Heavenly Kauai Vacations

After three fabulous trips to the beautiful garden isle of Kauai, I decided it was high time to rave about it. Plus, all my relatives and friends are tired of hearing me go on and on about it....


Heavenly Kauai Vacations

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by vrp1483 on November 9, 2004

The very best thing to do is buy the "Ultimate Kauai Guidebook", because it speaks the gospel truth about the island. The authors have never steered me wrong through three trips. The next best thing to do is slow down and get on local time. You're on vacation, for gosh sakes! Deserted beaches, lush tropical jungles, and streaming waterfalls are all waiting for you, no need to rush.${QuickSuggestions} The quickest tip I can offer is to stay in the Lihue/Wailua/Kapaa area on the east side of the island; then, when you get up in the morning, if the weather is looking rainy or iffy at all, head south and west. If it looks to be a beautiful, sunny day, head north.${BestWay} Other than hiking the backcountry trails and beach-walking, the only way to get around is to rent a vehicle.

Wailua Bayview

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by vrp1483 on November 9, 2004

On our first two trips to Kauai, we stayed at the Wailua Bayview at the north end of Wailua Beach. All units are ocean-front, but there is a considerable drop to the beach from the grounds, so beach access is down the road to the beach park entrance. Since the Wailua Bayview is a condo rental from individual condo owners, the decor can vary widely from unit to unit. Some are quite luxurious, but most are pretty "tropical resort" basic. The central location is great; you are close to all the restaurants in the Kapaa area, yet driving to Poipu or the north end for dinner isn't too much of a chore. There really isn't a central "Wailua Bayview" rental office, as the office on-location only handles about half the units, and the other half are handled through Prosser Realty or individuals on the mainland, so logistics and details can be awkward, especially if there are problems. All and all, this is a very quiet and relaxing, moderately priced ocean-front condo.
Wailua Bayview

Kauai, Hawaii

Kapa'a Sands

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by vrp1483 on November 9, 2004

We stayed at the Kapa'a Sands on our last trip to Kauai, and our stay there was fabulous. The Kapa'a Sands is very small, with only about 20 one-bedroom and studio units in all, so it is very, very quiet. The grounds are beautifully maintained and very lush. All units are ocean-view, but the ones that are ocean-front are fantastic. There is kind of a private little beach in front of the condos where sea turtles come and play every day, and where locals come to do some surf-fishing every evening. The office staff is extremely accomodating -- they even let us store our suitcases and shower up in an unused unit when our ocean-front unit had an immediate back fill on our last day. This allowed us to fully enjoy our final day on the island before a nighttime flight out. The units are showing some age, but if you can cope with that and with dribbling showers, then I can't recommend The Kapa'a Sands highly enough. If you're looking for the shiniest, brightest, most modern of conveniences, then you'd best go to a different resort.
Kapa'a Sands
380 papaloa rd
Kauai, Hawaii

Caffe Coco

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by vrp1483 on November 9, 2004

Caffe Coco can be difficult to find. It’s just north of the Wailua Bridge, right after the road sort of "Ys" at the gas station, across from the Kintaro Japanese restaurant. Unbelievable food, very organic, very green. No red meat. No liquor license, but they don't mind if you bring your own bottle of wine, and they will happily provide a corkscrew and glasses for a small corkage fee. The ginger lemonade is incredible, and seriously, the tofu pot stickers are to die for. Seriously. The service is very laaaaaid back, like wow, man, but they know you're there; they're just groovin' their thing. Order at the "counter" and find your seat in the garden in the back and marvel at the delicious smells coming out of the postage stamp-sized kitchen. Sometimes they have live acoustic music. I love this place. It can be expensive or inexpensive, depending on what you order. No reservations required, but you might want a sweater and bug juice (bug spray).
Caffe Coco
Kuhio Highway South of Kapaa
Kauai, Hawaii

Zelo's Beach House

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by vrp1483 on November 9, 2004

Zelo's Beach House is on the north coast of the island in Hanalei, right on the main drag (not actually on the beach). Best. Mai-Tai. On. The. Island. Accept. No. Substitutes. I'm not kidding here. Awesome fish tacos. I dream of their fish tacos washed down with Mai-Tais. Love the sashimi too. Zelo's can be crowded at right at lunchtime, so off-time is more peaceful.

