Quick List of Accommodations/Tours/Restaurants
Kalapaki Beach Hut
Lava Lava Beach Club
Hanalei Bread Company
Blue Dolphin Charters - Catamaran
What to pack
- Lots of hiking clothes
- All of the leggings I am wearing are Yoggir brand on Amazon and you can buy them here
- Nike Free sneakers were amazing for the hikes we did – everyone I was with had some issues hiking on the slippery/muddy paths but I really didn’t have an issue at all. These sneakers weren’t the least bit slippery. They are also super light and easy to pack (I am not paid to promote these - they were just really awesome for the slippery hikes!)
- Bathing suits, sandals, sundresses for beach and dinner time. You do NOT need to bring dressy clothes or heels, Hawaii is very casual.
The first day we landed – we were waiting for my brother and sister in-law to arrive later that day so we decided to stick near the airport. We rented our Jeep and found a great hike and restaurant nearby. I am glad we did this instead of driving all the way to our hotel (about an hour drive) and then driving back. Kauai is small but there are only a few roads so it kind of takes a while to get places so you will want to plan your days out so you don’t have to go back and forth to your hotel.
First things first – We ate at a delicious little food place called Kalapaki Beach Hut not too far from the airport. It is a walk-up window you order from and then you eat outside on picnic tables. The burger was amazing!
The hike we did the first day was called Sleeping Giant and we learned about it from the guy we were sitting next to on the plane. The hike wasn’t far from the Kalapaki Beach Hut and it ended up being an awesome and fairly easy hike with amazing views once you got to the top! I say “fairly easy” because in Hawaii there are a lot of challenging hikes – this is a nice walking path but it is straight up – so if you aren’t in shape - take some breaks and you will be fine! The whole hike round trip is 3.6 miles so not a long one.
We stopped at a beautiful beach near the bottom of the hike and then ended up getting some drinks and apps at this place on the beach called Lava Lava Beach Club. This place was awesome! Food was delicious (mango salsa is legit) and you can’t beat the beach front dining! We ended up going back there for dinner later in the trip – highly recommend!
We made our way to Poipu Beach Park for sunset before we ended our day - there is parking here and it’s a little cove where you can snorkel and is a perfect place to watch the sunset. If you walk along the beach you will see a Marriott resort and there is an outdoor bar and fire pit. We got drinks here while watching the sunset. (FYI as you read on – I will be mentioning sunsets a lot.. ) This beach is also known for seals to come ashore and bathe in the sun - there is a conservation group that comes and ropes off the seals when they come ashore so nobody goes near them.
We were staying in Princeville so once the sun set we headed to pick up my brother and sister-in-law at the airport and headed to our hotel, Princeville Westin, which was about an hour away from this area. We went straight to bed so we can wake up nice and early (as we did the rest of the trip).
Some quick advice – the sun sets pretty early in Hawaii (around 6pm) so it is best to fit in as much as you can during the day as possible – so this means early nights and early mornings.
We stopped by a few different beaches and pretty view points on our way to Blue Dolphin Charters which is a catamaran trip around the Napali Coast – this was our big event for the day.
The catamaran trip with Blue Dolphin Charters was amazing – now take in to consideration what time of year you are visiting because late fall/winter is when the swells role in. We got lucky and the swells weren’t that bad, but they were still pretty big and people were getting pretty nauseous. Hawaii isn’t the Caribbean so be aware of this when visiting. There are waves, strong currents, and you can only swim at certain beaches because of this. Before going on the Catamaran I took a Dramamine and felt good. I get pretty motion sickness so I usually carry Dramamine on me throughout my trip.
That being said – if you do ANYHING in Kauai – do this!! You see the entire Napali Coast which you can only see either by boat or by Helicopter – I am not a fan of Helis so boat is the best way to go (in my opinion). The Napali coast is breathtakingly beautiful – you can’t stop smiling when you see the landscape. The boat trip was wonderfully put together in general – lunch/dinner and booze is included and not to forget the dolphins! We saw a pod of dolphins numerous times and they jump and play for you as the boat follows behind them – it is laughable how amazing it was! I posted a few pics below that will hopefully sell you on doing this catamaran trip!
Also - I recommend bringing Binoculars on your trip to check out the cool site even closer up!
So since I already mentioned that sunsets are our thing – I feel compelled to tell you about ever sunset we watched on this boat trip.
The Blue Dolphin Catamaran stopped on the way back to dock and chilled as we watched the sunset – the guy running the ship was taking pictures for people as the sun went down so we got this great shot of us!
Day 3 – Wameia Canyon
We decided to hit the next best thing on our list so we drove up to Weamei Canyon. I suggest you use a map and/or take screen shots on your phone so you know what to do once you get there because there are a ton of hikes you can do and you might lose service. There are super long hikes and some easy short ones. We did a couple different hikes but this area is another must do.
We started off by going to see the Waimea Canyon Overlook. It is beautiful and definitely looks similar to the Grand Canyon but a lot smaller. Most of these “attractions” you can drive and park your car and there are bathrooms. Then, we drove up to the top to check out the view of the Napali Coast – but it was completely covered by clouds and fog so we decided to go on a hike and then come back when it clears up.
