A travel journal
to Kauai by sun555
Quote: Kauai is magical. Whether you are looking for a romantic honeymoon or just looking for the most beautiful place on earth to relax, Kauai is a great destination.
During whale season you can see whales from the lanai, and most days you can see dolphins feeding off the coast.
Everything on Kauai has three names. This location is called Makahuena Point, Turtle Cove (because of the turtles that are there all the time) and more properly, Poipu Point.
Its a small condo complex. One building, 12 units. It’s quiet and peaceful. Try to get a third floor unit since they have the best views. They have a community BBQ. A small pool. An observation deck right on the bluff. Its located in sunny Poipu, so there is a lot more sunshine here, especially in the winter where it tends to rain a lot more on the North Shore.
It is well located. A short drive to Lihue. A few miles from downtown Koloa which is an old quaint sugar town. A nice place to get Lappert's ice cream and just wander through the shops.
It is also easy to access both the North Shore and the West Shore. You can be standing on Polihale (beach) or Kee (beach) in 45 minutes to an hour, which is as far as you can drive in either direction.
It is a short walk to two beaches as it is located between Shipwreck Beach (the Hyatt) and Brenneckes Beach (Poipu Beach). We always drive, but many people walk it.
We always stay on the third floor for the great views. All the units are two-bedroom/two-bathrooms with full kitchens and washer dryer. They all have a lanai overlooking the ocean. Yes, it is true oceanfront (not beachfront). We love it because it is well located, nicely furnished and quiet. And the ocean views and sounds of the waves will just melt your troubles away.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on March 16, 2004
2360 Kiahuna Plantation Drive
Poipu, Hawaii 96756
+1 808 742 5000
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on March 18, 2004
Kalapaki Beach Hut
3474 Rice St
Lihue, Hawaii 96766
+1 808 246 6330
They don't have them every night of the week, but most nights. So call and check. You can just come for the show if you are so inclined. As far as numbers of people, it does vary. We generally try to go during the week and normally there are 100-150 people, but they can handle up to 500(my guess). I just think 100-150 is a litlle more intimate.
Luaus are basically buffets. The food here is pretty good but it don't go for just the food, because there are better buffets to go to. The imu pig is always great. For my taste I don't like the poi but if its your first time taste it (don't take very much!). During dinner they do a little show, the usual hula and singing. Invitees from the audience can come up on stage so beware if its your honeymoon or anniversary. I've always enjoyed this Hawaiian tradition.
But the real show takes place in a separate amphitheater. The audience sits across a small lagoon, with the stage on the other side. It's kind of a cross between a local production and a Vegas show. It's probably the best entertainment of all the luaus. They showcase different Pacific cultures through dances. Normally have seven to nine dancers for each culture and there are 8-9 dances. Both men and women. My favorite part of the show is when the lights go down and they do the torchlighting and fire presentation.
Kids generally love the Chinese dragon who comes into the audience. They also have the twirling fire dancers.
So what's the difference between the different luaus? In general, the food is very similar at all the luaus. The real difference is in the atmosphere and the entertainment. So with the beautiful grounds, and the superior entertainment I think Smiths is the winning luau.
The Prince is possibly the most beautiful course in the world. Invariably when I play with people they turn to me at some point (or several times!) and tell me it's the most beautiful course they have ever played. Whether it's the stunning ocean views, the tropical jungle scenery, or the waterfall behind the 13th green, there is some natural beauty that should appeal to you. I never tire of playing this course.
But be forewarned, this is a tough golf course. The joke they will tell you is that the course record is 89--yeah, that's the number of golf balls someone lost in one round. It's not a joke. It is easy to lose golf balls here. If cost is an issue (normal green fees are $170) try the twilight rate, which starts at 11am (only $125).
The Kiele course at Kauai Lagoons (the Kauai Marriott) is also a beautiful course. A Jack Nicklaus designed course that can be very challenging. The first few holes are straightforward but number 5 is a long par three over the deep jungle, truly intimidating and breathtaking at the same time. The next hole is a drive over the jungle with a fairly long carry. These two holes will make the round worthwhile but there are more outstanding holes on the back nine. Especially the signature hole, a par three that runs along Kalapaki Bay. This is a course that many people describe as their favorite course that they have ever played. I love it, and it is especially challenging when the trade winds are up. Try hitting that par three on Kalapaki Bay by aiming your shot 50 yards out over the ocean! Here too try the twilight ($99 at noon vs. normally $150 - call the rates may change).
My other suggestions for more golf are two very dissimilar courses. If you want another challenging course try Poipu Bay (the Hyatt in Poipu). This is the sight of the Grand Slam, which pits the winners of the four majors against one another. They describe it a kind of links course. If the wind is blowing, and it does most of the time, this course can be tough. If not, it can play fairly easy. I've played it a lot, but its not in the same category as the Prince and the Kiele.
My final recommendation is what I would call a locals course. You won't see many tourists out there and quite often if you join others they are locals. It’s the Kukiolono course in Kalaheo. It’s off the highway up on the hill. It does have some nice views of the ocean in the distance. It’s $9. Yes only nine dollars but if you want a cart its extra, five dollars more (maybe four). But be prepared this course isn’t manicured like the resort course. It’s only nine holes (the $9 lets you play 18, but another $4 if you want the cart again). I love playing with the locals here. They are the friendliest people I know especially if you love golf. It’s an opportunity for you to ask them about things to do or places to go and most are very helpful. Bonus 1 -- go visit the guy who owned the course and gave it Kauai -- he’s buried on the course and there’s a little shrine. Bonus #2 -- the best hamburger I ever had on Kauai was made in the clubhouse by the guy who took our green fees. He hand pressed the patty mixed some herbs in and cooked it on the grill and it was great.
