke’s, but we visited Menehune Fish Pond in Lihue before dinner. Dinner was delicious, but don’t forget the hula pie!
Wild Wild West-For a trip west, the day starts early because it’s about 18-19 miles to the top of Kokee State Park. We drove all the way to the top so that there would be less cloud coverage over the Kalalau Valley. Once we soaked in the views, we drove down and stopped at all of the Waimea Canyon overlooks. Talk about breathtaking!
Today we drove back to the north shore (about a 50 minute drive) for more snorkeling at Tunnels, hanging out in Hanalei town, and hiking the old Club Med Hike for amazing views of Hanalei Bay. It was a perfect day! We ended the day with some yummy brick oven style pizza from Pietro’s in Lihue.
The last day on the gorgeous Kauai was bitter sweet. Of course there was plenty of beach lounging and snorkeling at Moloa’a Beach. It was hard to pack up our beach chairs for the last time.
After several hours at Moloa’a, we headed back to Kapa’a to ride the Kauai Path.
Our last celebration was the Smith Family Garden Luau. The food was great, and they make you feel like family. There are a lot of people who attend this luau, but they run it smoothly and efficiently. Arrive at 5:00 so that you can check-in and walk around the beautiful grounds. 🙂
We left Kauai for Oahu EARLY in the morning. Our day on Oahu wasn’t what I expected because I didn’t expect all of the TRAFFIC. We made the best of it by eating malasadas at Leonard’s, touring Pearl Harbor, and visiting the north shore.
Until Next Time…
So after 12 glorious days and an epic adventure on Kauai, what will we do when we return to Kauai? What was our favorite area? Where will we eat again?
Stay near Tunnels Beach (north shore)
Visit Hanalei and Waipa Farmers’ Market
Eat at Tahiti Nui (where The Descendants was filmed)
Rent a stand up paddle board and float the Hanalei River into Hanalei Bay
Adventure into the wet and dry caves near Haena
Hike the Stone Dam Trail and Turtle Cove
Ride bikes around north shore
Visit a botanical garden (Limahuli or Kilauea)
Attend a church service at Wai’oli Hui ia Church in the heart of Hanalei
Shop at the Yellow Fish Trading Company
Snorkel at Tunnels and Kee Beach
Lounge at Hideaways Beach
Hang out in Ching Yung Village in Hanalei
Eat at Kalypso and Hanalei Dolphin
Revisit our favorite restaurants Street Burger and Verde