On a recent visit to Hawaii, we were fortunate to be able to visit two islands…Kauai and Maui. Our first week was spent on Kauai and the beauty of this island definitely lies in its gorgeous landscapes. From deep canyons with waterfalls, to soft sand beaches, to picturesque bays, this island is blessed with it all. We arrived late one evening at the airport and rented a car to take us to the Poipu Beach area where we were staying.
Our first morning, with the sun shining, we headed up to Waimea Canyon in the centre of the island. This canyon, known as “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific” has breath-taking stops along the way of the colourful canyon walls and waterfalls.
If you take Hwy 550 up to the top of the canyon then you will have lots of places on your right hand side to pull over and enjoy the views.
Continuing on to the end of the road you will reach Kalalau Lookout which gives you a stunning view of the Napali Coast. There are numerous trails along the canyon, however you do need to go prepared with proper footwear and hiking supplies.
On the way back down the canyon we stopped at the general store and restaurant at Kokee Lodge. This is a great place to grab a bite to eat before you wind your way back down the canyon road. We also managed to find a great farmer’s market where we stocked up on fruits and vegetables. The markets move around each day and it’s worth finding out where they are during your stay. Nothing beats the taste of fresh papaya and pineapple!
A beautiful walk to do during your stay in Kauai is along the Makawehi Bluff area. The trails start just south of the Hyatt Regency at Shipwreck Beach…
…and take you along the cliffs of the southern shore of Kauai making for some amazing photo opportunities.
The southern area of Kauai receives less rain than other areas and so it is a popular place to be. Even if you are staying somewhere else on the island, chances are if it’s raining where you are, it will be sunny in the south around the Poipu area.
If you’re lucky you might even catch a glimpse of the rare Hawaiian Monk Seal or a green sea turtle, both of which like to make themselves comfortable on the warm sand in that area.
A quaint town along the south coast is Hanapepe. This art capital of Kauai hosts a Friday Night Festival and Art Night with the local galleries, shops and restaurants open to browse through. Hanapepe also has a suspension bridge over the river. If you’re in the area stop by and check it out!
Also found along the south coast is Kauai Coffee Company, the largest coffee plantation in Hawaii. This 3400 acre estate has free coffee tasting, a great gift shop and a self-guided tour you can take through the coffee fields.
One not to miss activity when visiting Hawaii is a luau. A traditional Hawaiian luau involves entertainment and a fantastic feast with dishes such as Kalua pig, which is a pig that has been roasted in an oven made in the earth (also called an imu), fish, poi (definitely an acquired taste…although adding sugar helped), roast vegetables, and rice.
We went to a luau at Kilohana Plantation called Luau Kalamaku. With lots of options for the evening it’s definitely one I would recommend! The entertainment includes a group of Hawaiian musicians, hula dancing, and the story of how the Hawaiian people came to the islands told through song and dance. For me it was one of the highlights of our stay.
The weather on Kauai can be unpredictable with rain happening fairly frequently, so after four days of brilliant sunshine, we weren’t surprised to see the clouds start to roll in and stay. Still, wanting to make the most of our stay we decided to take a drive to the northern part of the island and visit Hanalei Bay. This extremely lush part of the island is also where many hiking opportunities can be found, unfortunately due to storms in the spring of 2018, many of the trails remain closed. We stopped on our way up-island at Opaekaa Falls situated along the Wailua River…
…and then continued on to the Kilauea Lighthouse. This site is closed on Sundays and Mondays, which is one of the days we were there, but we managed to take some great photos of the lighthouse situated on the cliff.
When we got to Hanalei Bay we walked along the beach there and took some pictures of the bay area and the pier.
I could imagine how stunning a location this would be on a sunny day with the green hills meeting the blue water.
Hanalei Bay is a sleepy little town with lots of local eateries and surf shops. If you do make the drive to this area, stop in and try the fish tacos at Tropical Taco located along the main street. There are numerous hiking trails near Hanalei Bay, however do check the conditions of them if that is something you are wanting to do. For us our time on Kauai was over…this laid-back island had provided us with a wonderful week of relaxation and exploration. Next stop…Maui.