Hawai’i Dreamin’ | Travel Guide to Kauai

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TRAVEL GUIDE TO KAUA’I, HAWAI’I: 


Have you ever dreamed of vacationing to the Garden Isle of Hawai’i?
Or maybe you already have an adventure-seeking, jungle-filled trip on the books?

Well, today I’m going to share my tips, favorite spots + recommendations for the island of Kaua’i.
Pack your bags + let’s get going. . .

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Flying From Island To Island | Island Air

If you hangout with me on Instagram, you may have seen that our trip to Kaua’i was postponed due to some crazy storms that were passing over the islands. I’m so glad we waited because when we did end up going, the weather was pretty wonderful!

It was raining in Kona when we took off, but once in the sky, it was smooth sailing + beautiful island views out the window. If you’re flying from within the islands or planning on island hopping while you’re here, we love Island Air for their reasonable pricing of flights. Even last minute, you can still get a deal! Island hopping is a great way to get a feel for all of the islands; each one with their own charm. Here are my travel guides for O’ahu + The Big Island (where we live).

Also, Island Air has a fun ‘discover’ tab on their website with information about different places to see while visiting each island!

We were in for a treat on our flight to Kaua’i, look out that window! Stunning and so vibrantly blue.

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Rum Tasting | Koloa Rum Company

In the Kīikaha (Island Air‘s in flight magazine) we read about the local rum distillery on the island.
We love sampling local favorites and hey, free tasting?! We’re in!
Koloa Rum Company is about 15 minutes from the airport and the staff was a ball. Great first stop!

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A Curated Lodging Experience in Kauai | The Palmwood Bed + Breakfast

For the first part of our trip, we headed north east just past the town of Kapa’a.
We checked into this secluded, charming bed and breakfast tucked away in the mountains!
Read more about our stay at The Palmwood here.

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Most Northern Part of the Hawaiian Islands | Kilauea Lighthouse

This stop was an unexpected one! Actually, we were trying to find the Queen’s Bath one morning and ended up stumbling upon a sign for the lighthouse. With our hearts vested in the east coast, both Aaron + I love a good lighthouse view. We took the turn and after soaking in these fine views and watching a whale breach right off the shore, we were happy we did.

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Incredible Hike on the North Shore | Queen’s Bath

*WARNING* Queen’s Bath is extremely dangerous, especially in the winter months. Be careful!
The trail is very muddy (nearly slipped down the entire hill!) and there have been many deaths in this natural pool.
Especially if you are traveling during the winter, the surf can be extremely high + rouge waves DO HAPPEN.

Please do you research, check the surf, talk to locals and then make a plan to go.
If you’re planning to go while visiting, read this first.
Please be safe! We were lucky and it was absolutely beautiful and calm when we went. It was the highlight of my trip!
It’s stunning and worth checking out but I don’t ever encourage risking your life for an adventure.

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Hiking The Na Pali Coast | Kalalau Trail

The striking cliffs of the Nā Pali Coast are probably what Kaua’i is best known for. I know the stunning aerial shots of this coastline are what sparked my interest years ago. Hiking the Kalalau trail was beautiful, challenging and awe-inspiring.

This trail provides the only land access to this part of the rugged Nā Pali Coast. We had our hearts set on hiking to the Hanakāpīʻai Beach two miles in, although the trail traverses 5 valleys over 11 miles before ending at Kalalau Beach. Since I gotd sick upon arriving to the island and with HIGH surf preventing any swimming at the beach, we ended up not trekking the full way to the beach (we plan to next time).

The Kalalau Trail is hands down one of the most incredible hikes on earth.
Wondering if the trail is open today? Click here. 

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Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas | Kauai Hotel in Princeville

While we were exploring the north shore, we stayed at the Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas and LOVED IT!
It was just Aaron + I, although we kept thinking about how these villas would be ideal for families or groups.

The kitchen was awesome + furnished with everything we needed (dishes, glasses, wine opener, soap, etc) and the suite was HUGE! Tons of space to relax, big bathtub and separate shower. . . not to mention a big cozy bed.

There was a family friendly pool + an adults only pool closer to the ocean. The whole resort was lovely and we truly enjoyed our stay at the Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas. Also, something to note is that we were very close to everything. We were just a 15 minute drive to Hanalei and right in the center of Princeville.

