This isn’t the first time I’ve posted about Kauai on the blog (and let’s be honest, it probably won’t be the last). However, a fun tidbit I learned after the first Kauai post, was that you guys really love reading about the Garden Isle! As it stands today, this Best of Kauai article is my most-read post in the history of Her Tasty Life. So, cheers to that!
In the last post, we focused just on food and where to get good grub while visiting Kauai. Knowing how hungry (wink, wink) you are for info about what to do there, I figured this would be a great opportunity to expand my recommendations on my favorite destination and highlight the best in beaches, shopping and hotels. Of course, I snuck in a few new restaurants that have cropped up since my last visit as well.
I just wrapped up a trip there to visit family and celebrate my anniversary – after all, we did get engaged and married there! – so what better time to refresh you on everything Kauai than right now!
Of Hawaii’s most frequented island destinations, Kauai is most certainly the most remote and among the smallest. Tourism has its seasons, but for the most part this island is quiet, private and very beautiful. As the wettest place on Earth – yes, really! – it has a lush greenery unlike anything I’ve ever seen. No shocker why they chose to film Jurassic Park here.
The island can easily be summed up into three areas: North Shore, South Shore and Eastside. You can’t access the westside at all by car, so helicopter and boat are your choices if you want to see the landscape, but you definitely won’t be shopping or dining there.
From the north side to the south side the drive is about 60-90 minutes depending on traffic and how far you go in either direction, but essentially, the gist is: the island is small. You can’t go wrong wherever you stay and exploring will be easy provided you have a rental car (no seriously, get a rental car).
WHERE TO STAY
As you can imagine, Kauai has amazing hotels and resorts. A few of my favorites are the St. Regis Princeville (where we stayed for our wedding) and the Grand Hyatt Kauai (where we stayed during our engagement). With the St. Regis, you’ll get less families, a ton of natural beauty, and more seclusion — the setting in Princeville’s beautiful bay is also absolutely flawless and very conducive to sunset watching, snorkeling and calm swimming. The Grand Hyatt, however, is great for kids! With a lazy river, waterslide and salt water lagoon, there is endless enjoyment for the little ones. This property has tons to do, but the beach can be a bit rough and off-limits for swimming. Do keep your desired ocean activity level in mind when choosing a property to stay at. There is always the option of an Airbnb, too! We’ve done that several times and our favorite rentals are at Puu Poa, but get your search on and you’ll find the site has tons of condos, townhomes and estates for whatever you desires.
WHERE TO BEACH
The options for beach destinations are pretty much endless on Kauai. Almost any road leads you to a beach and half the fun here is finding them on your own. Most of the beaches that the “locals” love are unmarked or require a little know-how. Once you know the names of them, Google maps goes a long way. Here are a few of my favs:
For calm waves + relaxing:
For surfing + wave action:
Puu Poa Beach
WHERE TO SHOP
Kauai is certainly not a luxury shopping mecca like you might be used to in Honolulu, but there are still awesome treasures to be found! I love the boutiques in Kapaa like Hula Girl, Island Hemp and Cotton Co., and Shipwrecked (my fav!). On the South Shore, the Shops at Kukui’ula are more mainstream and you’ll find a fun weekly farmer’s market, restaurants and stores like Malie Organics, Quicksilver and Tommy Bahama.
You can also finds tons of local shops and outposts with sarongs, bathing suits and surf gear galore. Whether you’re in Lihue, Kapaa, Koloa or Poipu, none of these signature island items will be far behind.
WHERE TO EAT
Have you worked up an appetite for some Hawaiian grub yet? I sure hope so!
Well, I already mentioned that my trusty ‘ol Best of Kauai eats guide is still alive and well — use this for a complete breakfast, lunch and dinner set of dining resources! Of course, there’s a ton of poke, fresh fish and acai bowls abound on Kauai, and I sought out a few new spots this time around. For breakfast, Java Kai is seriously awesome for fresh smoothies, lox and bagel, pitaya bowls and avocado toast… basically, all delicious things are here. For lunch, the darling SushiGirl Kauai demands a visit for beyond bomb poke bowls. Their sushi burrito is probably a must try, too. For dinner, you might wanna make it over to Eating House 1849 — Roy Yamaguchi’s new place (of the world famous, Roy’s) — we loved the cocktails, signature burger, pork and shrimp potstickers, butterfish hot pot rice bowl, and the Roy’s famous chocolate soufflé. So, essentially, everything.
Add these to the ever-growing list of yummy Kauai things and go hungry!
If Kauai is in your future, I hope this little guide helps you find a few fab things to eat, see and do. Sending lots of good vibes and aloha your way!