2 Days on Kaua’i, the Garden Isle of Hawai’i

GetCurrentFast.com (GCF) Travel Guide™

Panoramic view from offshore of the North Shore of Kaua'i with the Na Pali Coast on right (Wikepedia)

Panoramic view from offshore of the North Shore of Kaua’i with the Na Pali Coast on right (Wikipedia)

A poster from the Elvis Presley movie Blue Hawaii (Wikipedia)

A poster from the Elvis Presley movie Blue Hawaii (Wikipedia)

This GetCurrentFast.com travel guide presents the top things to do while visiting the Garden Isle of Hawaii, Kaua’i, during a leisurely 2-day trip.

You can have a great time on Kaua’i, anytime of the year, but winter rains can be frequent. Also, consider avoiding the peak season (July-August) and major holidays, unless you like to rub elbows with a lot of fellow island-lovers. On the other hand, for a special treat, keep in mind that the humpback whales return from their summer home in Alaska December thru May. Just about any beachfront location on the island is a great place to whale-watch.

Depending on where you stay, we suggest starting with a tour of the South Shore area of Kaua’i which includes famous Poipu Beach. The next day, head to the North Shore for a taste of what Hawaii was back in the day. Along the way, we encourage you to spend time in the charming beach town of Hanalei and to visit other points of interest. You can add to the itinerary with selections from the list of GCF Editors’ Choice Day Trips. 

Although it is filled with many practical travel tips, we wrote this guide to be “A good read even without the going,”™ so enjoy this virtual trip.

—GCF—

The famous (and dangerous) Kalalau Trail along the Na Pali Coast on the North Shore of Kaua'i, Hawai'i (Pixabay)

The famous (and dangerous) Kalalau Trail along the Na Pali Coast on the North Shore of Kaua’i, Hawai’i (Pixabay)

If you could only visit one island, which would you choose? Of course, there are many beautiful islands around the world. But at the top of our list is Kaua’i (ka-a-wye-ee), one of the Hawaiian islands. She is a spectacular tropical treasure worth the journey; all the better if you can visit one or more of the other Hawaiian Islands while you’re at it.

If you’re a songwriter, you’ll find inspiration in this place called Kaua’i. If you’re a writer of prose, bring your pen, paper —or laptop. If photography is an avocation, expect your shutter finger to blister. If you’re in love, you’ll delight in spending time here with your lover. And if you’re a believer, here you have ample reason to contemplate God’s goodness and creativity, and then thank Him for this foretaste of paradise.

A Kauai beach invites both those inclined to waterplay and contemplation (Pixabay)

A Kauai beach invites both those inclined to waterplay and contemplation (Pixabay)

Kaua’i’s natural beauty has captivated the imagination of people near and far ever since the intrepid explorer Captain James Cook discovered it in the 18th century. Although he dubbed the islands the Sandwich Islands (a tip of the hat to one of his sponsors), the indigenous people referred to them as Hawaii. Although the good captain is believed to have visited Kaua’i first of all the Hawaiian Islands, he did not name it. It’s believed that one of the kings who ruled the island did, but its literal interpretation is unknown. Nevertheless, once you’ve spent time on Kaua’i, you’ll have no such uncertainty about why it’s known as the Garden Isle.

Waimea Canyon, the Grand Canyon of the Pacific on the Garden Isle, Kaua'i, Hawai'i (Pixabay)

Waimea Canyon, the Grand Canyon of the Pacific on the Garden Isle, Kaua’i, Hawai’i (Pixabay)

You’ll also come to understand why film makers are drawn to Kaua’i. The stunning beauty, long sandy beaches, and mostly uncrowded conditions make it a terrific movie location. It has many film credits, including Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jurassic Park, South Pacific, The Thornbirds, and Elvis’s Blue Hawaii, among other movies and TV shows.

Still, for many Americans, their introduction to Hawaii, our 50th state, is a trip to Honolulu on the island of O’ahu. While this can be great fun, and a trip to Pearl Harbor is an exceptional American experience, we think Kaua’i makes a very good choice for first-time visitors. Here are 5 of the top reasons to consider visiting Kaua’i (in no particular order):

  1. Kaua’i has less than 10% of the population of O’ahu, the most populous of the Hawaiian Islands (58,000 and 876,000 respectively). This means that escaping the crowds can be easier, especially during peak seasons.
  2. The northern most island of the eight main Hawaiian islands, Kaua’i is home to Waimea Canyon, the awe-inspiring “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”.
  3. The Garden Isle also boasts the famed spectacular “hidden valley” of Kalalau (ka-la-la-oo), along the ripple-edged Na Pali Coast (na pa-lee). The Kalalua Trail to Kalalua Beach is a very strenuous 11-mile hike (one-way) on which hikers from around the world are challenged, including at “Crawler’s Ledge” (See video below). NOTE: Currently you must have a permit to hike to Kalalau Beach, although you can do the 2-mile hike to Hanakapi’a Beach without a permit. Both are strenuous hikes which should not be taken lightly. Backpacker magazine rates the Kalalau Trail as one of “America’s Top 10 Most Dangerous Hikes,” while various guide services rate its difficulty either an 8 or 9 out of 10.
  4. There is only one main road around the island, and no freeways, so it’s hard to get lost on Kaua’i driving to some of the best places to enjoy Happy Hour anywhere: The St. Regis Bar and Makana Terrace in Princeville (northeast shore) overlooking Hanalei Bay with the eastern edge of the Napali Coast in the background, and Stevenson’s Library at the Grand Hyatt, Poipu Beach (South Shore), are delightful. Among others, Duke’s Kauai “on the sand” at the Marriott Kauai in Lihue also offers a beautiful setting at sunset.
  5. Even though it’s only the fourth largest island of the eight Hawaiian Islands, Kaua’i is the oldest geologically. This might be the tie-breaker, at your place, if seniority rules (or drools).
Postcards Restaurant, in a rebuilt plantation cottage, just across the Hanalei Bridge on Kaua'i (GCF)

Postcards Restaurant, in a rebuilt plantation cottage, just across the Hanalei Bridge on Kaua’i (GCF)

While you could easily spend a long time discovering all that Kaua’i has to offer, if you only have two days, perhaps because you’re “island hopping”, the itinerary below helps you make the most of them. Our travel experts have carefully selected the top attractions, restaurants, coffee shops, and other stops, including local favorites. They are included in the itinerary along with an interactive map to help you plan a leisurely, informative, memorable, and enjoyable trip.

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