5 Days in Kauai

Timeshare points expiring + Dad’s birthday in May = Last minute family vacation!

Even though I vowed not to travel in Q2, this trip of 3 PTO days was easier for me to justify (“I’ve been in my new role for 2 whole months!” “It’s Memorial Day weekend!). Also, how often does my dad turn 65? Happy belated, Dad!

Hawaii – one of those places I’ve heard several people go to but rarely go. My last trip was in 2001 to Honolulu where I distinctly remember a luau @ the Polynesian Cultural Center and the Dole Plantation #basic.  I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Kauai but knew it was a crowd favorite.

Itinerary:

Day 1 – arrived in Lihue airport, Lawai Beach Resort (South shore)
Day 2 – Polihale State Park
Day 3 – Princeville, Hanalei Bay (North shore)
Day 4 – Sleeping Giant Trail (East)
Day 5 – Waimea Canyon (West), Na Pali Sunset Cruise
Day 6 – Kauai Coffee Company, departed Lihue

Kauai can essentially be divided into 4 quadrants and it was easiest to explore each quadrant per day; however, the island is small enough that you could really do multiple in 1 day. The drive from the south shore to north shore takes 1 hour without traffic and there’s a single major highway that runs around the island (similar to Iceland).

Must-dos:

  • Rent a car
  • Waimea Canyon (drive or hike)
  • Hiking (several trails to choose from) – bring good shoes for muddy/slippery trails
  • Snorkeling (several beach options)
  • Na Pali coast (viewed from boat or helicopter)

Must-eats:

Things to Know:

  1. Yelp reviews here are misleading. My guess is Hawaii draws an extremely diverse group of tourists who have very different standards for food than a Californian Asian. One example is we found crazy good reviews for Da Crack in South Shore that stated “worth the wait!” We intentionally went early to avoid a wait but found it to be one of the worst Mexican foods we’ve ever had.
  2. Weather and timing are everything. I can’t speak to other seasons but we went in late May where the weather was warm throughout (high 70s, 80s) but scattered rain that would last 15 minutes max.  The weather forecasts are unpredictable for rain so it may be a good idea to have ponchos on hand just in case. Most of the time, you can just wait it out. The north shore gets a lot more rain compared to the South so visit or stay there when it’s clear and sunny.

Summary:

This island was not that impressive food-wise outside of Hawaiian specialties poke and shaved ice. However, the beauty of this island is out of this world. It’s not very commercial at all so the main thing to do is drive around and hop places for hiking, snorkeling, and beach lounging. Wonderful, tropical vacation spot that’s a <6 hour flight from California.

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