Best of Kauai
On any listHuahine, and Rarotonga. All theislands, Kauai ranks right uprainforests,
of the world’s most spectacular
elements are here: moody
majestic cliffs, jagged peaks, emerald valleys, palm trees swaying in the breeze, daily
rainbows, and some of the most spectacular golden beaches you’ll find anywhere. Soft
tropical air, sunrise bird song, essences of ginger and plumeria, golden sunsets,
sparkling waterfalls—you don’t just go to Kauai, you absorb it with every sense. It may
get more than its fair share of tropical downpours, but that’s what makes it so lush and
green—and creates an abundance of rainbows.
Kauai is essentially a single large shield volcano that rises 3 miles above the sea floor.
The island lies 90 miles across the open ocean from Oahu, but it seems at least a half
century removed in time. It’s often called “the separate kingdom” because it stood
alone and resisted King Kamehameha’s efforts to unite Hawaii. In the end, a royal kid-
napping was required to take the Garden Isle: After King Kamehameha died, his son,
Liholiho, ascended the throne. He gained control of Kauai by luring Kauai’s king,
Kaumualii, aboard the royal yacht and sailing to Oahu; once there, Kaumualii was
forced to marry Kaahumanu, Kamehameha’s widow, thereby uniting the islands.
A law on Kauai states that no building may exceed the height of a coconut tree—
between three and four stories. As a result, the island itself, not its palatial beach hotels,
is the attention-grabber. There’s no real nightlife here, no opulent shopping malls. But
there is the beauty of the verdant jungle, the endless succession of spectacular beaches,
the grandeur of Waimea Canyon, and the drama of the Na Pali Coast. Even Princeville,
an opulent marble-and-glass luxury hotel, does little more than frame the natural glory
of Hanalei’s spectacular 4,000-foot-high Namolokama mountain range.
This is the place for active visitors: There are watersports galore; miles of trails
through rainforests and along ocean cliffs for hikers, bikers, and horseback riders; and
golf options that range from championship links to funky local courses where chickens
roam the greens and balls wind up embedded in coconut trees. But Kauai is also great
for those who need to relax and heal jangled nerves. Here you’ll find miles of sandy
beaches, perfect for just sitting and meditating. There are also quiet spots in the forest
where you can listen to the rain dance on the leaves, as well as an endless supply
of laid-back, lazy days that end with the sun sinking into the Pacific amid a blaze of
glorious tropical color.
1 The Best Beaches
• Kalapaki Beach: Kalapaki is the best Kalapaki, one of Kauai’s best, in its
beach not only in Lihue but also on backyard. But little Lihue turns its
the entire east coast. Any town would back on Kalapaki; there’s not even a
pay a fortune to have a beach like sign pointing the way through the
0 100 mi ANINI BEACH PARK
0 100 km
NIIHAU Haena Bay Princeville
Honolulu NA PALI COAST
LANAI STATE PARK THE NORTH Hanalei
KAHOOLAWE SHORE 56
PACIFIC THE NA PALI Kuh i o
l al Hw
y MAMALAHOA HALELEA ts .
FOREST RESERVE a M Anahola
THE HAWAIIAN ISLANDS l eh
en Mt. Waialeale
P A C I F I C STATE PARK Ke 581 Kapaa
O C E A N 580 Wailua
Mana NA PALI-KONA STATE PARK
FOREST RESERVE Waipouli
552 FOREST RESERVE
K a ul a ka hi LIHUE
Kekaha Lihue Airport
C ha nne l u alii Hwy. Puhi 51
Bay HAUPU Harbor
Kalaheo Lawai 520 FOREST RESERVE
THE BEST BEACHES
0 5 mi THE POIPU
Hanapepe K au ai
N RESORT AREA Ch annel
0 5 km
6 CHAPTER 1 . BEST OF KAUAI
labyrinth of traffic to this graceful half • Anini Beach County Park: Kauai’s
moon of golden sand at the foot of safest beach for swimming and wind-
the Kauai Marriott Resort & Beach surfing, Anini is also one of the island’s
Club. Fifty yards wide and a quarter most beautiful: It sits on a blue lagoon
mile long, Kalapaki is protected by a at the foot of emerald cliffs, looking
jetty, making it very safe for swim- more like Tahiti than almost any other
mers. The waves are good for surfing strand in the islands. This 3-mile-long,
when there’s a winter swell, and the gold-sand beach is shielded from the
view from the sand—of the steepled, open ocean by the longest, widest
2,200-foot peaks of the majestic fringing reef in Hawaii. With shallow
Haupu Ridge that shield Nawiliwili water 4 to 5 feet deep, it’s also the very
Bay—is awesome. See p. 153. best snorkeling spot on Kauai, even
• Poipu Beach Park: Big, wide Poipu for beginners. On the northwest side,
is actually two beaches in one; a channel in the reef runs out to the
it’s divided by a sandbar, called a deep blue water with a 60-foot drop
tombolo. On the left, a lava-rock that attracts divers. Beachcombers love
jetty protects a sandy-bottomed pool it, too: Seashells, cowries, and some-
that’s perfect for children; on the times even rare Niihau shells can be
right, the open bay attracts swim- found here. See p. 161.
