Kauai has a magical feeling that hits you as soon as you arrive! Each area of the island has its own distinct environment and culture, it definitely lives up to the name, so make sure to check them all out. Here are our top picks:
Ke’e – The North Shore tends to get more rain than the rest of the island. When that happens, this treasure gets closed, but if you get a chance, definitely check it out. Walk along the beach whilst taking in the views of the Napali Coast – absolutely stunning! Hike one of the many lengthy trails in the vicinity or take a short trek down to the freshwater cave. Feel invigorated as you take a dip in the water and if you’re lucky enough to have the place to yourself, try a skinny dip!
Hanalei – At sunset, with a beer on the beach – a must! Dig your toes in the sand before heading out to the pier. Soak it all in because it is an absolutely beautiful place!
Sleeping Giant – Named for it’s resemblance to a Sleeping Giant, the aptly named mountain range is a great hike with breathtaking views. Choose from three separate trail heads depending on your energy levels. We hiked up the East side which was a great decision as it had been raining and the mud proved to be slippery. It took us about 2 hours round trip.
Tacos & Tandem – What a fun date! With a few Mexican venues to choose from, we were attracted to the food truck and boy was it yummy! After filling up on fresh fish & shrimp tacos, we decided to work off our calories. So we hired a bicycle built for two and took a beautiful ride along the Kapa’a bike path. Stunning views of the ocean all along this one-hour roundtrip ride!
Maha’ulepu Beach -Wow – the scenes were breathtaking – awe inspiring! We thought we had just stepped out of a scene from Lord of the Rings. Rigid cliffs softened by stunning seascapes made this the perfect place to go for a walk or just sit back and take it all in. Come by foot down down one the many paths meandering from the nearby Grand Hyatt Hotel or if you’ve got a sturdy ride, make the 30 min trek down the bumpy, sandy road full of potholes around every corner. However you get there, don’t miss it! The place is full of natural beauty – pictures don’t even begin to do it justice.
Humane Society – If you’re a dog person, stop by the Kauai Humane Society to visit the pups and choose one to take on a field trip! They give you everything you need (water bowl, treats, towel, lead and an adorable ‘Adopt Me’ vest). For us, it was love at first site with Mohe! This charming Chocolate Lab / Rottweiler mix was such a joy. We took him cruising down to Poi’pu for a walk along the beachfront. He absolutely loved the water and in fact, due to his hearty size, was quite entertaining for me to get him out. He joined us for lunch and made the car ride much more interesting with all his sloppy kisses! After our adventure, whilst it was sad to say goodbye, Mohe was happy to go back ‘home’ as the shelter really is a piece of paradise on the island 🙂 So go, have a doggy play date!
PS. And for anyone who might be wondering, yes, we are terribly missing our Cody & Mia back in Australia!
Waimea Canyon – Head to the last town on the West Side and then head straight up. We waited in anticipation as we continued to climb the Canyon as after all they do call it the ‘Baby Grand Canyon’. At the first lookout we jumped out to take a look and admire the serenity. As we continued to the top, we pulled over at another viewing point. This one had a number of trail options. The loop was a lovely overview of the top of the Canyon and then we decided to make our way down to the river. At 2.5 miles, we thought we could do it easy! Perhaps we were a bit ambitious as everyone we met on the path had only gone a portion of the way down. With loose rock, ensure your confident in your step and wearing sturdy shoes. We turned around at the 3/4 mile marker and then it was all uphill! Not one for the faint hearted but a good exercise regime indeed. And the fact that you’re surrounded by so much beauty in one place definitely makes it worth every step – enjoy!
Polihale State Park – Enjoy a night under the stars when you camp out on the west side of the Napali Coast.
Our adventures on Kauai would not have been so amazing without our beautiful host – Martine!
She looked after of us giving us plenty of “tinder” loving care 😉 Martine showed us the local sites and ensure we were well fed with our daily supply of Mexican cuisine, protein bars & Big Wave beers! She prepared us for our Asian backpacking adventure, making sure the roosters woke us up nice and early & made sure we were welcomed with a cold shower each morning.
