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The Ultimate questions answered before planning a trip to Kauai


Priyanka Sharma

21 Sep, 2021


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Here is a list of some frequently asked questions in the local Kauai Vacation community that can help you plan your trip.

What to pack for your trip to Kauai?

  • First and foremost, pack a water bottle! Think about the island waste and landfill. You don’t want to contribute to it.
  • You’ll want comfortable walking shoes and water flip flops that dries up quickly. It’s been a savior especially for a person like me who gets sand rash easily.
  • Bring a crossbody bag or backpack (preferably with a zipper) if you intend to go on a local day hike.
  • From beach wear to hiking boots - plan ahead so that you pack light and leave some rooms for Hawaiian souvenirs as keepsakes to take back home.
  • Light rain jacket or an umbrella is a must but honestly Kauai rains are very enjoyable so don’t be afraid to get a little soaked.
  • Tropical beach dress- it’s best to pack light layers to transition from warmer days to cooler nights with ease. Rarely you will need a winter jacket I promise you.

Will I freeze in shorts ? Do I need a jacket ?

  • No you will not and yes a light jacket for early morning or late evening can keep you cozy:)

How important is air conditioning in the month of July?

  • South and west side definitely gets hot during summertime so if you can't take the heat, book an airbnb or condo with AC. North shore is generally cooler and you just need good ventilated room with fans.
  • During the day, it's important to have a car with air conditioning as it does get hot and humid.

Is there a way to report people who are walking on coral reef or touching the turtles?

  • Inform the life guard on duty first. Approach people and remind them of the rules politely. If they don't pay attention to you, please call and report it to DLNR. You may contact DLNR (808)643-DLNR or NOAA Fisheries Enforcement Hotline: (800)853-1964.

What did you wish you had brought with you on your trip ?

  • Light clothing and a lot of room for souvenirs. Take a piece of local jewelry or handicraft with you.
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Red Dirt falls
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Red Dirt falls

Favourite activities in Kauai?

  • My personal favourite is hiking and walking by the beach. But sea lovers indulge in snorkeling, boat tours, Helicopter tours, lava tube ride, Wailua river kayaking. There is a lot to do and explore at your own pace.
  • Hiking enthusiasts always have the Kalalau trail (11 mile long one way stretch) as a must-do activity but requires a lot of planning and permits. There are many trails in Waimea Canyon and Koke'e state park that offer panoramic vistas of the Napali coast.
  • For family friendly activity, consider booking a hotel or condo on the beach and luau show for dinner is a fun activity to do and just relax.
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{Any tips on navigating the Hanalei Hill landslide? How people are making their plans around this so they don't get stuck on one side.}

  • Option 1: Join the early morning convoy at 5.45 am. Head to hanalei beach for a sunrise photoshoot or just dip your toes in the warm waters. Enjoy breakfast in Hanalei town before heading to Tunnels beach. Return to Hanalei for an early lunch and get back to your hotel by joining the 1 pm convoy.
  • Option2: This option is perfect if you just want to hang out in Hanalei town, beach or pier for sunset. Join the evening convoy from 5.30 pm to enjoy the sunset by the beach followed by dinner afterwards and get back before 11 pm.
  • Option 3: Afternoon convoy is the most busiest, so try to avoid it at all times.
  • Option 4: Saturday and Sunday are great options as the convoys are more frequent but expect a lot more people so early morning and evening tends to be a great alternate.
  • Check the HDOT website for updated timings here. https://hidot.hawaii.gov/highways/roadwork/kauai/

Heading out to Kauai for the first time. What to do about transportation?

  • The most reliable way is to book a rental car in advance but Turo or other local taxi rentals are another option. Public buses do exist but at certain times of the day so check schedule here

Is it easy to get around the island without a car?

  • Yes and No. Yes if your intention is to enjoy hotel amenities, chill by the pool and explore a particular area on foot  or bike. This option is very doable if you are travelling with kids and want to take it slow. However, if you are an explorer who wants to see it all, having a rental car becomes imperative. Best way to maximise your travel time is to divide your stay into North Shore, East and South. This will allow you to explore each region without having to spend a lot of time on the road.

Can any Kauai experts tell me the best swimmable beaches?

  • According to the Ultimate Guide to Kauai, most beaches are not swimmable but some that are family-friendly are in Poipu, Hanalei, Anini, Lydgate and Salt Ponds. Please check current warnings and know your limits. Warning by a local expert: It takes years of observation to know what is swimmable and safe. It is a very large ocean surrounding the island and rogue waves do occur.