http://www.zelosbeachhouse.com/home.shtml

Zelo's Beachhouse
5-5190 Kuhio Ave.
Kauai, Hawaii, 96714
(808) 828-1435

Keoki’s Paradise

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by vrp1483 on November 9, 2004

Keoki's Paradise is in the shopping center at Poipu. Kitschy, tiki-madness fun. You dine in fake thatched huts amongst a Disneyesque, manufactured, exotique-tropical paradise. It is all a lot of fun. The borderline tiki-tacky decor aside, their fresh fish options are among the best on the island, and follow your server's recommendations very carefully -- they really know what they're talking about! Their Thai prawns appetizer is wonderful, and they have this hula pie dessert that you've just got to order. I'd only order one serving for the table. Good thing they're in the mall/shopping center, 'cuz you'll need to walk around a bit, window-shopping, before going back to the car. They have excellent fancy tropical drinks, and again, I'd defer to the server and get the special.

http://www.keokisparadise.com/

Keoki’s Paradise
2360 Kiahuna Plantation Dr.
Kauai, Hawaii, 96756
(808) 742-7534

Tidepools

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by vrp1483 on November 9, 2004

Tidepools is in the Hyatt hotel in Poipu. Beautiful, fancy restaurant, very romantic atmosphere. The menu is fabulous, and the service is terrific. On weekends, you can hear the luau show, slightly muted. It all enhances the atmosphere. If Keoki's is borderline tacky, then Tidepools is the other end of the tropical decor ruler. Their house special Mai-Tai ain't bad either.
Tidepools at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa
1571 Poipu Road
Koloa, Hawaii, 96756
(808) 240-6456

Brenneke's Beach Broiler

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by vrp1483 on November 9, 2004

Brenneke's is upstairs, across from Poipu Beach park. I've heard they've been slipping lately, which is too bad. Their open-air upstairs dining area has a nice view of the beach and the activities, and some people believe they have the best Mai-Tais on the island. We happen to believe they have the second-best Mai-Tais on the island. I can recommend the veggie quesadillas and the ceviche. Nice place to take a break and people-watch.
Brennecke's Beach Broiler
2100 Hoone Road
Kauai, Hawaii, 96756
(808) 742-7588

Jo Jo's Shave Ice

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by vrp1483 on November 9, 2004

Jo-Jo's Shave Ice is in Waimea, west of Poipu, right on the highway in town. The shaved ice is so good here, we've actually parked the car and waited an hour for them to clean and service the ice-shaving machine, rather than driving on. When it is sunny, there is absolutely NOTHING like a shaved ice from Jo-Jo's, with Lappert's macadamia nut ice cream in the bottom to cool you off completely. It is always sunny in the western part of Kauai, so there's no excuse to drive by without stopping.
Jo Jo's Shave Ice
Kaumaualii Highway
Kauai, Hawaii
(808) 635-7615

Roy's Poipu Bar & Grill

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by vrp1483 on November 17, 2004

Wow. We'd heard great things about Roy's, so this last trip, we finally took the plunge and made reservations for dinner. We didn't order off the menu, but elected to have a "Sake Tasting Dinner," with multiple courses accompanied by different types of sake. We knew nothing about sake, but figured a place like Roy's was just the place to learn something new.

By the end of the evening, we were still not sure about sake, but completely convinced that we'd be back for the food. The service was excellent, probably the best we've had yet on the island, and as crowded as the restaurant was, we never felt rushed. I can't really describe everything we ate that night, since each course came with a wineglass FULL of sake and my memory is a bit blurry, but my overall impression of the food was fabulous. I ate everything on my plate. Then I contemplated licking the plate-it was THAT good.

We were so stuffed after that dinner that we had to take a few laps around the Po'ipu Shopping Village to settle the meal before we could bend in the middle to fit back into the car. After meeting up with the security guard for the third time on our (and his) rounds, he grinned at us and said, "Tasting dinner at Roy's, eh?" Yup.