mers, snorkelers, and surfers. You’ll • Hanalei Beach: Gentle waves roll
find excellent swimming, small tide across the face of half-moon Hanalei
pools to explore, great reefs for snor- Bay, running up to the wide, golden
keling and diving, good fishing, nice sand. Sheer volcanic ridges laced by
waves for surfers, and a steady wind waterfalls rise to 4,000 feet on the
for windsurfers. See p. 156. other side, 3 miles inland. Is there
• Polihale State Park: This mini- any beach with a better location? Cel-
Sahara on the western end of the ebrated in song and hula and featured
island is Hawaii’s biggest beach: 17 on travel posters, this beach owes its
miles long and as wide as three foot- natural beauty to its age—it’s an
ball fields. This is a wonderful place ancient sunken valley with post-ero-
to get away from it all, but don’t for- sional cliffs. Hanalei Bay indents the
get your flip-flops—the midday sand coast a full mile inland and runs 2
is hotter than a lava flow. The golden miles point to point, with coral reefs
sands wrap around Kauai’s north- on either side and a patch of coral in
western shore from the Kekaha plan- the middle—plus a sunken ship that
tation town, just beyond Waimea, to belonged to a king, so divers love it.
where the ridgebacks of the Na Pali Swimming is excellent year-round,
Coast begin. The state park includes especially in summer, when Hanalei
ancient Hawaiian heiau (temple) and Bay becomes a big, placid lake. The
burial sites, a view of the “forbidden” aquamarine water is also great for
island of Niihau, and the famed bodyboarding, surfing, fishing, wind-
Barking Sands Beach, where foot- surfing, canoe paddling, kayaking,
falls sound like a barking dog. (Scien- and boating. (There’s a boat ramp on
tists say that the grains of sand are the west bank of the Hanalei River.)
perforated with tiny echo chambers, See p. 161.
which emit a “barking” sound when • Haena Beach: Backed by verdant
they rub together.) See p. 160. cliffs, this curvaceous North Shore
THE BEST KAUAI EXPERIENCES 7
beach has starred as paradise in many snorkeling, while winter brings
a movie. It’s easy to see why Holly- mighty waves for surfers. There are
wood loves Haena Beach, with its plenty of facilities on hand, including
grainy golden sand and translucent picnic tables, restrooms, and showers.
turquoise waters. Summer months See p. 162.
bring calm waters for swimming and
2 The Best Kauai Experiences
• Hitting the Beach: A beach is a Menehune Ditch and Menehune
beach is a beach, right? Not on Kauai. Fishpond. Or experience Hawaiian
With 50 miles of beaches, Kauai history at the Kauai Museum, the
offers ocean experiences in all shapes archaeological sites at Wailua River
and forms. You can go to a different State Park, and the Ka Ulu O Laka
beach every day during your vaca- heiau. For more recent history,
tions and still not get tired of seeing since the arrival of Captain Cook,
them. See chapter 6. check out the Grove Farm Home-
• Taking the Plunge: Rent a mask, stead Museum, Kilohana, and the
fins, and snorkel, and enter a magical Waioli Mission House Museum.
underwater world. Facedown, you’ll See chapter 7.
float like a leaf on a pond, watching • Exploring the Grand Canyon of the
brilliant fish dart here and there in Pacific: The great gaping gulch
water clear as day; a slow-moving tur- known as Waimea Canyon is quite a
tle may even stop by to check you out. sight. This valley, known for its red-
Faceup, you’ll contemplate green-vel- dish lava beds, reminds everyone who
vet cathedral-like cliffs under a blue sees it of the Grand Canyon. Kauai’s
sky, with long-tailed tropical birds version is bursting with ever-chang-
riding the trade winds. See chapter 6. ing color, just like its namesake, but
• Meeting Local Folks: If you go to it’s smaller—only a mile wide, 3,567
Kauai and see only people like the feet deep, and 12 miles long. A mas-
ones back home, you might as sive earthquake sent streams into the
well not have come. Extend your- single river that ultimately carved this
self—leave your hotel, go out and picturesque canyon. Today, the
meet the locals, and learn about Waimea River—a silver thread of
Hawaii and its people. Just smile water in the gorge that’s sometimes a
and say “Howzit?”—which means trickle, often a torrent, but always
“How is it?” (“It’s good,” is the usual there—keeps cutting the canyon
response—and you may make a new deeper and wider, and nobody can
friend.) Hawaii is remarkably cosmo- say what the result will be 100 mil-
politan; every ethnic group in the lion years from now. See chapter 7.
world seems to be represented here. • Watching the Hula: The Coconut
There’s a huge diversity of food, cul- Marketplace, on Kuhio Highway
ture, language, and customs. (Hwy. 56) between mile markers 6 and
• Feeling History Come Alive: It 7, hosts free shows every day at 5pm.
is possible to walk back in history Arrive early to get a good seat for the
on Kauai. You can see ancient, hour-long performances of both
ancient history, from the times when kahiko (ancient) and auwana (modern)
the menehune were around, at the hula. The real showstoppers are the
8 CHAPTER 1 . BEST OF KAUAI
keiki (children) who perform. Don’t • Soaring Over the Na Pali Coast:
forget your camera! See chapter 9. This is the only way to see the spec-
• Bidding the Sun Aloha: Polihale tacular, surreal beauty of Kauai. Your
State Park hugs Kauai’s western shore helicopter will dip low over razor-
for some 17 miles. It’s a great place to thin cliffs, flutter past sparkling
bring a picnic dinner, stretch out on waterfalls, and swoop down into the
the sand, and toast the sun as it canyons and valleys of the fabled
sinks into the Pacific, illuminating Na Pali Coast. The only problem is
the island of Niihau in the distance. that there’s too much beauty to
Queen’s Pond has facilities for camp- absorb, and it all goes by in a rush.
