Steve and I went to Hawaii on a belated honeymoon about 5 months after we got married, and I spent about that long planning our trip. One of the most important things that Steve and I decided while planning the trip was that it wasn’t going to be a “sit by the pool” all day type of vacation for us. We highly recommend that if you’re making the effort to get all the way to Hawaii, do not miss out on the incredible adventures that Hawaii has to offer.
We spent 4 full days on Maui and 3 full days on Kauai, and we packed so much in! Here’s an overview of how we spent our time on Kauai.
Remember how I mentioned in my Maui post that we knew we wanted to have a few experiences while in Hawaii that would cost a fair amount of money? This price tag might scare you away at $300/person, but let me tell you why this tour is worth it.
This 60 minute helicopter tour was an experience that is hard to describe in words. Kauai is an extremely diverse island and getting to see the whole island in an hour from above was truly incredible. A lot of the island is inaccessible by car which makes this tour even more special and definitely worth it. We got to see the waterfall that we had just hiked to in Waimea Canyon the day before too! That was really cool!
Here are a few recommendations:
- We decided to do their doors off tour, which gave us an incredible, unobstructed view, but it was quite cold, so make sure you dress warmly! Don’t forget about this when you’re packing!
- If you do decide to do doors off, ladies, don’t forget a hair tie since it gets super windy.
- We chose a 9:45 AM flight, and we had great lighting for pictures.
- I would book your helicopter tour earlier rather than later in your trip. The weather can be unpredictable, and they will reschedule your tour to a later date or time at no charge. If you book it too close to the end of your trip though, you might lose the opportunity to go. So book early!
Haena Beach Park
Haena Beach was the most pristine, gorgeous beach that we’ve ever been to. It had the most beautiful coastline with the green mountains in the background, golden sand, and beautiful blue water. The sunset was stunning and we enjoyed walking and taking pictures along the water. Steve tricked me into posing for a picture and managed to capture me getting hit by a wave, which was pretty funny. We came to this beach a couple times during our trip, and we saw two different couples getting married. Highly recommend this beach!!
We went to Lawai Beach in Poipu since it was supposed to have pretty good snorkeling. I didn’t actually get a good picture of it since we left everything in the car! We snorkeled and explored the reef for about 30 minutes. There were definitely a lot of fish, but the water was pretty murky. As we were swimming, suddenly Steve squeezed my hand. Right below us was a huge sea turtle! We carefully followed it for awhile as it swam around the reef. It was really cool to be so close!
Off-Roading at Waimea Canyon
After our hike at Waimea, which you can read about below, Steve wanted to explore a few of the trails off the main road we had come in. His excitement for our Jeep may have overridden his common sense.
Here’s what happened to us and things you might want to think about before going off-roading:
- Factor 1: Never been off-roading, which Steve didn’t mention.
- Factor 2: Only 1 hour of sunlight left.
- Factor 3: No cell service.
- Factor 4: Remote part of a remote island.
- Factor 5: Winter in Kauai means wet season means MUD.
- Factor 6: No one knew where we were.
We enjoyed about 10 minutes until I told Steve we should turn around. As we made our way out, we got stuck going up a muddy hill. Neither of us know anything about engines, so when it started smoking, we just stared at it. At this point, I am a nervous wreck, and Steve had to try and remain calm even though he was freaking out too. I ended up getting out of the car and walking up the hill since I knew I’d be more of a moral support outside of the car. Steve realized that he wasn’t actually in 4 wheel drive (HA!), and he was able to back up, get momentum, avoid potholes, and he got up the hill. It was relatively funny looking back, but that’s probably because we made it out…just barely..
Waimea Canyon, Canyon Trail to Waipoo Falls
Waimea was an unbelievable sight. The steep red cliffs with the lush green plants and trees made for a stunning vista. Not quite as long as the Grand Canyon, but maybe a little more beautiful because of how green it was. We think it was extra green because they’ve been getting so much rain recently. We picked a trail called Canyon Trail that was about a 3-4 mile round trip hike. We were so grateful for our hiking boots because of how muddy the trail was.
The trail weaved through the jungle-forest and not until the end did you get an incredible view of the canyon. We ventured closer to the edge and realized you could get pretty close to the top of a waterfall. We went back to the left and saw a gorgeous little falls, but then followed its path to the top of huge waterfall!! It was a little scary, but we got pretty close to it and the view was unbelievable. I have never experienced anything like it. We enjoyed the view and hiked back to our car. The trail itself wasn’t too hard, and the whole trail probably took us about 2-2.5 hours.
