What is the best way to see Kauai in one day?

The best way to see Kauai in one day is to start early and plan to drive as much of the shoreline as you can of this 562-square-mile island. Grab a cup of freshly brewed coffee and a muffin at one of four Java Kai coffee shops on the island. Then drive to Nawiliwili Harbor (on Nawiliwili Road), where you will have already booked a stand-up paddleboard excursion down the calm Huleia River with Outfitters Kauai. This guided tour goes two miles down this river, through the Huleia National Wildlife Refuge, where you can see the Menehune Fishpond and the majestic Haupu Mountains. Along the way, your guide will tell you stories about the area and, if you’re lucky, a few Hawaiian legends. The paddleboard trip ends with a short hike through a lush rainforest, which leads to a mountain stream and the popular Blue Pool. You can ride a zip line into this refreshing pool of very cold water before sitting down to a provided lunch.
 
Next, head north and stop at the historic Kilauea Lighthouse, a 52-foot lighthouse that began guiding the way for mariners in 1913. Grab a quick snack at Kilauea Bakery & Pau Hana Pizza; options include the coconut cream-filled éclairs, cinnamon rolls, freshly made breads and soups, a smoothie or iced coffee drink, or get one of its popular specialty pizzas, all made to order. Even the simple chocolate chip cookies here are stellar.
 
Visit the stunning Hanalei Bay and walk its pier, which was built in 1892 and made famous by the classic film South Pacific. This curved-shaped bay is a great place to relax, swim and surf (waves permitting) any time of the year. As you stroll along the beach you’ll be walking in the footsteps of George Clooney, who filmed a good portion of the Oscar-winning film The Descendants here. Stop in for a drink at the charmingly kitschy Tahiti Nui (just as Clooney did in the film); this Hanalei tiki hut is a great place to mingle with locals and order up a mai tai.
 
Keep driving to the end of Highway 560 to Ke’e Beach, a great spot for snorkeling and sunbathing. From here you can see the awesome Na Pali coast and the start of the treacherous Kalalau Trail. Movie buffs may recognize the area — a scene from Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides was filmed here.
 
Drive back to Poipu on the island’s south side in time for your dinner reservations at Roy’s Poipu Bar & Grill. The open-air restaurant is in the Poipu Shopping Village and serves Pacific Rim fusion cuisine at its finest.

  • On July 23, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best places to stay in Kauai?

    Kauai offers a variety of places to stay, from high-end resorts to boutique hotels. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s picks for the five best places to stay on the island.
     
    1. The St. Regis Resort Princeville. If you’re looking for a luxurious retreat, consider this Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star resort on the exclusive North Shore of Kauai. The recently renovated resort spans 9,000 acres and has spacious guest rooms and suites, stellar dining, a world-class spa and the renowned Makai Golf Club Course. This resort overlooks Hanalei Bay and is close enough to horseback riding, kayaking, surf, hiking trails and other outdoor adventures.
     
    2. Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa. Stay somewhere close to the action at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa, a full-service resort with 602 newly upgraded guest rooms, 11 dining options, a nearly 2-acre saltwater swimming lagoon that you can kayak in, three tennis courts, a 45,000-square-foot health and fitness spa, and an 18-hole golf course that has hosted the PGA Grand Slam.
     
    3. Wyndham Koloa Landing at Poipu Beach. Couples that want space and families that need a little extra room should check out the Wyndham Koloa Landing at Poipu Beach, a resort set on 25 lush acres, just a short walk from the inviting waters of Poipu Beach. There are 85 spacious suites — with one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom options — complete with huge lanais, floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors, gourmet kitchens and luxurious bathrooms.
     
    4. Pure Kauai. This option gives you the choice to customize your Hawaiian experience — whether you’re looking for a one-bedroom condo or a large house on five acres of land. Once you arrive at your chosen abode, the Pure Kauai staff will act as your personal concierge. It’s no wonder celebrities like Jennifer Garner and Matt Damon use the service when they come to the island. 
     
    5. Koa Kea Hotel & Resort. Opened in 2009, this 121-room boutique hotel is located on Kauai’s sunniest shore. It features stylishly decorated guest rooms and suites with thoughtful touches like Nespresso coffee machines, a luxurious spa that focuses on natural and indigenous ingredients, and Red Salt restaurant, which serves upscale seafood served in a striking, sparkling white-washed dining room.
  • On July 23, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What is the best beach on Kauai?