We dined at the Nanea Restaurant one of the nights and I have to say, we had the luxury of eating the best poké we’ve ever had.
I was so surprised! I love poké and eat it often but this was like BUTTER. So fresh, soft, well flavored and incredibly delicious.
The rest of our meal was equally amazing, we both indulged and left really pleased.
But that poké – I will remember it forever! I’m so glad to finally tell someone that, I’ve been dreaming about that dinner ever since. 
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The Town of Hanalei | Iconic North Shore Town

When I think of Kauai, I always think about the wonderful stories I’ve heard about Hanalei.
It was awesome to finally see the famous pier, walk the shops and take in the views of this iconic place.
Aaron surfed Hanalei Bay, we ate at a few different places and visited as many of the beaches as possible.

Kauai North Shore Beach Recommendations:

Tunnels Beach
Hanalei Bay
Haena Beach
Wainiha Beach

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Sunset at Tunnels Beach | Kauai’s Best Beaches

As mentioned above, Tunnels Beach was one of our very favorite beaches on Kaua’i! We made it there for sunset one night + boy, were we in for a SHOW! The clouds were lit up with shades of peach and blush. The waves were gentle and soothing. It was magnificent. Not to mention, on our drive back to the Westin Princeville, we witnessed the moon rise over Hanalei Bay.
It was absolutely UNREAL.

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Touring Na Pali Coast By Boat | Kauai Activity

I’m pretty sure this was the highlight of Aaron’s trip, if not the Kalalau trail. We were so excited for the opportunity to see theNā Pali Coast from the water! Aaron found Cody of Go Blue Adventure on Instagram + looking back on it, we’re so glad we did. He’s fifth generation raised on Kauai and he was a wealth of knowledge. He shared the history or a personal story around every curve, bringing the coastline alive.

That morning our boat was surrounded by about 400 dolphins  which was WILD.  After we went as far north as we could, taking in the striking cliffs, we turned back and were honored to see multiple whales right up close. Such a spectacular morning with Blue Ocean Adventure Tours!

While we were out there, we could easily see Ni’ihau (‘The Forbidden Island’) and Cody told us all about how vividly preserved the Hawaiian culture is on Ni’ihau + the pure blood line of the monarch.

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Waimea Canyon | The Grand Canyon Of the Pacific

When we were planning our trip, this wasn’t that appealing to me for some reason. Maybe because I had grown up in the desert, seeing these types of natural wonders often, or maybe because we just visited the Grand Canyon this year – I’m not sure. But I’m so glad we did end up going! This canyon is mind blowing! How can such a vast valley exist on this little island? I was in awe!

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Tip: Go to the top of Waimea Canyon to the Kalalau Lookout Point FIRST. Even if you go early and stop to see the scenic points along the way, by the time you get to the top, the fog will be socked in and you won’t have any visibility of the breathtaking Kalalau Lookout Point.

Unfortunately, this happened to us! (We hope to take in the views next time) But while we were up at the top, we met this wonderful man who was actually from Ni’ihau (‘The Forbidden Island’). It was wild going from the boat out in the ocean, talking about this island, to up at the top of this mountain talking to someone who was born and raised there. 

The people of Ni’ihau live a very different lifestyle to that of a typical American household. There isn’t electricity, stores, internet, cellphones or cars and outsiders are not welcome. They still uphold Hawaiian traditions and speak Hawaiian as their first language.

The man spoke to us about the untouched nature of their island + showed us pure shells without pollution next to shells collected on Kaua’i. There was such a difference in color! It’s amazing how beautiful our earth is when untouched by man. Ni’ihau shells are precious and worth more than gold. Read more about them here: Shells From the Forbidden Island.

Opaekaa Falls + Wailua Falls | Kauai Waterfalls Worth Seeing

Wailua Falls was cool from the top viewpoint but I so WISH we had arrived earlier and had hiked to the bottom of the waterfalls. This photo by Martha Kirby inspired our venture to these falls + it’s on our list for next time!

As for ‘Opaeka’a Falls – we had quite the adventure hiking to the bottom of these falls! If you can view something from afar or have the chance to go experience it up close (safely + without causing any harm to the environment) always choose the latter. It’s amazing to get close to places in nature most people only look at and take a picture of from afar.

