We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Trip Report: 5/21 to 5/27

Level Contributor
510 posts
73 reviews
Save Topic
Trip Report: 5/21 to 5/27

After 5 days on Maui (see the board for my TR), we flew to Kauai, where we had an instant connection with the island. Writing this TR gave me an opportunity to relive it all, while I sip my Kauai coffee from my souvenir mug and snack on the farmers market banana bread I’m trying to make last.

Day 1: Kapa’a and Princeville

Our flight from Maui got in around 12:30, and I had a long list of restaurants I wanted to hit in Kapa’a. Pono Market was at the top, but I had heard that there was a new location for Shrimp Station in Kapa’a. I hadn’t been able to find an address for it, but fortunately, they had an ad in the Hawaiian Airlines magazine! Pono Market would have to wait. Even with an address we ended up turning around a few times before we found it (Note: Google maps isn’t a friend of Kauai!). At long last, I got my shrimp tacos, and oh my, were they delicious!!! And huge!! I left happy, and was soon even happier after we found Tropical Dreams (new location), conveniently located next to Safeway, where we were about to get groceries. I had read about Dan, the owner, in various reviews, and he lived up to his reputation, chatting away and boasting rightfully about the ice cream. The banana storm was ridiculous! As soon as I had my first taste, I knew we’d be back as much as possible throughout the week.

We continued up to Princeville and settled in to Unit 423 in Emmalani Court, rented by Parrish. It was a beautiful, large unit with a partial ocean view, looking out over the golf course. We changed into our suits and headed out in search of Hideaways beach. People aren’t joking around when they say that it’s a steep descent! Holy heck! We loved the solitude and even managed to find a place among the rocks to swim a bit, as the water was very calm.

We turned in early to get ready for our Napali Boat Tour the next morning.

Day 2: Napali Boat Tour and the Hanalei Farmer’s Market

We headed to Kilauea for our 7am check-in with North Shore Charters. They outfitted us with dry bags, loaded the 14 passengers into a van, and drove us to Anini Beach, where Mike and Julia were waiting with the boat. North Shore Charters uses a 14-passenger inflatable that has a hard bottom. I’ve never been on a soft-bottom inflatable (which would be the Zodiac style of boat, I think), but this could probably be a similar ride based on the descriptions I’ve heard from friends. We moved really fast, and on the way back, we got WET! They even provided rain gear, which was a blessing because at the speed we were traveling, the wind and water combo was cold! The boat was small enough to go into all the sea caves, and at one point, after hanging in one cave for a few minutes snapping photos, Captain Mike slammed on the gas and whipped a serious, full-speed U-y, shooting us out of the cave via a second opening and grazing a waterfall on the way out. I seriously thought I was in Pirates of the Caribbean. It was hilarious and awesome. Needless to say, he was an expert captain!

We stopped and snorkeled a bit and it was okay. As others have said, the snorkeling on Napali isn’t the best on the island. But it was fun nonetheless. As I mentioned, the ride back was pretty hard core; we were all grabbing on to the ropes and holding on for dear life, as the trade winds kicked up some decent-sized waves. Who would have thought a boat ride could drain so much energy?

When we got back to Kilauea, we ate lunch at the Kilauea Fish Market. I had been really excited to eat there, but my ono plate was nothing particularly special. It was fresh tasting, though! I think I should have gotten the fish tacos or the burrito instead.

We finished up and headed to the Hanalei Farmer’s Market. We got there pretty early, but fortunately the guy in charge decided to let people start shopping at 1:30 instead of the 2pm set time. I got banana pie from Right Slice, a white Elena pineapple (the sweetest pineapple I’ve ever had), some apple bananas, and, my best discovery of the trip, Sarah’s baked goods from Kauai Kumana Dairy. Oh my! I decided on the spot not to miss Saturday’s market so I could stock up on bakery and bring it back home with me.

We strolled around the shops for a bit and had dinner that night at Hanalei Pizza, which was good (but the best pizza was at Kilauea Bakery and Pau Hana Pizza).

Day 3: Kalalau Trail to Hanakapi’ai Falls

Awoke early again to hit the trail and beat the crowds. This was a tough trail, and we’re not exactly novice hikers. After 5 busy days on Maui and a long day yesterday, our legs were dead before we started this 8-mile hike. What makes it so challenging is not as much the up and down in the elevation, but the rocky and slippery footing. Footing requires a good deal of concentration. Just as we were fording the final stream crossing, we were overtaken by a group of about 8 or 10 guys with their sons. If it weren’t for them, we would have had the falls to ourselves for a good while. Nonetheless, the falls were very impressive, even in our weary state. The hike up to the falls is considerably harder than the Kalalau portion. If I had known this, I would have hiked to the beach and back and called it a day.

When we got to the beach, I was on the lookout for a dog that another poster had encountered there. No dog, but we made fast friends with two tiny, underfed cats who trailed me down to the water. I would love to know how they got there!

