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Trip Report Kauai - thanks Songdoc and others!

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Just got back from a very quick trip and wanted to say thanks for a couple of Songdoc’s tips -- we did the Canyon Trail hike (except for difficulty finding the trailhead, it was a great hike -- my glutes and calves felt it for days!). We also had breakfast at Kountry Kitchen and although they were out of macadamia nuts (how is that possible????), the banana pancakes were fabulous.

Other notes:

Grand Hyatt (4 nights) - beautiful pool area, with plenty of chaises, but not enough shade. The rest of the hotel is very nice, although I wouldn’t call it the "be all and end all" -- it's like any other huge resort that happens to be in paradise! The room, however, was quite large, the bed very comfortable, and the bathroom and shower excellent.

Marriott Lihue (1 night). First of all, re moving from one hotel to another. It took exactly 10 minutes to pack up and check out, and another 10 to check in. We would have had to make the 10 mile drive one morning or the other. None of this "it takes a half to a whole day to move" LOL. The room was nice enough, but much smaller than the room at the Hyatt. NO WIRELESS IN THE ROOM (shocking). The public areas are in dire need of refreshing. Two of the five tennis courts looked like an abandoned 50s resort. Some public areas (like bathroom stall doors, elevators) need paint. The pool area is very nice, although they should replace the chaises (worn out arms, some worn out and faded towels). The view back from the beach toward the pool isn't so great, but the view out from the colonnade a level above the pool is gorgeous (and provided shade for me). All in all, comparing this to the Hyatt is not fair, since the Hyatt is a "Grand" Hyatt, and the Marriott is just a "regular" (not J.W.) Marriott. We also like Poipu better than Lihue – for restaurants if nothing else.

What did we do? Not much – hiked Canyon Trail as far as the waterfall. Went up to the Kalalau Lookout, which was completely (I mean totally) fogged in (good thing we’ve been there before!). Drove up to the north shore (spent some time at Ke’e Beach, so magnificent), poked around Hanelei, drove through Princeville. Went to the Hanapepe Friday night art walk (hokey, but fun).

Question about the north shore beaches – what beach is it that has camping and is closest to Ke’e? None of them have signs!

Had two very good dinners at Josselin’s in the Kukui’ula shopping center in Poipu (same center as Merriman’s). It’s a “small plates” place. One night we sat at the bar, the other at a table. The food was very good both times. Some things are better than others – ranging from okay to great (the Thai soup, yummmm). Josselin’s is a really attractive space too, although there’s no outside dining. We ate one night at Case di Amici which we liked a lot (we’d return, even though we liked Josselin’s more). The striped marlin at Casa di Amici was excellent, though, and my DH really liked his green chile risotto. One night we ate at Brick Oven Pizza. Oy! My DH thought it had “OK” crust. I thought it was awful – it tasted like we were eating garlic pizza rather than a margherita. Best pizza on Kauai isn’t saying much, I guess. We had one breakfast and one lunch at Kalaheo Coffee, both of which were good – not destination good, but definitely good if you’re in the area and looking to eat!

As for Kauai itself, we love it, and this trip we drove up to the North Shore to see what all the fuss is about (hadn’t been to the north shore in many years). It is strikingly beautiful, yes, more lush and naturally beautiful than Poipu. But we will still choose Poipu for our vacations. For one thing, when we go to Hawaii, we like to stay on the beach, and there are very few places on the north shore that are on the beach – most are on a cliff above the beach. For another, the weather is more reliably good in Poipu, and sun is why we go to Hawaii. Lastly, Princeville (where I know a few of you choose to stay at Sea Lodge) is just too “planned development” and secluded for us. I don’t like that much seclusion – I prefer to have people around to talk to, even if they’re just “pool buddies”!! JMHO, no more no less.

Had a great trip – even the two flights were smooth. The non-stop flights from California to Lihue make a short trip doable – it’s no longer than flying to NY where we usually just go for the weekend!

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