Tips on Kauai

Here are my notes from trips in Jan 2023 and Nov 2022


  1. Uluwehi Secret Falls via Wailua River is a nice 2 mile paddle on a smooth-as-glass-river to a 0.9 mile hike to a huge waterfall. The hike is muddy and beautify. I would wear something more substantial than flip flops.  I love my five finger water shoes but any type will be sufficient. Bring a big lunch because you can spend 4 or 5 hours on this (but travel time is probably 3 hours at leisure pace).  Don’t rent from Kayak Kauai if you want SUP’s.  The quality is terrible. The water is calm enough that you don’t need a PFD but theirs is too gross to put on if you needed to.  Their paddle weights 3 lbs.  While Kayak Kauai is close, you still need to mount the Kayak or SUP on top of your car and drive so, if you care about SUP quality, I would find a better place.  This one looked good from their website.  In 2022, I found a great place that drops them off but cannot recall the outfitter’s name.
  2. The Nuʻalolo hike has a good amount of vertical and you hike to overlook the Na Pali Coast. Eight miles and 2200’ of vertical in mud makes for good exercise.  
  3. If you want something a bit less intense, you pass through Waimea Canyon on your way up.  it’s as beautiful as the Na Pali coast and a must stop.  There are several areas to pull off on the side of the road and explore.
  4. Must do boat tour of Na’Pali coast.  Capt Andy’s is expensive but it’s a nice small boat and you develop the itinerary with the captain.
  5. There was an issue with our Gaylord’s luau reservation so our hotel booked us at the Smith Family Luau.  Total waste of time.  Go to Gaylords.  We did like their dinner and ambiance.
  6. The most accessible snorkeling on the island is a 2’ pool enclosed by rock at Lydgate Beach. Great for young kids. It’s like snorkeling in an aquarium.

Dining (in my order of preference):

  1. Beach House was best meal of the trip and great beach view.
  2. Plantation House by Gaylords – we did dinner outside of the luau.  Food was quite good. nice rum tasting and plantation ambiance.
  3. Stevenson’s sushi in Grand Hyatt (did in 2021)
  4. Seaview Terrace in Grand Hyatt (did in 2021)
  5. Keoki’s paradise
  6. Tasting Room

While staying north

  1. The Kalalau trail is the most fun hike I’ve ever done.  From car to camp, it’s 12 miles and over 3500’ each way so it’s a commitment.  I wasn’t able to finish it in a day last year.  If that’s too much for you, then:
  2. You must at least hike the 2 miles to Hanakapi’ai Beach or the extra 1.6 miles to the Waterfall. 
  3. The best place to learn to surf is Black Pot Beach (Hanalei)
  4. Check the map for snorkeling opportunities.    
  5. I scouted a climbing location and will bring a rope next time.  Here’s an overview.

Dining (in my order of preference):

We’ve had bad luck on the North side so we drove south a few times for better food.

  1. Oasis on the Beach
  2. Sushi Bushido
  3. Northside Grill & Sushi
  4. The Bistro
  5. Palate Wine Bar

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