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Hawaiian Guide: Kaua’i Edition

After living in Australia for a year and a half, instead of flying home to visit my family we decided to meet in the middle and have a nice vacation together. Conveniently Hawai’i sits perfectly in-between Melbourne and Boston so we decided that had to be our destination! We split our time and did four days in O’ahu and then four days in Kaua’i. After spending four days in O’ahu, I thought I knew exactly what to expect from Kaua’i and I realized very quickly how wrong I was. O’ahu felt very built up and busy but Kaua’i immediately felt a lot smaller, slower and quieter; I absolutely loved it! Just like our time in O’ahu, our time in Kaua’i flew by and before we knew it, it was time to pack our bags.

Spend the day in Hanalei. I was only in Kaua’i for a few days but Hanalei became my favorite town very quickly! You can relax on the beach, wander from surf shop to surf shop and end eating your way through the food trucks. There’s a pier at Hanalei Beach so you can jump off into the water or relax on the beach and enjoy the scenery or watch the surfers in the distance. If you go to Hanalei Beach early in the morning and you might get lucky and see some turtles! It’s also the perfect place to enjoy sunset; you get a beautiful view of the mountains and the beach while the sky turns pink. There is limited parking so you might have to circle around before you find a spot.

Take in the beauty of Waimea Canyon. There are so many beautiful viewpoints to stop at and enjoy the canyon. This is part of a state park so you do have to pay $10 per car and $5 per person; you pay once and the receipt is good for all the lookouts. While here we decided to do some hiking and ended at a beautiful waterfall! We did the Canyon Trail starting at Pu’u Hinahina Lookout; the trail was almost 6k and took us about 2 hours. You can swim at the waterfall so bring your towel! A couple minutes after Pu’u Hinahina Lookout is Kōke’e Lodge so if you need water or a snack before or after the hike, this is the perfect spot. Once thing to be careful of when driving in Waimea Canyon State Park is any cars pulled off to the side of the road. There’s lots of popular places to pull off but not everyone has enough space to be off the road completely so be careful when you’re driving!

Take a helicopter tour! Most of Kaua’i is undeveloped and uninhabited so the perfect way to see the whole island is a helicopter tour. We did a doors off helicopter tour with Air Kauai and I had the best time; I will forever be scrolling back to look at those photos and videos again. I know a helicopter tour is an expensive excursion but you can get a discount depending on the time of day you choose and if you’re traveling alone you can get a good last minute deal if they’re trying to fill a seat!

Relax on Anini Beach.We originally were coming to the beach to go snorkeling but I absolutely loved how relaxing it was here! We did snorkel but I didn’t see a lot other than some colorful fish. This beach is long so there’s plenty of space to spread out and there was plenty of parking. I didn’t think the current here was too strong so it’s perfect if you just want to swim. If you want to snorkel you do have to swim out a decent amount but it wasn’t very deep so careful you don’t step on the coral!

Grab a snorkel at Lydgate Beach Pool. Lydgate Beach has big, strong waves but there is a smaller enclosed pool that’s safe to swim and snorkel in. If you snorkel along the rock wall that encloses the pool you’ll see plenty of big colorful fish! This is a popular spot for snorkeling and for families so it will be busy. If you’re just looking to relax I would definitely recommend Hanalei Beach or Anini Beach instead.

Go hiking at Makaleha Trail and swim in Makaleha Stream. We originally came here to try and find a waterfall that we really struggled to find and didn’t get to in the end, if you find it let me know. We did find a couple lovely pools that you can swim in about 5 minutes from where we parked and then another one about 25-30 minutes after that. If you’re going to hike to the farther one I would definitely recommend downloading a map on AllTrails or Google Maps because there were a couple spots where we didn’t know exactly where we were going. Parts of this trail were muddy and slippery so I wouldn’t recommend it if it’s recently rained. The most important thing to remember if you’re coming to this area, bring bug spray and do not hesitate to use the entire bottle. I didn’t have a single bug bite until coming here and I left with easily 20 bites so be smarter than I was.

Take a pineapple plantation tour. One thing my mom really wanted to do while we were in Hawai’i was tour a pineapple plantation and after doing some research there’s limited plantations still here. The cost of growing fruit in Hawai’i got too expensive so a lot of the growing got outsourced. I found Kaua’i Sugarloaf Pineapple Plantation and booked a two hour tour where we go to learn about the history of Kaua’i and growing fruit on the island and then we got to plant and harvest a pineapple. If you’re going to do this I highly recommend doing it in the morning so you’re not baking in the afternoon sun. This specific tour only runs one day a week so plan this early on if you want to do it.

Eat, eat and eat again! From food trucks to table service meals everything I ate while I was here was absolutely delicious. If you’re looking for a nice breakfast I would try Java Kai, they have delicious coffee but what I really preferred was their muffins and sweets treats. You can also head around the back of the building and grab a juice from Kaua’i Juice Co, my favorite was starburst. If you’re looking for dinner I would try AMA Restaurant or Kalypso which is right across the street! AMA Restaurant does amazing Asian food with delicious cocktails, the bao buns are to die for! It does book up in advance so I would make a reservation as quickly as you can. Kalypso is a bit more casual and has delicious tacos and burgers.

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