Aloha folks...I’m coming out of lurking as we are only 1 week away from returning to the wonderful island of Kauai. This post is ½ Trip Report and ½ Trip Itinerary, so please pardon its length.
My husband and I feel like we were just there, we were there for 5 days / 4 nights for the 1st time in Oct 2011 celebrating our birthdays so we did the whole gamut of fine dining out every night, staying in a high end hotel (St. Regis to be exact, but I confess I am an employee of the parent company and had a discount--but it still does adds up!) we had an amazing Spa experience there that we will never forget, we also splurged to do the Jack Harter helicopter tour and utilized the rest of that day to check out the South Shore (Spouting Horn, Sheraton Beach, Puka Dog for lunch) then ending that evening with an amazing sunset dinner at Beach House only to then have the very exhausting hour and half drive back to the St. Regis in the dark, needless to say it was a very long day. We spent a day snorkeling at Hideaways (which the trail down is totally doable if you are novice hikers like us), swam in Queens Bath (that trail down was a bit more challenging if I recall but totally doable still) gawked in awe at the sea turtles floating about nearby, and on a whim did the Kalalau Trail all the way to the waterfall (now that is something I’m NOT eager to do again) we had never really hiked a day in our lives before that (unless you count Diamond Head and the beaches noted above)—bottom line it was very difficult—but we are proud to say we did it. I’d say aim for the beach and go back if you are a novice as that is pretty doable, we then watched our last sunset at Ke’e beach after our hike that day. We must have spent 2 of the 4 days exhausting ourselves between the hike and the south shore excursion, only giving ourselves 1 pool day and 1 explore day—simply put, there was not enough time to do as much as we wanted yet in the 4 full days we were there we managed to spend quite the pretty penny plus add to that we did two islands (Oahu) in just 10 days—well let’s just say as 1st time visitors we can now say we’ve been there, done that—of course we loved every minute of it but never-the-less we are smarter and wiser now—or so we hope. :)
This time we have decided to utilize our time share by exchanging it to stay at the Cliffs Club in Princeville for one whole week 8 days / 7 nights (WAY CHEAPER for an entire week staying there vs at the St Regis even for 1 night with my discount!). We’ve already requested a 2nd floor unit and are mentally preparing ourselves for buildings 1, 2, or 3 since we are exchanging. We know it won’t be the St. Regis but we know how to come back down to reality :) We are treating this trip as a relax and chill visit and to do things we did not do the 1st time around-dubbing it our “Conquer the North Shore” trip. We hadn’t planned a thing until this point thinking we could get away with that idea, but then the inner planner inside of me is dying so I must plan something besides air, lodging and a car rental. So here goes…
Day 1: Travel day--We are coming in from JFK landing at 5:12pm. After seeing a previous post about dinner options, I think we are leaning towards grabbing something in HNL if we have enough time between gates, otherwise we might grab something quick in Lihue as I suspect we are gonna be very tired. We wanted to go to Duke’s but I think when we factor in the drive up to the North Shore and still needing to make our pit stop at Wal-Mart, it might be too much—so I need something quick but healthy (is that possible?). It’s a travel day—so check in and probably just settle in for the night. I image it will be close to 8pm by the time we get settled into our room and we are just gonna be exhausted. (2am NY time)
Day 2: RELAX! Maybe grab some breakfast at Wake up café? Rent snorkel gear from either Hanalei surf company or pedal'n paddle, shop for some groceries, return to check out the Cliff grounds, spend day at Pool, have some lunch and perhaps stay in for dinner? We really dislike cooking on vacation so I’m not sure what we should do, it’ll be a Friday night.
Day 3: Hanalei Farmers Market! Weather permitting, check out Tunnels and go find unnamed falls and kalihiwai falls. Get shave ice at Wishing Well (something we didn't get last trip)
Day 4: Brunch at Med Gourmet—then the day is our oyster. Maybe rent the bikes at our timeshare and explore the area. Maybe head down to kilauea lighthouse (in our car)—walk around Hanalei
Day 5: This is waimea canyon day—hit the road around 6am, *maybe* check out Polihale Beach then on the way back stop by Wailua falls—that’s it. I can already guess it’s gonna be a long day, but the buck stops there I think. We will also get some shave ice at Jo’Jo’s too.
Day 6: Ke’e Beach, Waipa Farmer’s market---Med gourmet for Luau
Day 7: Gosh I have no idea—relax some more, pool, another beach, whatever the day brings :) Shopping?
Day 8: Travel day—get to LIH 3 hours early (flight is at 1ish) grab breakfast at Tip Top if we haven’t already eaten.
I know there are lots of holes, but I kinda like that, in fact I still feel like there is not enough time but this is just a guideline for us—so is there anything I must must do that I am not doing? We are really interested in just relaxing and exploring easy to get to waterfalls, taking in the scenery and enjoying all that Kauai life has to offer. We are trying to be economical this go around in terms of excursions so Luau is our only "splurge" but we are also foodies so we have no problem spending most of our money on food even though we have a full kitchen.