Kauai Island Hawaii USA

Kauai Island, Hawaii USA (1/20-1/29/2020 & 2/8-2/18/2024)

Beach Allerton Gardens  Kauai
Beach at Allerton Gardens - Kauai
There are many reasons we find the relaxed laid-back Garden Isle of Kauai so wonderful such as: 1) fewer crowds and still some ‘real’ Hawaii here, 2) no high rise buildings (by law nothing can be higher than the tallest coconut palm tree), 3) oldest island in Hawaiian Islands so more land has been created creating a beautiful lush green environment (especially in the north) - movies such as Jurassic Park, Pirates of the Caribbean, Raiders of the Lost Arc, South Pacific, and The Descendants were made in Kauai, 4) beautiful tropical beaches with warm ocean water – many not crowded, 5) great dining, and... 6) we have FUN!

Amazing Helicopter Tour Rides Kauai
Amazing Helicopter Tour - Kauai
Kauai also offers adventure-seeking visitors snorkeling & scuba diving, whale watching late December through mid-April, surfing, hiking, kayaking, biking, ATV trips, camping, fishing, zip lining, horseback riding, amazing helicopter rides & boat tours, and more. Relaxing spas are available for those who have some pampering in mind. If your budget affords it, a helicopter tour of Kauai (see photo) is amazing!! We went with Blue Hawaiian Helicopters and loved it.

Map of Kauai
Map of Kauai
We recommend dividing your stay in Kauai between the South and North (and maybe East) Shores to best enjoy the features of Kauai. Walmart in Lihue (near the airport) is a good place to stock up on groceries, supplies, and souvenirs at good prices. Boss Frog's offers beach gear rentals - located in Kapa'a and Koloa.

Here are some of Kauai's outstanding highlights to enjoy on this beautiful island...

Wonderful Kauai South Shore Attractions

Kauai’s South Shore has become more developed with nice accommodations and more upscale restaurants. It is a better bet for sunshine, especially during the winter, because it rains more in the north.

Poipu Beach Kauai
Poipu Beach - Kauai
Poipu Beach is predictably sunny and Kauai’s best all-around beach for tourists on the South Shore. Many would say Kauai's best beach overall (see photos). Nice wide and rather long beach with a grassy park next to it overlooking a beautiful post-card ocean scene. Because a reef protects it, normally the waves are small making it great for swimming, snorkeling, and safe for supervised kids. There is good parking and Brennecke’s is a nice restaurant there that also sells food, drinks, and beach rentals for the beach. Try their smoothies – great.  
Turtles Poipu Beach Kauai
Turtles on Poipu Beach - Kauai
The best snorkeling at Kauai's Poipu Beach is out from the lifeguard station on the left (
looking at ocean). You will probably see several other snorkelers right where you want to go. Tip for snorkelers: There are reef rocks in the middle of the beach and because normal currents flow left to right it is nice to enter on the sandy beach on the left and come out on the sand bar on the right. The protected cove on the left is great for children.

Poipu Beach Kauai
Beautiful Poipu Beach - Kauai
A better place for swimming at Kauai’s Poipu Beach (see photo) due to fewer rocks is to the right (just before the Marriott). Do be careful because less doesn’t mean no rocks. Get some water shoes and you can swim with less worry.

Down the road a few miles, there is another popular Kauai snorkeling place just to the right of the Beach House restaurant. Tropical sun is strong so be sure to use plenty of reef-friendly waterproof sunscreen.

Waimea Canyon Kauai
Waimea Canyon - Kauai
Driving up Kauai’s Waimea Canyon State Park is a wonderful excursion (see photos). If you don’t start too late, you can have a day with the afternoon spent at a wonderful Kauai beach – paradise! Waimea Canyon extends 14 miles long, one mile wide, and more than 3,600 feet deep. The Waimea Canyon Lookout provides panoramic views of crested buttes, rugged crags and deep valley gorges. The grand-island vistas go on for miles (see photo).

Waimea Canyon Kauai
Amazing Waimea Canyon - Kauai
Stop at the lookouts ($5 parking fee) and let your nature loving begin. Don’t miss the Waimea Canyon Lookout with a parking lot marked with a sign just past mile marker 10. Walk up the few steps and let it all in. If you want an early glance of beautiful Kauai’s Walmea Canyon, you can pull to the right of the road between markers 3 and 4 and enjoy a wonderful view.

Map Waimea Canyon Kauai
Map of Waimea Canyon - Kauai
We also liked the Puu Ka Pele Lookout in Waimea Canyon (see map) and the view to the ocean at the Pau o Kila Lookout at the top. We found the Kokee Museum (pass marker 15) to be interesting for nature lovers like us. Next door is Koke’e Lodge serving lunch. For the best route to view Kauai’s Waimea Canyon use highway 540 up and back starting at Waimea.