Thanks for having us Big Nasty – love you heaps! Until next time x
You’ve probably heard of these before as they’re pretty popular tourist attractions. Whist we enjoy getting off the beaten track, we were glad we took the time to check these places out – absolutely magnificent!
What a wonderful spot for snorkelling! Affordable tour options are available otherwise TheBus takes you right there. Get in early to enjoy the serenity of the place and the waters themselves. For beginners, you can stay inside the first reef and still see many beautiful creatures. For the more adventurous snorkelers, be sure to head out to the second reef where we were able to see large fish, huge schools of fish and even eels. Be aware of shallow reefs where you can get easily stuck or scraped up if your not careful. (I know from personal experience, OUCH!) We brought our own mask and snorkel but gear also available to rent on site (would suggest no need for fins as you can just use your natural buoyancy). At $7.50 entry/person, you can’t go wrong!
If you’re up for a challenge then definitely check out Diamond Head. Starting at the bottom of this magnificent crater you make your way up a deceivingly easy trail before it gets steeper and more challenging. Along the way you take in some beautiful scenery as you look back over the crater below. Before you take in the breathtaking views over Waikiki and surrounds you must overcome the multiple sets of stairs (nearly 300 in total). Allow 1-2 hours for this hike.
Ensure you take plenty of water and arrive early to beat the crowds. There are rest stops along the way if required and we observed multiple fitness levels completing this hike. Again you can organise a tour to this attraction, though we simply caught TheBus with a leisurely stroll to the entry. Tickets are $1 for walk ins and $5 per vehicle. We were definitely feeling the effects of the hike the following day, but it’s well worth the pain 🙂
Whilst we’re not history buffs, we found Pearl Harbor to be a moving and fascinating experience. Although there are multiple tours available (submarine, battleship, etc) we took in the Arizona Memorial tour which included a movie and boat ride out to the sunken remains of the Arizona battleship and it’s 1,177 men. The enormity of the attack and the memorial hits you as you stand over the site. Also check out the two free museums onsite along with the outside exhibits. Tickets are available for free on arrival (note, they are limited to 4,500 per day and the wait time increases as the day progresses), so to ensure you don’t miss out, we’d suggest pre-booking online for $3. No bags are allowed in this facility, so either pack light or use locker facilities onsite.
If you want to hire a car, do it! The North Shore is spread out with plenty to see and is easy to get around. If you prefer the public transport option, take TheBus which takes you all around the island. Depending on which part of the North Shore you’re headed to first, bus 52 & 55 are your best friends! Pickup a map on the way or download the Transit app to make it even easier (make sure you have exact change $2.50/person).
Acacia Bowls – yum, yum & more yum!! You’ll see almost as many of these as you will Shaved Ice stands. Take the healthy option and get your fill of acai topped with granola, fruit & coconut. Great for lunch or an afternoon snack! Did I say yum!?! 🙂
Start early and take this 2.5 hour round trip trek along the ocean to reach the Northwestern most part of the island – Ka’ena Point. Take in the beautiful panoramic views whilst you explore along the way. You’ll see rock-pools, an Albatross reserve & stunning mountain and ocean scenery on your journey!
Turn up behind Foodland to get to the Pu’u o Mahuka Heiau State Monument. The drive itself tests out your skills with steep hills and a sharp, hairpin turn. With sacred ground (where nothing grows!) and stunning views over the infamous Waimea Bay (epic waves!) you have to check it out!
You’ll hear about it, you’ll read about it and you’ll wonder if it’s worth the money. Trust us, the Polynesian Cultural Centre is an experience not to be missed! With the majority of the Centre staff made up of University Students, they do an incredible job of creating an informative, interactive space where you can immerse yourself in the local cultures of Tonga, Fiji, Samoa, Hawaii, New Zealand & Tahiti! PS. I’ve decided I’m moving to Samoa where the men cook and serve their women 😉