We headed to the north shore of Kauai for the second half of our trip from Saturday August 26 to Thursday August 31.
Accommodation: After much research on Andrew’s part, we decided to stay at the Hanalei Colony Resort. We chose this place for it’s location directly on the beach on the north shore. It is considered by some to be “remote” since it’s a 15 minute drive from the closest town of Hanalei, but that wasn’t a problem for us. We planned on cooking at the condo and didn’t need more than a beach anyways. The hotel did have an amenity to make up for the inability to walk to town: a complimentary shuttle to and from any location all the way to Princeville (20 minute drive away). So, we were able to get a free ride to beaches with limited parking and a designated driver out to dinner without a worry.
At the resort we treated ourselves to a Premium Oceanfront condo. Specifically unit G4 in case you ever make it to this resort. The condo was everything we could have asked for. We had an open floor plan with a bedroom, living room, two full bathrooms (his + hers, fantastic!) and a full kitchen. The resort had a pool and hot tub (which we never needed to use) along with a BBQ area with two grills and all the utensils you could possibly need. The resort is located right on a beach with the Na Pali coast mountains rising up behind it. The beach directly in front of the resort was not protected enough for swimming, however if we walked on the sand five minutes to the west there was an area to snorkel and swim as there is a barrier reef about 200 yards off the shore to help to protect the beach from the big waves. We saw tons of cool fish here and even sea turtles. We loved this place and are absolutely serious that we have to return. Flights from SF are only 5 hours direct with Alaska Air from Oakland. Yes, thank you!
Kauai East Shore to North Shore Day 6 – Saturday: After leaving our cottage in Kapaa on Saturday morning, we did a grocery store run to take advantage of the relatively lower grocery store costs compared to stores on the north side of the island. The drive from Kapaa to our resort was only about 45 minutes, but we made a couple stops along the way. First we went to the Kilauea Lighthouse. Access to the Kilauea point costs $5 per person and includes the lighthouse, amazing views and also guides to identify the various sea birds that live on the preserve and cliffs surrounding the lighthouse. It was a beautiful location and fun to point different species of birds over head.
Our last stop before arriving at our resort was to finally get Hawaiian shave ice (not “shaved”). This is a local dessert, and a liiiiittle similar to Rita’s that we find in Maryland for those of you back home – but I’ll claim it’s better (sorry guys!). We stopped at a local spot recommended by our guide book, Wishing Well Shave Ice. Below is my shave ice, the Rainbow. Andrew got one that was flavored like a Cherry Root Beer Float. Mine was finely shaved ice, with flavors in a rainbow, and underneath is a macadamia nut icecream. It is SO GOOD! We went here twice it was so darn good!
Kauai North Shore Day 7 – Sunday: Our first full day in Kauai we used the resort’s complimentary shuttle to go to Ke’e Beach for the morning. We did some snorkeling and hung out on the beach. Afterwards we went swimming on our beach in front of our resort. We discovered that the water there is perfect for snorkeling, even though we had been warned against it due to the strong current. Luckily it wasn’t too bad while we were visiting and we just made sure to watch our location. We’re wondering if the locals are trying to keep the tourists out…
Kauai North Shore Day 8 – Monday: This was our hiking day of the second half of our trip. We hiked the Kalalau Trail along the Nā Pali coast. Anyone can hike the first two miles of the trail, but a permit is required to walk beyond that point. The permit is used by most people to backpack the 13 mile Kalalau trail at Kalalau beach, but unfortunately we weren’t able to do that since we couldn’t bring backpacking gear while traveling for four weeks. Instead we used it to be able to hike further along the trail for the day. So, we did a real tiring trip and went into the trail 6.5 miles for a 13 mile hike round trip. After the public section ended and it became permit only, the trail is very overgrown with plants on either side of the trail and at times very narrow on steep cliff sides. I kept thanking my lucky stars that we got a day without any rain, which is something of a rarity in this part of the island. If it had been muddy, some sections would have been super sketchy. The views are so. worth. it.
Kauai North Shore Day 9 – Tuesday: We had originally reserved a spot on a catamaran sailing cruise with Captain Sundown on the Na Pali coast this day, but the company had to cancel due to a big rainstorm that came through that morning. A bummer, but so it goes. Instead, we hung out at the condo in the morning while the storm passed and in the afternoon went down to the beach in front of our resort and snorkeled. We saw SO MUCH at the beach here, so many fish and even a couple of sea turtles! There were only a few other people at this beach besides us, so we thoroughly enjoyed hanging out for the afternoon.
For dinner, we did our one evening out using the complementary shuttle to the Hanalei Dolphin in the town of Hanalei, 15 minutes drive away. This restaurant was excellent. They had freshly grilled fish (for Andrew the ahi tuna and for me the monchong) and we had an incredible rainbow poke as an appetizer. I’d highly recommend this spot!
Kauai North Shore Day 10 – Wednesday: Once our trip with Captain Sundown was cancelled we immediately got on the phone to find a replacement trip for Wednesday. Our optimal trip was a sailing cruise, but since that wasn’t available to book last minute with any company we settled on a spot with the Na Pali Coast Hanalei cruise, which leads four hour tours of the Na Pali coast on a speed boat. This wasn’t our preferred type of trip as we had hoped for a relaxing sailing cruise, but for a speed boat trip, this was a really good time. The tour guides were super friendly and informative, and we stopped for about 1.5 hours at a reef just past Kalalau Beach to snorkel and take in the scenery. They even took us through some sea caves. It was a great time! That night, for our last night in Kauai, we grilled some fresh opah (moonfish) filets we bought at the Hanalei Dolphin fish market and enjoyed sitting on the lanai.
I cannot say enough how much I loved our time in Kauai. The island has something to offer for everyone and can keep you busy for days. The beaches were gorgeous, the mountains lush, and the seafood fresh. I can’t wait to go back and be here again!