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Sheraton Kauai | Kauai Hotel in Poipu

After our adventure on the west side of the island, we headed towards Poipu to check in at the Sheraton Kauai. We went to the Poipu Market, where a farmers’ market was underway and found the sweetest woman selling homemade soup. Bless her heart, my aching throat so needed it!

We checked into the hotel + the view off our ocean-facing balcony was gorgeous! We started that evening with dinner at Rum Fire. Delicious! After a week of non-stop go, go, go around the island – Aaron + I welcomed a good night of sleep!

To get a fresh start, shake the cold I was fighting + take in the ocean views, we opted for the morning yoga class offered on property! Both loved it, great instructor and we were on the lawn just a few steps from the shoreline.

Something unique that I loved was that you can take hula lessons + lei making classes at the Sheraton Kauai. For those who are coming to the islands for the first time, this is a wonderful opportunity to try some of the sacred Hawaiian traditions for yourself.

After yoga, we threw on our suits and spent the whole day lounging at the resort. We had a poolside bungalow, had a few drinks, walked the beach and let ourselves unwind. Aaron got the most killer bloody mary, fully loaded with a burger on top. . . Keep reading to see the photo! It was nice to rest, relax and enjoy some time together. 
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Travel Blogger's Guide to Kauai via @elanaloo + elanaloo.com"Monster Mary" loaded bloody mary | Sheraton Kauai | Best Places to Stay in Poipu, Kauai | Best Places to Stay on the South Shore of Kauai | Travel Guide to Kauai, Hawaii | Travel Tips for Kauai | Packing List for Kauai | Helpful Tips for Traveling to Kauai | Kauai Travel Guide | Hawaii Travel Guide | Why You Should Visit Hawaii | Napali Coast Boat Excursion | Activities To Do in Kauai | Best Vacation Places in the World via @elanaloo + elanaloo.comSheraton Kauai | Best Places to Stay in Poipu, Kauai | Best Places to Stay on the South Shore of Kauai | Travel Guide to Kauai, Hawaii | Travel Tips for Kauai | Packing List for Kauai | Helpful Tips for Traveling to Kauai | Kauai Travel Guide | Hawaii Travel Guide | Why You Should Visit Hawaii | Napali Coast Boat Excursion | Activities To Do in Kauai | Best Vacation Places in the World via @elanaloo + elanaloo.com Sheraton Kauai | Best Places to Stay in Poipu, Kauai | Best Places to Stay on the South Shore of Kauai | Travel Guide to Kauai, Hawaii | Travel Tips for Kauai | Packing List for Kauai | Helpful Tips for Traveling to Kauai | Kauai Travel Guide | Hawaii Travel Guide | Why You Should Visit Hawaii | Napali Coast Boat Excursion | Activities To Do in Kauai | Best Vacation Places in the World via @elanaloo + elanaloo.comSheraton Kauai | Best Places to Stay in Poipu, Kauai | Best Places to Stay on the South Shore of Kauai | Travel Guide to Kauai, Hawaii | Travel Tips for Kauai | Packing List for Kauai | Helpful Tips for Traveling to Kauai | Kauai Travel Guide | Hawaii Travel Guide | Why You Should Visit Hawaii | Napali Coast Boat Excursion | Activities To Do in Kauai | Best Vacation Places in the World via @elanaloo + elanaloo.comSheraton Kauai | Best Places to Stay in Poipu, Kauai | Best Places to Stay on the South Shore of Kauai | Travel Guide to Kauai, Hawaii | Travel Tips for Kauai | Packing List for Kauai | Helpful Tips for Traveling to Kauai | Kauai Travel Guide | Hawaii Travel Guide | Why You Should Visit Hawaii | Napali Coast Boat Excursion | Activities To Do in Kauai | Best Vacation Places in the World via @elanaloo + elanaloo.comSheraton Kauai | Best Places to Stay in Poipu, Kauai | Best Places to Stay on the South Shore of Kauai | Travel Guide to Kauai, Hawaii | Travel Tips for Kauai | Packing List for Kauai | Helpful Tips for Traveling to Kauai | Kauai Travel Guide | Hawaii Travel Guide | Why You Should Visit Hawaii | Napali Coast Boat Excursion | Activities To Do in Kauai | Best Vacation Places in the World via @elanaloo + elanaloo.com

Shipwreck Beach | Best Kauai Beaches

Shipwreck Beach, located on the south shore near Poipu, was beautiful! I laid on the beach and read, Aaron hung up his hammock and we just lounged for a while. The cliffside on the left is really striking and just a short walk over! Still don’t know why it’s called Shipwreck Beach – hopefully we’ll find out next time!

