Recently back from a wonderful first trip to Kauai!
Honestly, we loved everything about this island. It was gorgeous, green, fresh, happy, and warm (temp and people!). I'm not a big "trip report" writer, but I like to throw out a few odds and ends that I think might help someone in the future since so many here help me.
Note: mid-30's married couple, been to Oahu and Maui previously, love the Caribbean, and were drawn to Kauai for it's beauty.
Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa:
Awesome, awesome, awesome. Honestly can't think of one negative thing to say (except their wi-fi is very spotty, but hey - who needs the Internet on vacation?!). Our room was wonderful, the grounds were gorgeous, service was top-notch, and the pools were out of this world! Yes, the food is expensive, but we found that even small, off-site locations had the ability to rack up a hefty total, so nothing too surprising. I highly recommend this place!
Dondero's: beautiful setting and good food and service. Very romantic. I actually thought this place was even more romantic that Tidepools.
Tidepools: romantic in a wonderful setting - very pleasantly surprised that even though it was in the heart of a busy resort that we didn't see a single person walk-by, it was that well hidden and secluded. The food was amazing.
The Beach House: great location, although the lawn out front is clearly public because we saw surfers run by as well as families just hanging out right in front of us. We weren't overly impressed with the food, but it wasn't bad. Very good service.
Tahiti Nui: horrible service (slow and rude) and there was nothing special about the food.
Kountry Kitchen: the first day the wait was 40+ minutes, so we ate next door. The next day we went earlier and got in right away. Not sure what makes this place so special... We both enjoyed our breakfast and our server was nice, but it seemed just normal and ordinary, nothing to wait 40+ minutes for; glad we didn't wait.
Art Cafe Hemingway: really liked this place, great food (very fresh and original). Service was okay.
Liko Cruises: Loved this tour of the Na Pali Coast! We were very pleased with the route that the captain took us on. He really appeared to care that we saw as much as we could see. We saw whales, dolphins, and a sea turtle The snorkeling was just okay, but I found most of the snorkeling on Kauai to be just okay. The food (deli sandwiches, fruit, chips, and a cookie) was actually really good and filling. The crew was great. The only downfall was that they didn't have any microphones, so unless you were by one of the three crew members you missed much of the narration. Which was unfortunate because they had some good stories, from what I did here. The plus side of that is that they were really conversational and you could ask them anything.
Kalalau Trail: we only hiked about a mile in before we realized it was too muddy for us. It was strenuous through the first 1/2 mile, but the views were amazing. Take your time and wear good shoes (of course we saw people in flip flops and even some people who were barefoot, but I don't think that's a good idea) and bring water. Take your time. We'll be better prepared next time and plan to go the first 4 miles to the waterfall.
Things to note:
It really is very casual there. I wished I'd believed that and brought 1/2 of the clothes I did I brought beach clothes, daytime casual, and evening "dressier" clothes. Next time: just shorts and swimsuits!
The sun is intense! I wore 85 SPF and still burned. Apply liberally and often.
The drive from the south to the north does really take as long as they say it does.... We planed too many days to drive north, should have condensed more activities in the north into less days and spent less time on the road. Although we did see a lot of cool sites along the way.
Snorkeling wasn't that great. The water was beautiful, but I didn't find great visibility, nor did I see anything that fantastic. The water was also really wavy.
We truly did fall in love with Kauai. We liked it more than Oahu and Maui (for whatever that's worth since we also liked both of those islands, too) and plan to go back as close to the near future as we can get
Sorry this report isn't as good as most, but feel free to ask any questions.
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1st time to Kauai! Will not be the last!
Recently back from a wonderful first trip to Kauai!