Commonly Asked Questions
Explore the answers to commonly asked questions about Kauai such as island weather, what to pack, direct flights to Kauai and more…
At the car rental company, please text us at (808) 427-0818 and let us know you are requesting an early check in with the requested check in time. We will check with the housekeeper and inspector to see if the property is ready and we will text you if the property is ready before 3:00 p.m.
Stop for lunch at Dukes, just a short drive from the airport. You can valet your car in the upper parking lot (coming from the airport turn left to the small drive after the Marriott entrance across from Harbor Mall). You will go up a small hill until you see the valet sign; you are in the back of the Marriott. The valet will tell you how to get to the restaurant. Amazing views will kick start your vacation. The sashimi, fish tacos and mai tai’s are some of our favorites. Click here for a map from the Lihue airport.
While you are in Lihue, it is a good time to stop at Costco or Safeway for supplies before heading to your property. Click here for directions from the airport.
- WEATHER: The weather changes without much warning. You may be lying on the beach on a bright sunny day and suddenly be caught in a downpour. The rain often doesn’t last for more than a few minutes and is the reason we are known as The Rainbow State. Our trade winds normally keep us very comfortable but it can be humid and warm on occasion as well.
- LACK OF AIR CONDITIONING: It is not common on Kauai to have air conditioning in a rental property and it isn’t allowed at all properties. The island has great trade winds, which normally keep us cool, but there are times when the trades leave the island and it can feel warm.
- OCEAN CONDITIONS: The ocean is dangerous. People who are not strong swimmers should be careful when participating in ocean activities. There are 9 beautiful beaches with lifeguards on Kauai “When in doubt, don’t go out”.
- COST: It’s not cheap! If we don’t make it or grow it on island it has to be shipped or flown in and that costs a lot. Staying at a vacation rental helps save on food costs because you can make many meals at your ‘home’ by visiting the local grocery stores and farmers markets.
- TRAFFIC: There is one main road that loops around ¾ of the island. (The other ¼ is not drivable). If the person in front of you is going slowly, you will be too. On the east side locals refer to the traffic as ‘The Kapaa Crawl’ – there is always bumper-to-bumper traffic through the town of Kapaa. It’s worse in rush hour. The speed limit is 25 miles per hour in many places. Take your time and Drive with Aloha.
- CHICKENS: There are wild chickens everywhere. They escaped their cages after the last hurricane and, having no natural predators, have reproduced exponentially. The roosters can be loud and crow often, even at night.
- ISLAND TIME: It can take longer to get parts to fix things and some items that you may take for granted as being available in a less remote areas, might take days to obtain in Hawaii. People also do everything at a more relaxed pace. Once you get used to it, you will want to follow suit.
- BUGS: There are bugs and small lizards, (lovable because they eat bugs and don’t bite), because we are in a tropical environment. All properties have quarterly pest control, but you will see the occasional bug. Make sure you put your food away and seal food up.
- RED DIRT: A definite deterrent to exploring off the beaten track. Some inland trails can get quite muddy and slippery and are only for the adventure seekers, serious hikers and lovers of the uncrowded outdoors. Most locals hike and walk around outside in inexpensive sneakers, slippers or barefoot so it keeps shoe shopping expenses to a minimum. The red color comes from the large amount of iron oxide present in the land. Red dirt stains are permanent and impossible to remove.
Give your feet a rest and let the Aloha Spirit Shuttle be your guide…
That’s right, I’m talking about catching a ride on Poipu’s very own open-air shuttle. Fun fact: the shuttle was actually built for Disney in the 60’s and has been in operation for over 50 years. Crazy, huh? It’s a simple and inexpensive alternative to making your way around the Poipu area, whether you’re feeling like doing a little shopping or taking your special date out to dinner; they will be able to shuttle you to and from your property for free. Sweet deal. See, not everything in Hawaii is expensive.
Their hours of operation are from 6pm to 10pm, Sunday to Thursday. Call for pick-up at (808) 651-9945.
