…of adventure! 😉 We had such a good time in Kauai this past week, and we decided it really is the ultimate destination for adventurous vacationers! While it’s so beautiful, laid back, and relaxing, it can also be exciting if you’re looking for an adventure.
I actually went for a shoot for Albion Fit, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to work with them. I also really love their photographer, Jessica. Since I was there for work, we didn’t have a ton of free time. But we were able to check some things off of our Kauai bucket list, and also have a better idea of what we’ll do when we go back.
What We Did
Na Pali Coast
The main thing we wanted to do in Kauai was experience the Na Pali Coast, so that was what we did on our first full day there. Let me tell you, it’s spectacular – unlike any hike I have ever done. As a couple that loves to hike, we loved the trail and the views. The trail you hike is the Kalalau Trail, and you can find the trailhead at the end of the Kuhio Highway (Highway 56). There are a few different hikes you can do. You can go 2 miles in to Hanakapi’ai Beach, 4 miles in to the Hanakapi’ai Falls, or 11 miles in to a beach where you can camp (with permits, I believe it’s $20 for non-residents).
Because we were limited on time, we did the 2 mile hike just to the beach. We loved it! The views are insane – the best vista is at the .5 mile marker, but literally around every corner you see a new beautiful view so it’s worth going the whole way. We actually saw a pod of whales swimming and breaching as we were hiking, and it was so amazing to see! The coast is rugged, with lots of greenery, mountains, fluted cliffs, streams and waterfalls, and beautiful beaches. A few things to know – wear hiking shoes (the trail is super slippery at times), and be prepared to get muddy! Be careful at the beaches – the riptides and waves can be pretty fierce depending on the time of day/year.
The beach at the trailhead is actually a really fun/beautiful beach. When the tide is out and the waves are mellow, it makes for great swimming and snorkeling. Blake actually swam with a huge turtle here – he was pretty excited about that!
Our friend Devin is pretty much an expert on the cool stuff to do in Kauai, so naturally I asked him for suggestions when we got there. One of the things he told us to do was to check out the Wailua Waterfall. He also told us to make sure and hike down to the base, despite signs that would tell us not to ;). I’m SO glad he told us this, because we definitely wouldn’t have done it otherwise! The trail is steep and muddy, but it’s short and there are ropes to hang on to, so it’s totally doable! And SO worth it! To find the trail, walk a little ways back down the road from the parking/viewing area (this will be an obvious area) and where the guard rail ends sneak your way through or over the chain link fence. With a little bit of hunting, you’ll see where there is a trail and ropes to help you.
Hanalei Bay is a great area to hang out/shop/eat in, and the bay is beautiful!
Many people recommended this as their favorite beach. We stopped to check it out on our way up to the Na Pali Coast, but didn’t spend much time there. It’s definitely a place we’ll put more time into on our next trip!
We asked some local friends where the best place to snorkel was, and they suggested Poipu Beach. Poipu Beach has been rated the top beach in America, and it’s located on “the sunny south side” of Kauai. The beach is pretty crowded, but beautiful. As far as snorkeling goes, the fish literally just swim right up to you when you wade in the water. I’m thinking people must feed them?! The water is so clear you can actually just look down through the water to see them – but it’s definitely better if you put your mask on and get the under-water view. I’m talking the most beautiful fish I’ve ever seen, and so many varieties! And apparently it’s really easy to spot turtles here, but we didn’t see one when we went. So I’d go to this beach for some easy snorkeling and a guarantee to see beautiful fish, but expect to deal with crowds!
What We Ate
I actually had a hard time finding places I really loved to eat on the island, but by the end of the trip we got into a groove and there were a few other places I’d really like to try when we go back. Here are the places we LIKED ;). Keep in mind, we were staying in Kapaa, so many of our food choices centered around that area.
Our FAVORITE spot hands down! Recommended by my friend Rachel, whose family has a place in Kauai. It’s a little pricier, and you definitely need a reservation, but it’s totally worth it! It’s located in the Kauai Coast Resort, and only open for dinner (5-9, Tuesday-Sunday). We ate here on our last night, and had we had more time I’m sure we would have gone back for more, because there were a few more dishes I was dying to try! We tried (and loved) the lobster and goats cheese wontons, arugula salad, mushroom seafood bisque, pork tenderloin, and the Hukilau Mixed Grill (A sampling of Island grilled seafood and sugar cane skewered shrimp, served with creamy orzo pasta & Thai chile coconut sauce), and vanilla bean créme brûlée.
