Kauai is one of our favorite islands in Hawaii. Cloaked in deep emerald hues of valleys, mountains and cliffs aged by time and the elements, this place is quite magical. It’s known for its waterfalls, scenic drives and more than 60 beaches. But it is the island’s laid-back atmosphere and the rich culture found in its small towns that make it truly timeless.
Landing in Kauai, you’re immediately transported to a different place and time – where everyone takes their time to appreciate and live the beauty that surrounds. Lush vegetation, unique bays and first-class accommodations make Kauai an ideal romantic destination for weddings, honeymoon, and anniversaries. Trust us when we say that you will not disappoint your significant other.
Our first stop was the newly renovated Sheraton Kauai Coconut Beach Resort. The resort is beautiful, with its comfortable, modern, and impeccably clean rooms, and ours came with a gorgeous view of the ocean. Of course, the staff was very friendly and accommodating as most Hawaiians are. The pool area was beautifully done and a great space to chill. The outdoor bar was hopping and had only smiling faces from guests enjoying the resort. With beach access right off the pool area, the ocean mere footsteps away from your room, and waking up to the sounds of birds and the sea made this trip truly special. So, for our first day we just relaxed and enjoyed the resort.
The next morning, it was time to explore! We loved the resort’s location, as it was convenient to travel to Lihue or Poipu for the day and just as easy to go to Princeville another day. But for our first adventure, we started the day by heading to the Lava Lava Beach Club for breakfast, a very popular destination overlooking Anaeho’omalu Bay and one of the most beautiful shores in Waikoloa. The restaurant features open air seating with the beach a few hundred yards away. The “al fresco” ambience, swaying coconut trees, stunning beach setting makes this restaurant a must stop in Kauai. The restaurant features “Island Cuisine” and we really enjoyed our breakfast and highly recommend a visit here.
Our next activity was a zipline tour with Kauai Backcountry Adventures and it was a blast. First off, the guides were amazing as they were friendly, funny, and really knowledgeable about Kauai ecosystem. They drove us for about 20 minutes to the first line. The course itself is quite an exhilarating experience. In the beginning, I was so nervous but as we continued on I started getting more comfortable and more brave as we ziplined above the beautiful mountains and streams of Kauai. At the end of the course, they had set up a picnic area where our guides served us chips, granola bars, and water. They also let us swim in the nearby stream which was a blast in itself!
After a quick lunch and shower, we were off to experience Capt. Andy’s Sailing Adventures with a Napali Sunset Dinner Sail. The sunset sail lasted approximately four hours and was spectacular and enjoyable as we marveled at the magnificence of Napali coastline, amazing waterfalls, and breathtaking scenery. The waters were calm, so we were able to sail really close to the beautiful coast, giving us a view that’s hard to describe. Imagine total beauty, peace, and serenity. The Captain and crew were also very involved and constantly on the lookout for marine life to show us which was great as there was even a point where a pod of dolphins happily swam next to our boat, clearly enjoying hanging with us as much as we enjoyed them.
We were also served drinks and dinner on the sunset cruise, giving us time to socialize with our new friends on board. The dinner consisted of steaks cooked medium, nice sized shrimp along with vegetables, and a lime cheesecake. The service, from the moment we checked in, was friendly and professional.
The next morning, we decided to check out Ha Coffee Bar for breakfast, a local favorite. They use coffee that’s grown and roasted on the Island and as a coffee connoisseur, I approved.
After breakfast, we thought we should just drive and explore beautiful Kauai for a bit. We stopped by the Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge Center, took some awesome shots, and continued driving until we reached the small town of Hanalei. It was like a throwback in time with a town that is both picturesque and charming. We explored the local stores and shops, found some wonderful treasures, and then headed to Kapaa where we had shaved ice, an awesome treat and a must try next time you visit.
For the evening, we had plans to explore the Kilohana Plantation. We started off with a tour of the mansion, built by sugar baron Gaylord Wilcox – a beautiful 16,000 square foot plantation estate. The mansion was renovated in 1983 after hurricane Iwa damaged it. Hawaiian artifacts are proudly showcased alongside rare artwork from the orient and the Pacific Kingdom. After the tour, we took a train ride of the ranch which was fun and educational. You’ll be entertained as the conductors showcase rows of over 50 varieties of fruit tree orchards (and let you taste some), vegetable gardens, and most important of all, animal pastures with donkeys, goats, sheep, horses, cattle, ducks, geese and herd of wild pigs. The train will stop and offer you bread to give to the animals. Being an animal lover, I was so happy to interact with these animals and when the train finally was leaving, one of the baby pigs decided to run after us hoping for more food. It was so cute, beyond words.
