I recently was in Kauai on a scouting trip and I had so many requests about where to go and what to do that I thought I'd put my picks here, in case you ever make it out there.
Where to Stay in Kauai
I stayed in the Southern part of the island at Koloa Landing Resort for a few days and then at Whalers Cove for a few days. Both are great, but they have very different vibes. Koloa Landing is excellent is you have children or are traveling with a big group. The resort has a few different pools including an adults-only one if you need some quiet time, ha. It also has a restaurant on site, mini golf putting area, volleyball, and a huge green where your kiddos can run around. The gym is excellent as far as hotel gyms go. It's got a decent amount of dumbbells, a couple mats, benches, and a large cardio area. The condos are fantastic - I stayed in a one bedroom condo that had a full size washer and dryer, soak tub, living area, dining area, and of course a bathroom. It was huge and had all the comforts of home.
Whalers Cove is quieter, smaller, and slower paced. It works for kids, as I saw a few families there with young ones. There's one pool, and I only saw one family use it the entire time I was there. It's oceanfront, and the views are absolutely fantastic. The condo I was in was what they considered a penthouse. It was a huge one bedroom unit, and each floor had ocean views. The condos don't have air conditioning but honestly you don't even need it because the cross-breeze keeps it really cool and comfortable. The unit had a washer and dryer, two full bathrooms, a full size kitchen, dining area, living area, and a large oversized bedroom. The best part was the wraparound deck outside where I worked, ate, hung out, tanned, and whale watched using the binoculars they supplied. It was fantastic. There isn't a restaurant on site but honestly I didn't mind because I love cooking my own food.
Where to Eat in Kauai
- Koloa Fish Market - Had my first poke bowl here (I know, I know, where have I been?!) and it was incredible. Everything is so fresh. Get two scoops of rice and try the Korean blend and the ahi avocado.
- The Lanai - Someone DM'd me to go and get the beet and kale salad and it was the best decision. I ate here twice and I had the beet and kale salad (so delish) and the fettuccine fish soup which sounds bizarre but was the best thing. Plus, #broth.
- Anuenue Cafe - Had a pretty solid breakfast here. Pork is a big thing there, so I got eggs with pulled pork and I just loved that it was a very home-cooked style meal. No frills or processed stuff, just real food.
- Bobbie's Restaurant - The lunch I had here was excellent. I had the ahi burger with fries and it was insane. Like if you're going to have fries, you need to have good fries and I don't know what it was about these - maybe they were just that fresh, but the fries and the burger were insanely good.
- Little Fish - I went to both locations and it's a great little place to stop for coffee and a snack. Their peanut butter protein balls were next level delish, and their berry smoothie saved me after the boat ride from hell.
- Small Town Coffee Co. - This coffee truck served up the best cappuccino I had on the island. Super cool vibe, staff was so friendly, and great little deck area to sit and people watch.
- Anake's Juice Bar - Great little juice and smoothie spot in the back of a grocery store. I had a fresh juice (fantastic), and my first acai bowl (I know!).
- The Beach House - Dinner with a view (shout out to Courteney for making a reservation for a great table for me)! This place looks out over the ocean and it's gorgeous. The food was as great as the view. I had the squash ravioli and fresh fish and coconut stew. Both were excellent (but only get the stew if you're down with spicy!).
- Da Crack - Everyone and their mother raved about this place, but I found it just ok. It didn't live up to the hype, in my opinion.
What to Do in Kauai
There's so much to do, but here's what I did:
- Helicopter Tour: This was definitely one of the highlights of my trip, and worth every penny, in my opinion. I did it through Island Tours, which is the only company that can land at the waterfall you see in Jurassic Park. Our pilot was so knowledgeable, friendly, and funny. The playlist she had playing the entire time was calming and honestly brought me to tears at some points. It was such an incredible experience.
- Hiking to Waipoo Falls at Weimea Canyon: I'd really wanted to do more hiking, but honestly I was struggling with jet lag and exhaustion, and there was quite a bit of rain while I was there. Normally I don't care about hiking in the rain but the trails in Kauai come with major warnings about sliding, falling, and potentially fatal injuries, so I didn't want to chance it. My hike to Waipoo Falls was exactly what I'd wanted. It was challenging in spots, and easy at other spots. There were a few people on the trail and everyone was so cute offering encouragement and tips to those they passed on their way back. The views were absolutely breathtaking, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. That said, if you're going, I would recommend going with at least one other person. There are parts of the trail where there isn't any cell service, and these cliffs are no joke. If there's been even a little rain, it could be very dangerous.
- Western Most Bookstore in the US: I'm a bookworm, so I live for a good bookstore. Talk Story is the western most bookstore in the US, which is a cool little fact in and of itself, but the selection is also great, and the shopkeeper is so kind.
- CrossFit Poipu: I worked out here once and the coaching staff was knowledgable and kind, the workout was insane, the community was beyond welcoming, and the indoor/outdoor space was unlike anything I've trained in before.
- Snorkeling Tour: So this was kind of a bust. The water was very rough while I was there. So rough that as we were walking to our boat, the captain asked two other charter companies if they'd cancelled their tours and they'd said yes. That should've been a red flag to me, but whatever. Anyhow, we didn't get to snorkel because the water was too rough and murky, and the captain said we wouldn't be able to see anything. Instead, they took us up and down the island showing us caves and waterfalls. We saw dolphins, whales, sea turtles, and monk seals. Well, everyone else did. I was sicker than a dog from the rough waters (actually there was a whole clan of us that was sick on the boat), and to be honest, I couldn't wait to get off that boat. If you have your sea legs, this is a good way to see the island. If the water isn't rough, you should definitely try the tour (I've been on tours before in Greece and didn't have a problem, but these waters were crazy). Otherwise, if you can only do one big activity, I would recommend the helicopter tour over the boating tour.
What to Bring to Kauai
- hiking boots - I got lots of questions about mine, and they're these. I hiked through water and mud and my feet stayed completely dry.
- bathing suit
- layers - When I was there, it was chilly in the morning and the second the sun came out it was crazy hot.
- casual clothing - Even the fanciest places are very casual. No need for heels or blazers!
- snorkeling gear - I saw a bunch of people snorkeling using their own stuff at various beaches, so it'd be a good thing to bring if you have it.
So let's chat! Do you think Kauai would be a place you'd consider going? Have you been to Hawaii before? Let me know down in the comments section below.