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We were really hoping to do some beach camping but both nights we went to set up camp, it was POURING. We were so bummed because camping on the beach on our last trip to O’ahu was a highlight! Instead, we camped in our car. Not so glamorous but we got up early both mornings and started our day with the sun!

Kauai South Shore Beach Recommendations:

Shipwreck Beach
Poipu Beach
Salt Pond Beach Park
Kekaha Beach Park
Polihale State Park

Kauai Juice Company | Kauai Food Recommendations | Travel Guide to Kauai, Hawaii | Travel Tips for Kauai | Packing List for Kauai | Helpful Tips for Traveling to Kauai | Kauai Travel Guide | Hawaii Travel Guide | Why You Should Visit Hawaii | Napali Coast Boat Excursion | Activities To Do in Kauai | Best Vacation Places in the World via @elanaloo + elanaloo.comKauai Food Recommendations | Packing List For Kauai | Travel Guide to Kauai, Hawaii | Travel Tips for Kauai | Packing List for Kauai | Helpful Tips for Traveling to Kauai | Kauai Travel Guide | Hawaii Travel Guide | Why You Should Visit Hawaii | Napali Coast Boat Excursion | Activities To Do in Kauai | Best Vacation Places in the World via @elanaloo + elanaloo.com
Kauai Food Recommendations + Local Favorites

✔ Kauai Juice Company
✔ Bar Acuda (incredible tapas!)
✔ Sushi Girl (sushi burrito for the win!)
▢ Koloa Fish Market (for awesome poké)
✔ Fresh Bite
Cortado Coffee in Poipu (loved the Coco Loco with
▢ La Spezia Restaurant
✔ Tortilla Republic (delicious stuffed poblanos – vegetarian friendly)
▢ Beach House Restaurant
▢ Anake’s Juice Bar
✔ Hippie Café/Cafe Coco (piña colada blow + summer roll were DELICIOUS!)
*Don’t follow GPS directions to Hippie Café but instead Cafe Coco. Kind of confusing but so worth it! Loved this place.

Shave Ice Places:

✔ Wishing Well Shave Ice – awesome aca’i bowls too!
▢ The Fresh Shave
▢ Loco Coco
▢ Tege Tege Shave Ice


Something extra I wanted to include in this guide, that I didn’t in my O’ahu guide is a suggested packing list! I didn’t provide one for O’ahu because there are so many things to do on that island + it seems like each person’s stay is a bit different.

Although we saw a pattern amongst many people in Kaua’i – they were there for ADVENTURE.
Most people traveling to the island had some hikes planned, loved the outdoors, were going to immerse themselves in the beauty of the island, etc.
So, because of this pattern, I thought I would share my recommendations on things to pack for your trip!

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Here’s What To Pack For Kauai –

✔ Camera
✔ Bug Spray – I make ours with essential oils!
✔ Umbrella (part of the island is the wettest place on earth!)
✔ Rain gear (lightweight, water resistant jacket)
✔ Reef-Safe Sunscreen (PLEASE REEF SAFE!)
✔ Light, breathable clothes
✔ Your favorite bikinis (here are some of mine!)
✔ Hiking Shoes
✔ Camping gear (awesome places to camp!)
✔ Backpacking backpacks (we love our his + hers packs)

So, when are you planning to go to Kaua’i?
Do you have some Kauai suggestions or favorites that I missed?
Please share them in the comments because we definitely plan to go back!
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Author: elanaloo

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  • Oh my goodness, i loved this post! Hawaii is literally heaven on earth! What i wouldn’t do to just drop everything and live there (my husband is afraid of tsunamis tho haha)

  • This was such an awesome guide! I just shared this with the group that I am going with. Thank you so so so much! Im counting down the days until I’m here, I’ll for sure be tagging you in the fun activities we do thank to you! xoxo

  • Aloha! I love love alll your photos of Kaua’i and supporting some of the best local business’. I wanted to share a hidden gem you missed on this trip, in the hopes that you’ll check us out the next time your in town. My name is Maile Taylor and I own a small boutique located in Warehouse 3540. Warehouse 3540 is a old glass warehouse that was renovated in to a collective of shops and eateries . The shops are home to local artist, jewelry makers, carpenters, painters, seamstresses, green thumbs, printers and a bunch of really cool people. The building itself is a beautiful marriage of rustic and modern (very Portland, OR). We host private events as well as hold events through out the month including weekly markets, monthly night markets with live music, monthly workshops hosted by shop owners, weekly children book reading and play time for the youngins.

