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My first trip to Kauai--a long report!

Little Rock, AR
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My first trip to Kauai--a long report!

My husband and I recently returned from our first trip to Kauai. It was fabulous and so incredibly beautiful. I received tons of information from so many people on this forum—both regulars and others who had written trip reports over the last several months. Thank you all for the great information you have passed along—it truly helped us out! I’ll attempt a trip report below so that maybe others can get some ideas just as I did. I’ll apologize ahead of time for being so long-winded!

We stayed in Princeville on the North Shore at the Pali Ke Kua condos. Our unit was #111 (I’ve written a review on TA as well) and looked directly out onto the Pacific and Bali Hai. My gosh—it’s the best view! We could look out our dining room and living room windows all day long and see such beauty—it was just amazing. The whole island is beautiful and I’ve never been anywhere so gorgeous before in my life. The pictures we took certainly don’t do it justice.

We enjoyed our condo and the location. The Princeville area is truly lovely, and there are so many beautiful spots on the North Shore. Our condo unit had a very steep paved path that went down to Pali Ke Kua’s private beach. What a walk—coming up was tough! Back to the location of the condo: we did have to drive a bit to get to other areas of the island, but we enjoyed this as well. We had a convertible for the visit and that was so much fun! It’s gorgeous in so many places on this island so driving around was a blast.

We shopped for a few groceries at the nearby Princeville shopping center, at the Foodland. We got the shopper’s discount card, so that helped a bit with prices. Yes, groceries are expensive around there but we expected that. We did not want to visit Walmart while there since we have so many around here but still ended up there on our last day. We should have gone on the first day—we would have found better prices on things like sunscreen, bottled water, etc. Oh well…live and learn. We did buy quite a few souvenirs at Walmart, so we saved a bit of money there.

We tended to eat out or pick up things to bring back to the condo. My favorite take out spot was Hanalei Gourmet in Hanalei. I loved their Waldorf Salad and there was always plenty left over for another meal. My husband enjoyed their hamburger and fries, and we both loved the 4 layer chocolate cake—outstanding! We never ate in there, so I can’t comment on the service. We ate breakfast one morning at Wake Up Café in Hanalei and enjoyed that as well. Another favorite breakfast spot was Kountry Kitchen in Kappa. I had the mac nut pancakes—excellent!---and my husband had an omelet—delicious as well. This was a great value too.

We ordered pizza one afternoon from a place whose name I can’t remember, but it’s located in a small shopping center on the way to the Lighthouse and is also a bakery. We both thought the pizza was delicious, even though a bit expensive. We had bear claws from there too and liked those as well. We purchased a loaf of “sweet French bread” and were disappointed with that. It certainly wasn’t sweet and didn’t taste like French bread. Our one bargain food-find was cinnamon pull apart bread from the Princeville Foodland bakery--$3.00 and really delicious! I will say, again, that we expected food to be high, so we weren’t that shocked and just tried to do our best about not buying too many things that we wouldn’t be able to use.

A few other places we ate at: Duane’s Ono Char Burger—we stopped here our first evening in Kauai, on the way to Princeville. We got there at 5:52 p.m. and were told we had 8 minutes to order but were welcome to sit at the tables and eat after 6:00 (they close at 6:00). The burgers were good, and so was the chocolate milkshake. We also tried Bubba’s Burgers in Hanalei—really average burgers, if that, and we wouldn’t recommend them. There is a small restaurant and bakery inside the Chen Young Village in Hanalei where we had plate meals. I had teriyaki beef with rice and my husband had pork chops and gravy. Both were yummy! I’m sorry—I can’t remember the name, but I know it has a bakery as well. On our last day, we stopped at the Lihue Barbeque Inn on Rice street and had plate lunches there too—hamburger steak with mashed potatoes. For one price, we got the main entrée, a fruit salad or soup, bread, a drink, and dessert. It was all GREAT! I figured dessert would be something really cheap like jello but we were allowed to pick from the daily pies. We got slices of chocolate pie and macadamia nut pie—both were yummy. Service was great here as well.

To be continued...

Orlando, Florida
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1. Re: My first trip to Kauai--a long report!

Wow! Your food selections would put me to sleep :-)

Nice report. Thanks for taking the time to write.

I'm looking forward to staying in Princeville also. I'll make sure I head to Walmart for the water.

Little Rock, AR
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2. Re: My first trip to Kauai--a long report!

Sorry for the long length--here's the rest of the story:

We wanted to snorkel and rented equipment from Snorkel Bob’s in Kappa. Just talking with the workers there was so entertaining—totally surfer dudes and very helpful as well! We rented belts, along with our masks, snorkels, and fins because we felt like we needed these. We were glad to have them—they allowed us to concentrate on snorkeling and we didn’t need to worry about getting in any uncomfortable swimming situations (we’d only snorkeled one other time before this trip).

We found the steep path down to Hideaways Beach on our next to last day and we LOVED this beach. This was our favorite beach and we had a great time snorkeling here. We loved the easy entry into the water—lots of sand, so we could get in and out easily before coming up on rocks and coral. We saw tons of fish here and also enjoyed just swimming in the water. The steep path getting up and down is a challenge but well worth it. It’s also amazingly beautiful down there with wonderful views.

