KAUAI ISLAND, HAWAII
Pack your bags! Were going to the Garden Island of Hawaii. From the moment you step off the plane, you will be greeted with friendly locals and breezy island air. Today I'm going to share my tips, favorite spots, and delicious places to eat on the island of Kauai.
Our trip started off with a 14 hour delayed flight which resulted in having to sleep in the terminal of Los Angeles International Airport. Thank you airline for offering us dirty cots to sleep on, but I think I'll pass and sleep on my Wind Pouch :)
Kauai Juice Co - Cold pressed juice and vegan snacks? Count me in! This place was our go-to during the trip. My favorite drink was the Apple Cinnamon Kombucha, If you keep your bottle and bring it back, you get a dollar off ;) I love this cafe because they consume mindfully and give back to the community all while providing organic, locally sourced products. I so wish I lived next door to Kauai Juice Co.
Java Kai - Right next door to Kauai Juice Co lies a cute little organic cafe. Thanks to Yelp for helping me find this gem of a place. They have an abundance of different types of coffee which they roast fresh every morning. You can also buy their local coffee beans if you wanted to snag a bag to take home with you!
Keoki's Paradise - Keoki's is located in Poipu Beach. We tried to eat as local and affordable as possible, but when in Hawaii, you need to splurge one night at a nice restaurant. It was between Keoki's Paradise or Duke's. We went with Keoki's and I'm so glad we did because their Mai Tai's are out of this world. Don't forget to order a slice of the infamous Hula Pie!
The Fresh Shave - The best handcrafted shaved ice I've ever come across. We stopped at this food truck on the way to one of our hikes. I guess you could say it was a great start to our day. I found The Fresh Shave on Instagram and added it to one of my "must-eats" in Kauai. The Fresh Shave strives to use organic ingredients and local farm fresh produce instead of high fructose corn syrup and artificial coloring. All of the flavors are named after a popular mustache style and every straw has a cute mustache sticker attached to it. Being obsessed with Acai, I chose "The Professor" flavor which includes berries + acai topped with kauai honey, bananas, and shredded coconut. It was actually a really tough decision which flavor to choose because they all looked incredibly good!
Harvest Market - This locally owned, independent natural food store is located on the north shore of Kauai. They have a gourmet cafe where we found ourselves stopping by a couple times to grab smoothies on the way to Hanalei Bay. They also sell Kauai Sugarloaf Pineapples- a white, sweeter, low-acid, and a less fibrous pineapple compared to others. This market is a little slice of heaven for me filled with organic foods and cool postcards.
PLACES TO SEE
Kilauea Lighthouse - This lighthouse is located on Kīlauea Point. Be aware of what day you choose to go because they are only open Tuesday - Saturday. It is a location for you to observe dolphins, whales, turtles, and monk seals. This is a cool little pit-stop to take a peak and snap a picture.
Waimea Canyon State Park - Waimea Canyon, also known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, is a large canyon approximately ten miles long. It is located on the western side of Kauai. Be sure to keep an eye out on the way to Waimea Canyon, we stumbled across a waterfall on the side of the road which we later found out was called Red Dirt Falls. The cascades of water slice through the famous red dirt that actually stains your clothes, so be careful! Waimea Canyon also greeted us with a lovely rainbow.
Wailua Falls - This waterfall was super close to our hotel which was in Lihue. It is an easily accessible waterfall that you don't have to hike to see. There is limited parking but spots open up pretty fast. There are locals that sit around the area and sell fresh juices, coconuts, and freshly baked banana bread (to die for). My favorite juice was the guava watermelon. If you're prepared, you can hike down the cliff to the waterfall and swim in the water... at your own risk. Highly recommend this picturesque waterfall!
The Blue Room (Waikapalae Cave) - Most people have no idea about this hidden cave. Thanks to one of our new local friends for showing us this magnificent geological wonder. I wouldn't advise swimming in the cave, as there is a sign at the top of the hill which states, "there is a risk of leptospirosis" since it is a freshwater pool. Definitely do not drink the water and do not get in if you have any open wounds.
