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First time in Hawaii!

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Los Angeles...
posts: 15
First time in Hawaii!


This is the first time I've ever been to Hawaii. My husband and I will be staying on the South Shore of Kauai in October. I cannot put into words how excited we are about this trip! Even though I think we'd be happy and grateful just sitting on a beach, there are a few things that we'd really like to experience while we're there. I've been researching, but it's starting to get overwhelming. If anyone could help sort it out for us, here is our list. Also, we will have a rental car.

- Luau (doesn't have to be super fancy)

- Helicopter Ride vs. Boat ride on the coast - we've heard different things from different people, but my husband's leaning more toward the helicopter.

- Hiking - we love to hike, but we're not professionals by any sense of the word. We're looking for hikes that are 5 or so miles with medium terrain. We'd be willing to do longer hikes if they were guided.

- Waterfalls! - We'd love to see one, but even more so we'd love to swim in one!

- North Shore - We'd like to take a day trip to the North Shore. Any suggestions for priority?

Thanks for any advice. Also let me know if there's anything I've missed. I read about Turtle Cove and Spouting horn. Are those worth it? Is there anything else that is a must see on the South Shore?

As for food, I was told to go to the Beach house for dinner, but not much else. My husband wants to eat Spam dishes! I want to take advantage of the fresh fish.

Thank you in advance.

posts: 315
reviews: 1
1. Re: First time in Hawaii!

Don't forget Waimea Canyon! Definitely a must!

posts: 315
reviews: 1
2. Re: First time in Hawaii!

I also recommend visiting the Hindu Monastery.

posts: 883
reviews: 5
3. Re: First time in Hawaii!

We will be splitting our stay between north and south, not suggesting you should but wondering if you might want to reconsider just one day on the north shore. There's a lot of beaches I want to visit and snorkel on and a lot of restaurants I want to try, as well as the obligatory (for me anyway) sunset cocktail time at the St. Regis bar. Can you set aside more time for the north shore?

What is it you are wanting to see there?

Los Angeles...
posts: 15
4. Re: First time in Hawaii!

Thanks for all the replies.

Atiya, is Waimea Canyon part of the helicopter trip or is that a hike? I'll definitely look up the monastery!

Honeymooner, we booked a hotel on the south shore for all 5 nights. Maybe next time. Any beaches or restaurants you specifically recommend on the North Shore. We'll be there all day.

Kauai, Hawaii
Destination Expert
for Kauai, Kapaa
posts: 18,997
reviews: 40
5. Re: First time in Hawaii!

Don't miss Waimea Canyon! You can drive all the way to the Kalalau Valley lookout at the top, and there are many canyon lookouts. Lots of hikes here.

I'm a big fan of the helicopter tours. Spouting Horn is worth the quick stop. It's only a few minutes from Po`ipu.

You can drive up to Wailua Falls and Opaeka`a Falls overlook. Both are worth seeing. Most here don't recommend swimming under a waterfall due to the danger of things being swept over the edge and coming down on you. It happens. There's some danger of leptospirosis. Not a high probability of getting it, but it's nasty if you do.

Definitely do a trip or two to the north shore. In October there's a decent chance that the water won't be rough enough to close the beaches. Don't miss the Kilauea Light, and spend some time in Hanalei town. Drive all the way to the end of the road at Ke`e Beach.

Look for spam musubi at almost any small convenience store. I know Whaler''s has it. You can usually get spam as a meat choice with breakfast.

Edited: 2:54 pm, September 09, 2012
Southern California
posts: 6,290
reviews: 5
6. Re: First time in Hawaii!

Do you have a guidebook? The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook is very helpful--good maps, hiking recommendations, etc. Also, lots of info. here on hikes. Look at the questions on the righthand side.


Check out the Allerton Garden tours. We went on the sunset tour this summer and thought it was well worth it.

Maha'ulepu Beach is one of our favorites and the walk along the lithified cliffs is beautiful!

When you go to the North Shore, leave early and go to the end--Ke'e Beach. From there work your way back. Be sure to stop at Hanalei, Hanalei Bay, and the lighthouse .

Beach House is definitely a great choice. Other favorites are Josselin's, Tortilla Republic, and Merriman's.

