If I ever move away from Florida theres a 100% chance it’s because I’m moving to a Hawaiian island. After visiting maui last spring I knew I had to go back to see another island, and Kauai has always been my #1 pick. It’s the least developed of all the islands, and if you’re outdoorsy, probably the best island to go hiking/exploring on from everything I’ve heard. While none of the cool hikes we did were even remotely “easy”, they were all 100% worth the view… even if at the time we were dying on our 6th mile or slipping down waterfalls we didn’t think so (right Elizabeth?).
My friends and I visited Kauai at the beginning of September, when the flights looked most empty considering we all flew standby. This was a good time to visit because we were able to easily get on a flight and the island wasn’t swarming with tourists, but the weather was still AMAZING.
First things first, we arrived to Kauai and rented a car (if you can afford it I’d recommend getting an SUV or a jeep, but we opted for a midsize car (cause we’re broke just-out-of-college graduates) and still managed to get around). We stayed at a bungalow in Poipu which we decided was pretty central to everything we wanted to do, and we didn’t want to keep moving hotels while we were there for only 5 days. We found out bungalow on air b&b and got a great deal all things considering. Our place could have easily slept 10 people but there was only 3 of us and it was still pretty cheap, so with a big group it would’ve been even cheaper and still comfortable.
On our first day we basically spent most the day settling into our place and renting snorkeling gear, grabbing lunch, etc. Our bungalow was next to a super cute shopping plaza with a ton of restaurants, boutiques and stores so that’s where we decided to eat first. If you love sushi or Poke’, Dolphin Fish Market at The Shops at Kukui’ula is the place to go. I got the Avo Bowl and it was soooo good. After lunch we rented snorkel gear nearby for about $2 a day for each set (super cheap!). We grabbed our things and went over to beach house to snorkel but the water was kind of rough and not as clear as I would’ve expected. We still managed to see a ton of fish though! The two snorkeling spots recommended to us that we visited were Beach house and Whalers cove (Koloa Landing).
Day two we got more adventurous. We drove up to Princeville early in the morning to do a boat tour around the Na’pali coast with Go Blue Adventures. We snorkeled, saw playful dolphins, went into sea caves and learned about the history of Kauai. I feel like I could post endless photos from this boat tour- it took up half our day and was probably the best thing we did on the entire trip.
After the boat tour we decided to do the Awa’awapuhi trail because the trailhead was near where the boat dropped us back off at. While this was the easiest trail we did, it was also the longest at just over 6 miles. The way there is easy as it’s mostly downhill- but that meant the hike back was almost entirely uphill. The whole thing takes about 3-5 hours depending on how much time you spend once you get to the view at the end.
Another cool hike that everyone suggest we do was the path to Queens Bath. Queens Bath is a series of large tide pool s at the coastal cliffs. At low tide they are protected from the oceans splashing waves (for the most part), and you’re able to swim and jump into the pools to relax.
When we were tired of hiking we stopped by Waimea Canyon Lookout, one of the only scenic overlooks that we could actually drive right up to and not have to hike to get to. It honestly just looks like a greener version of the Grand Canyon, its crazy when you’re looking at it to think that you’re on an island in the middle of the pacific.
One thing I knew I had to do while visiting Hawaii this time around was go to a Luau. I’ve heard a lot of mixed reviews about them, and after going to one I can see why. I think it really depends which one you attend, the weather, and how far you book it in advance. The luau we went to was at the Hyatt in Kauai only 15 minutes from where we were staying, and it was the only luau we could book on such short notice. Due to the chance of rain they held our luau in a small courtyard in the middle of the hotel. I think if it had been held overlooking the ocean I would’ve enjoyed it more. While the food and drinks were great and the show was cool, the fact that we had paid over $100 each to sit on plastic chairs and tables in the middle of a courtyard was kind of disappointing to us all. While I don’t regret seeing the show, I highly recommend doing a lot of research before picking a luau. The hotel itself was stunning so before the dinner and show we walked around and took some photos
On our fourth day we decided to check out turtle cove, another snorkeling spot recommended by several people. Its a bit confusing to get there, and you basically have to park and walk around several private condominiums and then down the side of the cliff to get there, but once there you most likely won’t find too many other people. We made the mistake of going during low tide, when it was almost impossible to snorkel because of all the reef barely being covered with water, so we ended up just swimming in the deeper areas and walking around, but the cove was still beautiful.
That night we decided to venture over to Polihale state park to watch the sunset. Our boat guide a few days prior had told us it was the best spot to watch the sunset, and it did not disappoint. The road is unpaved getting down to the beach and many people warned us it might be difficult in a car and not an SUV but we managed just fine, we just had to drive extra slow. Once we walked down there were already a few people setting up bonfires and cooking out with friends and family, but it wasn’t too crowded!
By the time our last day in Kauai rolled around we were all exhausted, but couldn’t pass up fitting one more adventure in, so we decided to rent kayaks at the Wailua river (near the waterfall we had hiked just a few days earlier).
Of course our kayak adventure wasn’t complete without yet another hike to yet another waterfall, so we parked our kayak and made our way towards one more spot.
After we were done kayaking, we headed back to a beach near our air b&b to relax and get some hawaiian shaved ice before we made our way to the airport to head home later that night.
Until next time Kauai!! I’ll be back soon!