To be our first trip. Just want to walk, swim, and relax.
Where to stay?
To be our first trip. Just want to walk, swim, and relax.
To be our first trip. Just want to walk, swim, and relax.
Where to stay?
what are you dates, will you have a car, do you prefer hotel, condo, bnb? check you arrival time if you are able to drop off bags if too early. will you be eating out or having meals in.
Depends on your tastes/preferences and priorities/budget. There are plenty of options, from smaller hotels (mostly along the eastern coast, around Lihue but scattered elsewhere too), big luxury resorts (mostly along the south/southeast coast, and a couple on the north/northeast end around Princeville - these can be pretty spendy but are easy and luxurious as long as they fit your budget). Plenty of condos too, all around 3/4 of the island.
Viewing the island as a rough circle, most development is concentrated from roughly the 2:00 position (northeast coast) around to roughly the 7:00 position (southwest coast). From around 9:00 to 12:00 (the west-to-north coasts), it's largely or entirely empty (no roads, protected, spectacular).
I've stayed on the north coast (Princeville area) and the south coast (Poipu), both are nice but are quite different. Princeville is a bit isolated, with fewer options (some of which are very spendy) but is quite pretty, and is close to the jumping off point for the jaw-droppingly beautiful Na Pali coast (which you must see). The areas around Lihue, and to a lesser extent around Poipu are also good options.
Don't overlook the excellent Costco in Lihue - best place to stock up on everything (especially if you end up in a condo).
First thing you should do is get "the bible": The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook by Wizard Publications. They also have an app.
I've heard that the road to Princeville was washed out in several parts because of flooding earlier this year. My brother wasn't able to get there a couple of months ago because of road closures. You definitely need to check the status of the north road - there's only one way to get to Princeville, along the east side of the Island.
Btw, the Napoli Coast is one of the most beautiful places that I have been. If you can get to Princeville and you are up for an adventure, take an ocean kayak tour along the Napoli Coast. One of the best vacation experiences ever.
The north shore (Hanalei, Princeville, etc.) experienced severe flooding about a month ago, so it's probably best to avoid the area for a while.
The south and west shores are the "dry sides" of the island thanks to the effects of the prevailing trade winds. Anything in the Poipu area would be a good choice or, if you really want to get off the beaten track, take a look at the Waimea Plantation Cottages on the far west side.
The Napali Coast is indeed world class. You can book helicopter and/or catamaran tours out of Port Allen just west of Poipu ... no need to go up to Princeville for that.
Anything in the Poipu area would be a good choice
I concur with this assessment. Well positioned to reach the other areas of the island and GREAT for sunsets.
Where to stay?
Is this a request for a specific property, or an area of the island?
How much do you want to spend?
Might add that Poipu has some of the prettiest beaches on the island, which is saying a lot for a place as beautiful as Kauai. If the prices there give you sticker shock you might want to look a bit further away from the beachfront area to the towns of Koloa or Kalaheo - still pretty but since they're not right in the resort area the prices will decrease quite a bit. From either of them it's only a short drive to Poipu, and they're actually a little more strategically located for excursions over to Port Allen for the Napali tours.
The beach in Waimea is probably the only crummy beach on Kauai, but the one at Kekaha a little further down the road is one of the best. It's also one of the least crowded. Polihale State beach is at the absolute end of the road - with the last few miles down an unpaved cane haul road whose condition varies according to the whim of the state DOT, ie whether they've gotten around to grading it recently. If it's accessible it's worth the day trip adventure - it's one of the prettiest beaches on earth.
And of course if you could schedule your visit for the shoulder season you'd save a lot of money that way.
We have stayed at the Kiahuna Planataion condo’s in Poipu for nearly 25 years. They are managed by two companies and you can rent from them. But we usually go to VRBO or the Kiahuna Owners website as we like having a clothes washer and dryer in the unit and the rental companies won’t guarantee that. Sounds trite but I don’t want to waste beach time in the coin operated laundry on site. We pack very light so washing clothes is a must. This condo is on one of the longest and nicest breaches in Kauai. There is a beach “shack” that supplies chairs and towels and has other beach/water gear as well. Most units are 1 bedroom. We go with family so we rent a 2 bedroom. If you are interested PM me and I’ll give you a contact. Across the street is the Poipu Athletic Club. You have access to that. It has a pool, restaurant, gym with decent equipment and yoga classes. Restaurants are within walking distance or a short drive. We favor the west side, Waimea Canyon, for hiking and scenic beauty. The little town of Hannapepe makes a nice lunch stop and stroll on the way or way back. In Waimea proper is Auntie Lilikois our favorite place for jams and jelly’s. Tasting and shipping available. I have other restaurant and siteseeing tips so PM me if interested.