ing as well as restrooms, showers, See chapter 7.
picnic tables, and pavilions. See
3 The Best Adventures
• Take a Helicopter Tour of the tropical cocktail, or speeding through
Island: Don’t leave Kauai without the aquamarine water in a 40-foot tri-
seeing it from a helicopter. It’s expen- maran as porpoises play off the bow.
sive but worth the splurge. You can See p. 163.
take home memories of the thrilling • Duck Underwater: You haven’t
ride up and over the Kalalau Valley really seen Hawaii until you have
on Kauai’s wild North Shore and into seen the magical world underwater.
the 5,200-foot vertical temple of Beneath those blue waves is an entire
Mount Waialeale, the most sacred universe in itself. You’ll see schools of
place on the island and the wettest rainbow-colored fish, dazzling corals,
spot on earth. (In some cases, you can graceful manta rays, lumbering tur-
even take home a video of your ride.) tles, and quick-moving silvery game
See p. 198. fish. If you are really lucky, you may
• Explore the Na Pali Coast by see playful dolphins or the frequent
Water: Unless you’re willing to make winter visitors to Hawaii, humpback
an arduous 22-mile hike (p. 183), whales. See chapter 6.
there are only two ways to see Na • Hike Until You Drop: Kauai is made
Pali: by helicopter (p. 198) or by for hiking, from the numerous trails
boat. Picture yourself cruising the in Waimea Canyon to the high
rugged Na Pali coastline in a 42-foot forests of Kokee to the interior trails
ketch-rigged yacht under full sail, that give the island its special beauty.
watching the sunset as you enjoy a See chapter 6.
4 The Best of Natural Hawaii
• Waterfalls: Rushing waterfalls thun- best-looking drive-up waterfall on
dering downward into sparkling Kauai. With scenic mountain peaks
freshwater pools are some of Hawaii’s in the background and a restored
most beautiful natural wonders. Hawaiian village on the nearby river-
Kauai is loaded with waterfalls, espe- bank, the Opaekaa Falls are what the
cially along the North Shore and in tourist bureau folks call an eye-pop-
the Wailua area, where you’ll find 40- ping photo op. See p. 203.
foot Opaekaa Falls, probably the
T H E B E S T O F U N D E R WAT E R H AWA I I 9
• Gardens: The islands are redolent Hanalei, which maintains a sheltered
with the sweet scent of flowers. For a area for Hawaiian birds and the
glimpse of the full breadth and watershed. See p. 188, 165, and 189.
beauty of Hawaii’s spectacular range • The Grand Canyon of the Pacific—
of tropical flora, we suggest spending Waimea Canyon: This valley, known
an afternoon at a lush garden. Na for its reddish lava beds, reminds
Aina Kai Botanical Gardens, on everyone who sees it of Arizona’s
some 240 acres sprinkled with about Grand Canyon. Kauai’s version is
70 life-size (some larger than life-size) bursting with ever-changing color,
whimsical bronze statues, lies hidden just like its namesake, but it’s
off the beaten path of the North smaller—only a mile wide, 3,567 feet
Shore. Other great gardens are Aller- deep, and 12 miles long. All this
ton Garden in Poipu and Limahuli grandeur was caused by a massive
outside of Hanalei. See chapters 6 earthquake that sent existing streams
and 7. flowing into a single river, which then
• National Wildlife Refuges: Kauai carved this picturesque canyon. You
has three wildlife refuges: Kilauea can stop by the road to view the
Point, which protects seabirds; canyon, hike down into it, or swoop
Huleia, which shelters endemic through it by helicopter. See p. 196.
Hawaiian birds and wetlands; and
5 The Best of Underwater Hawaii
• Caverns: Located off the Poipu (taape, conger eels, and nudi-
Beach resort area, this site consists of branches), the resident population is
a series of lava tubes interconnected one of the more diverse on the island.
by a chain of archways. A constant The topography, which features pin-
parade of fish streams by (even shy nacles, ridges, and archways, is cov-
lionfish are spotted lurking in ered with cup corals, black-coral
crevices), brightly hued Hawaiian trees, and nooks and crannies enough
lobsters hide in the lava’s tiny holes, for a dozen dives. See p. 167.
and turtles swim past. See p. 166. • Haena Beach Park: In summer
• Hanalei Beach: Divers love this area when the water calms down, this
because it has an ancient sunken val- golden sand beach becomes a giant
ley with post-erosional cliffs. Hanalei aquarium, great for snorkeling amid
Bay indents the coast a full mile clouds of tropical fish. See p. 162.
inland and runs 2 miles point to • Kee Beach: Where the road ends on
point, with coral reefs on either side the North Shore, you’ll find a dandy
and a patch of coral in the middle— little reddish-gold-sand beach almost
plus a sunken ship that belonged to a too beautiful to be real. It borders a
king, which means excellent diving. reef-protected cove at the foot of
See p. 161. fluted volcanic cliffs. Swimming and
• Oceanarium: Northwest of Hanalei snorkeling are safe inside the reef,
Bay you’ll find this kaleidoscopic where long-nosed butterfly fish flit
marine world in a horseshoe-shaped about and schools of taape (blue
cove. From the rare (long-handed stripe snapper) swarm over the coral.
spiny lobsters) to the more common See p. 163.