Need a quick date-night idea for your significant other? Try this special tour: 45 minute Sunset Land Cruise at $20 per person (dinner excluded). Just as its name applies, you’ll be taken on a drive along the South Shore, enjoy the beautiful sunset, then be driven to any restaurant in Poipu that you choose or one that you may have already reserved. When you’ve finished the last of your mahi mahi and downed enough Mai Tai’s for the night, give the Aloha Spirit a call.
They also offer private charter shuttles; max occupancy is 11 passengers. This service is great for those attending a wedding, a banquet, or any special event in the area. The Aloha Spirit will shuttle you, your family, and your friends, where and when you want. You could have everyone drive in separate cars then be stuck waiting for your entourage to arrive one-by-one, or you could arrive altogether in style, skip the waiting and head straight into the event. This private shuttle service comes at a price of $125/hour with a 2 hour maximum.
Now that you know what the Aloha Spirit is, save that number and keep an eye out for a blue/green shuttle with a palm tree roof. Don’t forget to throw that “shaka” out and greet their wonderful driver with a, “eh, howzit?” It’s all about sharing the aloha, isn’t it?
Kauai is a magical place and provides the dreams-come-true backdrop for the perfect wedding or a place to renew your vows. There are a variety of individuals and companies that provide everything you need for your special day.
Kauai Weddings in Koloa with Pastor Harold Kilborn, a favorite Poipu Pastor. He performs weddings at Shipwreck’s Beach, at the Historic Koloa Church (built in 1859) and at the beautiful Kukuiolono Japanese Garden. Click here for the website.
Tory O’Malley is very reasonable and does weddings and vow renewals. More information can be seen here.
Weddings on Kauai specialize on the North Shore, but they also hold weddings in Poipu.
Niles Kageyama, a Kauai local boy, creates customized ceremonies with a touch of Hawaiian culture through Kauai Weddings with Aloha.
Best Beaches for a Wedding:
Lydgate Beach Park
If you know you have a late flight on the day you are checking out, please plan accordingly. You do not want to be “homeless” for most of the day.
Our standard checkout time is 10:00 a. m.
We do offer late checkouts, as long as the calendar permits. At the cost of half the nightly rate, you may check out as late as you’d like on your departure date.
**PLEASE NOTE: If your reservation came with a car, there will be additional fees to extend the rental vehicle, if you haven’t already.
If a late check out is not available, we have some options available for you to spend your last day in Paradise. Keep in mind, it’s always better to reserve the property for your last evening in advance for peace of mind and a truly relaxing last day. The charge is half a night’s rent if booked when you make your reservation or if the night is still available.
If you depart late at night you can inquire with the Sheraton Kauai Resort or the Grand Hyatt Kauai about purchasing a day pass. As long as rooms are available, you can secure a booking and there you can shower, rest up, and relax as you prepare for your flight. Here’s the contact information for both hotels:
Sheraton Kauai Resort
2440 Hoonani Rd, Koloa, HI 96756
Grand Hyatt Kauai
1571 Poipu Rd, Koloa, HI 96756
Join Poipu Beach Athletic Club. Play some basketball, work on your tennis serve, exercise at the fitness center, then lounge around the pool to cool off and have dinner at Imu Bar and Restaurant. You may also purchase a membership through Great Vacation Retreats (memberships are limited) and use the club for a week, including your last day. The club will sell members a Departure Pass so you can spend that last day at the club, have a locker, take a shower and store your luggage.
Schedule an activity! There are short tours that won’t take up much of the day and you can head straight to the airport afterward. Take, for instance, the 2-hour sunset sails with Holo Holo Charters or Captain Andy’s. You’ll get to sail the south shore, food and drinks are provided, and you may even be surprised by sightings of humpback whales and bottlenose dolphins along the way. Other tours we recommend are the Mahaleupu Beach horseback rides with CJM stables, the Wiki Wiki Zipline with Just Live, and the full circle tour with Island Helicopters.
Last minute shopping? We may not be known for our shopping centers, but there’s certainly something for everyone. This could be a good time to purchase gifts to take home to friends and family members. Or, how about some local food to bring on the plane? If you’re staying in the South Shore one place that is worth a stop is Aloha Exchange. They’re located in the small town of Kalaheo and their local-based products make for great remembrances.