But if you've done everything else...
It’s a boat ride up the river, the only navigable river in Hawaii. They sing and teach you to hula on the way up (or is it on the way back?). It’s kind of hokey, or fun, depending on your viewpoint. My wife and I always thought it was kind of fun but definitely touristy.
The day we went, Fern Grotto was disappointing. Not a lot of ferns, not much to see. And most people I talk to say the same thing.
So in summary, it’s diverting, but do something else. See another beach (these alone can take you months), Kilauea lighthouse, National Tropical Botanic Gardens, eat...
A Pacific Cafe -- Not much on atmosphere, but the food is excellent. We were blown away by some of the appetizers. We generally go there now for appetizers and dessert. For us, it’s a meal.
The Beach House Restaurant -- Go for the sunset. Go for a romantic dinner. Make sure you make reservations so that you will be seated in time for the sunset. It sits on the ocean and the sunsets are spectacular. Did I mention go see the sunset? The food is good (Roy’s and A Pacific Cafe are much better), but with the sunset it is a wonderful and romantic evening.
Camp House Grill - Best burgers, but be forewarned, this is kind of a locals’ place. In an old house in Kalaheo and not very modern. They make great pies. I love the Hanapepe burger.
Hamura Saimin -- definitely a locals’ place. You may have to wait. Lunch-counter atmosphere. You will be elbow to elbow with mostly the working locals. It’s cheap and very good. Saimin noodles. Go here if you want local flavor. It’s in a hole-in-the-wall place in downtown Lihue.
The Sunday brunch at the Hyatt -- in lieu of a luau, we like to do this buffet. It’s our favorite. They have a sushi chef. If you sit near the ponds you can see the koi. By the way, you can pay to see the show at Smith’s Tropical Paradise and skip the food at the luau. And instead eat here the next day. I can assure you the food is much better here.
Memas -- Thai food, in the Poipu Village Shopping Center. We love it. Never tire of their food. Always go at least twice when we are on island. Try their lettuce wrap appetizer.
1. The number-one activity I tell people to do, is take a helicopter ride. Yes, they are expensive, but everyone I know says this was the most spectacular thing they did. Think of Jurassic Park. Remember when the helicopter first arrived and the helicopter slowly descended in the tropical paradise right alongside a waterfall! That was Kauai! And the helicopters do that! Well, they don't land, but most will descend next to a waterfall. You will also get to see the Na Pali cliffs, which are otherwise inaccessible, and to see these giant verdant green cliffs rise out of the blue Pacific is worth the trip by itself.
2. Go find your favorite beach. There are a ton of them. Many are wonderful. Some are remote and desolate. Some are populated by tourists. Some they surf at. Many are romantic. Try Hideaways or Tunnels. For snorkeling go to Kee (as far north as you can) or Poipu (at the south). Look for sunrise shells on Polihale and watch the sunset.
3. Eat at great restaurants. Our favorites (see separate entry-favorite restaurants) include Roys, Pattaya, A Pacific Cafe, Camphouse Grill, The Beach House.
4. Shop for black pearls. The Black Pearl is the first store in the world to specialize in black pearls and is located in the Poipu Village Shopping Center. They are exquisite gems made by Mother Nature. Also check out Grandes Gems (at Kilohana and Coconut Grove shopping center). There are many stores that carry them. Just looking is worth the effort and people are so friendly and helpful.
5. Go whale-watching. Take one of the boat trips to the Na Pali cliffs. If you do it during whale season, you will see many whales, some up close and personal. The last time I did it, a whale breached 50 yards from the boat! To watch these magnificent creatures up close is exhilarating.
6. Take in some local culture. Go to the museum in Lihue, especially if they have something special going on such as the Xmas Bazaar or the orchid sale. Eat at Hamura Saimin and rub shoulders with the workers on their lunch break. If golf is your thing, (see my golf entry) play at Kukiolono (for $9, yes $9) where the real locals play.
7. Go to Waimea Canyon. Visit the lodge at Kokee State Park. Here you can see the famous Kauai chickens up close. Many chicken families live here, both adults and chicks, and they come out to eat the food that tourists feed them. It can be a swirling storm of colorful feathers. The Grand Canyon of the Pacific is great to see and it’s hard to believe that such a natural wonder can be on such a small island. The best thing is make sure you go to the lookout all the way at the end of the road. This view is truly stunning as it overlooks a large jungle valley, the unbelievably green Na Pali Cliffs and the deep blue Pacific in the distance.
8. "Watch a sunset on a tropic isle." Wait, that’s from a song! At dinner, try the Beach House Restaurant or Bali Hai. For something more off the beaten path, I always recommend watching it set from the road on the way down from Waimea Canyon. The road runs along a ridge which overlooks the Pacific. In the distance, you can see the Forbidden Isle, Nihau. From here you can see forever, and the sun sparkles and reflects off the Pacific. It’s magnificent and I just love it.
9. Do a luau. I always recommend Smiths Tropical Paradise (see separate entry). The show is very entertaining. Do a luau because you are in Kauai and it will give you that aloha feeling. Do Smiths because the entertainment is better and the grounds beautiful (get there early for pictures and a leisurely stroll in paradise).
10. Be with a loved one. Hold hands on white sandy beaches. Listen to the doves cooing. Watch a sunrise on a tropic isle. Experience the fragrance and enjoy the colors of tropical flowers. Wander through the jungle paradise of the National Tropical Gardens. Buy her a black pearl or a sunrise shell. Take time to say "I love you" in paradise.
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