January 14, 2016

Hawaii Highlights: Kauai

Continuing on with some Hawaii highlights, this time in Kauai! As I mentioned in the previous post that I wrote about Hawaii, Adam and I spent two glorious weeks in Hawaii on our honeymoon. Our itinerary was as follows:
* 7 nights in Hawaii (Big Island) in the town of Puako which is on the Kona side of the island
* 5 nights in Kauai in the Poipu Beach area
* 2 nights in Oahu in Honolulu

Kauai was an incredible place! When I told people which islands were on our itinerary, everyone raved about Kauai. It's a smaller island and of the primary Hawaiian islands, most recently commercialized. It turned out to be our favorite too, mostly from the standpoint that it was easy to navigate, not too big, and offered a great variety of activities.

Napoli Coast Boat Cruise: We both were really interested in seeing the Napali Coast, which is the northeast coast of the island. It's very rugged so there are no auto-accessible routes. Yes, that's right. You can only see it by boat or plane or via an 11-mile one-way hike. We opted for a boat cruise that also included 5 hours on the water with meals and a snorkel stop. The boat left from Port Allen at 9 AM and returned a little after 2 PM. We definitely had a very full day on the water!

We snorkeled at a place called Turtle Bay, and while we only saw one turtle, it was pretty substantial in size. We also saw beautiful tropical fish and enjoyed the slide off the back of the boat. After snorkeling, breakfast was served and we headed north towards the Napali Coast. The views along the way were incredible and we saw tons of wildlife - dolphins playing in the surf on the front of our boat, 7 whales (!!!), and Japanese flying fish.  The first and second mate caught a gorgeous mahi mahi off the back of the boat. Unfortunately, it was extremely windy so the water was very choppy and we weren't able to get out to the coast. Our captain did the next best thing and got us up to the turn for the Napali Coast and pulled way offshore so that we could get a decent view of the coastline since we weren't able to sail up there. I was relieved when we turned around; the surf instantly became less intense and I felt much more at ease.
Views of the coastline and the famous red dirt
The cliffs in the background were the beginning of the Napali Coast
Another view of the coastline
One of the seven humpback whales that we saw
Luau: We were in Hawaii...on our honeymoon...of course we were going to a luau! We settled on the luau at our resort (the Grand Hyatt) on Thanksgiving. We figured this was the perfect way to celebrate our first Thanksgiving as husband and wife! I have always heard that luaus are fun but albeit a bit tacky and touristy, so you can assume my expectations were pretty low. We were really surprised with the quality of the food and entertainment. It was a really fun night and definitely a memorable holiday.
Thanksgiving dinner in paradise! 
Waimea Canyon: Hiking Waimea Canyon was probably one of my favorite things we did during our entire trip. We had a perfect, blue sky day which made for the perfect backdrop to the red dirt of the canyons. We hiked the Canyon Trail which was 4-5 miles round trip. I think we were closer to 5 miles since we ventured to both waterfalls and made a slight wrong turn on the return which had us retracing our steps to find the trail to the parking lot where we were parked. One of the highlights of our day was finding a roadside fish taco stand in Waimea after we got out of the park. Let's just say those mahi tacos didn't last long on our table after a 5 hour hike!
View of the canyon from the Waimea Canyon Overlook
We hiked to the top of the lower waterfall in this photo. This view is also from
the Waimea Canyon Overlook. 

We hiked down a very steep and difficult trail to get to the source for
one of the larger waterfalls. The water was cool and crystal
clear...and my shaka is on point!
Poipu Beach: This beach is one of those ones that routinely is ranked as one of the best beaches in America. This beach is known for its wildlife and mild surf. We headed over to this beach one morning to snorkel. I was hoping that we would see some of the legendary giant turtles on the beach and perhaps a monk seal. We didn't see either while we were there for snorkeling but we saw an incredible array of tropical fish, including many blue-hued fish.
Calm surf and a serene bay
We found a beachfront bar that had incredible sunset views so we spent a few evenings here winding down at the end of the day. On our final night, I overheard a woman say something about seals. I immediately whipped around in my seat and noticed two monk seals on the beach. "I'll be back," I immediately told Adam, and quickly rolled up my white jeans and headed down the beach for a quick  viewing.  Sure enough, there were two large monk seals resting comfortably on the beach. The lifeguards put up stakes with a rope to keep the interested tourists at a distance.
My favorite wildlife from the trip
Sunset on the our last night with our new friends
After seeing the photos, I'm sure it's really tough to imagine why Kauai was one of our favorite places! Totally joking here - it was a really incredible place. We hope to be back again since we weren't able to hit everything on our list.

What's your vacation style - lounging by the pool/beach or activities?


  1. Haha totally talking about this on the blog today. I am a mixture of both--preferably a morning of doing things and an afternoon of relaxing. I love Kauai--I spent 3 weeks in Hawaii before my senior year of high school on a community service trip, and we spent a week in Kauai on top of the mountain at the YMCA camp. It was simply incredible!

    1. What a neat trip! There's a military resort that's near the Napali Coast that I'm interested in checking out...assuming my husband stays in the reserves and we could get a reservation.

  2. We went to Hawaii on our honeymoon as well, and Kauai was far and away our favorite place. I would go back in a heartbeat. Your photos bring back a lot of memories, but I'm shocked there wasn't a photo with any chicken in it!

    1. Oh my gosh, I'm so mad I don't have a chicken photo! We nearly bought a watercolor of one because I totally spaced. In retrospect, there are other photos I wish I had but at the time, I was really focused on enjoying our time and not constantly snapping photos...so not necessarily a bad thing. We collect magnets from places we travel and our Kauai magnet has a chicken so there's that :)

  3. I loved Kauai! I was only there for two days (I was on a cruise) but it was gorgeous. We were there in March, so it was a bit rainy and chilly, but still beautiful. I love all of your pictures!

    1. We had somewhat iffy weather on all islands since it was the more "wintery" time of year and Kauai was CRAZY windy the entire time which was one of the reasons our boat cruise was so rocky. I'm dying to go back...already! :)

  4. Kauai is on our list for when we eventually make a return trip to Hawaii. Waimea Canyon is of particular interest to us, and seeing your gorgeous pictures only confirms that for me.

    1. I think you would love it! It was such an incredible place. And you could spend days at Waimea Canyon. They also have kayaking through the river that runs through it...we want to do that someday!

  5. Kauai looks like a gorgeous place!! If I get the chance to return to Hawaii, it's definitely on my list! I love that yalls thanksgiving dinner was a luau! So cool!

    1. It was really fun and kind of interesting to talk to everyone else about spending Thanksgiving dinner at a luau :)

  6. Love all the pictures! Sounds like such a great time. So cool you got to do so much island hopping! I've never been to the Big Island or Kauai, but they are on my bucket list!
    Glad you guys had such a fun time, now you've just got me craving a beach and my own aloha trip, LOL

  7. Kauia is one of our favorite places in the world, and we've been extremely lucky -- we've been 3 times in the last 10 years (the first was our 20th anniversary trip, which was a cruise around the 4 big islands & we decided we wanted to come back to Kauia, although Maui was pretty nice, too).

    We cruised past the Napoli coast on the first cruise; we took a boat our last time, and it was the very first time in my life I was seasick. :(

    We stayed near Poipu beach and walked down almost every night to watch the sunset.

    You picked a good place to honeymoon!

  8. GORGEOUS!! Absolutely love your pictures, and sounds like an amazing time!