Depending on your departure date, check out this list of farmer’s markets. Or, this list of Kauai’s art nights.
One of the best things you can do as a family, a group of friends, or if it’s just you and your partner, is to go out for dinner or lunch together. Talk about your stay, reminisce on the adventures, and look forward to the next one! Some of the best places we recommend going to are Keoki’s Paradise, Duke’s Restaurant, Merriman’s Restaurant, or the Tortilla Republic; all are great spots for serving parties of all sizes. If you prefer to dine closer to the Lihue airport Gaylord’s, Duke’s and Kauai Pasta are close enough. Check with your airline, but you will most likely be able to check in and then go to dinner for extra peace of mind.
According to the County of Kauai, the recycling rate of Kauai is 44 percent, which is above the national average of 34 percent; we hope to maintain that strong effort. Recycling is one of the more common questions we receive from guests, which is great because the more people that “go green” the easier it is to keep Kauai clean for everyone. There are several main recycling locations spread throughout the island, from the west side to the north side. They are listed below:
¬ Kilauea – Kauai Community Recycling Services, 5-2723 Kuhio Hwy (Behind Kilauea Mini Golf), Tuesday & Friday, 8am – 4pm, Phone: 645-1676
¬ Kapaa Ball Park, 4900 Kahau Rd
¬ Lihue Kmart Parking Lot, 4303 Nawiliwili Road
¬ Kapahi Reynolds Recycling, 5675B Kawaihau Rd., Behind Menehune Food Mart, Phone: 754-8985 Mon- Sat 9am – 5pm; closed for lunch noon – 1:30
¬ Garden Isle Disposal, 2666 Niumalu Road, Open everyday except Wednesday Sunday and Holidays, 7:30 -4:15, Closed for Lunch from 11:00-11:45
¬ Lihue Kauai Resource Center, 3460 Ahukini Road, (fronting Lihue Transfer Station), Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri, Sat 9:15 – 5:15pm, Phone: 245-2372
¬ Nawiliwili Harbor Reynolds Recycling, Corner of Wilcox & Kanoa St, Mon- Sat 9am – 5pm, closed for lunch, noon – 1:30, Phone: 245-7233
¬ Lawai Post Office parking lot, 02-3687 Kaumualii Hwy, Tues & Wed & Sat 8am – noon
¬ Kekaha Kauai Community Recycling Services, On Kekaha Rd., across old Sugar Mill, Wed. & Sat. 8am – 4pm, Phone: 645-1676
If you are staying in Poipu during your visit, there are two other locations that guests can go to for recycling. For guests staying on property that are under the Poipu Kai Association, there is a recycling location just next to the Poipu Kai and Aston office. It is immediately to your left if driving onto Pe’e Road from Poipu Road. This applies to any of our guests staying at the following: Kahala, Manualoha, Regency, Poipu Sands, and Daydream Believer.
If you are not staying in the Poipu Kai area, another recycling location is in the parking lot behind the Brennecke’s Restaurant. From Poipu Road, turn toward the ocean on Ho’owili Road (about half way between Poipu Shopping Center and Koloa-Poipu Bypass Road). Bins are in the Brennecke’s restaurant parking lot at the end of the street on your left. If they seem full, check the slots on the other side for space. Please do not leave recyclables on the ground.
Here are some other options for recycling in KOLOA:
Donate to Koloa Elementary School
Call 742-8460 first, then bring to the school office Monday – Friday from 7 am to 4 pm. Located at 3223 Poipu Road.
Donate to Kaua’i Christian Fellowship
2731 Alakinoiki Rd (Koloa-Poipu bypass). Bins at back end of parking lot on the right.
Redeem at Koloa Fire Station
Open Thursday and Sunday, 8 am – 4 pm (Please pre-sort materials and arrive by 3:30.
Click here for specifics on what is recycled on Kauai.
“Malama ‘Aina.” Translation: “to take care of the land.” To be able to visit here, let alone live here, and experience all that is Kauai is a blessing. The least we can do is clean up after ourselves so other too can enjoy the beauty of Kauai just we did.