Kalalau Lookout - This is one of the most beautiful views my eyes have ever seen. This view shows you the heart of Kalalau Valley- one of the most photographed valleys in all of Hawaii. The valley and surrounding coast have been backdrops for countless films such as "King Kong", "Jurassic Park", and "Six Days Seven Nights." This is a must see :)
Hanalei Bay - Located on the north shore, there is a charming small town called Hanalei. Graced with timeless beauty, Hanalei is home to local art galleries, boutiques, and a multitude of delicious restaurants. The crescent-shaped Hanalei Bay is one of Hawaii's most scenic and pleasant beaches. The pier is really popular for fishing, family gatherings, and jumping into the ocean. We spent some time here flying a drone, doing backflips off the pier, and hanging out with the locals. Hanalei Bay put on a spectacular sunset for us that lit up the sky with shades of peach and blush. The waves were gentle and soothing
THINGS TO DO
Hike to Hanakapi'ai Falls - The Kalalau Trail is a trail along the Na Pali Coast. The trail runs 11 miles long along the island's north shore from Ke'e Beach to the Kalalau Valley. The trail has been named one of the most beautiful, yet dangerous, hikes in the world. The hike to the waterfall is a treacherous 8 miles but definitely worth it. You should arrive super early around 6:30am. We arrived at 8:00am and the parking lot was completely full so we had to park else where. This hike takes you to Hanakapi'ai Beach and the Falls. The beach is 2 miles in and the waterfall is 4 miles in. Definitely toughen up and do the whole hike to the waterfall because it is 100% worth it. It took us about 8 hours because we stopped at the beach to relax but it can easily be done in 3-4 hours. It is worth every bump, bruise, and sore muscle. There are a couple streams to pass through on the way up so wear shoes you don't mind getting wet. Also, if it has rained, the trail is very muddy and slippery. Hiking to this waterfall was the highlight of our trip and the best way to spend one of our last days in Kauai.
Tour the Na Pali Coast by boat - This was the cherry on top of our trip. We had a 14 hour delayed flight from LAX to Kauai, hopped off the plane, dropped our stuff off at the hotel, and got on this 5 hour boat tour around the 17 mile Na Pali Coast. We chose @goblueadventures because several people recommended them and they happened to be having a one day sale on the day we flew in. It ended up being an extremely fun tour and our guides were filled with knowledge! They took us through the sea caves, educated us on the Hawaiian culture, and stopped for a bit so we could snorkel with sea turtles and fish. Seeing the Na Pali Coast from the water was incredible. The mountains are simply oozing with magic . There are miles and miles of untouched ancient beauty. The tour is on a Zodiac so if you don't like bumpy rides, this probably shouldn't be the first option you choose. But I do HIGHLY recommend this boat tour if you like an adventure while in Kauai!
Snorkel at Tunnels Beach - Tunnels Beach, also known as Makua Beach, is known for its snorkeling. This beach is located on the north shore of Kauai and is one of the best snorkeling spots on the island. It includes shallow areas protected by coral reefs which you can then explore a range of underwater life including fish turtles, eels, urchins, and monk seals.
Swim in Queen's Bath - Located in Princeville, Queen's Bath is a favorite summertime attraction. This hidden gem is as large as a swimming pool and is a natural tide pool surrounded by igneous rock. It's about a 10 minute hike down and a 5 minute walk across the rocks. Many reviews say the hike to get there is very difficult, but I thought it was super easy. The weather also plays a huge role in the conditions of going to Queen's Bath so always be cautious of the weather and the tides. When it is high tide, it is super dangerous to go and not recommended. We fortunately went at low tide and the water was calm to swim in. Also, there are only about 10 parking spots so be sure to get there super early or right before sunset like we did! Around this time, there is plenty of parking and it is absolutely beautiful. We watched the sun seep into the horizon while enjoying the 73 degree weather. Queen's Bath is a definite "swim at your own risk" type of place but if you're aware of your surroundings, it is worth exploring :)
Mahalo, Hawaii for stealing a piece of my heart.
I hope my Kauai guide helps you plan the perfect vacation! Do you have some Kauai recommendations or favorites that I missed? Please share them in the comments below because I definitely plan to go back!
Photography by @BreeandStephen