Kauai - Island Visit and Trip Planning

Introduction:

When? : We visit Kauai at winter break (Feb.) of 2019

 

My thoughts: Excellent vacation that combines relaxation and a lot of fun activity. Beaches, snorkeling, hiking, nice views, small towns and good food.

The family want to come back to this beautiful island.



The Island of Kauai: 

You can split the Kauai island into 2 different parts, each has its own attractions and even the weather is not the same.

The north side of the island is like a green jungle that get a lot of rain where the south and west of the island receives a lot less rain and has more "dryer" landscape.

Do expect to have some rain during the days or afternoon/night mainly at the north section of the island, but overall, it was not cold, and the rain clear after some time.

 

We stayed for 6 nights at the northern section of the island at town of Princeville, so we explore more beaches and other attractions in that section of the island.

I think that if you are coming more for relaxation ocean beaches and hotel pool kind of vacation maybe it is better stay at the southern section of the island.

The beautiful sunsets can be seen from the north side of the island, boat trip and from the high mountains.



We dedicate 2 full days to the south/west section of the island, but I do not fill we covered what it has to offer.

We did not rent a jeep as many do but rather regular mini-SUV, and this did not limit us in any way.

 

During our stay (winter of 2019) the road to Nā Pali Coast was closed right after Hanalei (due to massive landslide). Once road is open it is highly recommended to take hwy 560 all the way to it end, visit the beaches and hike the Kalalau Trail (or a section of it).


Driving: 

unless you are planning to stay only in the hotel/resort it is highly recommended to rent a car.

Although this is not a big island the drive from the north part to the beaches in the south can take 1.5 hours, driving all the way to Waimea Canyon park takes 2 hours. The island airport located at the west central section near the large city of Lihue (also has deep large Harbor). Most of the roads in the island are single track so traffic can be slow when you are crossing the small towns on your way.

 

Helicopter Tour:

We did a helicopter tour around the island; it is somehow expensive but highly recommended experience. This flight provides amazing view of the island, the remote beaches, the mountains, clouds and too many to count waterfalls.

The overall experience, from getting explanations at the office, driving to the airport, actual 1hr flight and driving back to the office will take you at list 4 hr so plan accordingly. Try to check what is the best time to fly, when you will not have constant rain/clouds so you will be able to enjoy the view.


 

There are many more “hidden jam” to explore, places to visit and attraction to experience, some are tourist attractions/traps, but many are nice and has their charm (like: village markets, traditional dance night show, …).

I did not cover any mountain biking, ATV, diving, surfing, boat tour and other tourist activities, there are many options and you will need to choose according your preference.

 

In the following section I will provide high level information on specific visited location and activities with link to the relevant blog posts.

 

North Island section:

The main town at the north of the island is Princeville (large hotels, resorts, golf clubs), where there are many other small towns along hwy 56 with nice beaches, centers and weekend markets.

The town of Hanalei has many attractions, long sandy beaches, river kayaking, restaurants and shopping center. It is the place to spend day on the beach and combine it with other activities.

 

There are few unique attractions nearby:

Queen’s Bath: Oceanside tide pool naturally carved into the lava rock

Turtle Cave: cliff sea cave where Turtles stay for their night sleep

Anini Beach and Kalihikai Park: Isolated beach with few people, protected sea sections that can fit small kids, snorkeling, long sandy beaches and also has park overnight Campground

Sealodge Beach: Small secluded sandy beach

Kīlauea Lighthouse: Located at the northern tip of Kauai

 

Unfortunately, Nā Pali Coast was closed so I can’t provide information on the nice beaches and hikes this section has to offer.

 

South Island section:

The south section has much warmer weather compare to the north and it has many beaches and towns to stay in.

This section of the island has many Coffee plantations so you can visit in some of the Kauai Coffee Companies.

If you will go all the way west on hwy 50 and you rent a 4x4 car you can visit the Polihale State Park and it secluded beautiful beach.

 

We visit the following places in the south section:

Poipu Beach: Usually crowded but very attractive beach, option to spend a full day here and at the few other attractions/hikes nearby.

Wailua Falls: one of the finest waterfalls with car aces viewpoint and short hike going down the river.

Waimea Canyon State Park: this park covers the majority of the mountain ridge, road is climbing the mountains from the south (city of Waimea).




 

The following list is of places we did not manage to visit, and I think that they should be on the recommended to visit list:

I do not dive or surf so I can’t cover or recommend about those aspect.

Take a sunset boat tour to Nā Pali Coast.

The Kalalau Trail, Hawaii's most famous hiking trail, 11 miles along Kauai's Napali coast (A permit is needed to hike all of it), you can hike section of the trail to Hanakapi'ai beach (4 miles in&out) or to the Hanakapi'ai Falls (8 miles in&out).

Hike more at Waimea Canyon State Park.

Kayak or Stand up paddle board at the Wailua River.

Explore the deserted Jurassic Park movie location.

Hike to Hoopii falls.

Polihale State Park and the west beach.

 

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