“Peaceful, lush, and naturally spectacular: this is Kaua’i.”
- The Aloha Spirit and Culture From the moment you step off the plane in Kaua’i, you will begin experiencing the “Aloha Spirit.” The Kaua’i natives are some of the happiest and friendliest people in the Islands. This Aloha Spirit is one of sharing kindness, compassion, and peace to everyone, whether you are a friend or a stranger. The people of Kaua’i feel a deep “kooliana,” (translates to “responsibility”) to pass this spirit of seeing the good in everyone, on to their families and future generations. While in Kaua’i, I got to meet Lyndsey Haraguchi-Nakayama, a 5th generation taro farmer, committed to a legacy of sustainability. She shared her familiy’s story with us, as well as the “fruits” of her labor at her charming food truck in Hanalei. Watch her moving story below.
No conversation about the Aloha spirit would be complete without the discussion of the Hula. This traditional Hawaiian dance tells the story of their history and culture, and most importantly, passes their traditions down from one generation to the next.
The video below showcases Leinaala Jardin, a native Hawaiian who has dedicated her life to the preservation of the artform of Hula.
2. The Four Shores of Kaua’i
Each side, or shore, of Kaua’i has its own unique personality.
On the north shore, just a 45-minute ride from Lihu’e Airport, you’ll find the pristine towns of Princeville and Hanalei. As the most verdant and tropical section of the island, many refer to the north shore as a real-life garden of Eden. Its majestic mountains, wide-open pastures, quaint communities, and the iconic, Hanalei Bay, are truly gorgeous.
The east shore of the island, known as the “Royal Coconut Coast,” was once the favorite spot for Hawaiian royalty. Today, the town of Wailua has become the home of many top notch restaurants and hotels. Just below Wailua, Lihu’e, known as Kauai’s gateway city, centers around the island’s major seaport, and is home to Wailua Falls.
Further below on the south shore, Po’ipu Beach has become known as home for some of the most spectacular snorkeling and water sports on Kaua’i. There are also many great restaurants where you can be in prime position for a spectacular sunset.
Travel further west and you’ll find Waimea Canyon, “the Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” Its surprisingly arid climate adds to its rugged appeal. Many boat tours to the stunning Napali Coast originate from this area.
3. Choose Your Own Adventure.
Hop in a helicopter and soar over lush valleys and towering waterfalls. Ride ATVs through the backcountry. Take a boat out into the ocean or down a river, or go mountain tubing through tunnels and flumes of a former sugar plantation’s watering system (I did this, believe it or not!). Don’t forget snorkeling, scuba, surfing, windsurfing, stand-up paddle-boarding, boogie-boarding and kayaking. And for the brave of heart, you can zip-line through the trees and across the valleys (yep, did that too.)
When you’re ready for a relaxed adventure, you can set up agricultural tours of taro farms, coffee plantations, and Chocolate farms. Movie buffs will love the photo and movie tours featuring filming location of Jurassic Park and many other films. There are foodie tours, botanical gardens, and Polynesian shows every day. And let’s not forget the six world-class golf courses on Kaua’i. We actually took a sunset golf cart tour at the Princeville Makai Golf Course and saw many birdies along the way. 😉
4. Local Foods
The local food scene is definitely worth exploring. One hidden gem we discovered is called Tip Top. Most tourists don’t know about this delicious breakfast spot. We visited twice, primarily because the macadamia nut pancakes made such an impression. I couldn’t leave the island without a second taste!
Another favorite is the Wailua Shave Ice food truck. I won’t say how many times we visited, but it was more than twice! Owner, Brandon Baptiste, left his pursuit of super-chef stardom at Thomas Keller’s Per Se in New York, and returned to Kaua’i to start his own business and take care of family. His innovative and elevated recipes are made with fresh, natural, local flavors. Watch the video below to see why you, too, would be lining up at his food truck.
One last local gem you must experience is Monkeypod Jam. This delightful bistro works with over 25 Kaua’i farmers to create 55 seasonal preserves and spreads and are deeply committed to Kaua’i agriculture. Some of my favorites were Pineapple Ginger Jam and Mango Chutney. And the best part is you can have these lovelies shipped to you. So, if you are longing for a taste of the islands during this quarantine, here’s the link to get you started.
5. Rest and Relaxation
Perhaps Kauai’s main attraction is the peaceful, immersive environment it offers. You can take a step in any direction and find yourself in a world of infinite tropical hues. The more time you spend on its beaches, the more the pressures and stresses of life start drifting away. Quiet serenity, nature at its best, and the feeling of nowhere to be will have you rejuvenated in no time.
Can you feel the cool breeze in your face yet? How about the smell of fragrant Plumerias? Just imagine connecting with family and friends in this Garden Paradise. Here’s a link to an itinerary to get you started thinking about how you would spend your 7 days in Kaua’i.