When we finished the trail, I sprang for a super fast dip at Ke’e Beach, which was calm as glass, while DH cooled off in the car with the AC full blast. We got cleaned up and ate an early dinner at Kalypso’s, which made DH very happy. He loved his burger, and my ono and crap wrap was undeniably tasty. Their fries are pretty nice too. 

Day 4: Snorkeling at Tunnels, Waimea Canyon

We started out the morning at Java Kai, now called Hanalei Coffee Roasters. I loved this place so very much and at the end of the week went back to buy a mug so I could remember it every day with my morning coffee. After a delicious breakfast of Kauai Waffles and Kona coffee, we walked over to Hanalei Surf Co., rented some snorkel gear, and headed to Tunnels. The snorkeling here was really enjoyable. There was a great diversity of fish, and a lot of them. The toughest park was getting to the snorkeling. We parked in a lot that had a bathroom, showers, and some camp sites. I don’t think it was Haena Beach, but maybe it was. It required a good quarter-mile walk through the sand to walk back to the protected reef area, which was a lot of work with all our beach gear!

Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t cooperating, so we hauled the beach gear back to the car, showered up, and headed to south to Waimea Canyon. We had planned on going later in the week and doing some hiking, but we scratched hiking off the list (we had already done Pipiwai and Sliding Sands on Maui) and decided just to enjoy the scenic overlooks. This is not really my style, so you can gather how tired we were at this point!

Before we headed out, we stopped at Common Ground for lunch. It was just okay. We should have gone to Pono Market! On our way south, we stopped at the Kauai Coffee Co. which was super fun for a coffee snob like myself, Kauai Chocolate Co., which was not as awesome as I envisioned, and Kauai Cookies factory outlet, which was not what I expected! I’m not sure how to describe it—the cookies are very dry and light and look like something you might buy in a gas station or the dollar store. I got some cinnamon toasts, which were tasty enough for me! We poked through Hanapepe town and then hit up Waimea Canyon and Kokee State Park.

At this point I had planned on canceling the reservation I had made at Hukilau Lanai before we decided to head south. I called from Waimea town at 4:40 to cancel our 5:45 reservation. She let me know we did have a 20-minute window, so we figured it would be close, but we could try and make it. And I am so glad we did! We rolled in at 6:03 and they were very kind about our tardiness. This was a fantastic dinner and probably the best on the island. Highly recommended!

And, of course, for dessert? Tropical Dreams!

Day 5: Kalihiwei Beach, Kilauea Bakery and Pau Hana Pizza

We spent the morning relaxing on the lanai and hitting up the pool and hot tub at Emmalani Court. Around 11am, I got bored and wanted to go to the beach, and we were planning to go get pizza in Kilauea anyway, so we headed for Anini Beach. I have to be honest, I don’t understand why this beach is recommended. Sure, the water was calm, but the beach was narrow and there were rocks, bits of wood, and seaweed all over. We left right away and started driving around looking for another beach. With the help of a very nice local woman, we found our way to Kalihiwei Beach, which was much nicer, in my opinion.

Lunch at Kilauea Bakery and Pau Hana Pizza was awesome. We had the ham/pineapple/jalapeno pizza, which was so good. Their crust is the best.

Day 6: Farmer’s Market, Halanei River Kayaking, Hanalei Gourmet, and More Pizza

After breakfast at Hanalei Coffee Roasters, we went over to the Saturday Hanalei Farmers Market, where I stocked up on Sarah’s banana bread and cookies, which actually did make it all the way back to Chicago without being devoured! Even though we were leaving tomorrow, I got more pineapple and apple bananas and we managed ate it all before our Sunday afternoon plane departed!

After the market, we rented kayaks from Kayak Kauai and paddled the river out to Hanalei Bay. (We had originally planned on kayaking the Wailua River and doing the secret falls hike, but at this point in the trip, that seemed really ambitious.) I thought Hanalei River might be a let down because Wailua is always recommended as the best river to kayak, but we had a great time. It was fun seeing Hanalei Beach from the water, and on the way back, we had pretty views of Mount Wailealea.

We worked up a good appetite and enjoyed a nice meal at Hanalei Gourmet. I had crab cakes and the half Waldorf salad, and DH had a burger. The atmosphere there is great, but the service was pretty slow. Which was fine; we were in no hurry!

We did a bit of shopping in town and I got tasty shave ice from Shave Ice Paradise because Wishing Well was closed every time we drove by. By the way, don’t miss Kauai Nut Roasters! The entrance is a little tricky to find. We only discovered it because the smell of roasting nuts was wafting into a store we were browsing in, so we asked the clerk where it was coming from and how do we get there. Free samples, but I bet you can’t leave without buying something!

Later we headed back to Kilauea for more pizza. Yum!

Day 7: Saying good-bye

On our last day, we packed up the condo, checked out, and headed into Hanalei for one last hurrah. After Kauai Waffles and cinnamon rolls at Hanalei Coffee Roasters, we went down to the Hanalei Beach Pavilion and read/people watched for a couple hours. I took a stroll up and down nearly the whole beach, taking in the beauty one last time, trying to memorize what it looked like and felt like to be there.

