In this blog, we are going to tell you about our favorite parts of Kauai and the must-see and must-do experiences on the island.
Kauai is a popular destination for our investors. The Equity Villa Fund has had a residence in the prestigious Princeville Resort since 2014. This year, at the request of our Platinum Fund investors, we added a penthouse with ocean views to the Equity Platinum Fund portfolio. The penthouse is located in Poipu and is surrounded by the island’s stunning beauty.
It takes 40-60 minutes to drive between Princeville and Poipu, due to the island’s slow-moving traffic and low-speed limits.
Kauai is the oldest and northernmost island in the Hawaiian chain. It is sometimes called the “Garden Isle” because of the lush green mountains and abundant tropical vegetation.
A perfect place for adventure, the island is home to a variety of outdoor activities. Some parts of Kauai are only accessible by sea or air. The best way to take in the views of the tropical rainforests and cascading waterfalls is to take a helicopter tour.
Take time to explore the island or sit back and relax. Enjoying this amazing environment is easy.
Kauai’s various regions can feel remote but all offer proximity to shops, restaurants, and activities. Nature excursions, relaxation, and outdoor sports are top draws on the island of Kauai. Following are highlights from each area, our favorite things to do on the island and restaurant recommendations.
Hanalei Bay, North Shore of Kauai
We love the North Shore of Kauai because it’s the greenest part of the island. From the air, it looks like a setting for an adventure movie. With its ancient forests, taro fields, rugged mountains, tall waterfalls, and green golf courses of the Princeville Resort, this area of the island is very distinct in its appearance.
Some locations of the North Shore, in fact, became settings for the movies, namely Jurassic Park and Avatar.
The North Shore is so green and lush because it gets the most rain on the island. Tropical rain is warm and gentle, so it usually does not interfere with activities like swimming, hiking, and kayaking.
An iconic picture of the North Shore frames its rugged green mountains covered in heavy clouds that descend into the deep valleys.
Napali Coast is a 17-mile stretch of coastline and it’s Kauai’s most stunning feature. To enjoy this natural wonder, you can hike through it, kayak alongside it, or view it from a boat. You can also take a helicopter tour of the island and experience Kauai from above.
Hanalei Bay has some spectacular swimming beaches. We recommend getting in the car and driving to Hanalei, which is an only 10-minute drive from the Equity Villa Fund Princeville house.
Follow the signs and discover beaches on your own. Some of them, like Hanalei Pier, have calm waters and are perfect for swimming, while others, like Secrets Beach, are good for walking and running. You will see signs alerting you to swimming conditions on a given day. Even the calmest waters can be dangerous for swimming, and you should check the water conditions before you go.
The largest hotel in Princeville is Princeville Resort, formerly St. Regis. Starwood Group plans to invest $100 million to renovate the landmark hotel and rename it 1 Hotel Hanalei Bay. This investment should attract more visitors to the area and increase the resort’s desirability.
Villas At Poipu Kai Pool, Poipu
South Shore of the island presents a contrast to its northern counterpart. It gets half as much rainfall as the North Shore and is the most popular part of the island, preferred by vacationers seeking maximum sunshine.
A drive to Poipu from the airport is very scenic. It features huge trees whose canopies form a dramatic tunnel and shield you from the hot Hawaiian sun. Once in Poipu, you will see well-maintained resorts with golf courses, sandy beaches, and blooming flowers.
You should stroll through charming boutiques or dine on Pacific Rim cuisine at ocean-side restaurants. Venture out a little and explore Old Koloa Town, Kalaheo, Lawai, and Omao.
Shops at Kukuiula feature boutiques that carry Hawaiian-made pieces of art and Hawaiian fashion. Stop by one of its dining establishments to grab a delicious coffee and fresh poke, a Hawaiian specialty. We recommend Living Foods Gourmet and Market Café to get fresh pastries and coffee and stock up on locally grown produce. For the freshest poke and fish available, go to the Dolphin Sushi and Fish Market. Make reservations at Merriman’s Fish House to indulge in a locally-sourced fish and experience fine-dining the Hawaiian way.
The Equity Platinum Fund penthouse located inside the Poipu Kai Resort is a 10-minute walk to Poipu Beach, recognized as “one of the world’s best beaches.” A15-minute walk in the opposite direction brings you Shipwreck Beach. Afterward, treat yourself to lunch at the Hyatt Hotel.
For a close encounter with the Kauai’s stunning natural wonders and a good workout, drive to Waimea Canyon which is located on the west side of the island. It’s called the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” It will be a hike you long remember. Depending on your fitness level, the hiking can be challenging at some points, especially when you need to traverse uneven terrain and climb uphill. But the effort is rewarded when you get to see the island of Kauai from a tall plateau.
We recommend going to the Waimea Canyon lookout first to take in the gorgeous views of the island and its waterfalls from designated points. Stop for a few minutes to take pictures and then drive to hiking trails from there.
When we “discovered” this area, we could not believe the views. See the pictures for yourself and don’t forget to bring sneakers or hiking boots!
You can view the canyon from a helicopter, but the hiking allows you to experience it up close.
The South beaches are popular with visitors and locals alike. You’ll find fabulous opportunities for surfing, fishing, snorkeling, and bodyboarding here. Depending on the season you may spot humpback whales in the distance.