Recommendations for a beach for kids trying surfing?  And a place to rent a board?

  • Poipu or Hanalei. Hawaiian Surfing Adventures in Hanalei


  • Endless Summer Surf School in Koloa

Where is the best place to get a poke bowl on the north shore?

  • Foodland, Princeville
  • Dolphin Fish Market, Hanalei (Fresh, fast, tasty)
  • Hanalei Poke Truck, Ching Young Shopping Center Hanalei.

Your top favorite food item on Kauai and where you get it from?

  • Saimin bowl from Hamura' Saimin Restaurant. Downtown Lihue
  • Loco Moco at Kountry Kitchen
  • Sugarloaf Pineapple is truly unique to the island. You can buy it from a local vendor at wednesday's farmers market at The Shops at Kukui‘ula. Address is 2829 Ala Kalanikaumaka St, Koloa, HI 96756
  • Guava bread & Mango bread from local grocery stores.
  • Taro Burger from Kilauea Market Cafe
  • Vegan Lilikoi cheese cake from Trilogy in Kilauea.
  • Brussels sprouts from AMA in Hanalei.
  • Mango Tango naan from Lava Lava beach cafe in Kapaa.
  • Shaved ice in Hanalei
  • Sourdough bread from Hanalei bread company.
  • Puka Dog from Brenneckes in Poipu.

Geological feature on the south side of Kauai?

  • Along the Koloa Heritage Trail at Keoneloa Bay Makahuena Point Arch
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Best Luau’s to book for a family on the island to get the full experience?

  • Smith’s and Kilohana
  • Tahiti Nui
  • Fire show in Kilauea once a week is a top attraction that kids will certainly enjoy.

Any recommendations for Holo Holo vs. Blue Dolphin?

Are there any charters out of Anini or Hanalei?

  • Holo Holo does charter a raft out of Hanalei, but it is very expensive and only does the Napali. Going out of port Allen if you can deal with the drive will save you a significant amount of money and you have more options. Both companies are great! Holo Holo’s boat to Niihau - the forbidden island is brand new.
  • Most charters go out of the south/west side. During summers you can sometimes get out of Hanalei. No commercial charters out of Anini though.

Are there any “must do” things that the teenage kids would get the most enjoyment out of?

  • Tubing in the abandoned irrigation canals!
  • https://kauaibackcountry.com/tubing/ This is really fun but make sure it is a HOT day or it can be chilly because of the tunnels.
  • The Kipu Ranch ATV tour is awesome! You drive the ATVs. They filmed Raiders of the Lost Ark there & also the Jurassic Park movies. There’s also a great tour where you kayak down a river then hike through the country to a waterfall & have lunch there & hike back. It’s challenging! Wear good tennis shoes that you don’t mind ruining.
  • Try a boat trip snorkeling. ​​
  • Go to the Wailua river for canoe paddling.
  • Go to Spouting Horn especially during sunrise
  • Go to a Kauai Pig Fest in Kapaa.
  • Must do a waterfall hike. If you can’t get a permit for Hanakapi’ai falls https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dsp/hiking/kauai/kalalau-trail/, then Ho’opi falls in Kappa is an easy, fun hike with waterfalls. If you are heading to do this hike, make a pit stop at Maninihola Dry Cave next to Tunnels beach. It’s quite fascinating.
  • Pihea Trail overlooking Kalalau Valley. Fairly easy with amazing views but not on a rainy day.
  • Capt. Andy's rafting expeditions are a must and your kids will LOVE it. https://www.napali.com/raft/

Any good and bad helicopter tours?

  • The Blue Hawaiian Helicopter tour was really good. Definitely do a helicopter tour, it's awesome. Don’t know which pilots are flying on Kauai now but you’ll get similar tours with Blue Hawaiian and sunshine. If Mauna Loa is still doing private 4 seater doors off it’s a smaller R44 helicopter but with the doors off could maybe do a flower drop. If you go that route, contact North Shore Buds and Blooms and Molly might be able to provide you with some loose flowers for the drop.

What activities can you do when it rains in Kauai ?

  • Read a book in your lanai and enjoy a hot cup of coffee.
  • Rarely it rains through out the island so hop in your car and drive to south shore or west side as that part remains dry mostly.
  • Visit one of the local cafes like Kai Bar or Aloha roastery to enjoy the rain and that perfect coffee.

What is the most unusual activity to do in Kauai?

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Can we hire a private chef to cook for us?

  • One of the best celebrity private chef I personally know is Amanda Smith. Refreshing and simple sustainable recipes are her mantra.
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Chef Amanda
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Chef Amanda
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