Soon we were ready for lunch, so we headed into Kapa’a where I would finally get to eat at Pono Market. Except it was Sunday, and they were closed!! Augh!! It was flaming hot out, so we passed up the sunny tables at Mermaid’s Café and headed instead to Olympic Café, where our table was great and the food was alright. We split a kalua pork burrito and fries because the portions are huge. We poked around town a bit and soon found our way to Tropical Dreams for one last scoop of ice cream, except that I couldn’t decide on one flavor, so I ended up with a double scoop. Hey, it’s vacation!

We loved Kauai; not just the things you can do there but the entire feel of the island. It really struck a chord with us. There was so much space, so much room to breathe. We’ll be back, hopefully soon.

Thanks to all on the boards who helped me plan this trip. Talking with you all and reading your posts gave me a chance to start enjoying this trip way back in January when I started planning it. And now that I’m back, I’ll still be checking the boards every time I need a little “Aloha” in my day.

Level Contributor
2,138 posts
10 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Trip Report: 5/21 to 5/27

Thanks for sharing your trip with us. You were ambitious to hike that far on the trail with the kitties. I can't wait to try the ono and crap wrap at Kalypso's LOL! I will have to check out your Maui TR too. Thanks again.

new hampshire
Level Contributor
453 posts
92 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Trip Report: 5/21 to 5/27

I loved your report and picked up a few tips for our next trip. I am sure you will be back soon, thanks for sharing!

Santa Monica, CA
Destination Expert
for Santa Monica
Level Contributor
17,093 posts
247 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Trip Report: 5/21 to 5/27

Very nice trip report.

I have a question: did you try any Kauai coffee? I'm kind of hooked on Kona coffee but often read on this forum that many folks love the Kauai grown. As a self described coffee snob, did you have a preference?

Glad you had a good time.

Level Contributor
510 posts
73 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Trip Report: 5/21 to 5/27

ddffpp, when I was there, I drank only the Kona, because I couldn't bring myself to pay for a bag to bring home. I haven't yet tried the two Kauai brands I brought home, but when I did the tasting at the Kauai Coffee Co, there were a few that stood out to me--I brought home the Mundo Novo (dark roast) and the Kauai Sunrise (light roast for the MIL). They introduced the Mundo Novo Peaberry, but for $6 less a bag, the regular Mundo Novo suited me very well! It's tough to say how they stack up against Kona. That Kona is just really good stuff!

Destination Expert
for Poipu
Level Contributor
3,355 posts
2 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Trip Report: 5/21 to 5/27

Thanks for the trip report - you should have warned us not to read it before lunch because now I am STARVING.

I love Anini beach for the exact reasons you mention - the water is calm, fairly shallow and warm - it's like a big bathtub! The stuff washed up along the shore is great for beachcombers - or toddlers. Haven't been to Kalihiwei but I do hear it's beautiful.

Too bad about Pono Market - now you HAVE to return to Kauai.

Kaua'i, HI
Destination Expert
for Kauai, Poipu, Lihue
Level Contributor
17,874 posts
35 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Trip Report: 5/21 to 5/27

Aloha from Kaua'i!

"No dog, but we made fast friends with two tiny, underfed cats who trailed me down to the water. I would love to know how they got there!"

Well, I can tell you how they got there, but it isn't a nice story. Many people here on Kaua'i are not responsible pet owners and do not spay and neuter their pets. This causes many unwanted kittens and cats on island - which then become feral since they get "dumped" in areas around the island.

People many times take cats or kittens to "dumping" areas where they feel the cats can survive on their own - well, they usually can't and end up starving to death or becoming sick and die. The "lucky" ones beg for scraps from visitors and others and keep reproducing.

The area you are mentioning is a "dumping" area unfortunately - it is very sad indeed and breaks my heart. There are many caring people here on Kaua'i who take care of feral cat colonies by trapping them, spaying or neutering them, and releasing them back into the colony and feeding them daily. This is the only option other than euthenasia for these animals and works quite well - except for remote areas such as Hanakapi'ai.

Malama Pono,


Princeville, Hawaii
Level Contributor
7,039 posts
30 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Trip Report: 5/21 to 5/27

Thanks for your report. I think Pono Market is worth coming back for.

Kauai, Hawaii
Destination Expert
for Kauai, Kapaa
Level Contributor
23,612 posts
57 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Trip Report: 5/21 to 5/27

Kaua`i coffee is much more mellow than Kona, not as acidic. DH and I prefer it. I do like the peaberry available at the plantation, but we use the medium roast available in large bags at Costco.

Level Contributor
7,168 posts
61 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Trip Report: 5/21 to 5/27

Thanks for the trip report - it sounds like you a lovely trip. Cheers!

Riverside, CA
Level Contributor
675 posts
139 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Trip Report: 5/21 to 5/27

Awesome and thanks for the report. Glad to hear you stayed in my condo complex Emmalani Court.