Kauai is one of those places that is so magical, it’s hard to believe it exists outside of daydreams. Nicknamed the “Garden Isle,” the island lives up to its epithet. Lush, tropical rainforests, cascading waterfalls, and crystalline waters, it’s one of the most stunning places I’ve ever visited. Devoid of skyscrapers and bustling highways like some of the neighboring islands, Kauai boasts a slower pace of live and is reminiscent of old Hawaii. My fiancé and I recently took a quick puddle hopper from our home on Oahu for a long weekend and had a jam-packed trip that was the perfect balance between adventure and relaxation.
Where to Stay
We decided to make this trip a blend between luxury and bare bones accommodations. The first couple of nights of our trip we opted to camp. Luckily, Kauai has several beachfront campgrounds that cost just $5 a night. We stayed at both Anini and Salt Pond and loved the mellow vibes of each and the stunning oceanfront campgrounds. Click here to reserve a campsite.
Sheraton Kauai Coconut Beach
If you’ve never been to Kauai, it can be difficult to decide where to stay. We landed on the Sheraton Kauai Coconut Beach due to its central location in Kapaa and its beautiful grounds. The oceanfront resort proved to be the perfect choice — we loved the beachfront location, the infinity pool and hot tub, the cozy rooms, and fun extras like free bicycle rentals and poolside shave ice in the afternoons. Due to its east side location, the hotel was the perfect spot to watch the sunrise and we enjoyed basking in the morning colors as we dined at the oceanfront restaurants. We will most definitely be back.
Where to Eat
We didn’t eat out a ton on this trip since we were constantly on the go, but there were a few spots we really enjoyed when we were in Hanalei. Hanalei is a cute downtown area filled with surf shops, art shops, and a number of food trucks and restaurants. For lunch, we enjoyed the food trucks for a quick, easy option, but for dinner Tahiti Nui and Kalypso Island Bar & Grill were our favorites. In Kapaa, we also enjoyed biking from out hotel to some food trucks or dining beachfront at the hotel.
What To Do
Although the surfing on Kauai can’t compete with Oahu’s North Shore, it still has its fair share of waves and a number of pro surfers have come out of the Garden Isle. A trip to Kauai wouldn’t be complete without a surf at Hanalei Bay. It’s one of the most breathtaking spots I’ve ever paddled out and offers pumping waves on the outside and beginner friendly waves on the inside. Other popular surf spots include Tunnels, Poipu Beach, Kahili Beach (Rock Quarry), and Kalapaki Beach.
Surfing will forever be my go-to but when in Kauai, it’s all about the hikes. I have done a lot of hiking in Kauai and top picks include Sleeping Giant, Awa’awapuhi trail, Okolehao trail, Queen’s Bath, and the famous Kalalau Trail. There are so many to choose from and all are amazing in their own right. Or, if you don’t feel like hiking but want to soak up the sites, a visit to Waimea Canyon (aka the Grand Canyon of the Pacific) is a must. Head to AllTrails to check out all of the options and pick a trail that is ideal for your fitness level.
There are lots of snorkeling tours you can sign up for while on Kauai, but there are also many places that you can venture to on your own. We donned face masks at Tunnels Beach, Poipu Beach, and Anini Beach and had a great time tailing and awing at the tropical fish.
While the tours on the island were tempting, we decided to save money on this trip and be our own guides. However, we were a little bummed we didn’t do one of the Na Pali coast rafting tours and that is something we definitely plan on doing next time — we’ve heard incredible things. We’ve also been told by some local friends that the mountain tubing float trips are a must.
All of us at the Inertia have Maui in our thoughts after the recent fires. All non-essential travel to Maui is being discouraged but travel to all of the neighboring islands remains open. Click HERE to donate and learn more about relief efforts.