Booking a trip to Hawaii was an emotional decision for me. My trip to Paris and London in 2020 had been canceled due to COVID, and the whole next year I was a little lost as to what to do next regarding a big trip. I took some local trips, which were fantastic, Ocean Springs
being my favorite. While it is a precious and artsy town, it’s no Paris. As the middle of 2021 was approaching, my trip to Apalachicola, FL was becoming less and less appealing. I needed something robust. I needed adventure. Most of all I needed to be on a plane going somewhere far. A few people I know were either in Hawaii or had gone to Hawaii recently (probably due to the same reason as mine) and said it’s worth the effort. I took my credits from my European vacation and bought plane tickets to Hawaii. To Kauai, specifically. I found that these were my favorite 8 things to do in Kauai. I hope you enjoy the read!
The Garden Island is as Lush as it Sounds
Kauai was the island I wanted to go to the most. I had heard that it’s lush and has a lot of vegetation (and also called the Garden Island
), and overall the most beautiful island. Don’t shoot the messenger - I am just repeating what I heard! I didn’t know the difference from one island to the next, so I figured what the heck? Kauai was just as good as the others for this adventurous and hungry-for-travel soul. Little did I know that months after I left and got home, I’d be thinking about that island a lot. While it was a hike to get to it, I would go back. For now, I want to share my 8 “must dos” while on the island of Kauai.
The first day we got there it was later in the afternoon, which was perfect. It was late enough to not feel terrible about falling asleep at 8 pm. I wanted to wake up as early as I could to walk over to the beach and watch the sunrise. While the first day’s sunrise sticks in my head, each day following was just as spectacular. Our condo
was surrounded by birds and vegetation, and sitting out there watching the sun come up, usually with a rainbow somewhere (since it would drizzle or rain and stop) was quite magical. Getting up early enough to watch a Kauaian sunrise is worth it and definitely one of the top 8 things to do in Kauai.
Mother Nature is funny. Sometimes she is on your side and sometimes she is getting a giggle out of your efforts. We went on a hike on a trail called Makaleha
. It was highly recommended. But...rainy season can really mess with your plans, and your shoes. Since hiking is something we enjoy doing, but typically do it in more arid landscape, we don’t have waterproof hiking shoes
. Not smart for Hawaii, especially Kauai since it is the rainiest island. As we were hopping around the trail, trying to avoid being totally one with the wet and squishy mud, it was becoming more evident that my new grey Asics
were becoming brown. When we got to what ended up being “the end” of the hike, we spent a little time trying to figure out how to cross this river without being washed away. Lo and behold, we couldn't get across it due to our friend Mother Nature, and we had to turn around. The hike was still worth it and I would recommend looking into less muddy ones in...rainy season.
3. Take a Boat Around the Na Pali Coast
Taking a recommendation from a friend, we booked a tour with Blue Ocean Adventures
. Kauai is not completely inhabited, and this tour took us around to the Na Pali coastline
and showed us the lesser seen areas. The boat ride was intense. We were told to sit on this raft-like side and hang onto a rope with our hands and slide our foot under another rope on the floor of the boat. Jumping ahead, my body was absolutely wrecked after this 5-hour ride. Back to the tour, though. The two gals that did the tour excelled in dad jokes and goofy humor, yet kind of didn’t seem old enough to be driving a boat with 12 people. They did a great job, and it just goes to show you not to judge a boat captain by its cover. The sites were worth the effort, and jumping in the vast ocean off the coast from a little boat was pretty insane. Also, I SAW SEVERAL SCHOOLS OF DOLPHINS THAT TOTALLY MADE THIS TRIP WORTH IT. I give this experience a 5/5 because it’s one of those things you likely won’t ever experience again. Maybe something similar, but definitely different if you do.
4. Check Out Waimea Canyon
Ok. The day I went on this hike to Waimea Canyon
I was not at 100% energy level. I may have been at around 60%, which is unfortunate because this is a hike I would’ve like to go further down. The problem is not the way down, it’s coming back up. If you’ve done the Grand Canyon
or any other canyon, you immediately know what I’m talking about. You can probably feel your quads burning while reading this. Maybe your calves too. We hiked about a mile down, which was great and it did give us some range of scenery, but the mile up felt like it could’ve been ten for me. My recommendation: do this hike on a non-rainy day and you are also bursting with energy.
5. Do a Rum Tasting at Koloa Rum Company
This was a must for me! While I love the great outdoors, I also love a nice and relaxing rum tasting. Hoping to get in the day before we left Kauai, we drove over to the Koloa Rum Company
only to find out they were booked for the day. We had to book for the following morning, which is always an interesting way to start the day out. But hey, I’m on vacay so why not?! Our host, Leah, was an expert at remembering names, engaging us, giving us tips on cocktails, and having fun. We had a memorable experience that I will never forget. We tasted several rums and bought one to take home with us. And the plane ride to Maui was a lot more relaxed with a little booze in the system.
I didn’t admit it when asked, but I don’t think I had ever had a Mai Tai
before going to Hawaii. Because of this slightly embarrassing fact, it was the first drink I ordered on the first night we were there. We went to a hotel poolside restaurant and I ordered one. What I had learned in the rum tasting, though, was that Hawaiians don’t mix the dark rum into the rest of the drink and they don’t drink it with a straw. Sorry, but drinking the dark rum on the top pretty much straight was not going to work for my lightweight self. I could’ve sipped that off the top and not had any of the rest of the drink if I did it Hawaiian-style. I’m going to continue drinking a Hawaiian Mai Tai like a tourist.
7. Enjoy the Wild Chickens
The chickens!!! As an animal lover, the chickens and birds were my absolute favorite thing. I read a bunch of things about these wild chickens and roosters and couldn’t conceptualize it. I had to see it for myself before I believed that the wild fowl were actually an attraction. They are literally everywhere: from the sides of the road, to gas stations, to your hotel. You will not be able to dodge these cock-a-doodle-dooing creatures. Because I woke up at the crack of dawn everyday for the sunrise, I felt like a rooster could be in my future at home
For me, vacations are an opportunity to buy local art as a memory of the places I visit. Sometimes I just buy prints, but the older I get the more interested in buying originals I am from local artists. I also like jewelry or pottery, but adorning my walls at my house with art that I have picked up around the world makes my heart leap every time I look at the pieces. We got our piece from a little shop called The Artisan’s Room
which was on the same grounds as the Koloa Rum tasting room. It now hangs in my office along with other treasured pieces I have been gifted or picked up myself.
If You Do These 8 Things, You’ll Love Kauai
My top picks have something for everyone in there. Full disclosure is that I don’t have kids, so I would imagine that traveling with kids might eliminate some of these 8 things to do in Kauai. The activities my husband and I did on this trip is forever etched in our vacation memories and hearts. It was a fabulous trip, once-in-a-lifetime if I dare say, and I’m happy to share it with all of you.