It was our first trip to Hawaii. From what I read, it seemed like THE place to go for our first, and we’re really happy we did. Like I said, we originally booked it in Feb. 2020 before Covid shut everything down, for Nov. of that year. As Hawaii opened up, Kauai did not, had the tightest restrictions, etc., and we just pushed it off. Actually re-planned everything for Maui, then I think Delta variant came around and we didn’t want to chance that things would get crazy again. We just put it off, did lots of CONUS trips instead, then out of nowhere Kauai opened up fully. We were already so busy that we had to post-date this trip out almost another year just to fit it in properly. Ah well, it was worth the wait for sure. Of course I can’t help but think if we’d not gone at the exact time we did, my house would be fine right now. Sigh…
Looking at my photos, this is how I recall everything. I’ll try to post some pics tomorrow!
Arrived around 130pm, headed out to hit some stores and see what sights we could come across. Got a bunch of snacks and goodies, saw a few things, grabbed our 1st shave ice, had lunch, and then headed to our resort: Grand Hyatt Kauai. We’re root beer hunters and always look for new/house-made varieties when we travel. It’s funny how some places you can barely find anything that’s not the standard big-label stuff, and here in Hawaii I found Maui Brewing AND the restaurant we picked just so happens to have a house brew! I couldn’t believe it, however it was tolerable at best. Still fun though. Had my first rare mahi-mahi and I can certainly do without that next time. “The island” recommended it, so who was I to refuse?
Arrived at Grand Hyatt, got upgraded to an ocean view, got some champagne and roses decorated across our bed for our anniversary. It was also Valentine’s Day when we arrived; I had asked the GM if they could sweeten our arrival in any way, and we were happy for the gifts We also had club access due to my status, so breakfast was free (thank God) and at least half our days there we were able to get a dinner out of their hors dourves hour. By the time we’d had a nice lunch, a shave ice, and whatever snacking throughout the day, it would have been all we could do to go out and eat a full dinner anyway. For the sake of sanity I think it would’ve been the move to get some food at the store to eat in on our balcony or something rather than drop $ for dinner. Didn’t matter though, the free evening nom-noms were perfect!
We had a helicopter tour booked for the late morning, and it was a little wet out so we got delayed. We took that opportunity to get lunch and explore a bit. We ended up finding a mall arcade and blew some time there. Always good to have some old-school fun. Thankfully the rain cleared up and we were able to get on the copter. We got the DOORS OFF tour, which was ultra cool. We got to fly through many rainbows, saw tons of waterfalls, and flew all throughout the canyon/volcano and around the island. What an experience! If anyone was ever considering doing one of these, I can’t recommend it enough. My son (8) was nervous but thought it was so cool that he couldn’t stop the excited chatter the entire ride. It was pretty funny. I got a full length GoPro video, short videos w/our phones, and tons of unreal pictures. Even w/turbulence from the rain (we still went through a bunch), it wasn’t scary or nerve-racking at all.
Visited Lydgate Chocolates for the tasting. Wanted to do the tour, but we were limiting our hours-long activities so we could explore as much as possible. Spent way too much at the gift shop, but that stuff was good! My wife is the chocophile so it’s her deal there. I’m sure the tour was neat, but the tasting and quick shopping was just fine. On the way in & out of that area, we stopped a bunch along the roads to get photos of the photo-op areas.
Did the Smith Family Luau and were happy with it. I tried to research and pick the best luau that I felt was for us, and this one I feel fit the bill. The show, at the end of the night, felt a bit long (an hour), but I assume that’s typical for most if not all of them. One thing’s for sure, no one can say you get short-changed here. The 30+ acre botanical gardens to peruse were wonderful, the food was great (holy cow, that pig was something else!), the dinner entertainment was much more than anticipated, the host (Mr. Smith) was delightful, and the show was sure in-depth. I can’t compare to any others, but this did seem to get the best reviews I could muster for a family. Plus we got to feed the chickens & birds while waiting for the imu ceremony, which of course was a hit for the young’n. Another thing, the Grand Hyatt luau charged nearly adult price for kids, and Smith’s only charged about a 3rd of that. On principle alone they get the nod, even if we had to drive 45min. vs. walking 2 minutes. The drive didn’t bother us at all because it allowed for more exploring at some of these other places. Win/win!
