We had a wonderful time in Kauai. We loved the beaches. The catamaran tour was unbelievable. The hikes we did were lots of fun, and so were the surfing lessons. But, there was still plenty of other things worth remembering and a few things to do differently the next time we get a chance to visit Kauai.
Places to stay
Our first few days we stayed up north in Princeville in a great condo. It was a great find. The owner had just remodeled and was looking for some tenants who could provide good reviews. The price was very reasonable and we liked being up north for the first few days of our trip.
During the second half of the week, we stayed in Kapa’a. It was an AirBnB, which was a pretty nice little unit, but the location wasn’t very nice. We were right off the main highway and then out the back gate was a boat launch / homeless person hangout.
There wasn’t a whole lot to do in Kapa’a, most people either go south or go north. They had a cool bike path, but other than that, there wasn’t a ton to do around Kapa’a.
I actually liked splitting up our trip into two different places to stay, but next time I would avoid Kapa’a. Stay near Poipu down south for half the time and then up north for the other half.
We almost cheaped out and just got the base rental car, and I’m so glad that we did not. We shopped around a bit, paid just a little extra and rented a convertible Mustang. It was totally worth it. We loved putting the top down and driving around the island. A small SUV or Jeep would also have been a good choice.
Food on the island was just OK, and quite expensive. We ate at only a couple places worth their cost and worth writing about. The food truck up in Hanalei was good.
Duke’s was amazing. It was pretty expensive, but we got there early and got a great table overlooking the beach and the food was great. Totally worth the time and the cost.
The Dolphin in Hanalei was also excellent. We got there later in the evening and the wait was still long, but the food was good. The sushi was excellent. I ordered the Hanalei roll and thoroughly enjoyed it.
We also looked for any excuse to stop and try a shave ice. My favorite included some macadamia nut ice cream, but your mileage may vary. Better to try different flavors and styles at each place you pass just to make sure you get a wide variety and can narrow down your favorite.
We were bummed that the day we went out to see the Wailua lighthouse it was closed. It was on a Tuesday or Wednesday, so check a guidebook or call ahead. We had seen some whales out near the lighthouse from afar from when we had gone to Secret Beach, but we didn’t ever get out onto the peninsula to where the lighthouse was to get a closer look.
While down exploring Poipu and the surrounding area we stopped by to see the Spouting Horn blowhole. It was pretty busy with tourist busses stopping by and there was a bunch of pop-up tourist-trap shops to fight through, but it was pretty cool to see the waves come in and force their way up through the blowholes. The seas were pretty calm on the day we were there, so this wasn’t crazy explosive.
We didn’t get enough time exploring Waimea Canyon. We’d planned to do a few hiking trails up in the canyon, but the one time we drove up there, a pretty nasty storm blew in, so we headed back to sunny Poipu.
Next time we’re there
Get an earlier arriving flight. Our flight didn’t arrive until about 10pm, so it was pretty much drive to the condo and head right to bed. I think the ideal thing would be to arrive on the island earlier, mainly to load up on groceries and supplies at Costco and Walmart before heading up north to our accomodations.
We had some friends kayak to the Wailua waterfall and highly recommended it. Definitely on our short list for the next time we visit lovely Kauai.