One week on Kauai
If I had only one week on Kauai, I would start by making sure I was staying in Poipu since it’s centrally located on the island. This way you can explore all the way from the North Shore to the furthestmost west. It’s a “small” island, but when you get out there exploring you realize there is more to see than you could ever in a lifetime.
Day 1 – Welcome to the tropics!
If you arrive on your first day with daylight left I would suggest having a relaxing day at the beach. Since you have just traveled and are tired, what’s a better way to relax than sitting on a secluded beach with few people around watching the waves roll in? Venture to Mahaulepu Beach, located on the South Shore of Kauai where it’s never overly crowded. Grab some food and drinks before heading out there. I suggest a sandwich from my favorite deli, Koloa Deli (the black and blue or caprese are my favorites). Keep in mind the road closes at 6 pm so make sure to start heading back around 5:30. After heading back to your condo or house, and showering off all that salt and sand, it’s time for dinner! When I want a easygoing dinner that I don’t have to cook I head over to Kalapaki Joe’s. They have a large menu and a huge selection of draft beers. If the sun hasn’t gone down by the time you finish dinner, head to a locals favorite spot to watch sunset, called “The Wall.” It’s Hoonani located by the Sheraton Hotel,. Just park anywhere and find your spot on the lava rock wall, be sure not to forget your camera as all Kauai sunsets are amazing.
Day 2 – Get wet and sandy!
Odds are you will wake up super early due to the time change, which is a great thing when you are trying to enjoy all of what Kauai has to offer. What can be a more fun thing to do on your first full day on Kauai than a surf lesson? Or if you already know how to surf rent a board and head out to the great surf breaks we have on the South Shore. I suggest booking with Kelly Hunt Surf School or you can rent boards from him as well. After getting a great lesson/ workout for the morning, it’s time for the relaxation part of vacation. Before heading to Salt Pond Beach (the beach of the day) grab some lunch since you earned it! If you want a grab-and-head-to-the-beach option, go to Koloa Fish Market. Order the two option plate with kalua pork and lau lau. Oh, and don’t forget some poke my favorite is the ahi avocado poke. Be sure you have your umbrella and beach chairs for Salt Pond as there isn’t any shade on the airport side. Park in the first parking lot unless you are renting a 4-wheel drive. Pick your your spot and set up! This a great beach for kids and for snorkelers of all skill levels. Stay until sunset since this is another fantastic spot to catch another beautiful Kauai sunset. Head back towards Poipu to get some dinner, stop in at Kalaheo Cafe. They have wonderful dinner options, eat in or take out. You can’t go wrong with anything they cook there. I suggest the French Dip and the BBQ Ribs.
Day 3 – Get an island perspective!
Today we hit Kauai’s top attraction…the Napali Coast! Book this tour before you arrive as they can fill up fast at certain times of year. There are quite a few options for tour and boat companies. I always use Captain Andy’s; they have many options, but my two favorite are the morning Sail and Snorkel, where you experience all of the coast and get off the boat to snorkel along the coast. Second favorite of mine is the Southern Star sunset dinner cruise,. They cook your steak and shrimp right on the boat while you cruise the coast and finish up with watching the sun set on the water. Either tour can’t be beat, especially during whale season.
Day 4 – Explore the North shore!
Today we head to the North Shore of Kauai, which gets the most rain and, therefore, is always so green and lush. The best way to do this trip in my opinion is to drive all the way to the end of the highway, which ends and Ke’e Beach. If you can find a spot to park at the end, get out and check out this great view. I suggest picking up lunch at the last stop before the end of the road at a great spot called Sushi Girl. They always have creative rolls and poke salads that will exceed expectations for this little hole in the wall. You should of course make a stop at the well known Hanalei Pier to take in the beauty of distant waterfalls and lush green mountains. Make sure to have enough time to stop at my favorite north/east shore beach, Rock Quarry Beach! This beach won’t be crowded compared to Hanalei, especially if it’s mid-week. The beach is absolutely beautiful and offers so much to do, from fishing/crabbing, surfing, beach-combing, swimming in the rivermouth, to relaxing on the beach. After spending a great day on the North Shore on your way back to the Poipu, make sure to stop in and have dinner at Lava Lava’s, (Kauai’s only restaurant with tables/couches set right in the sand). While you take in the amazing ocean view be sure to order the drunken tater tots and have someone in your party get the fish and chips.