We did the Alakai swamp trail hike – you can start at the Pihea Trail and then switch to the Alakai Swamp trail - but we drove on super intense bumpy roads to start at the Alakai Swamp Trail – so definitely take that into consideration when deciding on this hike.
Bring a rain jacket! Apparently, it rains a lot up at the top there – you’re kind of in the clouds. I think the rain made it more fun and majestic and definitely muddy! Although – if you do this on a clear day you will be able to see the view at the end of the coast which I am sure is incredible! We didn’t get to experience it because of the weather. Here is a good review of the hike on Trip Advisor.
Once we were done with this muddy hike we went to the Pihea Trail head which was an incredible view of the Napali coast ( I can stare at the Napali coast every day for the rest of my life and never get sick of it).
View from Pihea Trail Head
For breakfast we stopped at the Hanalei Bread Company and got smoothies and mocha fraps on our way to our hike of the day.
We hiked part of the Kalalau Trail up to the Hanakapia Falls and then turned around and went back the same way we came.
So this was a long and crazy fun hike – you can do the Kalalau Trail into the Hanakapia Falls Trail which is a full 8 mile hike (about 6 hours give or take your speed) with an amazing waterfall at the end but you can also just do part of the hike to the beach (aprox 2 miles) and take in beautiful scenery along the coast before getting deep into the hike. Or you can just go until you want to turn around. I put up some pictures in chronological order so you can base it off that and definitely read some of the reviews on trip advisor.
Something to consider – if you want to do the full 8-mile hike – I would not say it is challenging cardio wise (just tiring towards the end because it is 8 miles) but it is muddy and slippery and there are a few steep parts which can be challenging. Altogether, the hardest part is that it is slippery.
Depending on water levels of the streams they could be too rough to cross which would hinder your ability to proceed with the hike. Yes – you cross streams (4 total, there and back). I would just keep your shoes on and go across them because they are going get wet and muddy anyway. But that’s up to you.
Once you get to the waterfall you will be happy you went the distance. It is a 300-foot-tall waterfall that has a pond at the bottom that you can jump in and swim around and it is one of those “I can’t believe I am swimming in a waterfall, in Hawaii” kind of moments. I will go ahead and say it was a tough hike but rewarding AF.
The view as you walk along before you get to the beach
Slippery down hill
I meannn.. can you beat the Napali Coast?! Uhg it is amazing
River crossing by the beach - you can see the waves behind me. This beach has really intense waves - do NOT go in the water at this beach.
The falls! We also jumped in and swam in this pond and it was pretty awesome. I changed in to a bathing suit under a towel.
This water is just gorgeous
After our 8 mile hike we decided to take the next day easy so we spent the day in Hanalei. Hanalei Bay is gorgeous! This is where The Decedents was filmed – when George Clooney is running on the beach and sees the guy his wife was having an affair with. That is this beach! There were a lot of surf lessons going on here. It was nice to walk along the water and watch the surfers. We ended up getting a few different snacks while we were in this area and did some gift-shop shopping. There was a taco truck by the bay pier – I remember it only being open a few hours a day during lunch – it was amazing. We also got Shave Ice since that is a Hawaii staple we needed to try. We loved it here and it is a great way to spend a relaxing day (since the rest of the days were filled with hiking!)
After leaving Hanalei on our way back to our hotel (Westin) we stopped by St. Regis Princeville because we heard it was an amazing beach and we wanted to get a drink and check out the hotel. This is the most high end place you can stay in Kauai and it really was an amazing resort. We stayed for sunset which ended up being right over the mountains as you can see below. Definitely stop by here for dinner or for a drink and check out the beach and pool area. Beautiful!
I haven’t talked about our dinners too much because we either ate at our hotel, or we just did something simple most of the nights but our last two nights we went to two really great restaurants that I definitely recommend. We went to Baracuda and it was a really cool place with trendy cocktails and delicious apps and dinner.
The last day we were in Kauai we headed back to Java Kai for one last yummy breakfast and then we rented kayaks and did a self-toured kayak trip.
We didn’t feel like taking a tour so we just did it on our own. If you rather do a guided tour then that is an option as well. You Kayak down the Wailua River and then hike to the Secret Falls. Check it out on trip advisor and read the directions so you know where to go but it was pretty simple.
We kayaked down the river, parked our kayaks, got out, hiked in a mile or so and ended up at a waterfall. This was a really cool adventure and we had a lot of fun and it was nice to get out on the water and kayak since we love to kayak.
We found this pizza truck to grab a quick bite to eat after our Kayak trip. This was a great quick bite to eat if you are looking for some mid day fuel anytime during your trip (and I am from Jersey so I will say it is good for Hawaii J)
Once we returned our kayaks we headed back over to Poipu beach park – where we went the first day to watch the sunset. There is a snorkeling shop close by where you can rent snorkeling gear and go snorkeling in this cove. There was a ton of great things to see here and definitely recommend doing this if you enjoy snorkeling! Especially if it is a calm day!
For dinner on our last night we went to The Beach House which is probably the best restaurant on the island. Not only were the food and drinks delicious but the view is amazing! If you can request a table by the windows so you can watch the sunset while eating it is magnificent. Also – they had the best fried calamari I have ever had!
Since our flight was out of Oahu we decided to cut our time in Kauai a day early and check out Oahu for a day. We were sad to leave Kauai!