10 CHAPTER 1 . BEST OF KAUAI
6 The Best Golf Courses
• Kauai Lagoons Golf Courses Golf. Designed by Robert Trent
(& 800/634-6400): Choose between Jones, Jr., this challenging course fea-
two excellent Jack Nicklaus–designed tures undulating greens and water
courses: the Mokihana Course hazards on 8 of the holes. The par-4
(formerly known as the Lagoons 16th hole has the coastline weaving
Course), for the recreational golfer; along the entire left side. You can take
or the Kauai Kiele Championship the safe route to the right and maybe
Course, for the low handicapper. The make par (but more likely bogey), or
6,942-yard, par-72 Mokihana is a you can try to take it tight against the
links-style course with a bunker that’s ocean and possibly make it in 2. See
a little less severe than Kiele’s; empha- p. 186.
sis is on the short game. The Kiele is • Kiahuna Golf Club (& 808/742-
a mixture of tournament-quality 9595): This par-70, 6,353-yard
challenge and high-traffic playability. Robert Trent Jones, Jr.–designed
It winds up with one of Hawaii’s course plays around four large archae-
most difficult holes, a 431-yard, ological sites, ranging from an
par-4 played straightaway to an island ancient Hawaiian temple to the
green. See p. 184. remains of a Portuguese home and
• Puakea Golf Course (& 866/773- crypt built in the early 1800s. This
5554): This former Grove Farm Scottish-style course has rolling ter-
sugar plantation opened up 18 holes rain, undulating greens, 70 sand
in 2003 to rave reviews. The course bunkers, and near-constant winds. At
was in the middle of construction any given time, about half the players
when Hurricane Iniki slammed into on the course are Kauai residents, the
it in 1992, rearranging the greens other half visitors. See p. 186.
from golf-course designer Robin Nel- • Princeville Golf Club (& 808/826-
son’s original plan. The first 9 (actu- 5070): Here you’ll find 45 of the best
ally the first 10) holes finally opened tropical holes of golf in the world, all
in 1997 to many kudos; Sports Illus- the work of Robert Trent Jones, Jr.
trated named Puakea one of the 10 They range along green bluffs below
best 9-hole golf courses in the U.S. sharp mountain peaks and offer stun-
The final 8 holes were finished last ning views in every direction. One of
year and now give golfers something the top three courses in Hawaii, the
to think about. See p. 184. 18-hole Prince provides a round of
• Poipu Bay Golf Course (& 808/ golf few ever forget; it winds along
742-8711): This 6,959-yard, par-72 390 acres of scenic tableland bisected
course with a links-style layout is the by tropical jungles, waterfalls,
home of the PGA Grand Slam of streams, and ravines. See p. 186.
7 The Best Luxury Hotels & Resorts
• Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa to learn to surf and play the ukulele.
(& 800/55-HYATT): This Art Deco The Hyatt’s architecture and location
beach hotel recalls Hawaii in the on the sunny side of Kauai make this
1920s—before the Crash—when the island’s best hotel. The beach is a
gentlemen in blue blazers and ladies bit too rough for swimming, but the
in summer frocks came to the islands saltwater swimming pool is the
T H E B E S T M O D E R A T E LY P R I C E D A C C O M M O D A T I O N S 11
biggest on the island. An old-fash- marble and sparkling chandeliers
ioned reading room by the sea houses recalls Hawaii’s monarchy period of
club chairs, billiards, and a bar well the 19th century. It’s set in one of the
stocked with cognac and port. Golf, most remarkable locations in the
horseback riding, and the shops of world, on a cliff between the crystal-
Koloa, a plantation town offering blue waters of Hanalei Bay and
numerous boutiques, are nearby steepled mountains. You arrive on the
diversions. See p. 89. ninth floor and go down to the
• Kauai Marriott Resort & Beach beach. Opulent rooms with magnifi-
Club (& 800/220-2925): Water is cent views and all the activities of
found everywhere throughout this Princeville and Hanalei make this
resort: lagoons, waterfalls, fountains, one of Hawaii’s finest resorts. See
a 5-acre circular swimming pool p. 114.
(some 26,000 sq. ft., the largest on • Outrigger Waipouli Beach Resort
the island), and a terrific stretch of & Spa (& 800/OUTRIGGER): The
beach. The lagoons are home to six lap of luxury, this $200-million con-
islands that serve as an exotic mini- dominium project on 13 acres
zoo, which still lends an air of fantasy (between the historic towns of Wailua
to the place and, along with the enor- and Kapaa) is located right on the
mous pool and children’s program, beach within walking distance to
makes the resort popular with fami- restaurants, shops, and recreational
lies. See p. 84. activities. The resort, which opened
• Sheraton Kauai Resort (& 800/ in 2007, has hotel rooms, as well as 1-
782-9488): This modern Sheraton and 2-bedroom units. Each unit is
(since 1997) has the feeling of Old furnished with top-of-the-line ma-
Hawaii and a dynamite location on terials like granite countertops; stain-
one of Kauai’s best beaches. It features less steel appliances by Sub-Zero,
buildings on both the ocean side and Wolf, and Fisher/Paykel; double dish-
the mountain side of the road. The washer; full-size Whirlpool washer
horseshoe-shaped, Polynesian-style and dryer; whirlpool bathtub in the
lobby has shell chandeliers dangling master bathroom; and 37-inch
from the ceiling. You have a choice of flatscreen TVs in the living room and
three buildings: one nestled in tropi- bedrooms. The resort features a long
cal gardens with koi-filled ponds; one list of amenities like complimentary
facing the palm-fringed, white-sand high-speed Internet access, a 4,000-
beach (our favorite); and one looking square-foot Aveda spa, fitness center,
across green grass to the ocean, with and a 300,000-gallon heated salt-
great sunset views. The rooms over- water fantasy pool, with flowing river,
look either the tropical gardens or the garden, dual serpentine waterslides,
rolling surf. See p. 90. sand-bottom children’s pool, and
• Princeville Resort Kauai (& 800/ three sand-bottom whirlpool tubs.