Where do we go for a nice dinner, quick plate lunch, poke? Here are a few of our ‘must try foods’ on Kauai. (Did you know we have an awesome aquaponics garden started at the office? Come check it out!)
First, a few things you might not see anywhere but Hawaii:
Shave Ice is similar to a snow cone but the ice is shaved flat for a snow like consistency. A VERY popular treat in Hawaii.
The Fresh Shave in Lawai
Wailua Shave Ice in Kapaa
Jo Jo’s in Waimea – an original.
Poke is a staple in Hawaii. Traditionally made of diced raw fish, Hawaiian salt, seaweed and kukui nut oil. Today poke comes in an array of delicious variations.
Pono Market in Kapaa
Fish Express in Lihue
Koloa Fish Market
Ishihara Market in Waimea
Musabi is a popular breakfast, lunch or snack food in Hawaii. Typically made with rice topped with grilled spam (Yes, SPAM!) wrapped in nori (seaweed). Please don’t judge it until you try it. Many variations are now found at stores all over the island. Convenience stores and liquor stores are popular places to grab a musabi…
Salt Pond Country Store in Hanapepe
Sueoka’s Market in Koloa
Hanalei Liquor Store
Plate Lunch is the ‘to go’ lunch for locals. Plate lunch is served quickly and usually includes one or two meat options (kalua pork, chicken katsu, lau lau, etc.), mac salad, and rice.
Po’s in Lihue by Ace Hardware
Koloa Fish Market
Fish Express in Lihue
Smileys in Lihue by Ace Hardware (Kind of wishing our office was by the hardware store)
Saimin is the ultimate comfort food or meal on a budget. Saimin is practically the same as ramen, noodles and broth usually topped with different protein and garnishes.
Hamura’s Saimin in Lihue (won a James Beard award, it’s that good)
Anahola Café (some of the best on island and profits go to Anahola Youth Programs)
Tip Top Café in Lihue (also known for their Oxtail Soup)
Kauai Ramen in Ele’ele
Fish Markets are a known for more than just fish in Hawaii. They serve amazing plate lunches; poke bento and other local specialties. Since we already wrote about plate lunch, we are going to focus on the fish. Usually Cash Only.
Hanalei Dolphin Fish Market (the original in Hanalei, get the sushi and take home fish for the grill)
Koloa Fish Market (the wasabi sauce is great on everything, even eggs, trust us)
Fish Express in Lihue (pepper ahi jerky, try it, but have them chop it up for you)
Kilauea Fish Market
Big Save, Foodland, Ishihara Markets have great selections of poke.
Farmers Markets Who doesn’t love fresh produce, local specialty products and amazing food. Kauai Farmer’s Markets are a treat for your senses. You must visit at least one while you are on island. Sip on an ice-cold coconut while you browse local goat cheese, beef, honey, amazing tropical fruits and vegetables. Vendors are so helpful and will gladly give samples of anything that you haven’t tried before. Please visit the Experience Kauai page on our website to view all island markets. Kauai is known for mangos, pineapple, lilikoi, lychee, rambatan, apple banana, mountain apple, avocado the size of your head and papaya, just to name a few.
Now, a few of our favorite ‘You have to try this while you are here!’ places (did you know we are big foodies at GVR, we make and eat lunch together as an office every Tuesday HINT: we are a little sleepy on Tuesday afternoons)
DISCLAIMER: We can’t list everything we love or this list would be 40 pages long. There are MANY great places that aren’t on this list. These are just a few of the places that are so amazing or different that you really have to take the time to visit! Need suggestions for a special occasion, send us a note and we will send you a list.
Kilauea Bakery (biali please, and pizza, and salad, gluten free fabulousness, etc…)
Kilauea Fish Market (salsa…yes, salsa, fish tacos and ahi wrap)
St. Regis Bar (champagne at sunset)
Pat’s Taqueria at the Hanalei Pier (uh, tacos)
Bar Acuda (make reservations, you’ll thank us later)
Hanalei Bread Company (try everything)
Banana Joes (banana smoothies and fresh produce)
Tahiti Nui (legendary)
East Side & Lihue:
Pono Market (poke, poke, poke)
JO2 (everything, make a reservation)
Aloha Aina Juice Café (fresh tropical juice, more please!)
