Kauai was like a scene out of Avatar or Jurassic Park. Everywhere you look there’s lush green peaks, clear turquoise waters, fine sand beaches, roosters of all colors, and waterfalls flowing down every mountain.
The weather’s extremely tropical, as it will switch from burning sun to pouring rain in the matter of seconds, and the product of this is the most beautiful scenery you’ve ever witnessed!! It is one of the wettest places in the world, meaning it’s also one of the greenest!
In my opinion, it is the most beautiful of the Hawaiian islands and the most perfect place in the U.S. to spend a relaxing vacation. My family and I fall head over heels with this place every time we visit!
Throughout my 2 week visit to Kauai, I stayed at 2 different places: An apartment rental and a hotel…The 2 were VERY different experiences!
- Tiki House Rental in the Jungle: Sad to say we were less than pleased with this place, reason being it was extremely misrepresented in the HomeAway description. “Just steps to the beach” turned into an 8 minute walk, and “Your own private tropical paradise” turned into staying above a family living in the house below that could hear your every move (there was no mention of this on the description). The biggest problem we had with the place though was that we were eaten alive by bugs with lizards crawling up our legs (due to improper sealing of the house- think trees and vines growing through every crack). All this being said, the rental was not worth the money to us and we checked out early. To save me from sounding like a complete downer though, we really enjoyed the large balcony, waterfall views & jungle backyard, and probably would have stayed if it weren’t for the bugs. Lesson learned though and something to keep in mind if you’re also wanting to rent in Kauai: BE SKEPTICAL! Misrepresentation is common on a lot of rental sites.
View from my bedroom window
- St. Regis Princeville: This place was HEAVEN on earth!! Coming from the last place, it felt really surreal when we checked in. There’s 360 degree views of beaches, the ocean, and mountain ranges from almost anywhere you stand in the hotel, the food is uneatable, the staff is super friendly and accommodating, and their private pool and beaches are gorgeous. I don’t have one complaint to say about this place. My mom is already planning our next family vacation here for next year! *Disclaimer though- I would never be able to afford this place on my own! St. Regis hotels don’t agree yet with my travel budget lol.
St. Regis Private Beach
360 Degree View from the Hotel Terrace
View at Breakfast
I’m personally infatuated with Hawaiian food. There’s nothing I love more than some fresh fish and you can find it anywhere you go. Like I mentioned on my Instagram, even their grocery store sushi and poke is incredible!!
While there, definitely try: poke, meat/fish wrapped in taro leaves, sushi, coconut water, poi (looks strange but I’m actually really bummed I didn’t get to try this Hawaiian staple!), shaved ice, and of course, lots and lots of tropical cocktails!! 🙂
Here’s some great restaurants to try:
- Postcards Cafe: Charming little cafe in the town of Hanalei that incorporates lots of local produce and fresh seafood on their menu
- The Dolphin: Another great seafood restaurant in Hanalei. Get their amazingly fresh poke and sit outside on the tables that line the river! We came here twice and did exactly that each time.
- Tege Tege Shaved Ice Truck: Some of the best shaved ice on the island, using organic, local ingredients as their toppings
- Makana Terrace at the St. Regis: This place is super pricey but worth the money. We’d eat their breakfast buffet every morning and had dinner here 3 times (Every waiter knew us by the end of the trip lol ?) and every meal was amazing! Plus, the 360 degree terrace view here is unbeatable.
- Nalu Kai Grill and Bar at the St. Regis: Another restaurant worth coming to even if you’re not a guest here. Great view of the beautiful pool, beach, and mountains and a great menu with lots of healthy options
- Hanalei Taro & Juice Company: Supposedly a really amazing food truck with great Hawaiian food + nutritious menu items
- Sushi Girl: So bummed I didn’t get to try this place! Supposedly has great sushi, located in this little shack across the road from a beach. Lots of people order dinner to go here then have a sunset picnic on the beach!
- Foodland: Grocery store where you can buy cheap food and (shockingly) some of the freshest poke on the island!
The Dolphin’s Poke
Makana Terrace Fruit & Sushi
“Sunset Picnic” at St. Regis Beach- a MUST if you stay here!
Nalu Kai’s Lettuce Wraps, Fish Tacos, Salad & Cocktail
THE biggest avocado I’ve ever eaten- bought off the side of the road!
Whether you want to relax or be adventurous, Kauai has SO much to do and SO much to see. Although I personally didn’t get to tackle all these activities, here’s everything that was on my list:
- Go snorkeling at Tunnels Beach: This place has some of the best snorkeling in all of Hawaii and even the world! Seals and sea turtles are frequently found swimming in these reefs.
- TAKE A HELICOPTER RIDE: It’s in all caps for a reason. It was hands-down the best way to see the island and one of the most thrilling and beautiful experiences I’ve ever had in my life. If you’re looking for a great, reliable company, use Sunshine Helicopters!
- Watch the sunset/sunrise: No matter where you are located on the island, the sunsets never disappoint.
- Visit Secret Beach: One of the more secluded and beautiful beaches on the island!
- Hike the Kalalau Trail: Incredibly beautiful hike along the Napoli Coast. The trail is a total of 10 miles long (but you can choose the length of your hike) and surrounded by ocean, waterfalls, and coastal cliffs the entire way.
- Visit the Limahuli Gardens: This historical garden is massive, nestled between Kauai’s green peeks, and home to the only native trees on the island. Walking around gives you an image of how the ancient Hawaiians used to live and farm. Definitely a must-see!
- Other great water activities: Whale watching (best season is January and February), kayaking, paddle boarding, scuba diving, boating, etc.
- Visit the town of Hanalei: Cute little Hawaiian town with lots of great restaurants and shops.
- Hike or drive to Waimea Canyon: Known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” this place is massive with beautiful canyons and valleys of deep orange and green colors.
Sunset on Tunnels Beach
Helicopter Ride Over Waimea Canyon + Napoli Coast
Sunset Over Hanalei Bay
- In order to easily get around the island and complete every activity you want, it’s almost imperative that you get a rental car! Kauai’s not a place anyway where you want to stay at your hotel the whole time, so get out and see what the island has to offer!!
- Be careful when driving- the streets are narrow and windy! Take extra precaution when crossing bridges. It’s good to know beforehand that they’re not wide enough for 2 cars at a time, so you have to take turns with cars coming the opposite direction.
- Bring bug spray!! Especially during wet season, which brings tons of mosquitos.
- Be prepared to spend more money than you may be used to when buying food. Since Hawaii is such a secluded island, thousands of miles away from North America, food is more expensive due to importation costs.
Do you spot the crab?!
I hope you enjoyed my guide and put it to use during a future trip to Kauai! Let me know in the comment section below if you have any questions or recommendations to add 🙂