The other beach we found was Tunnels and the snorkeling here was terrific as well. I must admit that we did not find the beach that easily at first. We actually parked at Ha’nae (sp?) Beach Park and entered the beach area after crossing through this park’s grassy area. Unfortunately, we went to the left instead of the right and walked quite some distance before realizing we were not at Tunnels. Luckily we asked a man out walking and he directed us to the right area. We actually got to the beach very early that morning but because of going the wrong way, we didn’t have any crowds to see to lead us to Tunnels. It was fun once we got there and started snorkeling. My biggest fear was touching the reef and damaging it, and so it was a challenge for me getting out of the water every time. I was so exhausted after trying to carefully swim and/or step over and around the coral. Still, we saw so many fish and they were beautiful—what a wonderful experience.

One of our favorite experiences was a helicopter tour with Air Kauai. This was yet another amazing experience! To see all of the island from the air, including the Na Pali Cost and the Waimea Canyon was fantastic. Our pilot was Warren, who did a great job with flying and commentating. I am scared of heights and was very nervous about doing this, but he made it wonderful. The flight was smooth, even when turning around in the various canyon areas. Warren also gave just enough commentary so that we knew what we were looking at but didn’t talk too much. I enjoyed this experience tremendously.

We did attend a luau at Smith’s and this was okay. The food was fine and the Smiths obviously have some very talented family members. We enjoyed the hula demonstration during dinner by one of the Smith cousins—she was so graceful and beautiful as she danced. We also enjoyed the family members who sang and played music during dinner. During the actual hula ceremony, it began to rain a lot so we left early. We did see many talented dancers but both of us felt the show kind of dragged a bit. We also thought the female hula dancers were much better than the males. I kind of felt like some of the guys were pulled in off the street just before the show, but they were funny, so that made it fun. Overall, this was a long evening and maybe not quite up our alley, although I think many people really enjoyed it.

We drove out to Spouting Horn on our last day on the island and saw some of the South Shore. Yet another interesting drive and we enjoyed Spouting Horn too—very impressive. I even got a bonus out there—a little shopping market was set up nearby so I picked up a few more souvenirs! We had shave ice in Old Koloa Town before we headed back for the airport. This was my third shave ice in three days—I became quite addicted! And, yes, I had the mac nut ice cream on the bottom each time—oh so good! I had shave ice twice in Hanalei but can’t recall the name—right next to Bubba’s Burgers in the area with all the green buildings (maybe something Paradise in the name?). As you can tell from reading, we went to Hanalei a lot---maybe we should stay there next time, huh?

Before I end this (sorry it’s so long!), I will tell you one other discovery I made—Guava Nector! OH MY GOSH—this was delicious! I would love to find it over here on the mainland, but I’d probably be drinking up way too many calories if I did. It’s truly the best juice I’ve ever had.

Kauai was wonderful, beautiful, gorgeous, etc. All the words you can possibly think of to describe beauty apply to this island. We hope to visit again one of these days. Thanks again to all of you for your valuable and helpful information!

Little Rock, AR
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3. Re: My first trip to Kauai--a long report!

aquablue, we didn't eat all of those things every day on the same days, I promise! Sometimes, we had a late lunch/early dinner so that we didn't really eat another meal that same day. I know a lot of people eat quite a bit of fish while in Kauai--we're just not really fish eaters. Plate lunches are really a big thing over there as well.

Orlando, Florida
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4. Re: My first trip to Kauai--a long report!

You sure are quick. I barely read your first post, and here you are with another -lol. I don't feel your posts are too long at all. The experiences you've detailed are very helpful.

I was debating over whether the trek down and up to Hideaways was worth it. Sounds as if it is a go. Also, thanks for clarifying the entrance into Tunnels. I would have gone the wrong way also:-)

I'm curious how your drive back from the Luau was?? Was the road back to Princeville very dark?

Thank you again for all your helpful tips...and the food locations.

Houston, Texas
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5. Re: My first trip to Kauai--a long report!

I also do not feel your post was too long....IT WAS TOO SHORT!! LOL!

Nice report and thanks for taking the time out to do one.

By the way, when you were in Hanalei, do you remember the name of the restaurant that was open air that is located right in the middle of the strip shopping center behing Bubba's? It used to be an Italian place 10 years ago. I was just curious if you knew the name.

Thanks again!!

Boulder, Colorado
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6. Re: My first trip to Kauai--a long report!

Great report! I want more. What other beaches did you got to/ snorkel at? Hit any other restaurants? Do tell..

Venice, Florida
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7. Re: My first trip to Kauai--a long report!

Lee4 -- I'm glad you had such a great time. Really thought you would enjoy Pali Ke Kua -- hard to bewat that view, isn't it??

dallas
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8. Re: My first trip to Kauai--a long report!

aqua - Hideaways was our favorite beach this past trip; best snorkeling and neat setting. Kind of fun getting down to - like a mini Kalalua trail. Also not nearly as crowded as some of the other beaches - go for it.

Sylvania, Ohio
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9. Re: My first trip to Kauai--a long report!

Great report, thanks!

We leave for paradise in 51 days.

dallas
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10. Re: My first trip to Kauai--a long report!

Lee - Great report, love the North Shore too. Lots of people harping on Hideaways,lately, on the boards. That's why we checked it out last trip and loved it. Write more Lee - Mahalo