Pat Dunlap Allerton Gardens National Tropical Botanical Garden Kauai
Pat at Allerton Gardens 
- National Tropical Botanical Garden
Spouting Horn Kauai
Spouting Horn - Kauai
Love beautiful gardens? A guided tour of Allerton Gardens in Kauai’s National Tropical Botanical Garden should be very highly considered by nature lovers – we loved it! Your admittance fee helps them preserve endangered trees and plants helping them take a slow march back from the edge of extension. We felt the tour was interesting and well worth the price - knowing it goes to a very good cause makes it even better. Movie lovers will also like the many nature scenes of movies and TV series filmed in Kauai. Nearby Spouting Horn is delightful for a quick stop (see photo).

South Shore Restaurants... We liked Kauai’s The Shops at Kukuiula, a popular modern shopping and restaurant center. Good restaurants there include Eating House 1849, Merriman’s Fish House, and others. Living Foods serves a nice breakfast.

Tidepools Restaurant at Grand Hyatt Hotel Kauai
Tidepools Restaurant 
at Grand Hyatt Hotel - Kauai
Just down the road in the Poipu Shopping Village, Keoki’s Paradise offers good food with an interesting ambiance. One of the best and romantic restaurants on Kauai’s South Shore is Tidepools in the Grand Hyatt Hotel – worth the extra cost (see photo). A walk around Grand Hyatt’s beautiful property should be included in your visit there. We loved the sunset dinner cruise out of Port Allen Harbor offered by Capt Andy's.

Poipu Bed and Breakfast Inn Kauai
Poipu Bed and Breakfast Inn - Kauai
On Kauai’s South Shore, we enjoyed staying at the Poipu Bed and Breakfast Inn (see photo) located just a few miles from most of Kauai’s south shore attractions. Nice relaxing place with just four rooms offering a more authentic Hawaiian experience. A joyful relaxing experience is having breakfast provided outside on the lanai with the river flowing nearby enjoying the songs of exotic birds – now this is the Hawaii we love. Great beds yield some of the best sleep we have had and beach gear is available to borrow. Good restaurants, shopping, and a Long’s Drug Store at the The Shops at Kukulula (mentioned above) are a 5-minute walk away – very nice!

Travel Planning Tip: There is a seasonal pattern on Kauai. During the winter more rainy season (October through April), there is a better chance of sunny days in the South Shore – although we were lucky having glorious weather in the north during January. Summer season (May through September) has a better chance of sunny weather. Big waves can make ocean swimming dangerous. Generally, waves in Kauai are bigger in the North and West during the winter and in the South during summer. There are many beaches protected by reefs where the waves are small providing safe swimming all year.

Wonderful Kauai North Shore Attractions

Lush Green North Shore of Kauai
Lush Green North Shore of Kauai
When you drive through Kauai’s North Shore (see photo) you can’t miss how lush and green it is – so beautiful! Beaches are wonderful and the mountains in the background provide an exquisite Jurassic Park like atmosphere you will long remember.

Hanalei Town Kauai
Hanalei Town - Kauai
Spending time in Hanalei is fun. Located a few minutes west of Princeville below beautiful green tropical mountains, you will discover a serene Hawaiian experience that seems to be lost in time. Kauai's Hanalei is a lovely small town (see photo) with characteristic restaurants, bars, and shops selling Hawaiian apparel and local arts and crafts. The historic one-way bridges along the way add to the charm of this area.

Kee Beach Kauai
Ke'e Beach - Kauai
The beaches on Kauai’s north shore are lovely. Two of our favorites are Ke’e and Tunnels (see photo). Both can have large dangerous waves in the winter. Also, all year due to their popularity, access is limited. Ke’e Beach now requires a reservation for parking or shuttle service. You can book reservations to Ke'e Beach in Kauai's Haena Beach Park at gohaena.com.

Animi Beach Kauai
Animi Beach - Kauai
Not to worry if you don't have a reservation or can't find parking at Tunnels... Animi Beach is (see photo) beautiful and protected by a reef making swimming safe all year with some good snorkeling opportunities. Very long Animi Beach also has lots of free parking available and plenty of natural shade provided by trees. Beach lovers will discover many more lovely beaches on Kauai’s North Shore to explore.

Haena Beach Park Tunnels & Ke'e Beaches Kauai
Haena Beach Park Tunnels & Ke'e Beaches
Although you must now obtain parking or shuttle transportation reservations, a visit to Ke’e Beach and its surrounding Haena State Park is wonderful. During the summer, there is nice swimming and snorkeling. This is also the start of Kauai's famous (and difficult) Kalalau Trail along the Napali Coast for advanced hikers and campers that plan ahead for this adventure. 

Napali mountains and Coastline Kauai Na pali
Napali Mountains & Coastline
From Kauai's Ke’e Beach you can get a nice view of the beautiful Napali mountains and coastline (see photo). Because the number of visitors became too much to preserve its uniqueness, daily limits are enforced and reservations are necessary.

View from the Kilauea Lighthouse Kauai
View from the Kilauea Lighthouse
Some other Kauai North Shore highlights include: The views from the Kilauea Lighthouse as well as the Hanalei Valley Lookout are wonderful and worth a stop (see photo). During Kauai's summer months, adventure lovers should do a catamaran tour of the beautiful Napali Coast with snorkeling - lots of fun!

