Kauai Guide

Luaus, Mai Tais, and Beaches OH MY !

The Sights, Activities, Adventures on Kaua’i are Endless. . . 

Examples:  SURFING some world famous breaks, Snorkeling in mother nature's swimming pools, Picnicking in magical places, Experiencing Traditional Hawaiian Luaus Hiking truly incredible trails, World-Class Fishing, the Swimming, Snorkeling and Wind Surfing are to die for . . . and your heart soars just to WATCH Kite Surfing ! And there's still Water crafting, Boat Tours, Helicopter Tours, Zip-line Tours, Tubing, Deep Sea Fishing, ATV Tours, Eco Tours, Kayaking, Horseback Riding, Movie Tours and much more.

TIRED YET ?  ☺   

BEACHES – To Begin with the Obvious . . .

We’re focusing on the NORTH SHORE – our “Stompin’ Grounds” 

AHHH . . . THE TOUGH DECISIONS !

Let me see . . . just which of our literally AWESOME WHITE SAND BEACHES must we visit today ? !

Probably your most challenging daily task ! 

KNOW - THOUGH - 

that you MUST NOT GO

 Into the water, anywhere on this Island, if there is ANY surf – unless
there is a life-guard on duty – or you have some type of floatation device ! 

This is NO JOKE.  WE LOSE STRONG VISITORS every year
because they get caught in “Rip Tides” or “Currents”. 

We do not want to lose you.
Don’t worry about it.  Have Fun !    Just be careful !

DO NOT turn your back on the ocean . . . and never underestimate it !   We even lose local, life-time watermen once in awhile.  So . . . be especially vigilant on the North Shore in the Winter . . . and the South Shore in the Summer.  Please understand that – when you step off of the sand – You are in the middle of the Pacific Ocean – the largest body of water on the planet !
When you are playing in the water, (particularly snorkeling) 
ALWAYS keep your eye on the beach and –
if you notice that you are moving fast in one direction – 
you are caught in a current. 
Do not freak out.    And DO NOT try to fight it.  (easier said than done)
Preserve your strength and swim steadily perpendicular to the current
(toward the beach if you can) until you can get out of it.

IF YOU HAVE YOUNG CHILDREN -

ANINI BEACH IS REEF PROTECTED, so like a gargantuan swimming pool
             AND HANALEI BAY IS VERY MELLOW IN SUMMER.
There is usually every permutation and combination of magical beach within just a few minutes of wherever you are. There are swimming beaches, shelling beaches, sunset beaches (watch for the “Green Flash” ~ immediately - and VERY SUBTLE - just as the sun disappears into the ocean), beaches with lots of activity, beaches where some people are sometimes seen nude (keeping in mind that some others can be irritated by that) and beaches where you can sometimes be totally alone. 

ALL DIRECTIONS BELOW are based on our one, main Kuhio Highway (56) and we are focusing on some of THE BEACHES that you may want to explore on the North Shore:

ROCK QUARRY (Kahili Bay aka Kilauea Bay) is a fairly long cove with a beautiful beach and a couple of surf breaks, with the Kilauea River flowing out at its western end.  Go east from Kilauea a little more than a mile and take a left on Wailapa road.  Then take the first left (maybe ¾ of a mile - sort of a left fork) down a dirt road.  This fabulous spot is maybe 1/2 mile down that dirt road.   You can swim and play in the river (if it is moving and not dark in color), play in the small surf on shore or surf one of several breaks – depending on the surf and time of the year. 

 

SECRET BEACH is a very long (1.5 miles) and a unique beach with a beautiful mix of fine, white sand, outrageous lava rock cliffs, rich tropical greenery and beautiful waterfalls.  You can only access it if you are in good enough shape to walk down a fairly steep, dirt trail (10 minutes) and walk backup (15?).  There are sometimes nudes there and sometimes people get uptight about it.  Drive west about ¼ mile past Kilauea and turn right on “Kalihiwai Road”.  After maybe 200 yards, take the next right on a dirt road (with high banks on both sides of it) and follow that dirt road to the end, park and find the trail on the ocean side of the parking lot and walk down.  You will not regret it.   You can swim and play in the large, beach tide pools that often develop (if they’re fresh and not stagnant), play in the small surf on shore (be careful here) or surf one of several breaks – depending on the surf and time of the year. 