Roy's
2360 Kiahuna Plantation Drive
Poipu, Hawaii, 96756
+1 808 742 5000

Ke'e Beach

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by vrp1483 on November 9, 2004

This is the Bali Hai beach, the absolute end of the road. Perfect picturesque palm trees, lagoon, surf--it has it all. It’s the best in the morning--leave your condo early because it will take you a while to get there. Head north on the highway and keep going around the island counter-clockwise until you get to the end of the road. Go slowly when crossing Limahuli Stream, which runs across the road in a shallow depression, as sometimes there's a large pothole lurking under the water. Don't be terribly concerned if the parking lot is packed-it doesn't necessarily mean the beach is likewise packed. The Kalalau trail takes off from here, and a lot of the cars are from the backpackers.

The beach itself *can* get crowded in late morning and early afternoon, so get there early and enjoy the morning, and then head out to a more deserted beach later on. Snorkeling in the lagoon is pretty good around the edges, but be mindful of the outlet and of the surf--it can get pretty big on the north side in the winter months. There is a lovely sandy bottom to the lagoon, so it is great for just lazing around. All in all, it is a terrific beach, but can be crowded.

Ke'e Beach
Foot Of The Na Pali Coast Trail
Kauai, Hawaii, 96722

Tunnels Beach

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by vrp1483 on November 9, 2004

By far my most favorite beach. It has it all: awesome snorkeling, views of the Bali Hai promontory and lush, vegetation-covered hills, waterfalls arcing down the aforementioned lushly green hills, beautiful sand, and surfers out on the breaks. The only problem is that parking is an issue, and because of the awesome snorkeling, it is more crowded than its location would ordinarily warrant. There is a definite current, so enter the water at the far right (east), snorkel with the current, and get out on the far left (west). The fish are, quite simply, enormous. They are the grown-up versions of all the other fish you've ever seen while snorkeling. Early morning is best to snag the parking. We like to get here first thing in the morning, then bail out when it really starts to get crowded and stop at Zelo’s in Hanalei for lunch.
Tunnels Beach
8-mile Marker After Princeville
Kauai, Hawaii

Kepuhi Beach

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by vrp1483 on November 9, 2004

Kepuhi Beach is the next beach east of Tunnels. When you can't find parking at Tunnels, head back toward town on the highway, turn toward the ocean at the next set of streets, and keep working your way toward the beach. There should be beach access signs at either end of the road furthest in. There is more current here, but also good snorkeling when the conditions are right. Usually deserted. And I mean completely deserted. When Tunnels is packed like Waikiki, all you have to do is come here for blissful solitude, and snorkeling is almost as good as Tunnels--which means fantastic. The last time I was there, I saw a turtle the size of my dining room table. Parking is easy, and you just walk down the path next to the YMCA camp, and you're there.
Kepuhi Beach
Hanalei
Kauai, Hawaii

Hideaways Beach

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by vrp1483 on November 9, 2004

If you’re driving through Princeville, there is extremely limited public parking by the Princeville Hotel. Access is via the narrow path between the fences by the tennis courts. The path to the beach can be extremely difficult, with stairs down half of it, and then a scramble to the beach, but what a beach when you get there.

There is awesome snorkeling if the conditions are right. There are really two beaches here, the larger one that the trail leads to and another one around the lava outcropping at the east end of the beach. At low tide, and low surf conditions, it is possible to wade (use reef shoes) around the lava rock to get to a smaller and more private--albeit rocky--beach. There is a private path to this section of the beach from some condos on the cliff too. It is possible to make it around the lava rock at higher tide, but expect to get wet, very wet, and some might get a little freaked out by the wave action pushing you onto the sharp lava rock. The bigger beach can be surprisingly crowded. The smaller beach is much more private.