Duane’s Ono Char Burger
Mermaids Café (ahi wrap)
Nana’s Snack Shack (frozen bananas, Kauai bananas are better than regular bananas)
Gaylord’s (weekend brunch, lunch or dinner, it’s about the setting, go to rum tasting before)
Koloa Fish Market (anything with wasabi cream sauce, lau lau, seared ahi)
Sueoka’s Snack Shop (its so cheap, try everything, live like a local)
Honu Bar, Marriott Waiohai (views, sports, people watching and great happy hours – yes there are more than one = Happy Place)
Red Salt, Koa Kea Hotel (breakfast and dinner)
Lappert’s Ice Cream (coffee, they have amazing ice cream and treats, but the coffee, so ono.
The Wine Shop (marriage license, and great wine)
Taro Ko Factory (taro chips)
Midnight Bear Breads (We ‘heart’ this bread and everything else)
Hanapepe Café (she makes the soup at the Wed Farmers market in Koloa)
Friday Art night in Hanapepe (eat at every food truck)
Kauai Coffee Company
Ishihira Market (ask around, you will see why this made
It’s a little different traveling to Hawaii with your pet than to the other states and Canada. Hawaii is rabies-free and has an animal quarantine law. In the past, pets would have to wait in quarantine for months, but now there is a process to have them quarantined for five days or less and it is possible for them to be released directly from the airport. It is an extensive check-list that needs to be completed and timing of vaccinations and blood tests are crucial.
• The second vaccination must be done at least 90 days before arrival in Hawaii.
• Your cat or dog must have an electronic microchip implanted.
• Your pet will need to have had an OIE-FAVN Rabies Blood Test not more than 36 months and not less than 120 days before the date of arrival in Hawaii.
Numerous documents must be completed by you and your veterinarian and submitted to the State.
Please see http://hdoa.hawaii.gov/ai/aqs/animal-quarantine-information-page/ for more information.
Keep in mind Hawaii has not had the demand for pet-friendly accommodations so there are not many places to stay when you travel with your dog or cat. Many homeowner associations have strict rules against having pets. There are a few that allow pets on a case by case basis and a few of the hotels have pet programs. You just need to persevere. Renting a free standing home can be your best option.
Which airlines offer direct flights to Kauai?
Luckily there are many direct flights to Lihue (LIH) on multiple airlines including United, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta and Hawaiian, which makes travel to Kauai much simpler without a lengthy stopover and terminal change at Honolulu airport.
Los Angeles, CA American, Delta, United
Oakland, CA Alaska
Phoenix, AZ American
Portland, OR Alaska
San Diego, CA Alaska
San Francisco, CA United
San Jose, CA Alaska
Seattle, WA Alaska
Vancouver, Canada WestJet
Keep in mind some operate seasonal schedules.
Is Kauai one of the wettest places on earth?
To say that Kauai is one of the wettest places on Earth can be misleading because people believe it rains a lot on Kauai, which is true, but it really depends on where you are on the island. Kauai has many climates including deserts, with beautiful cacti growing all over, only ten inches of rain annually and is only a few miles away from Waialeale, which is one of the wettest places on Earth.
Mount Waialeale stands at 5,148 feet and averages more than 452 inches of rain a year with the recorded high of 683 inches in 1982. On a clear day, if you’re in the right place, you may be lucky enough to see this beautiful mountain in its green glory.
Waialeale means “rippling water” or “overflowing water.” Deep faulting and water erosion have carved canyons in the mountain. Wainiha, Lumahai, and Hanalei valleys dig into Waialeale. To its west is Waimea Canyon, the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, 16 miles long and 1 to 2 miles wide and as much as 3,600 feet deep. Mount Waialeale supplies numerous waterfalls visible from many parts of the North Shore of Kauai. It also feeds the only navigable river on Kauai. The main rivers are the Waimea, Wailua, Makaweli and Hanapepe.