Day 5 – Be adventurous!
What a better way to spend part of your day then to go flying through the jungle in sunny Poipu..have you guessed what today’s plan is?? If you guessed Ziplining then you were correct! If you have never been Ziplining trust me Kauai has so many great options for this adrenaline-filled adventure. If you have already been, don’t worry, you will still have the time of your life. Personally my favorite company to go with is Koloa Zipline, for a couple reasons: they let you fly superman style and they have the longest line on the island. I suggest doing the early morning tour so that you can still enjoy more of Kauai in the afternoon. If you heed my advice and now have time to explore more of Kauai, head back to Wailua and check out Wailua Falls. Make sure to grab lunch before heading up. It’s best to stop in Lihue at the Kukui Grove Mall and try Deli and Bread Connection,. They make all the bread there and my favorite sandwiches are the Carolina and Megladon. Most people only see Wailua Falls from the top — and don’t get me wrong — it’s an awesome view from up there, but to get the real experience let’s head to the bottom up the falls. If you go to the area where the rock/cement wall meets the chain link fence you will see a trail that leads down. It’s quite steep, but there are roots and ropes to help you. If it’s at all wet, I suggest just taking your shoes or slippers (flip flops) off as they will just end up not helping much and will get real dirty. When you reach the bottom, you are rewarded with a the cold feeling of the water. Be sure to get in and swim over to the falls. Sometimes when it’s not flowing super hard you can get in behind the falls, which is a whole other experience in itself. Since we have been eating out a lot, let’s cook dinner at your condo or house tonight, but let’s not have to make the decisions of what to cook?? Head over to Hanai Market just a short ways into Kapaa, where they only have food the is locally grown. They always have a couple of options for dinner that come with cooking instructions and all the ingredients needed.
Day 6 – Discover a whole new world!
Kauai’s number 2 Must See on our agenda is the Grand Canyon of the Pacific known as Waimea Canyon. Eat a nice breakfast before you head up, since it takes awhile to get there and there is only food at the Kokee Lodge at the very top. We haven’t done a real hike yet and this is the place to do just that. Here are two options that are my favorite, first the Alakai Swamp Trail, which is like no other trail you have ever been on — guaranteed. The Alakai Swamp is the highest altitude swamp on the world, it’s the longer of the two hikes, but the view at the Kilohana Lookout is so worth the hundreds of stairs and muddy trail. If you are looking for a trail that’s a bit shorter, but just as rewarding, do the Waipo’o Falls trail. You can see the 800 foot waterfall from the Pu’u Ka Pele Lookout and then when you make the turnaround point of this trail you are at the top of Waipo’o Falls. There is a great stream here to cool off in, too, which is nice on a hot day. Make sure no matter what trail you choose that you drive all the way to the last lookout because the view of the Napali Coast is spectacular from above. After a great day of hiking you deserve a great meal and I recommend heading back to your condo or house and showering up, then heading to La Spezia in Old Koloa town (located just next to Big Save). I always love the Hanger steak they have on the menu, but also be sure to listen to their specials as they are always amazing! Also be sure to get the mozzarella fresca. It will not disappoint.
Day 7 – Sunbathing, snorkeling and sundowners!
Today’s agenda depends on when you depart. Hopefully, you have one of those 10 pm red-eye flights so you can enjoy one more full day of Kauai — fun and relaxation — especially after yesterday’s adventure. Stay on the South Shore today since you depart at some point, head to Shipwrecks Beach. This a great beach to lay in the sun or shade, watch the surfers or the people jumping off the famous Shipwreck’s Cliff. I would not suggest jumping since it’s illegal and a lot of people end up landing wrong and really hurting themselves. If you get bored like I do when laying on the beach, head over to Lawai Beach for some last day snorkeling. There is a great reef here where you will see lots of different tropical fish and be able to watch the surfers and Pk’s surf break. When you are done you will probably hungry which is great because Beach House Restaurant is right there and they have great lunch/dinner options, with a fantastic ocean view. I suggest The Lobster Mac n Cheese appetizer and the Seafood Linguine.
Well I hope you enjoyed our adventure filled week of, hiking, relaxing, surfing, swimming under waterfalls, and possibly jumping off cliffs. There is always so much more to see and do on Kauai so i hope you come back and experience more of what the island has to offer.
Aloha and Mahalo