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Trip Report Craig and Jeane Visit Kauai 2010, a Trip Report

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Jeane and I are a couple in our mid-50’s from Connecticut. We have traveled extensively over the years. You can check out where we have been by clicking on my name and bringing up my profile. With a big October anniversary to celebrate, we decided to return to Hawaii where we spent our honeymoon 20 years ago. We chose the island of Kauai because we visited Oahu, Maui and the Big Island on our first trip. We could only allow ourselves 6 nights (5 full days) “on the ground” this time in contrast to the 2 weeks we had on our honeymoon. What follows is my rather detailed report on how we got to Kauai and how we spent our 5 days on the island.

First off, let me thank those on this forum (and my friends on the Asia Board that posted here) for their helpful advice as I was laying out our itinerary. We managed to pack in quite a bit in our brief time on Kauai because of your suggestions.

GETTING THERE AND BACK

While we considered United and Continental flights, we found that our best deal was with Alaska Airlines. On the Air Travel board, I found out about a deal where we could get a free companion ticket by applying for an Alaska Airlines Visa card. I did this and purchased 2 first class tickets for the price of 2 economy tickets. We could fly from either Newark or Boston so I chose Newark.

Since our flight departed at 7:35 am, we decided to head to the airport the night before. This wound up being a great deal - we stayed at the Newark Airport Wyndham Garden Hotel for $142.50, including taxes and parking for 9 days. This recently refurbished hotel was spotlessly clean and extremely quiet - I found it on Tripadvisor. The airport-hotel shuttle runs regularly (every 20-30 minutes) and for our departure, the driver took us directly to our terminal, about a 5 minute ride.

Alaska flies directly from Newark to Seattle and then from Seattle to Lihue, Kauai. Each flight is about 6 hours with a 6 hour layover in between. We spent the Seattle layover in the comfortable Alaska Airlines executive lounge (“The Board Room”). With free Wi-Fi, free booze and an assortment of snacks and soups, the time went fairly quickly. Alaska Airlines uses 737’s on these routes which provide seating for 16 up front in standard domestic first class seats. Breakfast was served on the first flight and dinner on the second. Free drinks were available throughout both flights. DigEplayers with preloaded movies, TV shows, music and games were provided to first class passengers free-of-charge. The flight attendants were helpful and friendly.

On the return, our flight from Lihue departed at 8:05 am and arrived in Seattle at 4:39 pm, requiring an overnight stay until our 9 am departure to Newark. Our airport hotel was the Hampton Inn. I called for the airport-hotel shuttle on my cell phone and it arrived at the terminal in 5 minutes to pick us up. We had dinner at Dave’s Diner, about 1/2 mile from the hotel - the shuttle took us there as well. The diner was a sort of funky upscale place offering an assortment of sandwiches and heavier entrees, along with a selection of beers and wines by the glass. We enjoyed the experience - it was quite reasonable, too. The Hampton was okay - the bathroom was tiny but functional, sound insulation from the airport was not great and the fan for the HVAC system switched on and off all night long (it could not be set to run continuously). For the return to the airport we had to wait about 20 minutes for the shuttle to arrive due to very slow early morning traffic. We arrived in Newark at 5:28 pm. For the return we had to take the AirTrain from our terminal to the pick-up point for the airport-hotel shuttle before taking the shuttle to the Wyndham Garden Hotel to get our car. We returned to Connecticut that evening.

KAUAI COAST RESORT

The full name is actually “The Kauai Coast Resort at the Beach Boy” - I’m not sure why but that’s what it is. Anyway, it is actually a time-share condo complex that rents to non-owners. It is perfectly situated on the east coast in Kapa’a, halfway between the sights to the north and the sights to the south and west. We had the “Go Green” rate of $209.60 night, including tax. “Go Green” means that housekeeping doesn’t make your bed, vacuum the floor or wipe the counter tops. They did however replace bath and beach towels, empty the trash and replace the sundries every day. The only downsides to our experience were that our king bed mattress was rather soft and our shower was kind of dated. Other than those minor details, this was the perfect place for us - double sinks in the bathroom, washer and dryer, fully equipped kitchen that allowed us to have a healthy breakfast every morning, plenty of storage space for our stuff, flat-screen TV’s in the bedroom and living areas and a view of the ocean from the full length deck. Sundries like Kona coffee filter packs, dish washing detergent, laundry detergent, soap, shampoo and beach towels were provided so we really didn’t have to purchase anything except some food items. The hotel staff left messages on the voice-mail system on three consecutive mornings to try to arrange a time-share pitch. We were never around when they wanted to do it so we didn't bother to return their calls. We were on the 3rd floor so there was no noise from overhead. There is no elevator here but the steps are easy to navigate, even with luggage.
http://www.shellhospitality.com/hotels/kauai_coast_resort/index.html?$ctxid=_1287919979956

There is a restaurant, Hukilau Lanai within the complex where we had dinner twice - more about that later. There is also a shopping mall, Coconut Marketplace on the grounds with a convenient general store and several boutiques. There are 3 major supermarkets nearby - we stopped at the closest one, Foodland for milk, wine and OJ. You can get the store discount if you provide a phone number to the cashier (there is no need to apply for a discount card).

RENTAL CAR

We rented a Ford Mustang convertible from Dollar at the weekly rate of $443, including taxes. The car had low mileage, functioned well and was easy to pick up and return.

DAY ONE: WAIMEA CANYON

We had intended to get up before sunrise and get going but we didn’t sleep at all on the plane. So we set out at about 9 am, driving all the way to the Pu’u o Kila Lookout at the end of the main canyon road. It took us about 3 hours to get there from our hotel. We were never alone on the roads in Kauai but traffic generally moved along. Our plan was to go out from Waimea and return through Kekaha and stop at all of the lookouts as we worked our way back. The plan worked well and the views of both the canyon and the Na Pali Coast were spectacular.

We had wanted to do a hike down into the canyon but there was not enough time, given that we slept in. I also needed to allow enough time for Jeane to shop on the way back. The shopping was moderately productive. We stopped in Hannapepe where Jeane picked up a colorful necklace. The town has seen better days, we were too early for the “sunshine” market and it seems the galleries are only really active on Friday nights - it was a nice break anyway. From there we continued about 6 miles east to the Hawaiian Trading Post at Lawai. This is kind of a one-stop shopping place for all things Hawaiian. Jeane checked out their beautiful Nihau shell necklaces but the colors weren’t right for her. I picked up a Hawaiian shirt - they had an excellent selection. My Rotary club is doing a tropical-themed food and wine tasting next February and it will be perfect for that. Next we stopped at the huge Kauai Nursery and Landscaping place outside of Lihue - Jeane wanted to check out the orchids since she grows them at home. Unfortunately, the selection wasn’t that great. In Lihue, we stoped at Walmart for Kona coffee and macadamia nuts for my assistants at the office.

We were back at the hotel for a cocktail and an early dinner at Hukilau Lanai to sample their tasting menu, available between 5 and 6 pm. The food was fantastic as was our server - you can view the menu here (it doesn’t change much):
http://www.hukilaukauai.com/menu-tasting.php
This restaurant has a wonderful atmosphere, especially after dark when they light up all the tiki torches in front of the pool. We sat outside on the lanai - much preferred to the indoor seating.

Jeane decided to check out the Coconut Marketplace and I headed back to the room. We both turned in fairly early.

MORE TO COME

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