Decent Italian with some really yummy desserts, so save room if you can! The back lounge is really fun at night, with a great vibe.
Really good, fresh Mexican with a twist! We also loved our server and the other staff – they were super friendly and fun despite the busy night they were having! Blake had a shrimp burrito and I had the ahi tostada. We loved them both!
Really good cold-pressed juices!! I love their different juice combos, and love the cute glass bottles they come in. Also, if you return your used bottle you get $.50 off your next juice!
We stopped in here to stock up on People Water, and they have a little cafe with a great menu! I had some really good fish tacos, and Blake had an ahi burger he really liked. They are also Kauai’s largest natural and organic grocery store offering groceries, a refrigerated and frozen food section, bulk food, herbs and spices, fresh local and organic produce, organic beer and wine, vitamins, herbs, beauty and body care products. Perfect for you natural honeys! 😉 Plus, they carry People Water…so obviously I love them for that!
You HAVE to get a shaved ice or two in Hawaii…right?! Ono Family Restaurant and Shaved Ice is located in Kapaa, on the main road. And I definitely recommend getting the “snow capped” version (which just means they pour flavored condensed milk on top). It’s $3.25 for up to 4 flavor choices or one of the local selections and a free snow cap, either vanilla or coconut.
Olympic Cafe is a restaurant and bar located in Old Town Kapaa. We stopped here for breakfast burritos a couple of times. It’s a fun place to go, and the burrito was huge so I’d definitely split it next time! I also want to try their pancakes with coconut syrup next time :).
We were craving sushi and decided to try this place. The rocker vibe ambiance was probably better than the actual sushi, the food was just decent. 😉 I’d eat here again, but would love to find a better sushi option on the island…anyone??
Where We Stayed
We stayed at the Aston Islander on the Beach, in Kapaa. We were happy with it – it was clean and the service was friendly. The beach here was beautiful, and although the hotel was full, the beach never seemed crowded. We loved watching the sunrise and sunsets here! This is a good place to stay if you are on a budget but still want to stay on the beach. It seems a little outdated, as many places in Kauai do, but is still kept up nice and clean. If we went back, we’d either try a nicer hotel (if we had the budget for it) or rent a vacation rental home! I’d love to be able to do our own cooking sometimes, so a kitchen would be really nice.
We flew American Airlines from LAX direct to Kauai. The airport there is the Lihue Airport. The flight was about five hours, and I was really happy we were able to fly direct. The Lihue Airport is small and easy to navigate. We had a rental car, which I would really recommend. Although the island isn’t very big, I think it’s the best way to get around and explore what Kauai has to offer!
The weather in Kauai is pretty much perfect year-round! The average temperature ranges from 69-84 degrees, and ocean temperatures range from 71-81 degrees. Pretty great, right? I will say, it did cool down a bit at night when we were there, so I was happy to have light sweaters and jackets with me for going out, as many places are open to the outside or have patio/outside seating.
Things To Bring
- Lots of swimsuits! And fun cover ups to go over them. That’s what you’ll want to wear most of the time, and everyone is pretty laid back and casual so you can get away with going to most places/restaurants in that attire.
- Good workout clothes, tennis shoes, and hiking shoes! It’s awesome if you have sports bras/shorts that can double as swimwear for the impromptu swimming you’ll most likely do on your adventures and excursions.
- Bug spray. We definitely got some bites, both hiking and at the beach!
- Sunscreen. Duh.
- Mask/snorkel/fins (if you own them, bring them! And keep them with you in your car if you have one. There were a few times we hadn’t planned on snorkeling, but stumbled upon a great spot and were really glad we had them.)
- Ear plugs!!! Blake brought ear plugs for swimming and surfing, but we were so glad we have them because of the ROOSTERS! Apparently they have a wild chicken problem in Kauai, and it’s no joke. Those roosters start making noise around 4:30 in the morning and don’t stop until midnight…I’m serious. We wouldn’t have slept at all without our ear plugs in.