    There’s a reason why Kauapea, the best beach on Kauai, is often called Secret Beach. Located on Kauai’s north shore, this beach features high-cliff walls, long stretches of secluded sand and a view of the historic Kilauea Lighthouse. It’s a 15-minute hike down to the beach, where you can surf, fish, swim and just relax. There are no lifeguards or restrooms here — and there can be extremely strong currents and dangerous shore break — so be cautious when entering the water here.
  • On July 23, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What is the best thing to bring home from Kauai?

    To find a memento of Kauai to bring home, visit the island’s small specialty shops that sell one-of-a-kind products. One great gift is Kauai Breadsticks, sold at several retailers on the island including Da Kine Foods Inc. These come in flavors such as sesame, onion and garlic. Another great gift is Lawai Manju, found at the Menehune Food Mart. Not everyone will like the texture of this Japanese dessert — or the red bean paste inside — but it’s definitely something unique to Kauai.
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  • On July 23, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the five best Kauai food experiences?

    Kauai may be a small island, but it offers some great food experiences that are worth tracking down. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ picks for five Kauai food experiences to try.
     
    1. Saimin. The most famous saimin stand on Kauai — and possibly the entire state — is the fourth-generation noodle shop Hamura’s Saimin Stand. Saimin, an off-shoot of the richer Japanese-style ramen, is a staple in Hawaii’s local food scene. A holdover from Hawaii’s plantation era, this dish features curly egg noodles served in a salty broth garnished with green onions.
     
    2. Kauai coffee. While Kona on the Big Island is the most well-known area for coffee production in Hawaii, Kauai has its own share of small coffee farms, too. The Blair Estate produces organically grown coffee, all hand-picked, fermented, sun-dried and freshly roasted daily. It offers farm tours — of both its coffee and cigar production — for small groups by appointment. You can also visit Kauai Coffee for a walking tour and taste its 100 percent estate-grown Kauai coffees.
     
    3. Koloa rum. Taste the rum from the first and only licensed distillery on Kauai, Koloa Rum Co. It offers samples daily.
     
    4. Manju. Manju is a Japanese dessert typically filled with a red bean paste made from boiled azuki beans. One of the best is the Lawai Manju, which is sold at the Menehune Food Mart. This version has a golden, flakey crust with a sweet azuki bean filling.
     
    5. Kulolo. This Hawaiian dessert, made primarily from mashed taro corms and either graded coconut meat or coconut milk, is worth trying while on Kauai. You can also get it at the Menehune Food Mart.
  • On July 23, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    Where is the best nightlife on Kauai?

    Kauai is known for a lot of things — stunning beaches, an expansive canyon, lush rainforests — but nightlife is not one of them. This is a rural island, where shops close early and the main highway turns into dark backroads when the sun goes down. If you’re looking for somewhere to grab a cocktail and listen to live music, your best bet is to visit the various hotels and resorts that line the north and south shores of the island. Stevenson’s Library at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa boasts live music, along with an extensive selection of cognac and port that you can sip at its 27-foot, handcrafted koa wood bar. Duke’s Kauai at the Kauai Marriott Resort serves up creative concoctions like Wrong Island Ice Teak and the Bikini-Tini, along with local beers, tropical drinks and wine. Lighthouse Bistro on the island’s north side pairs its local-style menu with live entertainment in an open-air garden setting. RumFire, which recently opened at the Sheraton Kauai Resort, features 180-degree ocean views, an innovative cocktail menu and a bar that closes at 11 p.m. Tiny Hanalei has a lively scene frequented by locals who come to sip drinks at the tiki bar Tahiti Nui, or wine at tapas bistro Barracuda.
  • On July 23, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What is the best way to see Kauai in one day?

    The best way to see Kauai in one day is to start early and plan to drive as much of the shoreline as you can of this 562-square-mile island. Grab a cup of freshly brewed coffee and a muffin at one of four Java Kai coffee shops on the island. Then drive to Nawiliwili Harbor (on Nawiliwili Road), where you will have already booked a stand-up paddleboard excursion down the calm Huleia River with Outfitters Kauai. This guided tour goes two miles down this river, through the Huleia National Wildlife Refuge, where you can see the Menehune Fishpond and the majestic Haupu Mountains. Along the way, your guide will tell you stories about the area and, if you’re lucky, a few Hawaiian legends. The paddleboard trip ends with a short hike through a lush rainforest, which leads to a mountain stream and the popular Blue Pool. You can ride a zip line into this refreshing pool of very cold water before sitting down to a provided lunch.
     
