Are you planning a trip to the beautiful island of Kauai? I have been going to Kauai every other year for over 30 years. This last trip we took two of our granddaughters and loved spending that time with them! Of course, we used some travel hacks to get there! Now I may not be a local, but after spending so much time on the island, I feel pretty confident in my recommendations on what to do in Kauai!
Kauai is our favorite Hawaiian island and Kauai’s North Shore is our favorite part of the island. It is greener, lusher and more laid back than any other part of the island. We love the small island feel – especially the laid back vibe of our favorite little town, Hanalei.
Hanalei is found a few miles north of Princeville (where we have a timeshare). It is a quiet little surfing town where you can rent a surfboard or paddleboard and head to the beach. We especially love the Hanalei Surf Company. We rent chairs, umbrellas, surfboards, and boogie boards and head to Hanalei for hours of fun every trip. And no trip is complete without that souvenir t-shirt to wear back on the mainland so everyone knows you were in Hanalei, smack dab in Kauai’s North Shore. Just ask my granddaughters about how fun it is to shop in Hanalei!
Our absolute favorite place to get a treat in Kauai is Wishing Well Shave Ice – how cute is this place? We have been coming here for years and love to get shaved ice with a scoop of ice cream on the bottom and a snowcap (sweetened condensed milk) on top! Pina colada is my favorite flavor!
No trip to the Kauai is complete without a trip to Ke’e Beach – it is our favorite place to snorkel. We have seen beautiful fish and huge tortoises here. This last year a gigantic sea lion entertained us as he swam along the coast in front of us. Another thing we love while we are at Ke’e is hiking. There is a nice trail there where when you get up a little way you can get an amazing view of the Napali Coast. Almost everyone who stays on Kauai’s North Shore makes a visit to Ke’e Beach!
We used to just drive down to Ke’e but since the storm in 2018, things have changed. Luckily, I read about this before we came. They just reopened the area in June of 2019. Now you have to get a pass to drive yourself down there or take a shuttle. I tried to get a driving pass about two weeks before we came and none were available. We took the shuttle after getting our tickets here. It was $15.00 each for the tickets. It was actually pretty nice having someone do the driving for us!
The parking area and shuttle drop-off area are nice and the walkway to the beach is much nicer too! The drive to Ke’e has a lot of construction to it and is sometimes one-way so it is nice to sit back and listen to music while someone drives you. The only con is that pickup to go back is every hour on the half-hour so you have to plan in advance.
One of my favorite things about Kauai is the always-present chickens. Kauai is filled with chickens and colorful roosters! I love seeing them walking around the beach, the restaurants, and the stores but I’m not too fond of the 6:30 wake-up call they give outside my condo window every morning!
Because we have a timeshare, our first stop from the airport is Costco to grab some food. Then we head to Safeway or Food Land on our way up to Princeville. We cook all our breakfasts and about half of our lunches and dinners. We do eat out too and some of my favorite spots to eat near Princeville are:
Because the North Shore is so green and lush, it also rains a lot. On these days, we head to Poipu on the southern side of Kauai for the day to escape the sprinkles. Honestly, though, it usually sprinkles a bit on and off and we just go on with our day.
In Poipu, we snorkel at Poipu Beach. Surfing near the Sheraton is great for beginners and in our group, we are all beginners. Oh wait, I don’t even surf! Well, my family is all beginners! This cute little shop near Poipu is a great place to rent supplies for a day in Poipu. It is located next to Brenneckes which is a great place for fish and chips.
Another favorite place for food in Poipu is Keoki’s Paradise – we love when they have fresh Ono there! Make sure to go between 4:45-5:30 and enjoy the Chef’s Tasting Menu where you can get a starter, entree, and dessert for $26. We also love the pork nachos at the Marriott and often walk over there from the beach to get them for lunch or as a snack. For breakfast in Poipu hit up Anuenue Cafe. The last time Alex and Mitch went they came two times, it was that good!
We spend most of our time in Kauai at the beaches but have done some fun tours also. On our last trip we went fluming (tubing down old irrigation ditches). This was a lot of fun and very refreshing! We went through Kauai Back Country Adventures. It was a 3-hour trip that started in Lihue (near the airport). We donned hard hats with lights on them and gloves and floated down the ditches with a group of about 20 people. The best part was the dark tunnels where you would be pinned every time you hit the sides or another person’s tube. The lunch provided was really good and we all had a lot of fun. It was $116 a person, so a little steep, but a great experience.
Hiking and kayaking are other favorites of ours. We like the tour offered by GetAGuide. We spent some time kayaking down the Wailua River and then hiking to Secret Falls where we enjoyed swimming in the waterfalls. This tour cost $95 a person and lasted 5 hours and does not include lunch. We brought our own lunch and water and had a great time! Our granddaughters thought the waterfall was amazing but were pretty tired after the kayaking! They both thought it was the best tour we took though!
Ahh, Kauai! Shaved ice, beaches, warm breezes, and sleeping 10 hours at night because you’ve been out in the sun and are so relaxed. Roosters on the side of the road, pigs running across the road, and a general “laid back” vibe. I can’t wait to go back!
Affiliate Disclosure: Travel Hacking Mom uses affiliate links. We may receive compensation if you use our links when applying for a credit card at no extra cost to you. This compensation does not impact how or where products appear on this site. Travel Hacking Mom has not reviewed all available credit card offers on this site. Thank you so much if you use our links!
Editorial Note: The editorial content on this site is not provided by credit card issuer. All opinions, reviews, and recommendations are expressed by the author, not the credit card issuer.