In addition to endless beaches, restaurants, and hiking Waimea Canyon, here are some of our other favorite activities we recommend doing on the island.
1. HIKE NAPALI COAST
The 17-mile Napali Coast is a place of extraordinary natural beauty with emerald-hued cliffs with razor-sharp ridges towering above the Pacific Ocean.
Choose from a variety of trails, ranging from short and easy ones to long and challenging ones. If you want to get up close and personal with a waterfall, and even to swim under it, bring water shoes. You will be hiking through mud, crossing mountain rivers and balancing on nothing but wet boulders, and climbing uphill in slippery conditions.
This is a fun experience for those who yearn for adventure.
2. SEE KAUAI BY HELICOPTER
Helicopter rides are exciting regardless of where you are. You’d swear you could reach out and touch whatever you’re flying over. There is nothing like it.
We recommend a Blue Hawaiian helicopter tour. The pilot will bring you close to the waterfalls, tell you stories about the island, and provide you with a bird’s eye view of Kauai’s breathtaking beauty.
3. RIDE HORSES IN KAUAI
Riding horses through the Silver Falls Ranch
Kauai by horseback is a laid-back activity. It’s a chance to reconnect with nature and yourself. What better way to learn about and experience the pristine, lush beauty of the Garden Isle
Silver Falls Ranch is a beautiful property that offers rides for all experience levels. The horses are well-cared for and the guides are knowledgeable about the island. Treat yourself to a private ride, swim under a waterfall, or just hear the stories while enjoying stunning nature around you.
4. TAKE A COFFEE PLANTATION TOUR
You’ll learn how coffee is grown and manufactured – from seed to cup. You’ll go down roads only traveled by harvesters. You may even get to plant a coffee tree in one of the orchards! One thing is for sure – your visit to a coffee plantation will end with a cup of the freshest coffee you have ever had.
Visit Kauai Coffee Estate and learn how your favorite java is grown.
5. VISIT A FARMERS MARKET
Hawaii has some of the best-tasting fruits and vegetables in the world. The optimal way to savor them and talk to farmers about their growing methods is to head to a local farmers market.
We can recommend visiting one in Poipu from 3.30 to 6 pm every Wednesday.
Poke is an island staple. Locals order hot rice with their poke to balance the flavors of the cold fish. What could be more delicious than poke and hot rice?
TRY HANALEI POI
Hanalei is where most of the taro in the state is grown. Hanalei Poi is thick and balances out most every spicy and salty dish. Add sugar or condensed milk and it’s a dessert.
You can buy poi at a grocery store, or just taste it on the local dishes you order.
DON’T FORGET THE TARO CHIPS
Taro chips are Kauai’s version of potato chips. They made like potato chips and are thin and crispy and taste amazing when fresh.
EAT LOCO MOCO LIKE A LOCAL
Loco moco is a plate full of rice, hamburger patty, fried egg, and gravy. It is an ultimate Hawaiian dish available at food trucks and restaurants if you feel like being adventurous with your food choices.
Hanalei Taro & Juice
When on Kauai, don’t miss food trucks. They serve fresh local food and are strategically located for lunch. Our favorite is Hanalei Taro & Juice. As the name indicates, this food truck is located right in Hanalei and serves freshly made local food. You’ll appreciate how fresh and crispy their produce is when you bite into a sandwich.
Treat yourself to a sweet taro-coconut cake, which is a local Hawaiian treat. You can also book a taro farm tour through them. Don’t miss an opportunity to see first-hand how the local food is grown and sample the freshest ingredients Kauai has to offer.
The chefs at Bar Acuda have developed close relationships with local fishermen and farmers, allowing them to bring the finest seasonal ingredients to your table. The tapas-style menu changes based on the availability of ingredients, so freshness is assured. Bar Acuda is a restaurant you must experience when in Hanalei. It is located just 10 minutes away from the Equity Villa Fund Princeville Resort villa. We strongly recommend making reservations because wait times can be long and the restaurant is packed with locals and visitors alike.
Located in Poipu, Red Salt combines elegant island style with the natural environment. The open design brings a sense of modern to its tropical ambiance. Red Salt offers amazing meals throughout the day.
Merriman’s has become a favorite for locals and visitors alike. Merriman’s serves up amazing steaks and seafood. Dishes feature 90 percent local ingredients.
Elegance is paramount at this refined restaurant. The food is spectacular. Everything is homemade, composed of fresh ingredients, and well presented. Enjoy delicate, lightly-dressed pasta and ocean-fresh seafood. Save room for lush desserts. The service is second to none. For true island ambiance, dine on the outdoor terrace.
Reserve Dondero’s here.
Cauliflower soup at JO2
This restaurant was recommended to us by a knowledgeable local, and it surprised us with gourmet food and sophisticated presentation. It is hidden inside a small strip mall and has a barely noticeable sign above the front door. From the outside, it looks unassuming, but once you step inside, it’s a different story.
French chef Jean-Marie Josselin presents a medley of cultures on the plate. Ingredients are locally sourced and burst with flavor. See the menu for yourself.
If Micheline Guide-rated restaurants existed on Kauai, this place would be on the list.
Kauai offers you a one-of-a-kind island vacation. You’ll love the beautiful landscapes and you’re sure to have a remarkably relaxing and romantic time with your family and friends. Plan your Kauai getaway today!