Hideaways Beach
Princeville
Kauai, Hawaii

'Anini Beach

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by vrp1483 on November 9, 2004

Anini Beach is very shallow and very protected -- if the surf is raging everywhere else, this is the place to be. It's a very long beach, so you can usually get a patch of sand to yourself, but the snorkeling isn't as good as you might think with that huge reef offering shelter. Beautiful, sparkling sand. One bit of sand where the sparkles are better than the rest is where I lost my diamond earring. The road along and into the beach is where all the glitterati of Hollywood have built their homes. Supposedly Steven Spielberg and Sylvester Stallone, among others, have homes here.
Anini Beach Park
At the end of Anini Road
Hanalei, Hawaii, 96714
+1 808 822 5065

Larsen's Beach

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by vrp1483 on November 9, 2004

There is a trail to access this beach, but it is a gently sloping, wide trail -- almost a road -- down to the beach, so it isn't that difficult. If you can't find a patch of sand without anyone else in sight at this beach, then you're just not trying hard enough. This is a beautiful, deserted beach to just veg out on.
Larsen's Beach
North of Kapaa
Kauai, Hawaii

Moloa'a Bay

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by vrp1483 on November 9, 2004

This is a beautiful, sheltered bay. Palm trees swaying in the wind, surrounding a white sand beach with blue water and fair snorkeling. Just lovely. Great place to while away an afternoon. The drive to it is pretty, too. Access can be tricky, as there weren't signs posted when we went, and the beach is surrounded by homes, so just go carefully along the best path you can find.
Moloa'a Bay Beaches
North of Kapaa
Kauai, Hawaii

Gillan's Beach/Mahaulepu Beaches

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by vrp1483 on November 9, 2004

You really have to follow a guidebook to find these beaches, but once you're there, they are spectacular. There's no other word for it. The trail to the beach is not difficult at all -- it's mostly flat. Once on the beach, you can go to the west and climb a trail to walk along the cliffs, if you want. The view from there is fabulous. The beach itself is usually deserted too. That little house is also available for rent as a bed-and-breakfast. If the wind is up, you'll likely get sandblasted here, but the sailboats and sailboards love it then.
Mahaulepu Lithified Cliffs
off Poipu Road
Kauai, Hawaii

Lawai Beach

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by vrp1483 on November 9, 2004

Little Beach by Lawai Beach Resort. Doesn't really have a name, doesn't really have a beach. It is on the road up to the spouting horn out of Poipu -- you'll know you're in the right place when you see a lot of people snorkeling right by the road. A restaurant is on the east end of the beach, and the Lawai Beach Resort is sort of across the street. Basically, it's a place to just get out of the car, snorkel gear in hand, get in the water, snorkel 'til you get cold, get out, get back in car, and drive to beach to veg. Not very relaxing, but awesome snorkeling. Sort-of facilities across the road by where you park.
Lawai Beach
Next to 5022 Lawai Road
Kauai, Hawaii

Salt Pond Beach

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by vrp1483 on November 9, 2004

Salt Pond State Park is west of Poipu in Hanapepe. Follow the signs from the highway. Protected by a couple of rock shelves, this is a terrific place to swim, snorkel, and just a fabulous place to spend the day. It is popular with locals, so it can be crowded on the weekends. We usually hit this beach a couple times per trip during the weekdays if the surf is bad elsewhere on the island. There is fair to decent snorkeling by the rocks on the left-hand side. This is an official "park," so there's lots of paved parking, showers, bathrooms, fish-cleaning areas, picnic tables, grills, camping sites, and lifeguards. I particularly like the slope of the sandy beach around on the left side. You can really dig in and make yourself a little recliner chair in the sand, just perfect for keeping an eye on the horizon and an eye on your book.
Salt Pond Beach Park
Lolokai Road to the end
Hanapepe, Hawaii, 96716
+1 808 335 5871 (Haw

Queen's Pond at Polihale

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by vrp1483 on November 9, 2004

Queen's Pond at Polihale can be found by heading towards Polihale Beach Park on the can-hauling road at the end of the highway. Then turn left at the monkeypod tree. "Queen's Pond" is kind of a shallow, sandy-bottomed, sheltered lagoon formed by a dead fringing reef. It is the only place on the whole Polihale Beach where it might be safe to swim and float. The snorkeling sucks here. We swam a grid-pattern search in the pond and found two tiny fish. That was it. But it is worth it for the sunny weather and the safe swimming. It honest-to-god never rains here. If the weather is crappy elsewhere on the island, this is the place to be. It is in the rain shadow of the wettest place on earth, so it is practically the driest place on earth. There is sort of a walk to get up and over the dunes to get to the beach.
Polihale State Park
End of Highway 50, past Kekeha
Waimea, Hawaii, 96796
+1 808 587 0400

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