KALIHIWAI (Kah lee hee wye) – is a very special spot and a favorite among many local residents.  It is a long beach with a stunning setting and a very special “ambience”.  Kalihiwai River flows out at the western end.  Turn Right at the same “Kalihiwai Road” as Secret Beach (1/4 mile west of Kilauea) and just stay on the pavement until your mind is sufficiently blown.  You will know when you are there !   You can swim and play in the river (kids love it – if it is moving and dark in color) or play in the small waves near shore — depending on the surf and time of the year.

ANINI (Ah NEE nee – if you were a local purist, you would want to learn that this is actually 3 beaches – Anini to the west, Kalihikai in the middle and Hanapai to the east) - to most of us it's all Anini Beach – which is like one of the largest “Swimming pools” in the State.  Because much of it is protected by a reef, it is very calm and great for children. From Kilauea Farms, go west past Kilauea and through Kalihiwai Valley (over the bridge) and take the next right.  In about ½ mile, you will bear left at the “Y” (watch for the sign) and drive until you reach the houses.  The beach begins there and continues for miles.  There are a few pedestrian accesses and Anini Beach Park. You will have passed Hanapai on the way and the surfers often go there because there is a left reef break (our sons call it “Wires”).  The Beach park (past some of the houses) has some amenities (restrooms, showers, covered picnic facilities, parking, and even camping – with a permit) but most people just go for the sand.  You can actually walk down onto the far western end of this beach from Princeville if you are adventurous.

HANALEI (Hah nah lay) – This beach connects onto other beaches and they seem to go on forever.  It is almost always pretty calm, (except during winter and frequent high surf advisories) with excellent swimming and beginner surfing. While Hanalei town is right there, it seems private because of the beauty and landscaping of this great little town.  Hanalei Bay is a magical place, so much so that songs are written about it, hula dances have been created honoring it, and famous commercial and movies made on it ! Drive west on Kuhio Highway from Kilauea, right past Princeville and – when you make the hairpin left turn you cannot miss the awesome Hanalei Bay spread out before you !  Drive on to the bottom of the hill, cross the classic, historic old, one-way bridge over Hanalei River and about a mile – to the first (or any) right over to Weke Road – which is, either way, always only a few hundred feet from the beach. Watch for the many beach accesses between the yards or turn right on Weke Rd. to the Hanalei Park (lifeguard, pavilion, restrooms, picnic tables, parking, and lots of shade) or all the way down to Black Pot Park.  The welcoming waters and magnificent views of the Hanalei Mountains is guaranteed to capture your heart. 

LUMAHAI (LOO Mah Hi) - is the beach where the classic movie South Pacific was filmed so some have called it “South Pacific Beach”.  That’s why many people still call Mount Makana “Bali Hai” !   Just drive about five minutes past Hanalei and it will open up to you.  Be very careful here, it is infamous for its undertows, strong currents and large shore break. The Local people often half-jokingly call it “Luma-die”. The beach a little over a half mile long and absolutely stunning… make sure to keep an eye out for strands of emerald green olivine deposits, its was gives the sand a dark green hue. 

TUNNELS (Tuh Nels)  ; - )  – is a North Shore favorite and – for some reason – is often a little pocket that is dry and sunny when the rest of the North Shore is socked in.  Drive about 6 miles past Hanalei and then watch for the signs and try to figure out how to park.  That’s why it’s best not to go on a Holiday or during the weekend. But if you must get an early start and beat the crowd. It’s nearly a perfect beach and there is excellent year round snorkeling and swimming because there is a big reef offshore that protects the lagoon. The beach is probably 1/2 mile long and the ironwood trees sometimes provide shade.  There are houses (some, really fine) off the beach and there are no shops or services, so pack a lunch. 

KE’E (Kay A) – Located at the very end of the road, this large beach park sits at the beginning of the Na Pali coast and with trails that go through Hanakapiai (about 2 miles and difficult) and on out to the famous KALALAU VALLEY (about 12 miles and strenuous – NOT a day hike).  Ke’e beach itself offers a wonderful place to while away the day, with amazing views, exceptional swimming and snorkeling (with hungry fish and turtles). It has a long reef so you are pretty safe if you stay inside. This is the Ha'ena State Park and there is no commercial development nor houses and it is suggested that you arrive very early as it is very crowded these days and parking is nearly impossible.

You may want to walk (or drive) about ½ mile back down the road and park in the open lot. 

There are literally hundreds of other beaches on Kaua’i but –
Hey – finding them’s half the fun !

