What to do in Kauai - Part 1: Hiking, Surfing Beaches and Lunch Spots
I have to say that I am extremely lucky …. privileged, blessed, amazed, you name it… to have come into a situation where I have family that has found its way to the island of Kauai. I have had the chance to visit the island on numerous occasions, in fact this past trip that Aimee and I took over Christmas and New Years 2012 makes it my 6th trip to the Garden Island. So you see, I do not exaggerate when I say that I’m a lucky shit :)
Not only have I had the chance to visit, but I’ve also had the chance to see the island under the direction of my family: my Aunt and Uncle who have been living on the South Shore for 30 or so years now - locals brah. But also now my parents who have been locals for a few years now as well. Here are some things that I’ve learned from them and found out on my own about the island. There are some of the things that I’ve totally loved doing when there, hope you find them useful in your adventures.
Hiking - In terms of the north shore, it’s all about the Kalalau Trail. You can’t drive all the way around the island of Kauai, even though it’s basically a circle. The Na Pali coast is essentially impossible to build a road on, and that’s a good thing. Hiking the trail that meanders along the coast of Na Pali is a great way to see the impenetrable coastline. I have hiked the route from Ke’e to Hanakapia beach and then up to the falls and it’s amazing (bring spam musubi for lunch after swimming under the falls, which are surprisingly cold). I have also great things from my Aunt about kayaking the entire coastline form Ke’e beach to Polihale in the summer when the surf is tamer, but haven’t gotten a chance to do that. Also, the hike all the way to Kalalau valley and beach is doable, and I’ve had friends report that there are some characters living in the valley that you should expect to encounter. Bring rolling tobacco if you go. Seriously.
Surfing Beaches - The epic beaches of the north shore of Kauai are as gorgeous as most people tell you, but there are absolute gems almost everywhere you look. I don’t surf, but do body surf and boogie board (yep, I’m a foamer) and here are some of my favorite places to get down:
- Hanalei Bay Beach (Waioli) - Easy for me to say :) This is the home beach of Andy Irons, a local Kauai hero and one of the best surfers to ever get up on a board. Great spot to watch people ride, even if you aren’t into trying it yourself.
- Kalihiwai Beach - Totally gorgeous beach, somewhat protected by reefs on either side of this bay, Kalihiwai is a great spot for beginners with easy swell even in the winter and not a ton of rip current. I think I was in the water for like 3 hours straight - serious water in the ear, ugh.
- Shipwrecks - South shore beach that fronts the Hyatt Regency resort (which you should walk around and check out, it’s insane). Best boogie boarding waves on the island IMO, great fun.
- Kealia Beach - On the east side just north of Kapa’a, this beach has many break lines of waves and can be rough in the winter, but is awesome in the summer from what I’ve seen. Great spot to stop on the way to the north shore.
Lunch Grinds - Here’s the thing about Kauai that we’ve found - the food is the best at the local spots - always. If a place looks touristy at all or if you have a choice to go to a fancy restaurant (like Dondero’s or Beach House or something) or a hole in the wall spot, especially for lunch, go for the local hole in the wall - the food is better, the people are awesome and you’ll get some awesome grub. Here are our favorite lunch spots:
- Kilauea Fish Market, Kilauea and Kapa’a - This is the one spot not to miss on island is the on the north shore. If you get there, get the Ahi (or Ono) fish wrap, it’s the perfect lunch or dinner after a day at the beach or hiking - insanely delicious. Here are some other spots we love for local food:
- Salt Pond Country Store, Hanapepe - My stepdad took us here to pick up some lunch one day and it was legit. It’s a local spot on south side on the way to Waimea town (and canyon). Best tuna poke I’ve ever had, and I seek it out. Full of scallions with an awesome, spicy mayo sauce. Delicious - grab some on your way up to the canyon or out to Polihale.
- Menehune Food Mart, Lawai - Ok, it’s a convenience store, I know. But this convenience store happens to serve some awesome spam musubi, which sounds gross, but is absolutely delicious. I. Love. Spam. There, I said it. And wrapped in rice and nori, you will too. Grab one with a piece of ginger chicken and you got yourself a great lunch - Menehune is where it’s at.
- Bubba’s Burgers, Hanalei, Kapa’a, Poipu
What’s up again
Time to get back into blogging on adrianmott.com, it’s been a while and I’m taking the opportunity to revamp things a bit - this time using Tumblr.