Aaaloooohaaaa!!! Aloha is more than just hello…it’s the Hawaiian word for love, affection, peace, compassion and mercy, that is commonly used as a simple greeting but has a deeper cultural and spiritual significance to native Hawaiians…thanks Wikipedia 😉 On this little island of Kauai, also known as the “The Garden Island,” you get the sense of the deep meaning of Aloha from its residents.
Taking a break from the usual fashion content to share my first travel post on my blog. One of the best takeaways from traveling is experiencing the different foods and culture of the destination. I believe this molds one to becoming a better, rounded global citizen. The things we get exposed to when visiting different parts of the world, remind me this planet has so much to offer and see.
Hawaii is probably most famous for it’s islands Oahu and Maui, but if you’re seeking breathtaking scenic views and an escape from reality, Kauai is where you wanna be. With it’s luscious green cliffs and bluest waters, Kauai will remind you what planet Earth has to offer. Keep on reading to see what I mean!
One of the best ways to to enjoy the beauty of Kauai is from a bird’s eye view. There are many helicopter tours to choose from with different packages. Some tours even offer a waterfall landing. If you don’t want to spend the extra bucks, there are still other opportunities to experience the waterfalls.
Tip: It is suggested to wear dark clothing to avoid light being reflecting and obstructing your view.
Did you know over 60 movies were filmed in Kauai? One of them is “Jurassic Park” and our pilot pointed out several of the waterfalls that were captured in the movie. While taking in these picturesque views, he kept us entertained with fun and interesting facts about the island. There is a lot to know about this little gem. Kauai is the oldest of the main Hawaiian Islands, being over six million years old, with over 90% of the land being used for Conservation and Agriculture. Kauai has no native land reptiles or amphibians and one of the only islands that does not have mongoose and the chickens are protected by the local government (there are lots of stories as to why there’s chickens all over the island). There are consequences if you are caught harming these chickens. These are just a few little fun facts about “The Garden Island”.
There are different parts of the island you can stay. We stayed in Lihue, which is in the middle of the island, at the Kauai Beach Resort. This is right by the airport and near a lot of the tourist activity meet up points. If you plan to do a lot of the island activities, such as a helicopter tour, boat tour, Kipu ranch, etc, Lihue is the most convenient part of the island to stay. If you want wake up to some of the most beautiful views, Princeville is the spot for you. It’s north of island and about a 45 min drive from the airport so keep that mind when planning your stay.
One of my favorite spots for breakfast and coffee is Ha Coffee. Their açai bowls were by far my favorite. I could enjoy this every morning and açai is good for you so that’s a win-win! Pictured above are two of their açai bowls. I loved that they offered bee pollen as a topping! Besides the great health benefits of bee pollen, it added crunch and texture. Their hazelnut latte was my go to choice of beverage. There’s something about enjoying a good espresso drink, especially on vacation, and the lattes at Ha Coffee are superb! They’re located very close to the airport which made it an even better breakfast spot before we started any of our activities.
One thing to keep in mind about Kauai is that they are the least industrialized island. The whole island is on “island time” so businesses will be closed on any random day of the week. I highly recommend checking times of operations for any establishment you have in mind when planning your days. Being a city girl, this was a hard adjustment. Many restaurants closed at 8pm with very few options for us habitual late diners.
With that being said, Ha Coffee is closed on Tuesdays so we had to find another breakfast joint that morning. I was originally disappointed since I was looking forward to my açai bowl and hazelnut latte but everything happens for a reason, right? Enter Art Cafe Hemingway to save the day! They offer a delicious breakfast menu and coffee drinks. I thank them for introducing the Bombon into my life. A Café Bombón is a type of coffee drink that includes espresso mixed with sweetened condensed milk. The condensed milk gives just the right amount of sweetness. I now look for this drink any time I’m at a coffee shop.
After enjoying breakfast, it’s on to more Kauai. Kalalau Lookout is a must see! I really don’t know how to describe the view above because there is no adjective that gives it justice. If you arrive and the view is overcast, don’t turn around! Hang around because it almost always clears up. It can take over an hour but trust me, it’s worth the wait! I got to snap that photo above once the clouds cleared out. It’s like a Bob Ross painting!
