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Trip report

Columbia, Maryland
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5 posts
26 reviews
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Trip report

Hi everyone, this is my first time posting here but I wanted to say thanks for all the good advice I got from browsing here before my trip. And on that note I figured I would write a brief trip report since I enjoyed reading other report before I left.

This was my first trip to Hawaii and my boyfriend's first, also. We were only able to get away from our kids for a week for we traveled Friday (8/15) to Thursday (8/21). I am so happy we chose Kauai and it was an awesome trip. We stayed 2 nights in Princeville at Sealodge (C2 by Hestara) and 3 nights in Kapaa at Islander on the beach (#351 by Kreller's). And our last night over the Pacific, courtesy of US Air. It would have been nice to have stayed longer but honestly I am still so glad we went even for a shorter time.

Day 1: Started off a little rough as US Air cancelled our flight 90min before take off. Cancelled, not delayed. They said maintenance so I guess they found something wrong with the plane. Luckily we were shuffled and could still get there the same day but got in at 8pm instead of 2pm as originally scheduled. Which is 2am East coast time. We got our Enterprise rental car (via Costco) quickly and stopped at Safeway in Kapaa on our way to Princeville. The whole drive was in the dark and we were wondering what gorgeous scenery we were missing. We arrived at our SeaLodge condo and went right to bed.

Day 2: Thanks to the time change we were up at 5am (I am glad we made it that long) and were up see the sunrise. It was amazing checking out our view and the ocean. We even had a fantastic view of the mountains from the kitchen. We cooked some eggs and toast and fruit for breakfast and head out at about 6:45 to hike. We arrived at the Ke'e beach parking area by about 7. We hiked the first 2 miles of the Kalalau trail and then the 2 miles to Hanakapiai Falls. What a great hike. My boyfriend swam in the pool under the falls. However by the return trip we were getting quite hot and tired. I noticed a lot of people just starting as we were almost back- no thanks to both the heat and the crowds. This hike felt like more than 8 miles and is not for people who are not in good shape! After our hike we went back to our car, changed, grabbed our beach and snorkel stuff, and proceeded to enjoy the beach at Ke'e. It was lovely. Finally headed back to our condo at around 4. We changed, had drinks on our balcony, and headed out for dinner. On the way we stopped at the St. Regis to check out the view. Definitely amazing. We had dinner at the Tavern which was good but I was not blown away, considering I love Roy's and the reviews on here were very favorable. For example, we got chocolate fudge cake which felt like it should have been hot but wasn't. But overall still a pretty good meal and we enjoyed watching the sunset. We were exhausted and asleep early.

Day 2: Up early again, although not quite as early. We again cooked our own breakfast and then headed to Hanalei for our boat tour with NaPali Hanalei on the UFO boat (that's the name of the boat, it's not some crazy spaceship shaped boat). We really enjoyed the tour and the crew and were able to go in 4 of the sea caves. Snorkeling conditions weren't great on the Na Pali coast so we got to snorkel at Tunnels instead which I was very happy with. We saw several sea turtles in the water along the coast and one while snorkeling but were able to follow him for quite awhile. After our tour, we grabbed some ice cream at Pink's since we were already parked right nearby and browsed the shops there and across the street. Then we drove back to Sea lodge and went to the SeaLodge beach which was great. Very calm water and lovely shade. Then it was on to our new accommodations in Kapaa at Islander on the Beach. We had a great, direct ocean view from this unit and had some wine on the balcony. Then we went to dinner at Pau Hana, which is kind of a dive bar but we just wanted a burger and fish tacos so this fit the bill.

Day 3: A delicious, gigantic breakfast at Ono family restaurant. An avocado and bacon omelet with enough hash browns to feed an army, plus the triple stack of tropical pancakes. That place was great. Then we headed to Waimea Canyon, took our time driving up and enjoying the views. We hiked a good part of Pihea trail and were planning on doing Alakai Swamp. It started raining lightly while we were on the Pihea trail and then the sun came out, so we saw a rainbow. Below us. Which was so cool. However, it started raining more steadily and we decided to turn around. I know weather up there can change quickly up there but we figured why push ourselves to hike in the rain when we are on vacation? So we turned around and drove back down the canyon. We said we could come back another day and do Awaawapuhi or another trail but that never happened. Next we drove to Koloa and stopped at Sueoka's store for lunch but the snack shop was closed. We got some packages of poke and macaroni salad and pineapple to go. We next to the parking area for Shipwreck beach near the Grand Hyatt and sat in the nice grassy area under a palm tree and had a picnic. Next we continued hiking in our new location and did the Mahaulepu hike along the coast to past the golf course. A very nice hike but again, quite hot and sunny since it was afternoon by this time. Next we changed and enjoyed the beach and a swim to cool off, and a walk past the Grand hyatt just to see how it looked. When we got back to our hotel we changed and made it just in time for happy hour and had a few tropical drinks at the Islander pool bar, followed by dinner at Mermaid's on the street in Kapaa. I really liked my stir fry with chicken in peanut satay sauce from them. We finished off the night with a stroll on the beach path in front of the hotel. (can you tell we are not late night people?)