Along the ride, we also learned more about and experienced the award winning Koloa Rum which is distilled in vintage copper pots using Hawaiian cane sugar, pure mountain water, and the Aloha spirit of Kauai. Our host talked us through the history of Koloa Rum while making sure that we were all having fun (and the rum added to the fun, too). We sampled all their rums, each one an award winner, and of course, stopped by the gift shop at the end of the ride to purchase some to bring home, as it was too good not to share with friends.
After the tour, we sauntered to The Plantation House by Gaylords and we’re happy to report that the food and ambience were excellent, and the staff were very attentive. The night was perfect as we were seated with a garden view and the stars lit up the evening sky, so magical. We ordered some poké for appetizers and filet mignon for the main entrée which were sumptous. I recommend that if you go, make sure to try the Mai Tais.
The next morning, we we packed our bags and were off to our next destination for the next two nights, The Grand Hyatt. A beautiful beachside resort with stunning views and incredibly gorgeous beach, The Grand Hyatt is in in great proximity to most everything. As soon as we arrived, the friendly and smiling staff welcomed us and assisted us with checking in and getting acquainted with the resort.
Our rooms were not ready when we first arrived (we were early), so we arranged for a couple’s massage at the Anara Spa. Incorporating traditional healing customs to inspire unity, harmony and balance, the spa built upon the ancient Hawaiians beliefs of having an intimate relationship with nature and their intuitive healing practices to care for the mind, body, and spirit as one. Amidst lush tropical gardens and cascading waterfalls, the spa was both welcoming and relaxing. My husband and myself got an invigorating and relaxing couples massage in a beautiful private hale (hut). After the massage, we enjoyed the soaking tub and the private lava rocks showers for a while.
Next, we headed over to the pool and their saltwater lagoon area and enjoyed light refreshments and the obligatory Mai Tai at Hale Nalu.
For dinner, we headed to the Grand Hyatt’s feature restaurant, Tidepools. Its thatched-roof bungalows floating above a koi-filled lagoon at the base of a waterfall created an intimate and romantic ambiance. We were told that the majority of patrons that night were celebrating special occasions and we knowingly understand why they chose to spend it there. The food, Inspired by local ingredients and the culinary traditions of Hawaii, was of course superb, but be sure to save room for some of their amazing desserts.
The next morning, we had breakfast at Ilima Terrace, a casual restaurant at the Grand Hyatt with beautiful views, high ceilings, and open air terraces. Ilima Terrace serves a breakfast buffet and everything was enjoyable, especially the fresh fruits and incredibly friendly staff.
For lunch, we decided to try the food truck scene in Kauai, which takes place in a local parking lot with a permanent food truck presence. We ended up eating at the Al Pastor Tacos Food Truck and it was quite tasty (I had to order a second serving of the grilled ahi). For dessert, we tried the local favorite, Tege Tege Shaved Ice.
For our final night, we checked into the Ko’a Kea Hotel and Resort at Poipu Beach, an exceptional boutique oceanfront hotel that offers beautiful and romantic accommodations, luxurious and stylish rooms, and above all, excellent staff.
For dinner, we dined at their award winning Red Salt Restaurant a dining experience so worth your time as the food was amazing. Red Salt features contemporary upscale cuisine with creative blends of fresh, local ingredients from the island. The appetizers were perfectly delicious and the entrées were top notch. I really enjoyed the spiced seared ahi and my husband decided to try the $50 burger (Wagyu beef, foie gras, bacon, onions, cheddar and lobster) served with truffle fries with gold aioli! They also have an extensive wine list for pairing.
The next morning, it was time to say goodbye to this island paradise that I truly hope to visit again in the very near future. One of the things that really stood out, aside from the wonderful hotels and excursions we did, was the people that make this place truly magical. Everyone smiling and happy – this is the way life should be.