The Majestic . . . KOKE’E STATE PARK

If you can find the time to spend a good, long day up in Koke’e . . .
 you won’t regret it.
Fabulous hikes, completely different environment, weather, plant life 
and great history and info at the little museum. 

 KALALAU VALLEY LOOKOUT ~ IN KOKE’E STATE PARK

Or Hike the Fabulous North Shore (if you’re in shape) and visit the Kilauea Lighthouse and Limahuli Garden

“GRINDS” ON THE NORTH SHORE
That's “Pigeon” for Good Food – this is NOT comprehensive

  

KILAUEA

Kilauea Bakery and Pau Hana Pizza- has garnered tons of well-deserved good press for good pizzas, sandwiches and pastries.  Great soups to pick up on a cool night.   In the garden behind the Kong Lung store.
Kilauea Fish Market  - this tiny restaurant serves up fresh fish and sandwiches.  Enjoy it there or takeout.  Behind the Stone Buildings as you go down LightHouse Road (turn as if you’re going to the Post Office).

Healthy Hut  ( Organic Grocery Store, Salad and Smoothie Bar) -  Located at 4480 Ho‘okui Road in Kilauea right off Kuhio Highway Healthy Hut is  a convenient and friendly natural products store with cafe and fresh juice bar. Offers a selection of local produce and products. 

Lighthouse Bistro - very good food.  Local ingredients in everything from fresh-fish tacos to mac-nut-encrusted chicken or fresh catch. Much nicer than usual lunch time fare.

PRINCEVILLE 

Kaua'i Grill at The St. Regis Resort- Contemporary DELICIOUS Pacific Rim Cuisine utilizing the freshest ingredients with emphasis on special presentation at the Princeville St. Regis hotel.  One of our favorites !

Hideaway Pizza Pub -  Family-friendly Italian restaurant serving classic & creative pizzas, pasta dishes & cocktails.  

Happy Talk Lounge - a local pau hana (“after work”) favorite for casual open-air dining with incredible sunset views. Pick from their large selection of pupus, pizza, sandwiches, draft beers and cocktails, while enjoying the nightly live entertainment. 

HANALEI

Postcards Café- charming plantation cottage in Hanalei - (on the left - on your way into town from Princeville) gourmet seafood and natural cuisine with the emphasis on fresh—mostly organic. 

Hanalei Dolphin- a favorite of visitors and locals alike, known for the freshest cuts in seafood, nostalgic riverside ambiance and a World Class sushi lounge. Be sure to check of their incredible fish market located behind the restaurant, to pick up straight off the boat ahi steaks, and sushi rolls to go! 

BarAcuda - Unique tapas bar with fun atmosphere and good light food selections.  

Hanalei Gourmet - in Hanalei's restored old schoolhouse, the gourmet is an easygoing eatery & bar with Hawaiian-inspired cafe fare & frequent live music, plus a gourmet deli.

ALL THE FUN STUFF….. 

ZIP-LINE TOURS - This is true adventure and a great way to see parts of the island that are not accessible any other way. Venture deep into the heart of Kaua'i, through a historic former sugar plantation. Descend a lush tropical mountain side via a series of seven breathtaking zip-lines. Fly over layers of forest canopy on your way to the valley floor below. Glide above a tranquil mountain stream to a bamboo grove where you can enjoy a refreshing swim and delicious picnic lunch.

TUBING TOURS - Traverse Lihue’s old sugar plantation into Kaua'i's pristine, emerald green interior. Enjoy breathtaking vistas. Grab a tube, don a head lamp, and jump on your tube for a leisurely cruise. Witness Kaua'i's spectacular engineering feats as you float down a tropical waterway consisting of open ditches, tunnels and flumes dating back to 1870. At the end of your Mountain Tubing Adventure, you will be guided to an enchanted area by a natural swimming hole for a swim and a delicious picnic lunch.

ATV TOURS -This activity is for all age groups and is truly great family fun. Hop on the hottest and newest All Terrain Vehicle available and go to places more spectacular than you have imagined. Some ATV tours traverse private lands never before open to the public.  Many go to waterfalls where they provide wonderful picnic lunches.

BICYCLE TOURS - This activity is also for all age groups and is a great way to get a real feel for the island. Comfortable helmets and safe operating procedures make for a ride that's safe and controlled, but still fun and exciting. There is a great bicycle path that runs for a long distance along the East Coast (in Kapaa) and you can rent bikes (even built for 2). Or you might want to take a guided tour, which will usually stop along the way for photos and narrative on history, culture, folklore and legends.  You'll be able to quiz your guides about native plants, birds and trees and the best Kaua'i hiking trails. 