826-4400): This palace of green See p. 106.
8 The Best Moderately Priced Accommodations
• Aloha Sunrise Inn/Aloha Sunset They come fully furnished with all
Inn (& 888/828-1008): Hidden on the great videos you’ve been meaning
the North Shore, these two unique to watch and an excellent CD library.
cottages nestle on a quiet 7-acre farm. The cottages are close to activities,
12 CHAPTER 1 . BEST OF KAUAI
restaurants, and shopping, yet iso- at budget prices (from $105). See
lated enough to offer the peace and p. 96.
quiet of Old Hawaii. Rates start at • Kauai Country Inn (& 808/821-
$175. See p. 116. 0207): Fabulous location (nestled in
• Garden Isle Cottages Oceanfront the rolling hills behind Kapaa), ter-
(& 800/742-6711): The site is spec- rific prices (from $95 a night), won-
tacular: a 13-foot cliff overlooking derful accommodations (big suites,
historic Koloa Landing and an ocean hardwood floors, kitchen or kitch-
inlet (where you can see turtles swim- enette, your own private computer,
ming). Nestled in a tropical garden comfy beds, and great views), and
setting, these one-bedroom apart- friendly hosts make this a “must-
ments have an island feel, with rattan book” place. See p. 111.
furniture, batiks, and original art on • Kauai Cove (& 800/624-9945):
the walls—and great views. This is a These immaculate cottages, located
quiet, peaceful place to stay in the just 300 feet from Koloa Landing and
heart of the Poipu area, within walk- next to Waikomo Stream, are the per-
ing distance of beaches, golfing, ten- fect private getaway. Each studio has
nis, shopping, and restaurants. Rates a full kitchen, a private lanai (with
start at $281. See p. 93. barbecue grill), and a big bamboo
• Hanalei Surf Board House (& 808/ four-poster bed. The cozy rooms fea-
826-9825): If you are looking for a ture beautiful hardwood floors, tropi-
moderately priced ($175 a night), cal decor, and cathedral ceilings. The
adorable studio just a block from the cottages are close enough for walks to
beach in Hanalei, get on the phone sandy beaches, great restaurants, and
and book this right now. If you have shopping, yet far enough off the
a great sense of humor and enjoy beaten path that privacy and quiet
whimsical little touches in the decor, are assured. From $135 a night. See
you will love this place. See p. 118. p. 96.
• Hideaway Cove Poipu Beach • Poipu Kapili Resort (& 800/443-
(& 886/849-2426): Just a block 7714): This quiet, upscale oceanfront
from the beach and next door to an cluster of condos is outstanding in
excellent restaurant are these gor- every area. We like the home-away-
geous condominiums in a plantation from-home comforts and special
setting. Amenities are top-drawer, touches: a video and book library, a
and no expense was spared in the spacious pool, several barbecues, ten-
decor. Living areas are spacious, nis courts lit for night play, and an
kitchens come with the best appli- herb garden. (You’re welcome to take
ances and granite-top counters, and samples if you’re cooking.) A golf
the outdoor lanais are big. You get all course is located nearby. Starting at
of this in a lush, landscaped tropical $230 a night. See p. 95.
jungle at an affordable price (from • Wailua Bayview (& 800/882-9007):
$170 a night). See p. 93. Located right on the ocean, these spa-
• Kauai Banyan Inn (& 888/786- cious one-bedroom apartments offer
3855): Off the beaten path, but still excellent value. The bedrooms are
just a 10-minute drive to the beach, roomy, and the sofa bed in the living
this four-unit inn has the amenities of room allows you to sleep up to
a much more expensive property four. On-site facilities include a pool
(kitchenette, views, in-room massage) and barbecue area. Restaurants, bars,
T H E B E S T B E D & B R E A K FA S T S 13
shopping, golfing, and tennis are into cozy, comfortable guest units
nearby. See p. 112. with period rattan and wicker furni-
• Waimea Plantation Cottages ture and fabrics from the 1930s,
(& 866/77-HAWAII): This beach- sugar’s heyday on Kauai. Each has a
front vacation retreat is like no other furnished lanai and a fully equipped
in the islands: Among groves of tow- modern kitchen and bathroom; some
ering coco palms sit clusters of units are oceanfront. Facilities include
restored sugar-plantation cottages, an oceanfront pool, tennis courts, and
dating from the 1880s to the 1930s laundry. The seclusion of the village
and bearing the names of their origi- makes it a nice place for kids to wan-
nal plantation-worker dwellers. The der and explore, away from traffic. See
lovely cottages have been transformed p. 104.
