This summer was blessed with a trip to Hawai’i, and the first stop landed us on the Garden Isle of Kaua’i, where we stayed at the Outrigger Kiahuna Plantation in Koloa, perfectly situated and impressively equipped with a full kitchen, a peaceful lanai where we could listen to geckos chirp in the night, and a spacious living room and dining room where we watched the start of Euro 2012.
Kauai island is the oldest in the chain of paradise, which makes for a mostly gentle and lush landscape, where its difficult not to relax and enjoy a sweeter and slower pace of life:
To Do & See
Mahaulepu Heritage Trail a shoreline trail to Mahaulepu Beach, 4 miles in and out, which starts at Shipwreck’s Beach in Keonaloa Bay and tramples along rugged coastal cliffs, where the Pacific lashes against the Paa sand dunes. Here we passed sandstone-limestone rainwater formations known as Pinnacles, paid homage at the sacred heiau Hoouluia, trekked through a golf course to end up at 10,000 year old sinkhole, where scientists are researching native Hawaiian flora and fauna before human settlement.
Outfitters Kaua’i offers the irresistible adventure Paddle and Jungle Hike on the Wailua River. Paddlers kayak upstream to hike through jungle and swim and lunch at a beautiful waterfall. The guides are wonderfully knowledgeable about native lore and botany, and the lunches are pretty damn tasty, compared to competitors. Our guide, Mitch, gave us the inside scoop on where to pick up the best local lumpia. He wasn’t joking. See below for good eats.
Family and friends have raved about the Na Pali Coast, and its hard to imagine what they’re talking about until you actually experience this jagged face of earth, where we found religion during our first-hand experience. Na Pali Catamaran, located in the heart of Hanalei Bay, got us fitted for our day trip, and watching the sunrise while pushing out from Hanalei Bay inspired new faith. That’s just the beginning of an all day adventure!
The name of the company is a bit misleading since the vessel we took wasn’t a real catamaran but, because of this, the boat was small enough to experience some real treats. Our guides took us to three sea caves, one with a waterfall cascading through it, (waterfalls are known as wai le le, or dancing water), another with an open roof where a wedding was once performed, and the first cave, where we met a local uncle who speeds around in his RIB, shouting loud enough to hear his hoots bounce off the cave walls. Our guides told us this kinky-haired, native Hawaiian saves the lives of those who dare to swim or kayak along the sheer cliffs of Na Pali.
On the waters, we followed the hiking trail Kalaulau which is 11 miles in and out to Kalaulau Beach, a remote part of the world that requires some strenuous means of access. Lucky for us, all we had to do was board the boat, slip on our flippers and snorkel gear and hop into the water, which was colder than expected.
Allerton Gardens is a perfect way to slow down and catch one’s breath, which is just what we did, taking the short tour through the botanical wonders of The National Tropical Botanical Garden’s fourth garden on the Hawaiian islands; their fifth is in Florida.
To plug into the local scene, we sauntered through the Hanapepe Art Walk hosted in the small town of Hanapepe, taking place every Friday evening. Best shopping for genuine local gifts and souvenirs.
Kapa’a is the largest town on the island but still has a local feel to it, and their farmer’s market is pretty impressive. Not picking up one or two pineapples here is pretty much a crime, and, once you bite into one of these juicy beauties, you’ll be spoiled for Hawai’i’s golden fruit.
It’d be hard to find shaved ice and ice cream better than Koloa Mill Ice Cream & Coffee, and if you don’t believe me try their combo of shaved ice flavors coconut and passion fruit with mud pie ice cream on the bottom. ONO! Their haupia ice cream will have your taste buds dancing.
Along the same storefront as the Koloa Mill is Sueoka’s, a grocery store, and just to the left of them is their snack shop, a kitchen tucked away, completely inconspicuous, with a simple window for ordering. Their loco moco, fried chicken, and macaroni salad is almost as good as the Big Island’s Hawaiian Style Cafe (more on that latah)—and that’s pretty damn good. Can’t wait to go back.
Hanalima Bakery was suggested to us for malasadas (they have musubi, loco moco, breakfast and lunch along with their enticing baked goods) but Kauai Bakery and Cinnamon, in the Lihue mall, so far, has most Hawaiian bakeries beat. Best malasadas eva–we’re still on the lookout for competition across the islands.
For some homestyle Filipino food, try Mama Lucy’s lumpia, next to Hanalima’s, which will satisfy any homesick hankering for pancit and rice.
As usual, we didn’t have hours and days enough to do everything on our wishlist, so, for next time:
- Hanalei Beach
- Makua Beach
- Ke’e Beach
- Kekaha (bread pudding?)
- Waimea Canyon
- Koke’e lookouts
Big Island love is next, so stay tuned.
In the meantime, here’s a dedication just for Kaua’i: