In 2011 I was lucky enough to visit Kauai, Hawaii on my honeymoon with my husband J and we have been dreaming of going back ever since.
Kauai is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited and we absolutely loved every minute of our trip. The flight from the UK is lengthy and pricy, which is why we haven’t been back since, but if you ever get a chance to visit it is worth it.
We stayed at the Kauai Beach Resort which is based on the eastern side in Lihu’e which is the island’s capital and is conveniently located to explore the island, as long as you have a car. It is also located on a stretch of quiet beach – so our first few mornings were spent gazing across the ocean from our sea view room.
We found out on our first day that it is impossible to get around the island without a car, so book one ahead of arriving. We rented a little compact car as I was the designated driver and I hadn’t driven for a looong time and I thought it best to start off small. But when (I’m saying when because it will happen) we go back I will be renting jeep as it gives you the opportunity to go off road and there are plenty of off road opportunities and I LOVE Jeeps – I’d personally like a baby pink one but I don’t think that would go down well with the husband.
Exploring the island is so easy as there is only one main road that runs around almost the entire island and all small roads connect to it, so you literally can not get lost – believe me we tried. You can drive around the entire island within a few hours, although you cant do a full loop as there is a great big canyon in the way but it is definitely fun and stress free driving around this beautiful island.
One of our first stops on our tour of Kauai was the Wailua Falls which is a double waterfall. We of course got out and had a good ol gawp and took some pics. The falls are just one of the beautiful waterfalls on the island are estimated to be between 80 – 125ft, I really wanted to find them and have a swim but you need to hike to most of the waterfall spots.
On our first day we booked a few excursions for us to do while on the island. For such a small island there is so much to do and see and we were determined to cram as much in as possible.
Zip lining has always appealed to me and what better way to see the island than zipping through the jungle. We went with Outriggers of Po’ipu and were driven to one of the most dense areas of Kauai to strap ourselves in and zip our way through the jungle. We actually drove past one of the locations where Jurassic Park was filmed – I could just imagine the Diplodocus’s munching away as we drove past.
It was so much fun zipping through the jungle, sometimes upside down, it was a definite highlight of our trip.
Continuing our adventure of Hawaii we also booked ourselves onto a speedboat tour of the breathtaking Na Pali coast. Na Pali means ‘the cliffs’ in Hawaiian but I have never seen any cliffs that look like this – its a bit of a change from the white cliffs of Dover.
We were up very early – before the sun – to take this tour with Kauai Sea Tours and we had two of the best sea tourers to guide us around the coast.
We skipped around the Na Pali coast, which I have to admit was a bumpy ride but it was well worth the early rise and we were lucky enough to see a school of spinner dolphins, but sadly no sea turtles that day. Sea turtles are one of my favourite animals and it was my dream to see a wild sea turtle during our trip, the dolphins were just as beautiful however skipping along the waves and leaping out of the sea.
We decided to space out our excursions so that we didn’t spend every day getting up at the crack of dawn. I’m not normally a morning person but I think the jet lag had me on some weird island time as I was wide awake at 6 am every day and ready for bed by 10pm, which suits Kauai just fine because there isn’t much of a night life over there. The ‘capital’ doesn’t really have any bars , none that we saw and we were so tired from the days events were were happy to chill in our room stuffing our faces with American sweets such as peanut butter pretzels and Poke.
On one of our tours of the island we decided to drive to the north shore of Princetown. I think this is where the rich people live on Kauai because all we saw were very expensive looking mansions/houses and lots of private roads.
The north shore is however home to Hanalei Bay which is a breathtaking bay complete with a pier.
There was some sort of family day event on when we got to Hanalei and despite the clouds it was a really hot day. This beach also featured in the film The Descendants with George Clooney, sadly they filmed it after we were there.
While there, we visited many of the lovely restaurants and eateries on the island and even the supermarkets. We found that they sell this dish called Poke, which is chunks of raw tuna sold by the pound in the supermarkets but the best place we found for our sushi habit was the south shore Koloa Fish Market, which is located in the cutest town of Koloa.
Although we also found out that Hawaiians have a strange fascination with spam, and even stick it in their sushi…
We also visited Puka Dog, located at the Po’ipu shopping village. A Puka Dog is a polish sausage in a toasted bun – which is toasted on the inside only on this skewer and then you choose your choice of tropical fruit sauce, such as pineapple or passion fruit and their ‘secret sauce’.
We also visited Po’ipu beach park on a number of occasions as it is excellent for snorkeling. We were able to pick up snorkel sets from the local supermarket but there were plenty of hire shops if you wanted more specialist equipment.
While at Po’ipu we ate at Brennecke’s Beach Broiler which is an awesome restaurant serving everything from burgers to seafood. We ate there every time we visited the beach – which was a good few times and there is a shaved ice store right beneath.
We also stopped by Hamura Saimin, located on Kress Street in Lihu’e. We had read about this place in our guide book but it was really difficult to find. When we did find it, it was located in a quiet residential street and was clearly a popular local hangout serving no nonsense noodles. J really enjoyed it as he is a bit addicted to noodles.
We also ate at Duke’s Canoe Club located in the Kauai Marriott Resort and had some amazing fish over the view of the Kalapaki Beach.
This was following our kayaking trip along the Wailua river, which is the only navigable river in Kauai.
The tour we had booked on took us kayaking along the river and then hiking through the jungle to the Uluwehi Falls (secret falls) which is a 130ft waterfall. I love hiking especially through muddy forest where I am likely to get muddy and wet and this hike ticked all those boxes.
After the long hike however we were rewarded with a swim under the falls and I was first one in of course.
On our final day with car we decided to drive as far north as we could and visit Makua beach or Tunnel’s beach as it is known. On the way we passed some amazing houses and architecture.
Tunnels Beach is excellent for surfing and we ended up arriving late in the afternoon. Opposite the beach is this huge cliff face with a cave underneath known as Maniniholo Dry Cave, which was both spooky and fun to explore.
It was at Tunnels beach that I found what I had been looking for the entire trip – a wild green sea turtle! I couldn’t believe my luck when I waded in to snorkel and it was splashing around in the shallow knee deep water eating the seaweed off the rocks in the bay.
It was such an amazing experience to be able to see it in the wild and see it up close and recognise it’s size and beauty. It was definitely one of my highlights of the trip and something I will never forget.
Kauai is such a beautiful place and so relaxed and calming. There is so much to do there that we couldn’t even fit it all in in our two weeks there and if I went back there is so much more I would love to do, such as visiting the Kauai Coffee plantation and maybe a helicopter ride over the island.
But more than the exciting excursions we went on I enjoyed the general chilled out vibe I got from Kauai and the sheer joy I felt driving around and living Hawaiian style.