9 The Best Inexpensive Accommodations
• Aloha Plantation Kauai (& 877/ gardens, is for the traveler who wants
658-6977): Walk back in history at a “real” Hawaii experience living in a
this old, 1920s plantation home residential area, like a local resident.
decorated with Hawaiian antiques in The house (with full kitchen) has
Kilauea. Prices start at $69 double. antique furniture re-covered in old
See p. 120. Hawaiian print fabric, with paddle
• Brennecke’s Beach Bungalow fans to keep the house cool, TV,
(& 888/393-4646): Attention hon- washer and dryer, barbecue, and
eymooners (or honeymooner wanna- everything you can think of to make
bes): This is your place—so close to your vacation. Just a mile and a half
Poipu Beach that you can see it from to the beach and walking distance to
your private lanai (about a 45-second Koloa town’s shops and restaurants.
walk from the front door to the See p. 96.
waves). Tucked into a large two-story • Garden Island Inn (& 800/648-
house is this private-entrance studio 0154): Centrally located (a couple of
decorated with bamboo floors, maple miles from the airport, walking dis-
cabinets, and lots of Hawaiian tance to the beach), this small (21
decor. This studio also has a small rooms) inn has comfortable accom-
kitchenette (microwave, toaster oven, modations at budget prices (from
blender, coffeemaker, and fridge), $99). See p. 88.
cozy sitting area, and a comfortable • Kalaheo Inn (& 888/332-6023):
bed. Outdoors there’s a beach shower, What a deal! This boutique inn (15
barbecue area, and a big, green lawn. units), located in the community of
Restaurants, dining, tennis, and golf Kalaheo (10 min. to the beach, walk-
are just minutes away. See p. 95. ing distance to great restaurants) is
• Ellie’s Koloa House (& 808/635- comfy, clean, and terrific for families.
0054): This two bedroom/two bath- Prices start at $65 (p. 102).
room home, surrounded by tropical
10 The Best Bed & Breakfasts
• Hale Ho’o Maha (& 800/851- located on the North Shore in the
0291): Kirby Guyer and her husband, Hanalei area known as Wainiha. Over-
Toby, custom-designed this B&B looking the mountains, waterfalls, and
14 CHAPTER 1 . BEST OF KAUAI
pristine Wainiha Bay, the Hawaiian swimming. Former owner Marjorie
antiques–filled home is just 110 steps Ketcher has sold her popular inn to
to the beach (and a 10-min. drive to the new owners, Mike and Alexis,
golf courses, shops, restaurants, and who have kept the motto “do one fun
two riding stables). This spacious five- thing a day” (and have a treasure-
bedroom/five-and-a-half-bathroom trove of beach toys from mask-fins-
home features an elevator (something snorkels to kayaks, even bicycles and
you don’t often see on Kauai). Guests bike racks for cars to help you live up
are welcome to use the gourmet to the motto). See p. 97.
kitchen, gas barbecue, washer/dryer, • The Palmwood (& 562/688-3433):
refrigerator with ice maker/water, and This is a unique property: tranquil
TV/VCR/DVD in the “great room.” (located atop a hill of a 4-acre estate),
Use of the boogie boards and snorkel fabulous views (360-degree view of
equipment, beach chairs, towels, and the rolling hills of Moloa’a Valley and
coolers is all complimentary. See out to the ocean), and unbelievably
p. 117. beautiful rooms and surrounding
• Lani-keha (& 800/821-4898): Step landscaping. From the stone entry-
back in time to the 1940s, when way to the leather/palm-wood chairs
Hawaiian families lived in open, airy, (so comfortable you will be hard-
rambling homes on large plots of pressed to leave them) to the sound of
land lush with fruit trees and sweet- water falling—this is the lap of lux-
smelling flowers. This gracious age ury in a tiny (only two units) inn
is still alive and well in Lani-keha, with a full breakfast (crab cakes with
a kamaaina (old-timer) home with sliced mango and banana bread). The
an open living/game/writing/dining amenities are endless: comfy beds,
room and oversize picture windows flatscreen TV on a swivel, double
to take in the views. Bedrooms come doors leading to a large lanai with
with private bathrooms. The house is your own personal water feature, hot
elegant yet casual, with old-style rat- tub and Japanese Zen gardens outside
tan furniture—practicality and com- (with barbecue area). Relax in the
fort outweigh design aesthetics. See free-form hammock—why leave—
p. 113. this place is paradise. Yes, it is pricey
• Marjorie’s Kauai Inn (& 800/717- (from $280) and worth every penny!
8838): This quiet property, perched See p. 116.
on the side of a hill, is just 10 minutes • Rosewood Bed & Breakfast (& 808/
from Poipu Beach and 5 minutes 822-5216): This lovingly restored
from Old Koloa Town. From its large century-old plantation home, set amid
lanai it offers stunning views over tropical flowers, lily ponds, and water-
rolling pastures and the Lawai Valley. falls, has accommodations to suit
Every unit has a kitchenette with din- everyone. There’s a Laura Ashley–style
ing table, ceiling fan, and lanai. The room in the main house, and two pri-
new Sunset View unit has a separate vate cottages on the grounds. There’s
sitting area and a futon sofa for extra also a bunkhouse with three separate
guests. On the hillside is a huge, 50- small rooms with a shared shower and
foot swimming pool, perfect for lap toilet. See p. 112.
T H E B E S T R E S TA U R A N T S 15
11 The Best Restaurants
• Bar Acuda (& 808/826-7081): fish wraps, macadamia nut–black
After two successful restaurants in sesame ahi with wasabi cream, and an
San Francisco (The Slow Club and excellent tofu-and-roast-veggie wrap.
42°), chef/owner Jim Moffat moved See p. 140.
to the tiny town of Hanalei and • La Cascata (& 808/826-9644): The
opened this sleek, romantic restau- North Shore’s special-occasion restau-
rant specializing in his favorite tapas rant is sumptuous—a Sicilian spree
dishes from the Southern European in Eden. Try to get here before dark,
regions along the 42° latitude (south- so you can enjoy the views of Bali
ern France, Italy, Spain, and Portu- Hai, the persimmon-colored sunset,
gal). In an atmosphere of candle and the waterfalls of Waialeale, all an
lights and exotic mouthwatering aro- integral part of the feast. Click your
mas coming from the open exhibi- heels on the terra-cotta floors, take in
tion kitchen, wonderful food and the trompe l’oeil vines, train your eyes
terrific service make this a “must” through the concertina windows, and
stop on your trip. See p. 148. pretend you’re being served on a ter-
• Blossoming Lotus (& 808/822- razzo in Sicily. See p. 146.
