Travel Guide – Kauai, Hawaii

1 Week on Kauai
April 5, 2016

One of my favorite TV shows growing up was Pilot Guides.  (Insert obligatory and-she-married-a-pilot joke here).

It’s one of the things which inspired me to travel.  I loved seeing a world beyond my WASP-y little town, which National Geographic had infamously dubbed ‘strip mall hell’ in 2004.  (Sorry, Tsawwassen.)

I knew I wasn’t the type to have my own travel show (I wasn’t quite as intrepid as my favorite Pilot Guide traveler Ian Wright) but that didn’t stop me from wanting one!  Armed with my iPhone and YouTube, I made it happen anyway.

 

Kauai is a place to take gratuitous beach shots, sip something fruity with sand in your toes, or take long arduous hikes, if that’s more your thang.

If you’re heading that way, I definitely recommend checking out the Hawaii Revealed line of guidebooks.  Not affiliated – just have found them to be amazing books!

An island of… roosters?

One of the first things you might realize about Kauai, aside from the gorgeous scenery, is the abundance of roosters.  Yeah, roosters.  Along with the chickens, they’re cock-a-doodle-doing all over this place.  Supposedly a severe hurricane in 1992 broke open all of the coops, setting them free.  They’re now even a status symbol of the island, and you’ll find rooster-centric swag all over the place.

Staying on the south shore in Poipu

We stayed in the southern part of the island in Poipu.  Along the shore you’ll find all sorts of pristine fancy hotels, with grass which could rival a golf course and white sand beaches.  Though I’m not staying in any these beachside hotels, I can confirm that their amenities looked fabulous, and are definitely worth a stroll through.

Waimea Canyon

Waimea Canyon is a bit of a drive from Poipu, and is absolutely worth it.  You’ll see puh-lenty of Kauai’s famous red dirt which contrasts against the vibrant, lush greens.  Looking down into the canyon and taking in the sweeping vistas, it really does feel like you’re in Jurassic Park – which is convenient, since it was filmed here on the island.

Happy Hour

Of course, after a long day of driving around, it’s nice to cool down a bit at happy hour.  Not that you really need an excuse.  The persistent trade winds on the island will help keep you cool for most of the day – though will make taking a photo with long hair challenging.  The struggle is real, guys.
The Grand Hyatt in Poipu is definitely worth a look.  The gardens are gorgeous and the pools are fantastic – you can also purchase a day pass if you want to stay longer than having a drink so you can lounge by the pool for a day.

Wailua Falls

Where Maui is famous for rainbows, Kauai is known for its abundance of waterfalls.  Most are tough to reach, but Wailua Falls is easy to see, since there’s an actual road, complete with parking and a viewpoint.

Visiting the North Shore

way, but if you can catch it on a sunny day, you’re in for what could be the most stunning scenery you’ll ever see.  It’s easy to appreciate where the name ‘garden island’ came from here, with rich greenery covering every peak and valley.  You’ll definitely want to hop out of the car to check out some of the shore.  White sand beaches mixed with black volcanic basalt rock in front of you, with craggy sharp mountains covered in greenery behind you makes for 360 degrees of kodak-worthy views.
One beach we stopped at, which has a short 5 minute walking path down from the road, was Kahalahala Beach.  Yes, that’s what it’s actually called!  It’s really beautiful and there’s an amazing rocky outcropping which made for spectacular wave watching.
As you continue along the drive, there’s a few other treasures to check out – dry caves, wet caves, and, of course, beaches – but my favorite beach is the carrot at the end of the line.

Ke’e Beach

The beach Ke’e is the end of the road, which is the furthest you can go by car on the island.  This is also the starting point for the Kalalau trail, the stunning hike along the Na Pali coast.  The trail itself is strenuous 11 miles long and you actually need a permit to do the whole thing since you’ll need to spend a few nights camping.  Or, you can do a day hike.  This 2 mile long hike is apparently also fairly challenging.  We did neither, since it was late in the day and we weren’t prepared for hiking.

Instead, we took a luxurious dip in the water at Ke’e beach. From the water looking up to the mountains which seem to rise straight up from the ocean, it’s probably the most spectacular swimming on the island – and much deserved after a long drive

Spouting Horn Blowhole

Close to where we stayed in Poipu there’s the Spouting Horn blowhole, which is apparently one of the most photographed spots on the whole island.  The surf is channeled into a lava tube and is released as a water spout.  It makes awkward breathy sounds which became the basis for a traditional Hawaiian legend.

Preparing to head home

Now, our flight leaves late at night, and we had an early checkout so our original plan was to store our bags at Kauai Self Storage while we continued to tour around.  We were going to freshen up before the flight at the free showers at Lydgate Park.  Buuuuut Sam was just getting over a cold, and I was just getting it, so we ended up checking into a day room at the Kauai Marriott resort near the airport.  Even though we we were only there for about 6 hours, it was by far the nicest hotel I’d ever stayed at so I felt pretty fancy-schmancy despite the impending cold.  If a circular pool surrounded by animal-shaped fountains and hot tubs doesn’t perk you up, nothing will.
Always planning the next trip,

If you’ve got just a week in Kauai like I did, you can see quite a bit – but I’m sure you’ll find more you’ll need to come back and discover.

If you’ve been already, what did you enjoy most?  Or if you’re planning to go, what’s on your list?  I’d love to hear about it – let me know in the comments below!

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