    Next, head north and stop at the historic Kilauea Lighthouse, a 52-foot lighthouse that began guiding the way for mariners in 1913. Grab a quick snack at Kilauea Bakery & Pau Hana Pizza; options include the coconut cream-filled éclairs, cinnamon rolls, freshly made breads and soups, a smoothie or iced coffee drink, or get one of its popular specialty pizzas, all made to order. Even the simple chocolate chip cookies here are stellar.
     
    Visit the stunning Hanalei Bay and walk its pier, which was built in 1892 and made famous by the classic film South Pacific. This curved-shaped bay is a great place to relax, swim and surf (waves permitting) any time of the year. As you stroll along the beach you’ll be walking in the footsteps of George Clooney, who filmed a good portion of the Oscar-winning film The Descendants here. Stop in for a drink at the charmingly kitschy Tahiti Nui (just as Clooney did in the film); this Hanalei tiki hut is a great place to mingle with locals and order up a mai tai.
     
    Keep driving to the end of Highway 560 to Ke’e Beach, a great spot for snorkeling and sunbathing. From here you can see the awesome Na Pali coast and the start of the treacherous Kalalau Trail. Movie buffs may recognize the area — a scene from Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides was filmed here.
     
    Drive back to Poipu on the island’s south side in time for your dinner reservations at Roy’s Poipu Bar & Grill. The open-air restaurant is in the Poipu Shopping Village and serves Pacific Rim fusion cuisine at its finest.
  • On July 23, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best places to eat in Kauai?

    Kauai may not be known for its culinary scene, but there are a few food gems on the island that should be on your must-try list. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s suggestions for the best places to eat in Kauai.
     
    1. Plantation Gardens. Housed in a charming historic plantation manor that’s surrounded by lush orchid gardens, this relaxed, upscale restaurant in Poipu serves upscale Hawaiian-influenced cuisine that’s made using fresh seafood and locally-sourced produce. Since this is hands down the most romantic spot on the island, we suggest sharing the signature Baked Hawaiian (chocolate and macadamia nut ice cream on a brownie crust topped with meringue) to share.
     
    2. Duke’s Kauai. Located at the Kauai Marriott Resort & Beach Club, Duke’s Kauai is a a casual beachside restaurant (the views of the charming Kalapaki Beach on which it sits are appealingly palm-tree lined), with a menu loaded with fresh fish dishes, the classic Huli Huli chicken and the can’t-miss Kimo’s Original Hula Pie for dessert. The restaurant also has live nightly entertainment at its Barefoot Bar.
     
    3. Bar Acuda. This is a great place to unwind, share small plates and sip wine with friends. Located in charming Hanalei, the restaurant’s tapas-focused menu features dishes like house-made chorizo, whole-roasted tomato bruschetta, a crock of roasted beets with goat cheese, and slow-braised pork shoulder with soft polenta and an apple cider reduction.
     
    4. Hanalei Gourmet. It’s hard to find, but Hanalei Gourmet is worth plugging into your GPS. This little gourmet shop — with a focus on organic, natural and healthy foods — serves lunch and dinner. Expect menu items like Asian-style crab cakes, macadamia nut-and-panko-crusted fried chicken, homemade soups, and a burger topped with avocado, bacon and pepperjack cheese. It also serves locally made ice creams, refreshing frozen fruit smoothies and assorted desserts baked in Hanalei.
     
    5. Living Food Market & Cafe. Opened in 2010 in the Kukuiula Village, this market features organic and locally grown produce, freshly made breads and pastries, and a variety of island-made goods. The café-style restaurant is open daily and serves simple European-style dishes like grilled panini sandwiches, pizzettas and crepes.
  • On July 23, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    Where is the best shopping in Kauai?