I go with the recommendation for Poipu for beaches and relaxing. A rental car is pretty much a necessity in Kauai. If you are at all interested in a condo check out the Parrish Collection. They have a nice web site with good descriptions and photos of properties. We usually stay at Waikomo Stream Villas. Not on the beach but close enough. Properties (hotel or condo) "on" the beach are very highly priced but are not really necessary. Beach parking in Poipu and other areas is easy. Check out the book, "Ultimate Kauai" for a lot of useful information.
Rented a Poipu Kai condo from Suite Paradise a bunch of years ago -- liked the place so much we bought a 1-bedroom condo and rented it out for a few years (and visited for Christmas.) Sadly, sold it pursuant to a divorce but I have rented from Suite Paradise after that. Highest recommendation for the Poipu area ... and for the condos. And no, I have NO commercial involvement.
Depending on which month you go to Kauai, there may not be ANY beach where you can safely swim. My husband and I are big swimmers, and when we visited Kauai in April some years back, there was only one beach suitable for swimming on the whole island that we could find! And at low tide, it was too shallow for swimming. The other beaches were either too rocky or much too rough for swimming.
If you want to swim, Maui is the island you should visit, as they have more than a dozen beaches with safe swimming and lifeguards.
"Depending on which month you go to Kauai, there may not be ANY beach where you can safely swim."
That is simply not true. Lydgate Beach Park on the east side, Tunnels Beach on the north shore, Poipu Beach Park, and Salt Ponds near Hanapepe on the west side all have guarded, enclosed swimming areas that are quite safe - even for small children. When the big surf comes during the winter months it's typically a northwest swell, meaning that although the north and west facing shores (of all the Hawaiian Islands) are best left to the professional surfers, only a few miles away on the other side of the island it'll usually be as calm as a lake. You just need to check the surf advisories and plan accordingly.
The general prudential rule in Hawaii is if you arrive at a beach and don't see any of the locals in the water then you shouldn't be going in either.
We were in Kauai (Poipu) in May of this year. This was right after the heavy rains/floods on the North Shore so we did not go there this time. We saw distance swimmers working out at Salt Ponds and at the Sheraton Hotel beach in Poipu. Come to think of it we have always seen swimmers on these beaches be it in January, Sept, July or whatever. Both of these beach are protected by a reef. Salt Ponds provides a particularly long and calm swimming area - maybe half a mile. You do have to share it with seals some times :).
My wife and I liked Poipu as well, we stayed at Kiahuna Plantation in 2003 and 2004. Both times were in April. The north shore is wetter, south is drier. On our second trip we stayed a couple of nights on the north shore too before heading down to Poipu. It's nice on the north shore as well but fewer lodging choices. We did well with the Moon Guide on our trips, the Ultimate Guidebook ...Revealed series is also good, we used the one for Maui on a 2010 trip. Think about what you want to see, I'd advise going all the way to the end of the road on the north side to Ke'e beach and hike at least to the first beach on the Kalalau trail. Also, drive all the way around to Waimea canyon in the southwest part. Poipu to Hanalei is an hour and twenty minutes on Google maps. When we were there you could actually get caught in a traffic jam in Kapa'a. There is a Safeway in Lihue now which I am not sure was even there when we last visited (the Costco was there then though). My general sense is that the beaches on the east shore tend to be to not as great for swimming, though there is always Lydgate which has an area enclosed by boulders. We were into snorkeling on our Hawaii trips and fond Maui better for the purpose, beaches generally calmer there. Kauai is just hanging out there in the Pacific whereas Maui may be somewhat sheltered by proximity to other islands. It depends on location, time of year and short term weather patterns. I have a friend who went and the water was too rough to go in the water for the whole week they were there, so it does happen. A fun thing is to rent a kayak and paddle up the Wailua river. There is a place to pull your kayak up and walk to a waterfall.
where are you? lots of posters and answers for you about kauai. have you found a place? you can also look at waipouli, kapaa, and wailua area. you can check gohawaii.com and kauai.com, under attractions for lots of info. will you have a car to drive to different parts of island and when is this first trip happening? you can check these sites for things to do.
hanapepe.org - small artsy farsty cute town, old plantation homes along "main street" that people have bought and set up galleries, art, food to be their own bosses. taro ko factory, small one man business, hole in the wall, makes chips out of taro and sweet potatoes, (3490 hanapepe road)
friday night art walk, music, food trucks, (malasadas-portuguese donuts) swinging bridge, go early for parking.
shrimp station in kapaa and waimea (friends of family own it).
