Time for a Trip Report of our first visit to Kauai. Thank you for all the contributors & DE's here that have helped me along as I planned this trip starting many months ago.
We are a family of 4: myself & husband (in our early & late 40's) and our two boys (age 11 & 15). We have visited Maui a few times & decided it was time to explore a new island. Traveled the day after school let out for summer & stayed in San Jose, CA overnight before leaving on a 7am flight direct to Lihue on Alaska Airlines. Started travel day on the wrong foot by dropping my cell phone on the free shuttle to the airport from our hotel. I noticed it was missing after passing through security but was able to get a hold of the hotel & shuttle driver. He found it right away & actually brought it to the curb at the airport for me within 15 minutes - he got a big tip for that! So thankful. Made our flights without any problems even with my little phone misadventure. Uneventful flight followed
Arrived by 9:30am on Saturday morning. Rented a 4 door jeep through Avis. No problems or delays there. On our way to Walmart next & found ourselves easily turned around while trying to find Walmart even though I had directions. Got a few things there & headed to the condo at Poipu Kapili. Fantastic condo complex & fabulous condo! Just beautiful. 3rd floor with a huge lanai, lots of outdoor seating & a great view of the pool & ocean straight ahead. The only thing lacking in this condo was..........central air conditioning. I knew this when I rented it but we decided to go for it since so few places have A/C on the island. We did have room air conditioning units in both bedrooms so that we could sleep comfortably at night but I won't lie to you - going forward I doubt we will stay anywhere without central air again. For our personal comfort, it is that important. We've never traveled in May (always November & December) so it was much warmer, more humid & less trade winds than usual but maybe it was just an off week.
Things we did:
Kipu Ranch ATV Adventures - my guys loved this! Fabulous view of Kipu Kai & apparently the We were told that Jurassic Park movie was being taped that day & their security SUV was parked at the gate by the overlook to Kipu Kai Bay. Saw a few of the sites used in some popular movies here. We came back with plenty of red dirt/dust on us.
Waimea Canyon - we stopped at a few of the look outs & started to hike part of the Canyon trail - we picked a clear day & got some great pictures. Trail was pretty sloppy/muddy though so we didn't make it far on the hike before turning back.
Boogie boarding at Kiahuna Plantations beach & Brennecke's - boys were not impressed with Kiahuna's beach or the waves here. They enjoyed Brennecke's but it was a bit rough for our 11 year old & he did come up one time with a bloody nose & we managed to crack a couple of boogie boards on the first day there. Bought two new ones for the condo.
Silver Falls Ranch horseback riding - a 90 minute trail ride was the perfect length for our family. The trail was super muddy so I'm glad those horses are sure-footed. My horse was pretty stubborn & slow but we had a good time. There was a hen at the ranch that was obviously raised as a house pet - she was hilarious. You could pick her up, pet her & she tried to steal things - she ran to someone's car to try & stealth a show that dropped off their tailgate. She clucked as if in conversation with you. This was also our only day on the north shore so we were able to see a lot of the beautiful coastline on the north shore this day & it didn't rain on us so that was a bonus. I do not regret choosing Poipu for our home base, however.
Wings Over Kauai - this 75 minute flight on a six-passenger plane was a wonderful way to see the island. Definitely take your motion sickness meds though is you have trouble because both my son & I took ours & we still ended up getting green towards the end of the flight - but we made it through & are so glad we went. They had to cancel our first flight due to a dead battery on the place earlier in the week but managed to squeeze us into another flight later in the week.
Captain Andy's Southern Star Na Pali Dinner Cruise - our favorite paid activity on this trip. Excellent in every way. No complaints. We all enjoyed the views, the ride, the staff, the food. We always get out on the water at least once while visiting Hawaii & this was probably the best sailing trip yet. We were supposed to be on a sunset cruise out of Poipu but that boat had to be put out of service for maintenance so we were upgraded for free to this dinner cruise. Well worth it - especially with the free upgrade! My son & I took our Bonine (two tablets each this time!) and had no problems with motion sickness or feeling drowsy the entire time.
The search for the best shave ice on the island - we were very disappointed with Kauai's shave ice overall. We are huge fans of Ululani's Shave Ice on Maui & just could not find anything comparable. However, finally at our forth shave ice stop we found some pretty decent shave ice at Uncle's Shave Ice. My guys actually liked the shave snow even better.
Food - We ate breakfast & lunch in our condo every day & ate dinner out most nights. There are no real standouts but I'd say for tropical setting (minus ocean view) we liked Keoki's Paradise & for take out Mexican we liked Da Crack. Merriman's Gourmet Burgers & Pizza had really good pizza. I did buy poke at Big Save on two different shopping trips & couldn't seem to get enough of it on our trip.
Impressions of Kaui - a very beautiful, lush, quiet island. While sitting on the lanai one day, my husband & I turned to each other & mentioned how quiet & deserted our condo complex was. Then the realization sunk in that we don't necessarily like it THAT quiet - we love to people watch too much! Kauai is an island that I'm very glad we took the time to visit but I don't know when we will return....or IF. Kauai didn't capture our hearts like I expected it would - what a strange realization that is for me! Please don't hate me for my honesty......better for all of you - one less tourist family on the island that you love most! :) I'm not sure Kauai had a chance on this trip. Our visit started a little shaky with a few bumps in the road & a little bit of "rain" both literally & figuratively. The aloha spirit started seeping into our trip by day 3 or 4 but never quite managed to take us to that level of peace & aloha that we have had on past trips to Hawaii.
Thank you TA contributors for sharing all your expertise, your thoughts, your opinions, and your beautiful island with our family!