    There are no oversized, multi-level malls on Kauai. But this Hawaiian island, despite its small size, has several retail areas and boutiques where you can find travel essentials and one-of-a-kind items. The Shops at Kukuiula is the island’s newest shopping and dining area. It has more than 25 restaurants, shops and art galleries, plus a farmers’ market every Wednesday night. Kinipopo Shopping Village on the island’s Coconut Coast (east side) offers a small mix of boutiques and restaurants; while Poipu Shopping Village is near Poipu hotels and condos and offers a variety of eateries and shops selling apparel, jewelry and swimwear. Kapaa and Eleele shopping centers are where the locals shop, with hardware shops, grocery stores, laundry services, banks and restaurants.
  • On July 23, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best things to do with kids in Kauai?

    With natural beauty, full-service resorts, hiking, surfing and incredible beaches, there is no shortage of things to do with kids on Kauai. Here five suggestions from Forbes Travel Guide’s editors.
     
    1. Hang out at the beach. There are several beaches on Kauai that are kid-friendly, including Poipu Beach, Kiahuna Beach, Hanalei Bay and Salt Pond Beach Park. Talk to lifeguards before venturing out into the water, as ocean conditions can change suddenly.
     
    2. Snorkel at Lydgate Beach Park. This beach is protected from the open ocean by a lava rock wall, and the lagoon here is great for snorkeling. The area also features restrooms, picnic areas and lifeguards.
     
    3. Stroll along Mahaulepu Heritage Trail. This 2-mile hike is easy and kid-friendly, taking you along an ancient coastline from Shipwrecks Beach to Keoneloa Bay. Along the way you’ll pass through native plants and cultural sites.
     
    4. Visit the Kilauea Lighthouse. Tour the historic Kilauea Lighthouse (808-821-2242), which began lighting the way for mariners in 1913. This 52-foot lighthouse is one of the island’s most visited sites, with more than 500,000 people flocking here every year. Look for frigates, shearwaters and Laysan albatrosses that nest here in the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge.
     
    5. Get a shave ice. Head to Hanalei and the Wishing Well Shave Ice stand. Shave ice is a popular island treat that’s served on every island in Hawaii. This stand features the unique option of macadamia nut ice cream on the bottom of the shave ice (most places only offer vanilla ice cream).
  • On July 23, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best things to see and do in Kauai?

    Each island in Hawaii has its own unique offerings, Kauai included. This small, lush island has some of Hawaii’s most dramatic scenery, charming villages and natural wonders like the incredible Waimea Canyon. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s picks for the best things to see and do while on Kauai:
     
    1. Visit Hanalei Town. Just a few minutes west of Princeville on Kauai’s north end is the quiet town of Hanalei. Once you cross the nostalgic Hanalei Bridge, you’ll be transported to this small town, a throwback to “Old Hawaii.” There are historic sites, art galleries, coffee shops and restaurants here. Be sure to visit Hanalei Bay and walk the pier, which was built in 1892 and made famous in the classic 1958 film South Pacific. It was more recently featured in the Oscar-winning film The Descendants starring George Clooney.
     
    2. Take part in Hanapepe Art Night. Every Friday night the little town of Hanapepe on Kauai’s south shore hosts an art night, when artists keep their galleries open late and folks walk down Hanapepe Road to the sounds of live music. While you’re there, be sure to cross the town’s famous swinging bridge.
     
    3. Witness the Na Pali Coast. There are different ways to see Kauai’s majestic coastline, which stretches 17 miles along the island’s north shore. The rugged terrain, steep cliffs and emerald valleys can be viewed by boat, on guided kayak tours and from a helicopter. The only land access to this area is the Kalalau Trail — a treacherous 11-mile trail that starts at the popular Ke’e Beach and ends at the secluded Kalalau Beach — that often takes two days to complete.
     
    4. Waimea Canyon. Called the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” this Canyon on Kauai’s west side is 14 miles long, 1 mile wide and about 3,600 feet deep. Pull over at the Waimea Canyon Lookout, between mile markers 10 and 11 on Waimea Canyon Road, to see this gaping gulch. You can hike into the canyon or view it from a helicopter, too.
     
    5. Waioli Mission House. Built in 1837 in Hanalei, Waioli Mission House was home to missionary teachers Abner and Lucy Wilcox and their seven sons. It was restored in 1921 and is now preserved as a historic site. Many of the original furnishings are still in the home, giving you a sense of what rural life on Kauai was like more than 160 years ago.