    We’d love to have you come and check out the great vibe here at Warehouse 3540!

    Here’s a list of shop owners and food trucks.

    Salt + Sea @saltandseakauai
    Machine Machine @machinemachine &. @workshopkauai
    Naisish @ naisishhandmade
    Ivy & Co @ ivyandcompany
    Navy Dylan @navydylan
    Cru @crukauai
    The Fresh Shave @thefreshshave
    Dark Roost Coffee @darkroost
    Kick Shaws @kickshaws

    Warehouse 3540 @warehouse3540

    We all look forward to meeting you on your next trip to Kaua’i!!

  • Kudos on a great story of your trip. Your photos are lovely; many are professional quality. A great blog.

    What made me wince however was your photos and breathless prose about Queens Bath. As you note, Queens Bath, along with Lumahai Beach and especially Hanakapai Beach, is absolutely treacherous. Seductive though it may be, I cannot stress enough how dangerous Queens Bath is, even in the summer months.

    To your credit, you open the section on Queens Bath with a warning. Instead, I would urge anyone NOT to go there. I have a number of close friends who live on Kauai, many of whom are professional surfers and extremely strong swimmers. They refuse to go there because they know its dangers. That should tell you something.

    Queens Bath is not protected by lifeguards. Even on seemingly calm days, sets of powerful rogue waves can hit unexpectedly. Just do a YouTube search for “Queens Bath” and you will encounter a number of frightening videos showing how dangerous it can be. Or Google “Queens Bath deaths” to read articles of people swept out to their deaths just standing on the rocks near the ocean. (Pro tip: If you’re standing on wet rock, it means that big waves will hit there again in 15-20 minutes.)

    While Queens Bath can look blissfully peaceful, the ocean beyond is absolutely deadly. Hawaii has the highest incidence of drownings anywhere in the U.S., and of all the Hawaiian islands, Kauai is #1 for ocean fatalities. The reason: The Garden Isle has extremely strong ocean currents and powerful rip currents along the shoreline. Sailors will tell you that the seas off of Kauai are some of the most violent anywhere in the world. And locals will tell you that everyone they know has had a near-death experience in Kauai’s waters. Heed their warnings.

    If you get swept out of Queens Bath by rogue waves, lifeguards would have to come over from Hanalei Bay on a Seadoo to rescue you. That could take 20 minutes at best, and you could easily drown in that time. You’re on your own if things go sideways. Think about that.

    We mainlanders are clueless when it comes to the violence and power of the ocean. We’re young. We think we’re indestructible and ignore the risks. But why risk your life to do something stupid?

    Your photos are idyllic. We all want to experience what you did. But I will take my happiness in looking at your photos of Queens Bath, and nothing more. I urge everyone to respect the nature’s power and not do as you did. Please.

  • This guide is incredible! And your pictures are beautiful! My husband and I are going to Kauai next week so this post came just in time :) We can’t wait to check out your suggestions. Thank you for sharing!

  • Great post! Kauai is my favorite of the islands with the Big Island being a close second! The Kilauea Fish Market is awesome . I get their fish tacos and there’s a Kauai Juice Co in the same complex, so there are bonus beverages to go with your amazing seafood! Also, Postcards Cafe in Hanalei is charming and delicious.

  • We are headed to Kauai for our honeymoon this December and I have desperately been looking for a guide to the island like this one! Thank you!!

  • Im headed to Kauai in July and this excited me even more! Is Queens Bath really that dangerous as the post above states?? Your pics are amazing and I hope to take all this in while I am There!! thanks for sharing your adventure!

    • Melanie, YES! Absolutely it is dangerous and there are numerous deaths each year. Please be so careful if you go! It’s gorgeous even if you just visit the place and don’t get in. This is a really sacred Hawaiian site so be respectful and take care of yourself! Enjoy xx