Kauai is the jewel of Hawaii with its lush jungles and pristine beaches, but there’s much to see and do as you while away your honeymoon on the sand. Fly into Lihue, and immediately become acquainted with the island’s resident mascots, chickens (so many chickens). You’ll want to rent a car and experience the unique attributes of each little area as you circumnavigate the island. Splurge for the convertible. Also, splurge on major doses of sunscreen. Here’s our town-by-town guide to a full honeymoon experience.
Start your Kauai tour on the southwestern side of the island, where it rarely rains. Check into your private cottage at Waimea Plantation Cottages.
Don’t expect luxury, but do expect loads of charm in these quiet cottages. Luckily your body will still be on mainland time, so waking up the sound of roosters won’t be as traumatic as it could. Do take the earplugs offered at check in. Drive into town for a roadside feast at Shrimp Station, and buy a bottle of wine at Big Save Market (there’s no bar or restaurant open late in this sleepy town), to take back to your cottage. Drink it on the beach while leisurely watching the sky change as the sun sets.
Rise up early and grab a coffee at Aloha in Paradise before setting your GPS to Waimea Canyon Lookout. The “Grand Canyon of Kauai” is often skipped by island visitors, but that would be a mistake. The fog slowly drifting out of the canyon while the colors change as the sun rises is a mystical experience. Follow signs for other canyon lookouts for a different perspective on this cavernous, waterfall-laden land before making your way back down to the highway.
Drive through the oldest town on Kauai, Hanapēpē,
before heading on to your next destination, Poipu.
This leisurely ride is fit for even beginner equestriennes, winding through hillside and ocean views not available by car, and best seen on four legs.
Spend the afternoon recovering from your ride by the pool or on the beach. If you’re feeling motivated, watch the sunset over dinner at Beach House Restaurant.
Start your next lovely morning by heading to the Old Koloa Sugar Mill to check out the crumbling historical monument before meeting your guides from Aloha Kauai Tours Sea Fun Ocean Adventures. Suit up in the provided wetsuit to keep warm in the chilly pacific before heading to Lawai Beach to snorkel amongst a surfeit of Hawaii’s legendary brightly colored tropical fish, including the famously mispronounced state fish, humuhumunukunukuapua’a. With your experienced guides and a bit of luck, you may encounter eagle rays, pacific green sea turtles, or even inky octopi.
After your underwater adventure, towel off and drive just a few minutes into the town of Koloa to grab a picnic lunch to go from Koloa Fish Market. Don’t be put off by the tiny space and grungy vibe – this spot is home to the undisputed best poke in Hawaii. Order the must-have wasabi poke and one or two others that strike your fancy (we are partial to the Korean and Avocado varieties) along with a refreshing seaweed salad.
Pick up a few bottles of water (or beer) from the grocery store down the block, and take your picnic to Poipu beach to see Spouting Horn, where the crashing waves have eroded a narrow opening in the rock that shoots water in the air like an oceanic geyser. After your magical meal put the top down and hit the road, passing right by Lihue and heading up the coast to Kapaa.
Spend an afternoon in Kapaa before making your way to the North Shore, or if you want to linger a bit, spend a night at the Hilton Garden Inn in Wailea. Kapaa is located just north of Wailea and has a friendly, busy (for Kauai) vibe, along with some of the best food and shopping on the island. Drop into Shipwrecked Kauai
for some ultra-hip home goods, clothing, and beachy jewelry and Work it Out for current yoga gear. Have a cold brew at Java Kai and pick up some locally grown and roasted (and not cheap) coffee beans to remind you of the island when you wake up back home. Have a lunch of barely seared ahi tacos from the Al Pastor taco truck,
delicious greek food from George’s Gyro,
or mouth watering Chicken in a Barrel.
No matter what you choose, follow it up with an organic, mouth watering shave ice unlike anything you’ve ever tasted before from the Shave Ice Tege Tege truck – we are partial to the Green Tea and Azuki bean or the simple Blackberry.
From here, make sure that top is down and the sunscreen is applied and the top is down for the beautiful drive to the North Shore.
Now make your way to the North Shore for the truly luxurious portion of your honeymoon. This end of the island is home to many celebrities and the famous Nā Pali Coast. Rent a home, or for a waited on hands-and-foot experience, stay at the St Regis Princeville, which boasts a truly magnificent, heart-rupturing view of Hanalei Bay.
Make sure to head to the patio off the lobby
around dusk to enjoy the tradition of champagne sabering while watching the magnificent sunset.
Once settled into the St Regis, it’s unlikely, and somewhat unnecessary, to leave.
But you should, at least for a helicopter tour. You can book one that departs from Princeville, but the experience of a Safari Helicopters tour is worth the drive back to Lihue.
70% of Kauai is inaccessible by car, horse, or foot. A helicopter tour is the only way to grasp the magnificence of the island and see the infamous “Jurassic falls”
as well as the best way to experience the Nā Pali coast.
If you want to experience a bit of “the Descendants” vibe, head out to the town of Hanalei for lush tropical surroundings and some fun shopping.
You will be departing from Lihue, so if your flight is early in the morning, book a room at the funky but serviceable Kauai Beach Marriot Resort as it is just five minutes from the airport and will give you a chance to check out the main town of Lihue.
If you’re jonesing for a massage, the best on Kauai can be had not at a fancy resort, but at the home studio of Myelene, owner of Kauai Best Massage – this is a truly healing experience that you should not miss.
Take a short drive up to Wailua state Park to see Wailua falls and a majestic view of the valley below.
Have a sunset cocktail and some coconut shrimp while listening to ukulele tunes at Hawaiian institution Duke’s
before settling in for a good night’s rest and your flight home.