rightslice.com in kalaheo or lihue pies pies pies
hamura saimin stand - well known japanese noodles shop. nothing fancy, sit up at counter. enjoy a bowl of noodles, won ton soup, chicken and beef sticks, shrimp tempura, lilikoi chiffon pie (passion fruit) get there early and grab a seat. smiley's local grinds (hawaiian and local food) in lihue, hukilau lanai in kapaa for dinner with hawaiian entertainment on thursday and fridays. hanalei has a farm to table special kauaiono.com and truckingdeliciouskauai.com, a food truck with daily local plate lunches. check before hand when you decide you want to dive to north shore because of the recent floods. also don't forget to look at the waterfalls, tree tunnel on your way to poipu, ferngrotto.com or smithskauai.com for rides up the wailua river. hope this helps you and any others going to kauai. enjoy
We're staying in Kapaa as at the suggestion of a relative. Thanks for all the tips. A kayak trip up the river is planned, along with hiking and just being a veg at the beach.
In my experience most tourists rarely go past Wiamea on the West Coast. Do so. Take the road to the end at Polihale Park. Incredible beach, rarely anyone there. One of the best beaches in the whole chain for shells, a great view to the forbidden Island, and nice sand.
Hanapepe is neat to walk around, and the Talk Story Bookshop is not only the islands largest, but has lots of old books that are hard to find elsewhere. If the BBQ truck is there get lunch!
Take 550 all the way to the end and look out over the canyon. Great views on clear days. Huge dragonflies love the vista point for some reason. There are some good hiking trails too. just make sure you take food and water, and have gas. there's nothing along the road.
Kekaha almost seems like a big city after Hanapepe, but there are some nice beaches between there and the military base (Pacific Missile Range). If you can get on the base you can easy walk up to Barking Sands Beach. It's pretty shallow, so not a good one for swimming, but it's rare to see anyone other than a couple guys fishing for miles.
Be advised that traffic is fairly slow, so make sure you leave plenty of time if you plan to go up to Hanalei or beyond.
Kapaa-hmm. Well I hope you enjoy it. We find it the least charming place on the island overrun with visitors, trinket shops, traffic jams. We had lunch there last year at a very good Mexican place, Verde. Then we got out!!
But if you LIKE trinket shops, I recommend Spouting Hole -- used to drop by there to pick up $2 shell necklaces as gifties to take home.
With apologies to your relative I must tell you frankly that of all the places to base yourselves on the island the town of Kapaa would be my last choice. The traffic alone is a turnoff for most people - there's a reason why the locals refer to the 5 mile stretch of 2 lane road as "the Kapaa Crawl". It's also on the windward side which means that it'll get more rain than most other places on Kauai, and though the beaches in the area are nice enough they really can't compare with those further west ... including Poipu.
You really might want to reconsider your choice.
For info, we lived on the island for about 13 years.
Point of order, but it's called Spouting Horn - not Spouting Hole.
I have to agree with those who wouldn't have picked Kapaa. It's really not designed for visitors IF I lived on Kauai I would live there but not for vacation. Traveling to and from you will hit traffic most anytime so plan your day trips wisely.
Thanks for all the replies, but things fell apart.
We're going to the Oregon Coast instead.
Interesting. Oregon coast is great for walking and relaxing but for swiming bring a wet (or dry) suit. Oregon water is cooler than Hawaiian water.
Indeed. I have dipped in the water at the Oregon Coast a few times (no wetsuit) - but it has always been a pretty quick (exhilarating) dip. A beautiful place, but not what most people would consider good swimming.
If you visit during the fall-winter months, watch for sneaker waves. Don't turn you back on the ocean.
Sneaker wave south of Coos Bay: Caught on camera: https://youtu.be/RPypT9dOvSY
We’ve been to Kauai twice, once stayed in a condo for a week in the Kappa area and this year for a day with a cruise. We LOVE Kauai and if we go back to HI, that is the island we will go to. This year we spent time in the southern part of the island and loved it! We also came upon a botanical garden that was just lovely. We took a tour and it was us and one other couple. Our guide was so interesting, visiting this garden (on the south side of the island) was one of the highlights of our trip. Sometimes the things you don’t plan on doing turn out to be the best. Enjoy your time on this beautiful island!!!
Just don't feed the feral chickens.
All of this wonderful information isn’t wasted just because the OP has decided on a different seaside adventure. I’ve been reading everything with interest because after 35 years of living on the “left coast” of the US we just booked a trip to Kauai, our first ever vacation to Hawaii. We have a late October early November trip planned so thanks for all of the lovely ideas so far!
Mona, this may be your first trip but it probably won't be your last. Hawaii truly is paradise!
Mona, just be warned, Kauai is addicting! I feel the weight of the world leave my shoulders as soon as I step into the sweet Hawaiian air. If you need any tips, advice, questions answered from someone who has been many times, feel free to PM me.