Have fun!

Southern California
posts: 6,290
reviews: 5
7. Re: First time in Hawaii!

Lunch at Mediterranean Gourmet in Ha'ena on the north shore is very nice--right next to the ocean.

Our favorite luau is Tues. night at the Med. Gourmet; if Tuesday is the day you go to the north short, you might want to get reservations for that evening. There are showers and places to change at Ha'ena Beach Park and at Hanalei Pavilion State Park. Another option for great entertainment is to go to the Hyatt. The torchlighting ceremony begins about 6 and the free entertainment continues until around 9.

Trabuco Canyon...
posts: 887
reviews: 52
8. Re: First time in Hawaii!

Look at maybe flying with Wings over Kauai instead of a Helicopter, the money you save will pay for both of you on the Holo Holo 5 Hr Napali Boat Cruise and I highly recommend both excursions, one is a over view and one is up close and personal look at the Napali Coast no matter what you decide most of all Enjoy the Island

Washington DC...
posts: 1,712
reviews: 11
9. Re: First time in Hawaii!

So you are there 5 nights?

Lots of people seem to recommend Smith's luau. I didn't get a chance to go, but when I was researching this seemed like one of the best options.

I also, would definitely see Waimea Canyon, stop at the different lookouts, and make sure to drive all the way to the top to see the Kalalau valley lookout. It is a billion dollar view absolutely stunning.

I think helicopter or boat tour of the Na Pali coast really comes down to preference. People rave about both. I've only done the boat tour( too scared if getting sick in the helicopter). The boat tour was one of my favorite activities in Hawaii definitely an unforgettable experience of a lifetime. We saw tons of spinner dolphins and I loved seeing the amazing scenery of the Na Pali up close. I love being out on the water too. If you get sea sickness make sure to take meds and to buy ginger chews. Can't go wrong either way though with the boat or helicopter.

For your North Shore day stop at Kilauea lighthouse for postcard picture views, Hanalei Bay Beach, if the water is calm and you like snorkeling Tunnels Beach is awesome (park at Haena Beach Park), and make sure to stop at all the scenic overlooks along the road to get pictures. You could also stop at Wailua falls on your way to the North shore (viewing area is from the road above).

On hiking, here is a great web site:


Also, read the top question on the right on hiking. If you also like kayaking you could do kayak up the Wailua River and hike to secret falls. It is 2 miles of kayaking one way and 1 mile nature hike through the forest (one way) to secret falls. We went with Wailua River Guides and it was a fabulous trip ( took about 5 hours). Here is their web site ( there are also many other tour companies):


Also, you may like the Mahaulepu hike on the South Shore.

There are lots of good restaurants in Poipu. Read the top question on the right of the page on restaurants also do a search for "restaurants in Poipu" and you will come up with lots of threads. I like Tidepools at the Hyatt for a nice dinner. Keokis Paradise in the bar/ patio area for a casual dinner while listening to live music. Also, loved Tortilla Republic for upscale Mexican food and drinks. For breakfast, I like the Poipu Bay Club house at the Hyatt and Joes on the Green.

Also, you might enjoy going to the Sea View terrace one night at the Grand Hyatt for cocktails and listening to live Hawaiian music. They also have a torchlighting ceremony some nights with hula, chanting, etc, that lasts about 15 minutes.

You will absolutely love Kauai, enjoy your trip!

Destination Expert
for Newport, Depoe Bay
posts: 8,207
reviews: 42
10. Re: First time in Hawaii!

First we go to Kaui soon. Our 5th time. So we have had time to do a variety of things

My wife has done the helicopter and fixed wing trips. She preferred the helicopter. I don't do helicopters. That was a long morning because my wife and 3 of our adult children were on it. I anxiously awaited their return with our other adult child and our grandchildren. I did not do fixed wing trip cause kind of spendy. and wasn't sure i really wanted to since....

I did do the Na Pali coast boat tour with her. was fun being close to all those canyons, but in the short time you have i question spending well over a half day on a boat.

For sure drive to Waimea Canyon Overlook and then to end of road to look down on Na Pali coast. You get two of the best views in this country real close to each other.