Did the tubing adventure in Waimea Canyon. It was a nice ride in on their truck, learning a bunch. Our tour guide there and on the water were awesome. Tubing itself was really fun. Nothing overly thrilling, but if you have kids they ought to LOVE it. We all enjoyed it for sure, plus at the end the lunch was pretty solid. Then again, we’re so simple when it comes to eating and running as fast as we can to the next thing that it doesn’t take much to impress us. It was a deli sandwich spread basically, but like I said that accounts for something and saves us $60 for lunch elsewhere so I call that a win.
We stopped & shopped, or at least browsed, pretty much everywhere possible. We’re ridiculous tourists, whattya want. We got Shave Ice pretty much every day, hitting a new place each time. Off memory we did Old Koloa Mill (I think?), Fresh Shave, Uncle’s, Jo-Jo’s, Wai
Our day on the North Shore was a half-dud, as it was raining HAAAAARD and the bridge to Hanalei was warned to close. We didn’t want to risk that so we stayed east of it. We do mini golf everywhere we travel, and this was no exception…pouring rain or not! We packed full-body rain suits and ponchos, and let 'er rip. The holes were plenty flooded, so we had to spot the balls half the time just to have a way to putt. Half those times, we still just hit through the puddles anyway. It was easier putting through puddles than driving off the tee, go figure. We’re competitive and my son is serious, so we never let him win (awww). He WON this time, or at least co-won with me. He’s the current Hawaiian Mini Golf Co-Champion at the very least, a feat for which was psyched. Plus he won a free game because we each got holes-in-one (take that, rain!) and spun a wheel luckily landing on the hole we aced. We had enough of swimming through a golf course so we’ll hope to go back before it expires (planning for December already, so it should work out lol).
On the way out we saw the lighthouse. It was free admission for President’s Day…BUT also required reservations. We were ready to admit defeat but the nice attendant let us sneak in anyway since there were a couple parking spots available. We made quick work of that to make sure to not impact any upcoming reservations, grabbed lunch up there, and then headed back south to Poipu Beach. It was still a bit rainy but we got new snorkel gear, had the GoPro ready, and were running out of time to get it done so into the drink we went. Saw a bunch of turtles on the beach, wife & kid had a seal swim right upon them to get to the beach to hang out, and we saw a bunch of fish. The snorkeling wasn’t too great, but we saw enough to not have it be a bust. As we were leaving after an hour+, the sun was coming out and people were coming in droves. Hit up Puka Dog, went shopping, had shave ice, had ice cream at Lappert’s, and called it a night.
We played on Shipwreck Beach, hiked the cliffs trying to get to the caves, realized the hike to the caves was too much for the boy so we headed back and drove the next day - LOL. On the hike, we came upon an injured seal hanging out on the beach. Conservationists had been called and were on-task to make a barrier around him, and we learned that it had been bitten by a shark a week prior and was going to naturally heal.
Throughout these days we tried our best to enjoy the resort because it alone was worthy of staying the entire trip therein. I lost track of how many pools they had, but they also had a saltwater lagoon which was a hit with us all (and many others). On our last day we took off to Hanapepe for the Swinging Bridge, more cool local food we’d found earlier, Spouting Horn, drove to the caves, and headed about an hour north again because we forgot about the rainbow eucalyptus trees. Those were so cool and I’m glad we made time for it before heading to the airport. Regarding the drive to the caves, it was just a couple minutes but most of it was horrible terrain especially with the huge puddles from the rain. Our little midsize sedan made it though, even Jeeps were putzing around slowly in it all. The caves were cool, even if I WHOMPED my head on a stalagtite when I walked in and then followed it up by smacking it on a tree. No blood though, so party on. Sure hurt though.