Travel Guide: Kauai
This is the second real family trip we have taken since Rajan was born, and by far the furthest and longest so we really wanted to make our time in Kauai count. With D working so much over the last few years, even weekend getaways are difficult to take. It was important to choose a location to spend our time where we didn’t feel pressured to fill our itinerary but also where we would be able to go off the grid, relax, and just be together. That last line: just be together; being our biggest focal point. Kauai was the easiest place to fall in love with. Nicknamed the ‘garden isle’ of Hawaii, it was our first choice of islands to visit because as you would or wouldn’t guess it (depending on how much you truly know D and I), we feel most like ourselves when in remote islands as opposed to any metropolitan location, no matter how ‘fun’ it has been labeled. We love nature, water, and the free-spirited vibes of island life. We appreciate a culture where time is valued, and schedules are meant to be broken. That being said we approached our trip with a very relaxed agenda, taking in advice from others but at our leisure. We set out to make it an adventure of our own. We explored, we played, we ate, and we woke up every morning without any sort of plan and only a direction in which we were driving for the day. And here is where we ended up… having the best adventure for the first time as a family of three.
Thank you to The Grand Hyatt Kauai for your hospitality, the stay, and for helping to create the greatest family memories for us and so many others who have shared this special place. It was an honor to work with you during our trip!
(gifted) We were so fortunate to have been able to work with Alaska Airlines for the second time. As you may remember in my post here, Darshan and I traveled with their team to San Francisco for a 3-day weekend last year and had the most amazing experience. While we were there we were gifted another chance at working with them, however this time to any location of our choice. We knew instantly we wanted to plan a trip to Hawaii with Raj this summer.
WHERE TO STAY
(gifted) Grand Hyatt Kauai: there really just aren’t enough amazing things to say about this resort. I originally was referred to this hotel by my good friend, Cassydy, who not only visits yearly but was also married at the resort a few years ago! Upon sharing on Instagram where we were staying, I was delighted to hear that a handful of friends and a ton of readers have also stayed at the resort. Every single person that wrote into me about it all had nothing but wonderful things to say. What I loved most about our stay, besides the obvious plethora of hospitality and great vibes, was that it was family friendly AND adult friendly with the healthiest balance. We knew we wanted to stay somewhere that would be fun for Rajan to experience, but we aren’t quite in the parental stages of needing a full blown ‘kids’ resort. D and I really wanted to be able to enjoy a peaceful and fun stay as well. With access to our own private beach, multiple pools to choose from (one with a water slide and in an entirely different area, an ADULT ONLY pool), so many different types of restaurants to choose from, and a staff so welcoming and helpful – I can’t imagine our experience in Kauai being as great had we stayed anywhere else. We chose Grand Hyatt based off the best recommendation and we fell in love with it because it fit every one of our needs and wants for the ultimate vacation. We enjoyed cocktails and shaved ice by the pool, sushi for dinner, a Luau, and all of the wonderful resort amenities while still being able to truly gain the Hawaiian culture and experience. Our location, Poipu, is the least wet on the island (Kauai is known for having the most rain, hence all the beautiful greenery) and the most central – turn right and you head to the North Shore or turn left and you are 30 minutes from Waimea. Experience, comfort, activities, location – Grand Hyatt Kauai was by far the best decision we made while planning our trip.
WHERE WE ATE
I will be honest; we had a list of restaurants on our list that we wanted to try but while out exploring it became easiest to pick a spot local to where we were once we were hungry. We ate breakfast and dinners at our hotel more often than not for ease while our biggest exploration was in activity and snow cone eating!
Ilima Terrace/Grand Hyatt: the breakfast buffet is so worth it when fueling up for the day.
Seaview Terrace/Grand Hyatt: great for grabbing a quick coffee and breakfast, Raj loved their bagels, D loved their breakfast sandwich and I still crave their Poppy Seed pudding parfait.
Stevenson’s Sushi/Grand Hyatt: this is where we learned Raj is a fan of shrimp.
Grand Hyatt Kauai Luau: traditional Hawaiian food served buffet style and really fun entertainment!
Hanalei Bay Pizzeria: this was such a great place to stop for dinner and there are a ton of shops to walk and browse.
