Up next in my Hawaii Favorites series - Kauai!
I've been to Kauai once. It definitely has a different vibe than the other islands (each one is unique in my opinion). To me it feels closer to true Hawaiian culture. It's less touristy - but trust me you'll still run into a lot of crowds - depending on where you go.
At first I didn't really like Kauai and didn't think I'd ever really want to go back. I'd seen everything I wanted to see and Maui was still my favorite. But looking back I did really enjoy my time there and the island is unbelievably beautiful.
Favorite things to do:
*The biggest draw of the island is that you can't see the majority of it unless you go by boat or air. I chose air. I conquered a fear of mine of an island tour with a teeny tiny little plane...would I do it again? No probably not, but I am SO happy I did it once. I would however take a helicopter tour again - I did that on the Big Island and I was scared out of my mind until we got up in the air and then I wanted to take a helicopter on all of the islands!
This the ONLY way to see the Na Pali coast:
*I stayed right on Poipu Beach at the Sheraton. The hotel seems to cater to families so there were a ton of them there which was a little much for me, I would have preferred a bit more quiet. But the sunrise and sunset views were unbelievable. Only problem - everyone loves the sunsets on this beach so it gets quite crowded with locals too.
*Waimea Canyon - the 'Grand Canyon of Hawaii' - It really is amazing and beautiful - definitely a must do. It's pretty accessible too - you can pull right into lookout spots with parking lots. No hiking required!
*Tree tunnel - I'm not sure if this is the 'official name' for this street but that's what most people call it. Eucalyptus trees line Maliuhi Rd. I wouldn't drive out of your way to see it - but it is pretty. For me it was on my way to the hotel so I saw it many times.
*Waterfalls are my favorite and I had to check out Wailua Falls - it's accessible, I saw it from the plane tour, AND it's the namesake of my favorite beer from Kona Brewing company.
*I'm obsessed with taking photos of the waves. When I find really amazing waves I'll stay there forever taking different shots. I love to capture the light shining through the water resulting in the most beautiful shade of aqua blue.
Here's another blowhole too! I'm quite proud of that first shot :)
*Merriman's Fish House in Poipu. I had some really great mahi mahi there and the service was really amazing.
*Breakfast buffet on the Ilima Terrace at the Grand Hyatt. You have to do this one at least once. It's pricey but so so so good. Sorry for the blurry photo I think I was rushing because I was excited about all the good food! This was the first of TWO plates...and I *always* get one glass of pineapple juice and one glass of guava. Sometimes when I'm feeling daring I'll do half and half...I know crazy :)
*Koloa rum company - I think you can take a tour but I found this place fairly late in the day so I just went to the shop. I LOVE this mix - it has everything you need for a great cocktail (on your lanai watching the sunset of course)
Favorite shave ice
*I don't remember the name of the place but it was with all of the little shops on the North shore of Kauai the town is called Hanalei. It's pretty crowded there but if like little dive spots and shops it's a cool place to check out. Plus you get to go across this cool steel bridge (circa 1912).
*Below are a few shots from my lanai. As I mentioned in my Maui post - I always try to splurge on the best view - it's a big part of whether I enjoy being at the hotel or not. I love sitting on the lanai first thing in the morning and listing out a few things I want to do for the day, just watching the waves, watching the sunset, and enjoying a meal while listening to the waves crash. Pure heaven.
*Lighthouse at Kilauea - I keep hoping I'll find a lighthouse on one of the islands that you can actually go in - I love the spiral stairs - they make great photo ops! This isn't one of them.
It is a good place to visit but just a warning it's a whale sanctuary (which would be cool if it was during the whale season) and a bird sanctuary...and let me tell you they do not discriminate about where they decide to use the bathroom. I was pretty much ducking the whole time...
*If you're going to visit more than one island you'll most likely take Hawaiian Airlines interisland. Make sure you get a window seat - it's a great opportunity to get some amazing aerial shots of the islands as you fly over (especially if you're not up for taking a helicopter or small plane tour)
Next up - the Big Island!