7678): Even if you are not a vegetar- • Dondero’s (& 808/742-1234): If
ian, you will be pleasantly surprised you are looking for a romantic dinner
at the creative cuisine in this elegant either under the stars overlooking the
eatery in Kapaa. Most people can’t ocean or tucked away at an intimate
believe that healthy, non-meat dishes table surrounded by inlaid marble
could be this delicious, and even the floors, ornate imported floor tiles,
desserts look sinful (but aren’t). See and Franciscan murals, this is your
p. 144. best bet. All this atmosphere comes
• The Beach House (& 808/742- with the best Italian cuisine on the
1424): All reports are good from this island, served with efficiency. It’s hard
beachfront magnet in Lawai. Though to have a bad experience here. Din-
there has been a major cosmetic over- ners are pricey and worth every
haul, the food is as good as ever. The penny. See p. 128.
Beach House remains the south • Duke’s Canoe Club (& 808/246-
shore’s premier spot for sunset drinks, 9599): Tropical atmosphere over-
appetizers, and dinner—a treat for all looking the ocean, great fresh fish at
the senses. See p. 128. attractive prices, and dependably
• Caffè Coco (& 808/822-7990): good meals. Don’t miss the wallet-
This gets our vote for the most pleasing drink prices at happy hour.
charming ambience on Kauai. Caffè See p. 126.
Coco is just off the main road at the • Hanapepe Café (& 808/335-5011):
edge of a cane field in Wailua, its Now under new management,
backyard shaded by fruit trees, with a Hanapepe maintains the same whole-
view of Sleeping Giant Mountain. some cuisine in a casual, winning
Gourmet fare is cooked to order— ambience that has drawn foodies for
and at cafe prices. The food is excel- a decade. During lunchtime the place
lent, with vegetarian and other is packed with businesspeople who
healthful delights such as spanako- drive 30 minutes to eat here. On the
pita, homemade chai, Greek salad, Friday-night dinner menu, the Italian
16 CHAPTER 1 . BEST OF KAUAI
specialties shine: lasagna quattro for- to go with its toothsome dishes. See
maggio with spinach, mushrooms, p. 145.
and four cheeses; crepes; and other • Roy’s Poipu Bar & Grill (& 808/
goodies. There’s no liquor license, so 742-5000): This is a loud, lively
if you want wine, bring your own. room with ceiling fans, marble tables,
See p. 136. works by local artists, and a menu tai-
• Kilauea Fish Market (& 808/828- lor-made for foodies. The signature
6244): Perfect for a takeout lunch or touches of Roy Yamaguchi (of Roy’s
dinner on the beach, this tiny deli restaurants in Oahu, Big Island,
(with a handful of tables outside) Maui, Tokyo, New York, and Guam)
pumps out incredibly delicious meals are abundantly present: an excellent,
(even dishes for vegetarians) with progressive, and affordable wine
fresh, healthy, locally grown and selection; fresh local ingredients pre-
caught ingredients. See p. 152. pared with a nod to Europe, Asia,
• Mermaids Cafe (& 808/821-2026): and the Pacific. See p. 130.
This tiny sidewalk cafe, with brisk • Tidepool Restaurant (& 808/742-
takeout and a handful of tables on 1234): An ultraromantic setting (lit-
Kapaa’s main drag, serves healthy, erally hanging over the water), fabu-
organic, home-cooked meals. Mer- lous creative cuisine, and quick,
maids uses kaffir lime, lemon grass, efficient service with a smile make
local lemons (Meyers when avail- this restaurant in the Grand Hyatt a
able), and organic herbs, when possi- stand out. See p. 131.
ble, to make the sauces and beverages
12 The Best Shops & Galleries
• Banana Patch Studio (& 808/335- • Kong Lung (& 808/828-1822):
5944): This place has the best prices You’ll be surprised by what you find
on the island for anything artsy and inside this 1922 stone building. It’s a
cute like tropical plates and cups, showcase of design, style, and quality,
hand-painted tiles, artwork, hand- with items from dinnerware, books,
made soaps, pillows with tropical jewelry, and clothing to the finest
designs, and jewelry. Plus, they will sake and tea sets on the island. Throw
pack and ship for you anywhere. See in a lacquer bowl or two, a pair of
p. 214. beaded sandals, and a silk dress from
• Bambulei (& 808/823-8641): Cel- the women’s section, and the party’s
ebrate the charm and style of 1930s on at “Gump’s of the Pacific.” See
and 1940s collectibles in this treasure- p. 217.
trove at the edge of a cane field. Fabu- • Ola’s (& 808/826-6937): Fine crafts
lous one-of-a-kind vintage finds— from across the country find their
Mandarin dresses with hand-sewn way to this temple of good taste:
sequins, 1940s pake muumuus in lamps, vases, blown glass, drumsticks,
mint condition, Peking lacquerware, jewelry, hard-to-find books, and the
and Bakelite jewelry—fill this jewel of peerless paintings of award-winning
a boutique, owned by two women artist Doug Britt. See p. 218.
with a passion for the past. See p. 215.