The summit of Waialeale features a rainforest with heavy rainfall throughout most of the year. Its northern position provides exposure to frontal systems that bring rain during the winter, and its relatively round and regular conical shape exposes all sides of its peak to winds and the moisture that they carry. Mount Waialeale’s peak lies just below the so-called trade wind inversion layer of 6,000 feet, above which trade-wind-produced clouds cannot rise. Its steep cliffs cause the moisture-laden air to rise rapidly – over 3,000 feet in less than 0.5 miles – and drop a large portion of its rain in one spot, as opposed to spreading the rain out over a larger area if the slope were more gradual.
The great rainfall in the area creates the Alakai Wilderness Preserve, a large boggy area that is home to many rare plants. The ground is so wet that although trails exist, access by foot to the Waialeale area is extremely difficult.
Yes, it is recommended that you rent a car when you are visiting the Garden Isle of Kauai! Although we only have one major “highway” on the island it takes approximately 3 hours to drive from the one end on the North Shore to the opposite end on the West Side (i.e. from Haena to Polihale). A car is necessary to drive to many of the picturesque towns and beaches and waterfalls. You don’t want to miss out on the scenic drive up to Waimea Canyon and the Kokee lookout!
There is public transit available, however, the bus routes are limited and time consuming when trying to explore all the beauty that Kauai has to offer. Rental scooters are available, however, many of the roads do not accommodate bicycles or scooters safely.
If you prefer not to drive, tour buses are available and are a great way for informative guided tours of the island’s main attractions! There is a taxi service available and many of the large resorts offer shuttle service from the airport. You may want to stay somewhere with a shuttle service and simply rent a car for the day. The Grand Hyatt Resort in Poipu (808-742-1234) offers ‘green cars’ that can be rented by the hour.
To find the best price for a rental car we suggest checking hotwire.com or https://www.discounthawaiicarrental.com often so you learn to recognize the good deals when they appear. We are happy to assist you as we know how the car rental rates fluctuate in low and high season and can advise you on finding the lowest rates. We have a contracts with Alamo and sometimes this affords us a discount that we can pass on to our guests. We offer a free rental car with our one and two-bedroom vacation properties except Puu Poa 413. It is highly advisable to book your rental car well in advance if visiting the island during the peak season as cars do sell out and the rates can sky-rocket! Check out local car rental companies for deals, too. You can try aloharents.com or hawaiidiscountcarrental.com as well.
What should we pack for our Hawaii vacation?
Slippers (slippahs), shorts, a shirt and a smile are all you need to have an excellent Hawaiian vacation, however, if you want a checklist we have prepared one for you!
2. Closed Toe Shoes/Socks. In case you go on an excursion where they are required (such as an awesome ATV tour) or if you find yourself hiking in Waimea Canyon or off the beaten track. Be prepared for them to get dirty. Kauai is notorious for red dirt that stains easily. Closed toed shoes are needed in the work out area of the Poipu Beach Athletic Club.
3. Bathing Suits. You will need at least two.
4. Sweater or a light jacket.
8. Clothes for going out to a nice dinner. On Kauai, that means dress shorts and an Aloha Shirt for men and a sun-dress for women.
10. Small backpack for day trips and going to the beach.
When you are here, you may want to pick up a sarong. That will get you thru a chilly night, a day at the beach or a casual lunch. For the men, you will probably want to wait until you get here to purchase an Aloha Shirt. You can wear them for any occasion.
What should I leave behind?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions for travelers getting ready to embark on their Hawaiian vacation.
Unfortunately, we can’t predict the weather but we can give you an idea of what to expect while you are here.
Generally, the temperature on Kauai is perfect. Ranging from 70-85 degrees year round.
Our winter is our ‘rainy season’. There will be more rain in the interior of the island and the northern part of the island. The southern and westernmost locations are typically the driest. However, most rain showers occur at night and are brief.
Rain and sunshine = Rainbows!
In the winter temperatures can range from 65 at night to 80 during the day. In the summer the temperature can range from 72 at night to 88 during the day. Of course we have some cooler summer days and some warmer winter nights, but those are not the norm.
When is the best time to come to the islands? Many visitors come to our beautiful island to escape the cold weather in the winter months. Our favorite times are the spring and the fall. It is a little less crowded and the weather is perfect!