captain-andyThe Island of Kauai is often thought of as extremely wet. True it does have one of the wettest spots on earth called Mt. Waialeale, receiving over 400 inches a year, but that is not the entire truth of Kauai.

Almost round in shape, Kauai has distinct weather variations on this 522 square mile island. The famous Poipu area is to the South and has glorious beach days most of the year. Kekaha, once a thriving sugar cane town and mill has very hot, dry weather. It is generally inhabited by locals as there are no support services, not even a gas station. Lihue, Wailua  and Kapaa to the east side are where most of the population live and gets onshore winds in the afternoon and the further you go inland, you will find rain and the famous, navigable, Wailua River. The north shore near Hanalei bay is lush, with many ancient lo’i or taro farms that require moving water like the Hanalei River to feed them. Even though it does shower here, you will find plenty of beautiful beach and golf days.

napali-coast

What else Kauai has is artists, makers and great food; local companies like Lappert‘s ice cream, Koloa Premium Hawaiian Rum made from sugar cane, Kauai Kookies, flavored Hawaiian salt makers, soap makers, chocolate growers and candy makers, coffee farmers, produce growers, ranchers and fishermen. For a complete listing visit www.kauaimade.net .

Kauai life is relaxed. You won‘t find any building taller than a 48 foot coconut tree. Surprisingly, that is the law. The pace here is naturally slower and the whole island feels like you are stepping back in time. It is a real-life version of the idea that many have of Hawaii in their heart. Tourism is the lifeblood and main industry of the island since sugar left, but going on a tour, boat trip or ATV ride you don‘t feel the hustle of other islands; just a genuine warmth from everyone from the hotel operator to the shave ice stand.

Here are some of my favorite foodie stops, hotel and activity suggestions Kauai-style:

Koloa Premium Hawaiian  Rum

Made from island sugar cane

International award-winning

5 rums including coffee and coconut

Rum tasting offered at the tasting room and store at 9:30 AM every day

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Wailua Shave Ice Truck

Shave ice originates from Japan and plantation workers brought it to Hawaii.

Not a sno-cone, ice is shaved fine so it absorbs flavored syrups

Wailua Shave Ice uses natural fruits and flavors

Best Restaurant for Fish and Ambiance: Tidepools Restaurant, Grand Hyatt Kauai

Some restaurants do great fish, some have outstanding views Tidepools has both

Tropical huts built over a huge pond with waterfall.

Any of the fish dishes are excellent as chef Eric Bartolome is a local

Voted “ Most Romantic” by Hawaii Magazine

Fresh Fish Tacos: Al Pastor‘s Food Truck Kapaa

A family-run food truck in an oceanside pod in Kapaa

Here they seve fresh off the boat fish-ahi tacos are really good

TegeTege Shave Ice

In the same truck pod, you can top off lunch with a Shave Ice at TegeTege if you don‘t mind the long lines and wait as two Japan transplants slowly create your masterpiece in a cone.

Their flavored syrups are homemade and delicious

Get there early- when they run out they are done

Sunset Champagne Sabering/Toast at Sunset at St. Regis Princeville

The St. Regis Princeville Resort does things in a big way.

Stay for pupus, a drink or bubbly

Champagne sabering ceremony celebrates whatever you are celebrating each evening at sunset.

Hotel Recommendations:

I visited Kauai as part of a press trip arranged by the Kauai Visitors bureau. I stayed at three distinctly different properties, each with the friendliest people I have ever had the pleasure of talking with. Here are my impressions of each:

Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa

Grand Hyatt Kauai is a large complex with beautiful oceanfront grounds

The famous Shipwreck beach is out front

Live Hawaiian music each night, several pools, a beach to walk and the buffet breakfast at Ilima Terrace is wonderful with views to the ocean.

Golf and shops nearby

Kids, honeymooners, weddings and conferences love it here.

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St. Regis Princeville

Stunning lobby

Incomparable Hanalei Bay views

Ask for a suite or a room on the lower beachfront level to the right of the pool overlooking the bay.

Beautiful and relaxing spa with a couples‘ lomi lomi massage

The hotel is associated with the spectacular Troon golf course and Princeville Makai Golf Club.

Option for golfer and non-golfers is the Sunset Golf Cart Tour, they will even make you a Mai Tai for the ride.

Ko‘a Kea Hotel & Resort

Old Hawaii” gem, Ko’a Kea is a three story, 1960‘s version of Kauai hospitality.

Recommended for honeymoons or adult couples.

Well-appointed rooms and suites, many with ocean views or splurge for oceanfront

Poipu Beach down a short oceanfront pathway or opt for the relaxing pool

Cocktail and pupu service around pool or to your first floor lanai

Red Salt restaurant is wonderful for breakfast.

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Island Activities:

Kauai is a paradise for adventure or relaxing. Here are the things I tried:

Capt. Andy‘s Sailing Adventures

Do the Napali Snorkel Picnic Sail in morning; starts early but do this one instead of the afternoon which can be too hot for some.

Uncrowded, stable, well-designed catamaran boat

Lunch is simple and good

Crew are top notch

Scenery is spectacular and you just might see dolphins, turtles and even a monk seal like we did.

Kilohana Plantation Railway at Kilohana Plantation

Arrive early and go inside the plantation manager‘s home and take a lo; it’s a rare opportunity to see how they lived when sugar was king.

Fun open-car train ride through the farms on the plantation

Kids will love the animals

Koloa Rum Tasting room is also on the property

Princeville Makai Golf Club Sunset Golf Club Tour

Fun exploration of the views on the stunning course, plumeria garden and perfect oceanfront spot to see the sunset; all from a golf cart.

Best for a couple or group of friends

Princeville Ranch Adventures, Zip N Dip

Zip Line fans will love this one

Gorgeous ranch property and friendly safe guides

Included lunch and a swimming hole

Huge King Kong platform for the finale

Kipu Ranch Adventures, Waterfall ATV Picnic Tour

Fun, fast, safe way to see fabulous spots used in many movies including “Raiders of the Lost Ark”.

Well-maintained machines and staff is delightful

Very safety conscious

Wait until you see the brand new eco-friendy and quieter machines owner Antone has designed.

For more visit

www.gohawaii.com/kauai/