ECO TOURS - Eco tours are rapidly becoming Kaua'i's most popular outdoor activity. Sound Ecotourism involves travel to natural destinations, minimizes impact, builds environmental awareness, provides direct financial benefits for conservation, provides financial benefits and empowerment for local people, respects local culture, and supports human rights and democratic movements.

MOVIE TOURS -Movie tours take you to all of the famous movie locations on Kaua'i - which are quite a few. You will see where scenes were filmed in movies such as: Jurassic Park to Raiders of the Lost Ark, Donovan's Reef to Outbreak, Gilligan's Island to Fantasy Island to Blue Hawaii to South Pacific. New air conditioned mini-buses are very comfortable and acts as a theater on wheels featuring individual reclining seats, large center aisle, a TV monitor and surround sound to bring the movie scenes front and center.

LUAUS -The torches are lit, the night is filled with Hawaiiana music, and family members gather to bring you a casual, relaxing and romantic dining experience that starts off with the Imu Ceremony - the unearthing of the traditional pig, cooked to perfection in an underground oven.....and thirst-quenching tropical cocktails are served inside the luau hale. The luau meal features traditional luau favorites, tropical fruit and a special Hawaiian dessert table. Hawaiian musicians serenade diners during the luau meal, while  members of the family take the stage for a hula lesson.

There are a full range of GOLF COURSES on Kaua’i from the County course with fees under $60 to World Class PGA championship courses. In Poipu there is Kiahuna Golf Club, an exceptional 18-hole course renovated in 2004 and The Poipu Bay Golf Resort, 36 oceanfront holes and home of the PGA Grand Slam. On the scenic hillside of Kalaheo Town is The Kukuiolono Golf Course with nine holes for under $50! This 90-year-old course and adjoining Japanese Gardens are a hidden treasure few visitors are aware of. In Lihue is the 18 hole Puakea Golf Course built amid volcanic cliffs, after 3 p.m.  or 9 holes anytime is just $45.  Also in Lihue is the oceanfront Kaua’i Lagoons Golf Course, a 36 hole Jack Nicklaus designed championship course. A few minutes further along our East shore is The Wailua Golf Course, an ocean front 18 hole Kaua’i County course.  Continuing north lies the Makai Golf Course in Princeville, the 18 hole course underwent an extensive $6 million renovation by Mr. Robert Trent Jones Jr. himself (completed in early 2010). Enjoy panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and Bali Hai while taking a challenging tee shot over scenic cliffs! 

BOAT TOURS are the best way to explore the magical Napali Coast. Zodiac tours and catamaran cruises leave from Hanalei, Port Allen (Hanapepe), and Waimea. Five-hour combination snorkel and sightseeing excursions of our ancient Na Pali coastline are popular. You should reserve tours early as they fill up fast. You can book Tours online. Vessel choices vary with the seasons and include Power Cats and Full Sail Catamarans, with passenger counts of 12 to 50. Winter months are limited to the larger boats for open water off shore Humpback Whale watching tours. The Humpback whales are normally visible in our waters, from late December to late March.

SURFING  - On Kaua’i, there are nearly as many surf spots as there are beaches. The North Shore of Kaua’i is a winter surfing Mecca, and in the summer, Poipu Beach on the South shore and our West shore beaches produce the best waves. Kaua'i Surfing lessons are available from Championship Surfers and locals alike. Brennecke's Beach in Poipu is known for its great body boarding and body surfing. On the West side is the famous Pakala's Beach just before Waimea Town. Far west beaches of Kekaha and those of Barking Sands and Polihale also offer big breaks and at times, giant expert only surf. Kalapaki Beach and Hanamaulu Bay in Lihue offer gentle waves for beginners, while further North, the crescent shaped Hanalei bay offers consistent surf for beginners thru advanced during the fall and winter months. 

Traveling Surfer?….no board? No worries, there are plenty of surf shops island wide that have daily and weekly rentals. 

HORSEBACK RIDING on Kaua'i is an exciting experience. There are companies who offer 3 hour trail rides through Kaua'i's back country to a waterfall, for a picnic and a swim. 

There are also private rides available as well as live cattle drives and sunset rides on The South Side. 

