The tradition of surfing runs deep in Kauai. The island's north shore, home to beaches like the famed Hanalei Bay, has served as the proving grounds for some of the sport's most recognizable names. We've been fortunate enough to have visited Kauai on a couple different occasions—always landing in Lihue and then heading directly up north. But on a recent trip back, in partnership with The Hawaiian Islands, we decided to set up home base on the south side. By the time our stay was up, we were convinced, there's way more to The Garden Island than just winter swells. Below is an outline of our unforgettable three-day experience in Kauai.
10.45 am. Coffee From The Source
We kicked off our trip with an epic tour of Kauai Coffee, the largest coffee grower in the United States. The massive estate stretches across 3,100 acres of land and is home to over 4 million trees. More than just an information session on coffee, the tour takes you through some unbelievable sights along Kauai's southern coast.
3 pm. Explore Hanapepe
"Hanapepe means 'crushed bay' — perhaps due to the appearance of the cliffs from the sea," a sign reads as we entered the small town on Kauai's south side. We pulled off the road and explored by foot, stopping in at shops like Talk Story Bookstore, Aloha Spice Market and Banana Patch Studio before dipping off the streets to find the Hanapepe Swinging Bridge.
8:30 am. Road Trip to the East Side
No matter which direction you decide to drive, world-class waves can be found almost anywhere along the coast of Kauai. We headed east to Kealia Beach—known for its expansive white sand shore—to catch the tail-end of a fun winter swell, stopping along the way to catch a couple other breaks.
1:15 pm. Take to the Skies
The Napali coast is the crown jewel of Kauai. Perched up top on the island's north-west end, this sacred place features dramatic, 4,000-foot rain-carved cliffs inset by pristine beaches and sea caves. It's easily one of the most photographed coastlines in the world. While it is accessible by foot (via a reservation-only 11-mile hike), we opted for an open-air heli ride to experience its full magnitude.
If you do choose to hike, we hope that you tread lightly and leave a minimal trace to keep the land as unspoiled as possible.
10 am. Sample local produce
Held every Saturday morning, the Kauai Community Market is a place where farmers, local businesses, neighbors, and visitors can all get together to enjoy the local foods and produce that Kauai has to offer. We cracked a couple of fresh coconuts, practiced our lei-making, and snagged some fruits for the road.
1:30 pm. Reconnect with Nature
A walk through McBryde and Allerton Garden lets you connect with Kauai's native flora in ways that might not be possible elsewhere. You can wander the nearly 2,000-acre garden alone, but we recommend booking a tour to add some context into how incredibly special, diverse and fragile the Hawaiian ecosystem really is.
In the spring of 2018, 50 inches of rain poured down on Kauai in 24 hours, setting a national record for most rainfall within a day. When we visited this year, much of the island looked as beautiful as we had remembered, but many areas are still recovering from the massive flooding that occurred that day, like the historic Hoopulapula Haraguchi Rice Mill in Hanalei. This landmark rice mill dates back to the 1800s and has supported the people of Hanalei for centuries. We encourage anyone who can to donate to the rebuilding effort. Donate Here
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