T H E B E S T S PA S 17
• Robert Hamada’s Studio: Wood- who grows a range of tropical flowers,
turner Robert Hamada makes works including some very rare and unusual
of art for wood purists: museum- varieties. Prices are extremely reason-
quality bowls and large sculptural able. See p. 214.
shapes in kou, milo, kauila, camphor, • Yellowfish Trading Company
mango, and native woods he logs (& 808/826-1227): Surprise your-
himself. He works in his studio at the self at Yellowfish Trading Company,
foot of the Sleeping Giant, quietly where vintage bark cloth and that
producing luminous pieces with one-of-a-kind 1940s rattan sofa are
unique textures and grains. His skill, among owner Gritt Benton’s short-
his lathe, and his more than 60 years lived pleasures. The collectibles—
of experience put him in a class of his 1930s lampshades, ’40s vases, ’50s
own. See p. 216. lunchboxes, antique silk piano
• Tropical Flowers by Charles (& 800/ shawls—move quickly. See p. 218.
699-7984): Charles is a flower genius
13 The Best Spas
• ANARA Spa at the Grand Hyatt body treatments, and body wraps, but
Kauai (& 808/240-6440): This is also specializes in ayurvedic treat-
the place to be to get rid of stress and ments to soothe and comfort your
be soothed and pampered in a weary body. Spa owner and ayurveda
Hawaiian atmosphere, where the practitioner Darci Frankel is a recog-
spirit of aloha reigns. An elegant nized expert in the field of ayurvedic
25,000-square-foot spa, ANARA (A treatments. See p. 117.
New Age Restorative Approach) • Princeville Health Club & Spa,
focuses on Hawaiian culture and Princeville Resort (& 808/826-
healing, with some 16 treatment 5030): This spa offers good value.
rooms, a lap pool, fitness facilities, Not only are the treatments a full 60
lava rock showers that open to the minutes (versus the standard 50 min.
tropical air, outdoor whirlpools, a 24- in most spas), but prices are also quite
head Swiss shower, Turkish steam a bit lower (hour-long massages and
rooms, Finnish saunas, and botanical body treatments are way less than
soaking tubs. Recent renovations what many spas charge). Just a short
make this spa even more serene and 7-minute drive (via the free resort
relaxing. The new menu of treat- shuttle) from the Princeville Hotel,
ments includes a four-handed mas- this 10,000-square-foot boutique spa
sage (two therapists at once), which is has amenities like an 82-foot heated
not be missed. See p. 89. lap pool, outdoor whirlpool, sauna,
• Hanalei Day Spa (& 808/826- steam room, five treatment rooms
6621): Located on the grounds of the (plus massage cabanas poolside at the
Hanalei Colony Resort in Haena, this hotel), exercise classes, a weight
small but wonderfully effective spa room, a cardio room, and even
not only has a full menu of massages, babysitting services. See p. 114.
18 CHAPTER 1 . BEST OF KAUAI
Pampering in Paradise
Kauai’s spas have raised the art of relaxation and healing to a new level.
The traditional Greco-Roman–style spas, with lots of marble and big tubs in
closed rooms, have evolved into airy, open facilities that embrace the Tropics.
Spa-goers in Kauai are looking for a sense of place, steeped in the culture.
They want to hear the sound of the ocean, smell the salt air, and feel the
caress of the warm breeze. They want to experience Hawaiian products and
traditional treatments they can get only in the islands.
The spas, once nearly exclusively patronized by women, are now attract-
ing more male clients. There are special massages for children and pregnant
women, and some spas have created programs to nurture and relax brides
on their big day.
Today’s spas offer a wide diversity of treatments. There is no longer plain,
ordinary massage, but Hawaiian lomilomi, Swedish, aromatherapy (with
sweet-smelling oils), craniosacral (massaging the head), shiatsu (no oil, just
deep thumb pressure on acupuncture points), Thai (another oil-less massage
involving stretching), and hot stone (with heated, and sometimes cold,
rocks). There are even side-by-side massages for couples. The truly decadent
might even try a duo massage—not one, but two massage therapists work-
ing on you at once.
Massages are just the beginning. Body treatments, for the entire body or
for just the face, involve a variety of herbal wraps, masks, or scrubs using a
range of ingredients from seaweed to salt to mud, with or without accom-
panying aromatherapy, lights, and music.
After you have been rubbed and scrubbed, most spas offer an array of
water treatments—a sort of hydromassage in a tub with jets and an assort-
ment of colored crystals, oils, and scents.
Those are just the traditional treatments. Most spas also offer a range of
alternative healthcare like acupuncture and chiropractic, and more exotic
treatments like ayurvedic and siddha from India or reiki from Japan.
Once your body has been pampered, spas also offer a range of fitness
facilities (weight-training equipment, racquetball, tennis, golf) and classes
(yoga, aerobics, step, spinning, stretch, tai chi, kickboxing, aquacize). Sev-
eral even offer adventure fitness packages (from bicycling to snorkeling).
For the nonadventurous, most spas have salons, dedicated to hair and nail
care and makeup.
If all this sounds a bit overwhelming, not to worry, all the spas in Hawaii
have individual consultants who will help design an appropriate treatment
program to fit your individual needs.
Of course, all this pampering doesn’t come cheap. Massages are gener-
ally $95 to $195 for 50 minutes and $150 to $250 for 80 minutes; body treat-
ments are in the $150 to $250 range; and alternative healthcare treatments
can be has high as $200 to $300. But you may think it’s worth the expense
to banish your tension and stress.