Pietro’s Pizza: hands down the BEST pizza we have EVER had!!! We have been to Italy and NY and never experienced pizza like this. We found it at random when we were on the way to the airport to leave and now, we crave it regularly. It is a MUST, and trust me I see the irony in how much pizza we ate in Kauai – that’s what happens when you travel with a 4-year-old.
Ono Ono (Kappa) was by FAR our favorite
Wailua Shaved Ice (Kappa) which was more traditional with fresh fruit and juices
JoJo’s Shaved Ice (Waimea, Kapaa, Hanalei)
WHAT WE DID
-Download Gypsy Guide Kauai: this was hands down the most helpful and useful guide to have. Since we rented our own car (I recommend a Jeep or SUV rental) it was so cool to turn on the app and drive. As you are driving the guide gives tips about the areas you are driving through including some background and fun facts. He also gives directions and sights to visit along the way and helps you decide where to stop based on your interests. We plan to download the guides for every trip we take going forward!
-Secret beach: trust me this is worth the trek! It got scary with Raj is tow but since he was all for it, we knew we couldn’t ignite fear into him, so we kept going. In the end, it became one our of best memories and the beach was worth it times a million!
-Kē’ē Beach: favorite beach we visited! The water was calm and so warm, and the sunset was like nothing I have ever seen before. Take a walk down the shore and you will feel like you have a private beach all to yourself. For me, this is a MUST SEE!
-Waimea Canyon: worth the drive, the views are breathtaking, and it is INCREDIBLE to see the canyons and so much untouched land.
–Captain Andy’s Sailing Adventure: if you visit Kauai this is another MUST DO in our book (but make sure you pack the Dramamine if you get sea sick). We were lucky enough to go in season to see the Na Pali coast which you can only get to by boat, hike, or helicopter so this was such a treat to see. It was one of the most beautiful places on Earth that I have ever seen, and the crew made the trip feel so special and personal. We got to snorkel on the coast of Na Pali, and it was the greatest experience to share as a family!! If you do any excursion on the island, this would be my #1 recommendation! Keep in mind, the waters can get rough in Kauai so these sails are always water-permitting. My biggest tip is to book this activity on your trip during one of your earlier days in case your sail has to be cancelled as this allows for other days as options (the tours were cancelled the first two days we were on the island).
-Wailua Falls: so beautiful but keep in mind this isn’t exactly an interactive waterfall, at least not safely. This is more of a visit for views than for splashing in!
-We took an early flight and landed in Kauai by noon
-After checking in we enjoyed our time at the resort – ate lunch, played in the pool and waterslide and ate dinner in our room
-Breakfast at the resort buffet (coconut syrup pancaked are to die for!)
-Drive to North Beach using Gypsy Guide, along the way we chose to stop at Wailea Falls, Waimea Shaved Ice and Ono Ono Shaved Ice, Secret Beach, Hanalei Beach Pizza, and Kē’ē Beach
-Breakfast at Seaview Terrace, Grand Hyatt
-Drive to Waimea Canyon
-JoJo’s Shaved Ice
-Grand Hyatt Kauai Luau
-Small drive to check out local beaches
-We played at our hotel private Beach and Shipwreck’s Beach in Poipu
-Pool and slide day
-Dinner at Stevenson’s Sushi
-Early morning rise
-Captain Andy’s Na Pali coast tour
-Back to resort to rest and shower
-Pizza at Pietro’s Pizza and souvenir shopping
-Red Eye flight back home
DON’T FORGET TO PACK
-BUG SPRAY! We didn’t pack any, but we should have, we ended up buying some at the market on day 2 because my legs were ballooning up from the bug bites, hahaha
-My absolute favorite purchase for the trip: waterproof phone case!! We purchased these ones and they were fantastic. SO SO easy to take on and off the phone but was safe enough to use our phones deep under water in the pool AND the ocean. This allowed for all of the most fun photos and videos of our trip!
SHOP MY OUTFITS
Hope you enjoyed following along on our trip on Instagram and hope you have fun browsing our photos. If you plan to visit Kauai for a celebration, family vacation, or an adult getaway it is perfect for any adventure. Our family definitely plans to return ASAP!
Stay tuned for PART TWO of our Kauai trip including a fun video + KAUAI FAQ from all of you!