The two pictures below give you an idea of how overcast it can be and you see the progress of the clouds clearing out in all three pictures.
Kalalau Lookout is also the highest elevation in Kauai by road, at 4,000 feet. It is one of the greatest views in all of Hawaii and served as the backdrop for countless films including “King Kong” (the original), “Mighty Joe Young,” “Jurassic Park,” and “Six Days Seven Nights.” Be prepared and take a jacket with you, because it can be chilly up there.
Waimea Canyon and Kalalau lookout can be knocked out together since you’re already up this high for one so might as well go see the other. Dubbed the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” Waimea Canyon offers 3 lookout points that will give you a vision to see from over 3000 feet up. The road up is a long one, so make you have enough gas to get your through and back down. I don’t know how the chickens got up this high, but you will see them there. I actually recommend knocking out Waimea Canyon first and then making it out to Kalalau lookout in case you have to wait out the clouds.
You may have been told “don’t go chasing waterfalls,” but these are waterfalls worth chasing.
Another day, another Kauai adventure. Kipu Ranch Adventures was a blast! Make sure you wear something that you don’t mind getting dirty (again it is recommend to wear dark clothing) because you are guaranteed to get dirty.
Kipu Ranch Adventures was another favorite activity in Kauai. Driving the ATVs throughout the property with stops to take pictures and take in some of the views made this activity on top of my list. The tour guides were fantastic and thought us so much about the island. From the different movies that were filmed (notice a theme here, Hollywood loves the Garden Island) to the history of the vegetation that grows here. All the trees and plants that you encounter in Kauai are actually imported from different parts of the world. This is actually why Hollywood chooses this island for many of their productions. You may think you’re watching something taken place in Africa, because of the trees, but the scene is really taking place in Kauai.
When in Kauai, you must indulge in the amazing fruits. There are fruit stands all along the road. Make sure to stop and pick up some of the most amazing fruit your taste buds will meet. The lychee was so delicious, it was like candy!
One of my best meals we experienced, was at the JO2 Restaurant. France native, Jean-Marie Josselin, brings decadent Japanese flavor inspired by Hawaii’s multiethnic community with a French twist that was a hit among all of us. Every item we ordered was creative and flawless. Keep some space on your itinerary to enjoy an unforgettable meal at JO2.
Tip: Make reservations in advance.
Some other Kauai tourist activities that I didn’t post, but we did partake, included a boat tour (by Blue Dolphin Charters). Our crew was awesome, fun, and took great care of us. The highlight for me was seeing the dolphins! Most of the dolphin encounters experienced are spinner dolphins, but we were lucky that day and saw a family of bottle nose dolphins as well. We got to snorkel for about an hour and saw more Kauai’s coast lines. If the waters permit, the boat will take you to the Nā Pali Coast. This magical coastline is accessible only by air, land, or sea. Here’s a link for more info on getting to Nā Pali.
The Kilauea Lighthouse and hiking Sleeping Giant were also a part of this trip. If you’re a serious hiker, there are several different levels of hiking that can be done in Kauai. Sleeping Giant is great for a rookie and offers great views at the top.
Here are some tips to keep in mind if planning a trip to Kauai:
- Book tours and activities in advance. They get full or not offered on specific days and planning ahead will maximize your time on the island.
- Look up hours of operations for gardens, waterfall access, and restaurants and plan accordingly. This even includes food trucks. We never made it to any of the food trucks because they all closed by 4pm and each day we were enjoying our Kauai adventures well past their closing time.
- Kauai is not an industrialized island like Maui or Oahu. The island lives off of “island time” which can get frustrating but this sustains the beauty of the island.
Mahalo (thank you) for stopping by! There is even more to enjoy in Kauai depending on what you’re looking for. There are several beaches to soak up the rays and enjoy the Pacific as well. So does Kauai sound like your type of Hawaiian get away?