Here are some highlights of our wonderful (and much too short!) visit to Kauai. We also spent a few days on Maui, so part two of this report will be on the Maui forum. Thanks to everyone who shared their tips and suggestions; they were much appreciated and made for a memorable vacation:
9/15 & 9/16-Arrived in Honolulu after a very long flight from the East Coast, made better by an upgrade to first class and the fact that we flew over part of the Grand Canyon. Kind of appropriate, since Kauai has its own version, Waimea Canyon... :)
Spent the night at a hotel in Waikiki, enjoyed a nice brunch at Hula Grill, and took an interisland flight over to Kauai in the early afternoon. Glad this was a "travel" day because it rained steadily for much of the on Oahu and Kauai. Not a drop for the rest of the trip though.
Short flight into Lihue, we made it just fine but our luggage was MIA (fortunately it arrived on the next flight). Apparently this is a common problem for Aloha Airlines; we saw a lot of unclaimed luggage from earlier flights and our friends later told us this kind of thing happens "about half the time". So just a word of advice for anyone flying here with them.
Our friends hosted a luau for us, which was moved indoors due to the rain but still a lot of fun. Most of the traditional dishes but no poi! Too bad-I wanted to be able to "bad mouth it with authority" like the Kauai Revealed book says.. :) Not quite on Hawaiian time yet so called it a night early and drove down to Poipu where we checked into the Hyatt.
Today was all about relaxation. Lunch at the hotel's Ilima Terrace restaurant while swans and koi glided by our table, followed by lounging at the pool and enjoying the spa. Even if you aren't staying here, the grounds are magnificent, they have an excellent spa and some very good restaurants. The ocean in front of the hotel is pretty rough/not good for swimming but Poipu Beach is only a five minute drive away and the Hyatt also has a great series of freshwater pools complete with a pretty cool waterslide.
Before our trip, we made 6pm dinner reservations at the Beach House so we could enjoy the sunset along with our meal. The food was very good and the view is not to be missed! Spectacular sunset followed by a full harvest moon, and the night sky lit by three especially bright "stars" in a row. After asking the server, we discovered they were Jupiter, Mars, and Venus. Unfortunately, my husband forgot his camera, but there is a silver lining: when we came back the next night to take pictures, we were treated to a double rainbow! It really is paradise here.
Today was our helicopter adventure-we flew InterIsland with no doors! I felt quite secure (but a bit cramped) in my middle front seat but my husband was very concerned he would fall out the open door! He did agree the flight was amazing though and would like to do it again (next time WITH doors). The views are incredible-it is like you can reach out and touch the scenery. And I have never seen so many waterfalls in my life, including one in Waimea Canyon. Never expected to see that!
After the helicopter tour, we drove up to enjoy the sights along the North Shore. Princeville, Hanalei, Kilauea Lighthouse, etc. It is SO lush and green here-personally I prefer staying on the sunny south side of the island but I would never miss the opportunity to visit this part as well.
Had dinner at Keoki's Paradise. Was a little apprehensive based on reviews I've read but the food was good and our server was very attentive. Had my second Lava Flow of the trip after reading so much about them on the forum-it was good but my favorite one was at Tidepools (more on that below).
Spent more time at the pool this morning and set sail on our Sunset Cruise with Holoholo Charters in the afternoon/evening. Checked in at 2:45, departed at 3:15 and returned about 7pm. Awesome views of the Na Pali Coast, it is much different from the sea than the air so I recommend doing both a helicopter tour and a cruise if you can. Boat was comfortable but small enough that we could sail into the opening of a large sea cave and also under a waterfall (where one of the passengers proposed to his girlfriend.....) The food they served on the way back was very good and the service was excellent, crew members were always around to bring fresh drinks, collect trash, etc. so we didn't have to move around when the boat was rocking in the waves. It does get pretty choppy on the way up the coast but is smooth on the way back. Did not take any Dramamine and we were fine; so were the other passengers. The sunset was amazing; it was incredibly romantic to watch it while sipping champagne and toasting the newly engaged couple.
Late dinner at Tidepools-good food and great ambience with thatched roof and flickering tiki torches. Had my favorite Lava Flow here-perfect blend of pina colada flavors with an artful swirl of strawberry, garnished with fresh pineapple. Wish they would make them here on the mainland....
Last day here on Kauai; time to head over to Maui. Enjoyed the pool and a leisurely walk around the grounds in the morning, then drove down to Poipu Beach to try for a glimpse of the Monk Seal before our flight. (weren't able to see it).
Overall, a fantastic trip, and Kauai is now officially my favorite of the Hawaiian Islands. I hope all of you enjoy it as much as I have. Mahalo!