Kauai -- otherwise known as “The Garden Island” -- is a tropical island in the Pacific and part of the Hawaiian archipelago. Unlike some islands, you won’t find an abundance of highrise resorts or chain restaurants. Kauai is remote, untouched and alluringly wild. Roosters roam the streets and cluck behind you in line at the taco truck (hopeful that a corn chip will fall their way). Sandy flip flops and wet beach hair are acceptable attire at any restaurant. It’s the perfect place to embrace island time and maybe even your more adventurous side.
P.S. I saw one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen here, so pack a blanket because you’re not going to want to leave until after dark.
Where to Stay
I found the north end of the island to be the most beautiful. The city of Princeville offers an abundance of condo rentals, a few resorts, golf courses and golden sand beaches. If you decide to stay in Princeville, check out Queen’s Bath, a famous tidal pool, which you can access via a short (but steep and sometimes muddy hike, due to the frequent rainfall). Be very careful before going for a swim though. Read local signs as it is frequently closed due to weather and unsafe conditions.
Where to Eat
Hanalei is a fun, quirky, laid back town with some of the tastiest food trucks around. Don’t miss: Holey Grail Donuts (vegan friendly), Saenz Ohana Breakfast & Tumeric Cafe. If you’re looking for a nicer dinner, Bar Acuda’s innovative small plates are a must (but be prepared to wait if you don’t have a reservation).
What to See
Kauai is best known for its dramatic Nā Pali Coast which has served as the backdrop for Jurassic Park and many Hollywood films. Even after seeing countless images and film of this coastline, nothing can compare to witnessing the sharp mountain spires and turquoise blue water with your own eyes.
You can choose to see the Nā Pali Coast by foot, sea or air (or all three, if you’re feeling adventurous!). The aerial views from an open door helicopter are absolutely out-of-this-world (I highly recommend Mauna Loa Helicopter Tours). However, the tours are certainly a splurge. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly option, consider taking a day cruise from south Kauai. If you’re an outdoor enthusiast hoping for a workout then you may prefer to kayak along the coast (just be prepared for very sore arms the next day). Or you could spend an afternoon hiking the Honopu Ridge Trail which leads to breathtaking Nā Pali views.
About the Author
Filmmaker & avid traveler