For as long as I can remember, Hawaii has been on my bucket list of places to visit. I’ve grown up seeing this magical place in tv shows, movies, magazines, travel fliers, you name it. It always just seemed like this mystical land that I knew I’d one day make it to. And, I’m happy to say, that I can finally cross off Hawaii (well, Kauai only) from my list. I’ve become so enamored, that I know I need to see and experience more of the island life again sometime soon.
When I mentioned to others that I was going to Hawaii, almost every single person made the same comment; if you can only go to one island, Kauai is the one you should go to. It’s very lush, has lots of outdoor activities and is unbelievably beautiful. While I don’t think you can go wrong visiting any of the Hawaiian Islands, I’d say this sentiment is on point.
Kauai is also known as the filming site for many popular movies like Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones and Pirates of the Caribbean, to name a few. That should help paint a picture of this rugged, tropical landscape. With the famous Na Pali Coast and stunning beaches, Kauai truly is paradise. I’m sharing some of my favorite things we had the chance to see/eat/do during our 5-day trip.
There is honestly so much to see that I think no amount of time will feel like enough. We did SO much in our 5 days and I feel like we barely scratched the surface. I’m listing just a few favorites out of all of that we had the chance to see.
Waimea Canyon- Absolutely not to be missed, I kept calling it the “lush Grand Canyon” cause that is what it looks like. Make the drive to the lookout for the most spectacular views.
Na Pali Coast- Another place that can’t be missed is the Na Pali Coast. One of the places I was most excited to see on this trip and it’s worth seeing it from any vantage point you can (air, sea, land).
Kilauea Lighthouse- Not only a picturesque lighthouse, but also some fantastic views of the edge of the Na Pali Coast.
Spouting Horn- Right along the coast line, I like to describe Spouting Horn like the ocean version of Old Faithful at Yellowstone National Park. It’s a tall shooting geyser
ALL the beaches- We stopped as at many beaches as we could, but I know there are many, many more! Each was beautiful in its own way 🙂
I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of vegetarian food on Kauai and I have to say I was blown away at not only how many options there were, but how fresh everything was. We had some fantastic meals and treats, and here’s a highlight of some favorites.
Island Taco– Some of the best ever cilantro lime tofu tacos as well as bean and spiced rice enchiladas.
Jo Jo’s Shave Ice– A must while visiting Hawaii in general; shaved ice! This one from Jo Jo’s was special because we got the pineapple and coconut shaved ice, but found underneath it all was macadamia nut ice cream. So delicious!
Moloaa’s Sunrise Juice Bar– A great recommendations from my friend Amanda. This roadside stop had so many fresh juice and smoothie options as well as great breakfast and sandwich options.
Java Kai– Loved this adorable spot in Kapaa and I had the best ever iced macadamia nut latte. Wish I could have another one right now.
The Right Slice– OMG do not leave without getting the mango pie! It was to die for (I only got a picture of the blueberry pina colada though). Wish I could’ve brought an entire pie back!
Thai Food Coconut Corner- This spot had great vegetarian options and we really enjoyed the pad Thai as well as tofu curry with pineapple.
Kalapaki Bay Sunset Cruise– No joke, we landed at the airport, picked up our rental car and head straight out on a sunset catamaran cruise with Kauai Beach Boys. This cruise is situated on the Hulei’a River in Kalapaki Bay, so different than all the other sunset boat cruises along the Na Pali Coast. We had a blast on this chill cruise, where we sipped on delicious tropical drinks and enjoyed the beautiful views. What an amazing way to kick-off a Hawaiian adventure!
Hiking the Kuilau Ridge Jungle Trail– An absolute must while visiting Kauai is a hike through one of the many trails on the island. The lush, green, beautiful landscape lends itself to a plethora of options from pretty easy to probably one of the hardest, steepest hikes around. I choose to go the more easy-moderate route on this trip with Kauai Hiking Tours. While the elevation was not that difficult compared to other hikes I’ve done before, what got me on this hike was all the mud! It definitely made for a fun adventure and my first time using hiking poles on a hike. I had a blast though and our awesome guide Jeremiah was so knowledgeable and took us to some great look out points. At the end of the hike, we also got to see the famous rainbow eucalyptus trees, which are something cool I’ve never see before!
Auli’i Luau– One of my bucket list items for many years has been to go to a luau in Hawaii and I can finally put a check mark next to that box! One of my biggest concerns though has always been how much (if any) vegetarian items would be available. I was beyond excited when I saw that not only does Auli’i Luau have very clearly marked vegetarian (and vegan and gluten-free) options, but it’s the only beachfront luau in Kauai. It was a no-brainer then that we made it a point to experience Auli’i Luau. The setting, drinks, food and performances were spectacular and we had a great time (even though it did rain on and off). If you’ve never been, a luau is definitely something fun to experience, especially when in Hawaii.
Na Pali Sunset Cruise– One of the most famous coastlines in the world belongs to Kauai; the Na Pali Coastline. There are many sunset cruise options available and we had the chance to go out with Kauai Sea Tours. I’ve been on many excursions around the world and I have to say this was one of the best ones I’ve ever been on. Everything from the catamaran itself to the crew, hospitality, service and food/drinks were exceptional. Of course the views were out of this world…that majestic coast line with all the vibrant colors and cliffs truly took my breath away. A work of art by Mother Nature. And, the biggest and probably best surprise of them all was the sheer number of whales that we saw! There must have been at least 30 whale sightings on our trip and that honestly brought the biggest smile to my face. The sunset was spectacular on the evening we were out and all in all, one of the best cruises I’ve ever been on, hands-down.
So, as you can see, we covered quite a bit in just 5 days. What an amazing adventure and I can’t wait to visit more islands of beautiful Hawaii. Until we meet next time, I’ll have these amazing images etched in my memory forever. Love you Kauai!
Please Note: While some experiences were sponsored, all opinions are my own.