There are many islands to visit in hawaii, it is thousands of miles from Toronto and takes many, many hours to travel to. So when I started planning our 2 week trip to Hawaii for my family, 3 kids ages almost 6-12, I wanted it to be an experience to remember, otherwise why wouldn't i just go to the Caribbean.
If you have been to Hawaii before you obviously know that it is not the Caribbean, in so many ways. Not to knock a week in St. Maarten or Barbados, we have enjoyed that plenty. What makes Hawaii so unique is that you have the infrastructure of North America, but in a Pacific setting that does not compare to the Caribbean in scenery and adventure.
And then there is Kauai! Through my research I learned that Kauai is one of the Islands that is not too built up, has fewer hotels and therefore fewer tourists. This intrigued me and I immediately pounced on the idea of a week in Kauai with my family.
After a brief and unforgettable two nights in Kona (see my blog entry!)) we landed in Kauai and headed up the coast to the North Shore town of Hanalei. It was dark and the directions the agent in the car rental shop seemed pretty clear....
We drove and drove and kept going till the road became fairly narrow. We crossed a couple of one lane bridges and before long realized we were quite lost. This idea of Hawaii being an extension of the United States, and therefore including first world infrastructure was not to be found. We finally literally hit the end of the road... in a parking lot! There were no signs, no people, our phones didn't work and the kids were asleep. We wanted adventure, well we got it!
Within a few minutes we realized we were at Kew beach and a bit north of Hanalei, let alone Princeville. Soon after a group of people came out of nowhere and realizing they looked pretty friendly we jumped out of the car and asked where we were. Of course Kew beach is the entrance to the Napali coast trail, just one of the most amazing hikes ever and they were chilling at the beach having a bonfire.
30 minutes later we finally landed in Hanalei Bay resort inside the Princeville community, home to many condos, the Westin and the beautiful St. Regis. We opted to stay in the Hanalei Bay resort, which has a hotel but is mostly condos. The setting is just breathtaking and our first sunset was truly amazing - the sky was lit up with colors for hundreds of miles.
The resort itself was pretty chill and a lot of people either rented for a long period or owned condos, so it is well taken care. There was a salt water lagoon pool and the kids loved the swim up bar. The beach was beautiful and we enjoyed it over a number of days.
But visiting the north shore of Kauai in the summer is not just about beach. The main town of Hanalei, while small, is a throwback to a time before massive development (think Maui) and a more organic way of living.
The town is fairly small, with one main street going through and shops and restaurants on both sides. The food is quite good and since you are right in the middle of the pacific the fish and especially the sushi is fantastic. We ate once at Dolphin sushi and it melted in our mouths. Behind the restaurant is a fresh fish store and while the prices are high, the fish as fresh as can be!
Just outside town, on Tuesday, there was a great small farmers market. Though the variety wasn't spectacular, the fresh local fruit and vegetables were quite good. There is also an Italian couple who sell fresh pasta and sauce - that made a great meal that night.
We loved the vibe of the town, went in a few times and though I didn't take too much advantage of the food trucks, they looked great and I regret not having more meals. Two other restaurants we ate at were quite worth it, though on the pricier side. Both in town, Bar Acuda is a great couples restaurant and the Post Office, across from Dolphin Sushi, had really great, fresh food. At Bar Acuda I highly recommend the meatballs and the macadamia nut crusted cheesecake - my wife and I are still talking about it!
All great, and if that was our trip i would have been happy. but no trip is complete without hiking the Na Pali trail, specifically the first two mile into the Kalalau trail to the beach. The scenery is breathtaking,and while challenging at times, two miles in you hit the beach (not swimmable) but the views of the ocean are amazing. I could not get over how clear the water was from high up on the trail and to see how the color of the water subtly changed is ingrained in my mind forever!
We went once without the kids and then decided a few days later to take them. My 6 year old lasted about 3/4 of a mile and then he and I went back and played on Kew beach. My older two made it further and the smiles on their faces when they returned - they too felt like that took our week to a higher level.
Again, if that is all we did, a great week, an amazing week, I would have been satisfied. We decided to add one more treat - Wings over Kauai - a 60 minute plane ride of the island in a 6 seater. This was truly the icing on the cake. The plane was safe and the pilot was very calm and knowledgeable and kept us entertained the entire time. Though we knew the island was beautiful and lush, we didn't truly understand until flying over the island for an hour. The massive holes in the rocks on the Na Pali trail were incredible, the water falls in the center of the island were truly something special and just the general lushness of the Island....
Kauai is a must and I strongly recommend