Day 4: Today we just ate granola bars and yogurt for breakfast and then set out to find the Ho'opi'i falls trail. This was a wonderful hike, not too strenuous and it seemed to be a private jungle adventure just for us. Both falls were amazing and the walks in the ever-changing woods in between were nice too. However we did wear big spray and still got bitten, but only a little. After the hike we drove north and hit up Moloa Sunrise Juice bar and both had smoothies. They were the perfect refreshing treat. Next we backtracked a bit to Papa'a bay beach and checked it out. Other than a few surfers, we were the only people there and the water was fairly calm so we had a nice swim. Next we drove to Annini beach for some snorkeling and picked up fish tacos from the food truck there. I usually don't like fried dish in my tacos but these were hands down the best fish tacos I have ever had. The snorkeling was great at Annini, and we saw so many sea turtles! We headed back and stopped quickly at the lighthouse for some photos. We had dinner at the Hukilau Lanai which was so worth it. Really enjoyed the food a lot and it definitely deserves its reputation.

Day 5: Our last day, so we had to pack up before heading out. We just had granola bars again for breakfast and then drove to the East trail of Sleeping giant. This hike was a bit more grueling than I expected and it got hot quickly as it is less shaded than some of the others we did. But I should have expected that, we literally climbed up a mountain. Anyway, it was a good workout with outstanding views. When you get to the official end you have to go onto a smaller trail and up a bunch of rocks for the final view. Next we drove by Opeakaa falls, followed by a stop in Kapaa for shave ice at Hee Fat. Not sure what this is the only time we had shave ice, it was so so good! We both got the homemade fruit syrups and mac nut ice cream on the bottom.

Next we ATTEMPTED to go to Hideaways beach but had no idea parking there was so limited. But it was nice to see the views from Princeville again. Instead we went to Secret beach, or not-so-secret beach, since it was fairly crowded. By that I mean there were a lot of cars there but the beach is so spread out it was fine. I couldn't believe how wide the beach was. We swam and checked out the lava pools/rock-hopping. We next headed to Lydgate park to change clothes/shower before our flight. The facilities there worked great for that and since it was 5pm it was very uncrowded and we could spread out and shuffle things around in our suitcases. Next we drove to Wailua falls since we hadn't seen it yet, and I am so glad we didn't miss that. Finally, we ended our vacation at Duke's barefoot bar and checked out the Marriott. After that busy day I fell asleep quickly on my 10pm flight back to the mainland.

Whew, sorry that was so long!

Noah's Ark Kauai Tours
Sightseeing Tours, Nature & Wildlife Tours
Touch Kauai
Spas, Sightseeing Tours
California
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9,748 posts
8 reviews
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1. Re: Trip report

Thanks for sharing your trip with us. Sounds like you had a great time!

Kaua'i, HI
Destination Expert
for Kauai, Poipu, Lihue
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2. Re: Trip report

Alpha from Kaua'i!

Mahalo for your trip report!

You did a lot of driving - I can't imagine starting at Princeville and doing all you did on other parts of the island and then drove all the way back! That is what comes from living here for awhile I guess! lol

The Kalalau Trail to Hanakāpīʻai Falls and back to Keʻe Beach is actually 8 miles - you are right!

Glad you enjoyed all the beauty this island has to offer and not just the views from the air or zip lines - I am a terra firma kind of gal too!

Mahalo!

Malama Pono,

Janet

Milwaukie, Oregon
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4,148 posts
22 reviews
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3. Re: Trip report

You packed a lot of hiking into your short vacation. Are you hikers at home? Enjoyed your report, even though the only thing we have in common is liking the breakfast at Ono Family Restaurant. LOL.

California
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488 posts
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4. Re: Trip report

Thanks for your wonderful report! Brought back memories of our trips although we are not nearly as active as you. Sounds like you definitely did your research and got the most out of your trip. You have made me want to go back to Kauai even more :-)

Spring, Texas
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114 posts
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5. Re: Trip report

Thanks for sharing your trip. We are staying at Islander on the Beach next week. What did you think of the resort? Anything we should know? How long did the Sleeping Giant hike take? Thanks again for sharing.

Columbia, Maryland
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5 posts
26 reviews
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6. Re: Trip report

Donna- I really liked Islander on the Beach. Like I said, we rented a specific condo from a private owner and not through the resort. It was very nicely decorated and had lots of extras like beach chairs, DVDs and CD's, a guide book, etc. But we still had wonderful service from the front desk picking up our parking permit and getting laundry quarters. We enjoyed having free coffee in the lobby and they never told us it was for "their" guests only so I assume it was okay. I loved having the option of AC and that noise did NOT carry between units. The beach out front is nothing special but we did see one sea turtle right there in the shallows. Its still nice to have a beach right out front for strolling, sunning, views, etc.

Columbia, Maryland
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5 posts
26 reviews
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7. Re: Trip report

Janet- It really didn't feel like much driving at all! We did split our stay between Princeville and Kapaa which helped. Also the scenery makes the drive feel like part of the fun. Or maybe I am just used to long drives on I-95 here on the East Coast so it didn't feel like much driving to me.

Princeville, Hawaii
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7,168 posts
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8. Re: Trip report

Thanks for sharing your trip with us. Sounds like you enjoyed it which is the important part.

Houston, Texas
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310 posts
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9. Re: Trip report

Liked your TR. Sounds like you had a wonderful time! Lots of good ideas for our vacation.

Worcester, MA
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47 posts
59 reviews
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10. Re: Trip report

I'm going to Kauai in November and am so glad you posted this report. My husband and I are most excited about hiking and will definitely use this as a guide as we will only be there for 4 days. Thanks!