Queen’s Bath Trail ended up being a little bit more of a muddy hike than we had planned, so we were grateful we had our hiking boots in the back of the Jeep. It was a little touristy with people swimming in the “bath” that is made by big waves splashing up into a cove. Steve and I felt it was a little bit risky at the time with how big the waves were, but we enjoyed watching the waves and the people.
Kalalau Trail, Hanakapi’ai Falls Trail
We arrived at the Kalalau Trailhead around 6:45AM before the sun was up. There were only a couple cars in the parking lot, which ended up being amazing since we barely saw any other hikers on the way in. When we started out, we saw a huge pile of walking sticks and boy are we glad we each grabbed one. Those sticks were HUGE in helping us navigate the mud, rocks and streams!
The first leg of the trail had the most gorgeous coastline views I’ve ever seen. The Napali mountains are green and pretty jagged, and the contrast between them and the beautiful blue ocean was breathtaking. It was two miles from the trailhead to Hanakapi’ai beach and we made it in about an hour and 20 minutes. We liked to remind each other how grateful we were for our hiking boots. They made such a huge difference on all of the hiking we did. We saw lots of people in Nikes or shoes that were just getting ruined in the mud.
We decided to do the second leg into Hanakapi’ai waterfall that was another two miles in. We knew we were the first hikers in that day because Steve kept running into spider webs. The second leg was relatively easy, not as many ups and downs. However, when we got closer, it got pretty rocky and we had to cross the stream a few times. A girl and her dad ended up passing us, and that made Steve feel like we could go a little faster, haha! We made it to the waterfall after another hour and 20 minutes. At that point it was around 10:30, and we were the only ones at this 300 ft waterfall along with the girl and her dad. It was a pretty cool experience to be there with not many people. We really took it in.
The girl asked if we were going to swim because she didn’t want to swim alone. Steve went in first and swam across to sit underneath the waterfall. Feeling bold, I decided to join him. The water was absolutely freezing. I carefully and quickly made my way across. Unfortunately, when I made it across, I tried to stand up on the rocks too quickly and slipped. I scraped my knee and wrist a little bit, but luckily nothing hurt too badly. I was definitely a little nervous though since we had to hike out 4 miles. Steve helped bandage me up and luckily I didn’t feel any pain in my knee! Phew! I was so grateful!!
After spending about an hour at the waterfall, we started our hike out. We made it out by 1:00! We were pretty wiped at that point since it was an 8 mile day.
We went to Little Fish Coffee in Poipu. Since we didn’t get enough in Maui (HA! We had them every morning almost…), we got more açaí bowls. This time mine had peanut butter, almonds, and chocolate chips, which was tasty, but don’t pass up the fresh fruit. We experienced the wild moa (chickens), which were very bold and kept walking under our table.
We really loved Coconut’s Fish House. We got the fish tacos and coconut shrimp. Both were unbelievable. We thought the freshness and quality of the food was excellent, and it was reasonably priced. They have locations on Maui as well!
Chicken in a Barrel, a tiny little shack with big smokers out front, did not disappoint! It had the most tender, flavorful chicken ever along with a fresh pineapple coleslaw that blew us away. Kauai has multiple locations, so don’t miss it if you’re a BBQ fan!
We loved Pink’s Creamery so much that we went twice during our 3 days in Kauai. The Pineapple Pork Grilled Cheese and rich ice cream were especially incredible after long hiking days!! We enjoyed talking to the man working there about his journey from living in New Jersey to moving to Kauai. Their only location is in Hanalei.
We got this beautiful poke bowl from Makai Sushi, which is a tiny sushi place located in a supermarket. If you haven’t had a poke bowl, it’s pretty much a sushi roll in bowl form. It was so fresh and heavenly. We took ours to-go and enjoyed it on the beach!
We drove to Pizzeta and picked up a Hawaiian pizza (of course) to eat on our way to the airport since we needed something to keep us full on our 12 hour travel home. It was quite tasty!
Hula Pie–Oreo crust, macadamia nut ice cream, hot fudge and macadamia nuts on top!! Absolutely delicious. Save room for this!!
- Recommended Length: 4-7 days
- If you’re looking to combine Kauai with another island, I thought 3 full days was plenty to fully get the taste of the island.
- If you’re looking to break up the different adventures with a little more beach time, then I think up to 7 days is great!
- Ratings (Based on our 3 day trip + activities)
- Affordability: 4/10
- Adventure: 8.5/10
- Food: 8/10
- Relaxation: 2/10
- Affordability: 4/10
Kauai was absolutely incredible. It offered a ton of adventure activities, amazing hiking, great food, and beautiful beaches. Click here to read about our time on Maui, and soon I’ll give you an overall comparison of the two islands as well! For now, aloha!