SNORKELING- There good places to snorkel from beaches such as Anini Beach which is a along a 3 mile coastline enclosed by a long outer reef. Inside the reef, you will encounter a myriad of colorful tropical fish and several species of coral. Ke'e Beach and Tunnels Beach both known for their good water clarity. Poipu also offers magnificent snorkeling at Prince Kuhio bay. The best way to enjoy snorkeling on Kaua'i is to book a Kauai Snorkeling Tour online and get the benefit of a guided tour from an experienced professional.

HIKING- The Waimea Canyon and Koke’e State Parks offer numerous hikes from easy to the most strenuous. You can hike several trails that meander throughout Kaua'i's ethereal mountain country, where you will encounter plant and bird species found nowhere else on earth. At the end of the road after Ke'e beach is the Na Pali Trail and trail head to the ancient Kalalau Valley and the Na Pali Coastline. Day hikers enjoy hikes to Hanakapiai Beach (2 miles) or the longer trek to Hanakapiai Falls (4 miles). Hikes beyond that point require permits and overnight camping due to the length of time to walk.  There is a short yet strenuous hike located on the Eastside of the Island called Sleeping Giant (NouNou Trail), the trail head is a bout .5 mile up from the  Opaeka'a Falls lookout in Wailua . However, the best way to go hiking is to take a guided tour from an experienced guides. 

TENNIS courts abound on Kaua'i. Princeville has two excellent tennis Clubs. The Hanalei Bay Resort has  7 courts overlooking Hanalei Bay, and The Makai Tennis Club has 6 courts. Both clubs are open to the public, and have on site tennis pros, a racquet shop, and equipment rentals. Other very good facilities are found  in Lihue at The Kaua'i Lagoons, and in Poipu at The Kiahuna Racquet Club, and The Poipu Athletic Club where National Champions teach on a daily basis.

FISHING -Half and full day charters, with all fishing gear included, are available. Charters depart from Nawiliwili, Poipu, and Port Allen. The captain usually divides the fish according to the wants and needs of the parties who are fishing. All charters typically offer trips for individuals and groups to offshore areas teeming with exciting game fish such Sailfish, Stripe Marlin, Ono and Ahi tuna. Fresh Water Bass fishing is also available on Kaua'i's most beautiful freshwater reservoir.  

Windsurfing at its best is found at Tunnels Beach and at Anini Beach where companies offer equipment rentals and lessons

KAYAKING can be enjoyed on several Kauai Rivers and in the Ocean during the summer months. On our East shore, the Wailua River is the most popular location for river Kayaking with both guided and self-guided trips.  Kaua'i Kayak Tours and Ocean kayak tours are also available for the adventurous. Paddle up river and take a short hike to the hidden falls and pond. Guided trips up the Hulei'a River in Lihue are a true Hawaiian adventure through the wildlife refuge, past the Menehune Fish Pond, with the Hawaiian family owners sharing stories of ancient Hawaii. Self-guided Kayaking rentals  can be found on the Hanalei River, Wailua River, and Hulei’a River. 

SCUBA -Kaua'i's clean, clear offshore waters attract scuba divers from all over the world. There is a dive shop in almost every town on the island, so gear rental, air, and instruction can be easily found. Scuba lessons and certification for beginners is available in most towns. Some adventurous tours included a Na Pali Coast Tour along with a stop at the forbidden island of Niihau where you can snorkel and dive in its crystal clear waters. There is a dive shop in almost every town on the island, so gear rental, air, and instruction can be easily found. There are several Kauai scuba diving tours

HELICOPTER TOURS - Your Helicopter tour over the Kaua'i is the most scenic and personalized tour of its kind. Everyone should experience such a tour at least once in a lifetime, and there is no better place than Kaua'i because so much of the island can only be seen from the air. This is the only way most people can see the magnificent beauty of Kaua'i's remote interior. Tours leave from Princeville Airport, Lihue, and Port Allen. There are few experiences that can match a helicopter flight over the most beautiful island in the world. Kauai helicopter tours

SHOPPING - Kaua’i’s not so large shopping center is found in Lihue. Every major town has a shopping center with a variety of restaurants, grocery stores, and specialty stores. The island has an abundance of small shops that sell locally made products, produce, and art. There are many roadside stands with exotic tropical fruits , vegetables and flower leis. In Poipu, at the Spouting Horn Park, you will find an outdoor flea market where you can buy shell jewelry and all sorts of tourist items at good prices. A great selection of Hawaiian gifts is found in Lihue at Tropic Isle Music. The finest shirts are found in Ele’ele at Nite Owl T-Shirts and in Kapaa you find Kela’s, one  of Hawaii's finest art glass galleries.