North Shore Restaurants... Don't miss the fun and picturesque town of Kauai’s Hanalei. It has some nice dining options such as: Hanalei Dolphin Restaurant, Kalypso Island Bar & Grill (for local atmosphere), Chicken in a Barrel BBQ (causal dining), Tahiti Nui (for causal fun), and Jo Jo's for shaved ice with macadamia nut ice cream (yum!).

Pool Hanalei Bay Resort Princeville Kauai
Pool at Hanalei Bay Resort - Princeville, Kauai
Tropical Drinks in Heaven at Happy Talk
Tropical Drinks in Heaven at Happy Talk!
We stayed at the lovely Hanalei Bay Resort (see photo) in Princeville and so glad we did. The beautiful grounds with large pool and heated spa surrounded by waterfalls and tropical plants make for a relaxing place to return to after a day of exploring Kauai’s North Shore attractions and beaches. The on-site restaurant/bar Happy Talk is very nice with a view to iconic Hanalei Bay. It has comfortable rooms (some with a kitchen) and nice furnishings. There is a concierge on site to help you with booking fun excursions while in Kauai. You can walk down to the beautiful Puu Poa Beach for snorkeling and have lunch at the luxury 1 Hotel Hanalei Bay... or if you feel a bit lazy (easy to do in Kauai), just call and they will take you and pick you up with a golf cart.

Travel Tip: We found the Kauai travel book The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook – Kauai Revealed by Andrew Doughty to be an outstanding resource and greatly enhanced our stay in Kauai. 

The recommendations for Kauai were spot on.

Kauai East Shore Attractions
Kauai Shores Hotel
Travel Tip:
Because Kauai's sunny South Shore has become popular and more expensive to stay, a nice suggestion is considering staying on Kauai's East Shore. It's a beautiful 35-minute drive to South Shore's Poipu Beach and 45 minutes to North Shore's Hanalei. We enjoyed our stay at Kauai Shores Hotel (see photo) located on the beach near Kapa'a with modern renovated rooms, inviting pool and jacuzzi, and feet-in-the-sand highly-rated ocean-view Lava Lava Beach Club restaurant on the property for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It is
conveniently located next to the Coconut Marketplace for restaurants, market, and shopping.
Pat Dunlap Lydgate Beach Kauai
Pat at Lydgate Beach
A good beach on Kauai's East Shore for protected swimming (great for families) is Lydgate Beach (see photo). For a classic beautiful beach with good boogie board and body surfing is Kealia Beach. In Kapa'a, we loved the macadamia nut crusted sea bass at the Lemongrass Grill and the Bull Shed on the beach is well rated. For ambiance and history try lunch or dinner at Gaylord's Restaurant at the Kilohana Plantation and here you can enjoy the fun Kauai Plantation Railway train ride.

Wallua Falls Kauai
Wallua Falls - Kauai
Like waterfalls? A couple of very nice ones in along Kauai’s East Shore can be accessed by car. We highly recommend visiting the most accessible 151-foot Opaekaa Falls from highway 580 and 173-feet Wallua Falls (our favorite - see photo) from highway 583 – both are beautiful. 

When passing through Kapa'a, look inland to see the Sleeping Giant outline in the mountain.

Rooster Kauai
Beautiful Rooster on Kauai
Something that adds some ‘fun’ in Kauai is the wild chickens with incredibly beautiful roosters (see photo). You will hear their sound everywhere – local residences will encourage you to take some home. In 1982 Hurricane Iwa destroyed chicken coops sending the birds all over the island.  
Golfers will like the many beautiful courses to be enjoyed on Kauai. Try some shave ice served around the island – it’s delicious.

Enjoy Kauai – we do!
Some Useful Hawaiian words while in Kauai:
Aloha (ah-low-ha) - hello, goodbye, feeling of kindness
Mahalo (mah-hah-low) - thank you
Kane (kah-neh) - male
Wahine (wah-hee-nay) - female
Keiki (kay-key) - child
Pupu (poo-poo) - appetizer
Luau (loo-ow) - Hawaiian feast
Lua (loo-ah) - restroom
Makai (mah-kigh) - towards the sea
Mauka (mau-kah) - towards the mountain
Lanai (lah-nigh) - porch, veranda

Please enjoy 250+ wonderful places around the world, with award-winning photos, from our BLOG ARCHIVE on the right ---->  

Travel for half the cost for all levels of travel from budget to luxury and 100's of other unique travel tips! From a former Economic professor, experienced traveler (106 countries), award-winning travel photojournalist/blogger, featured speaker at large travel shows, host of the travel TV show Plan Your Escape® TV aired on the CW network, and experience traveler (100 countries), our popular 5-star customer rated groundbreaking and comprehensive how-to world travel book Plan Your Escape, Secrets of Traveling the World for Less Than the Cost of Living at Home reveals secrets how you can travel and see more for half the cost for all trips from weekend getaways to longer vacations and trips, experience more adventure and romance, safely realize your travel dreams with comprehensive planning tools and checklists, travel the world for less than $100/day for a couple, and much more!
Buy this popular book on Amazon.com (also available as Ebook for $9.99), CLICK HERE 

No comments:

Post a Comment

We love to hear from you!