After eight wonderful days in Maui, we were ready to move on to the second leg of our honeymoon in Kauai. The inter-island flight was just 45 minutes and we shared a giant Maui Cookie Lady cookie. When we landed we got in our rental car and headed over to the Grand Hyatt in Poipu. The first thing we noticed on the drive was the natural beauty of the island. The lush green mountains in the distance makes you hear a John Williams score in your head.
The Grand Hyatt
Disclosure- We were given an upgraded room, comped one night, and received a free spa treatment in exchange for social media posts and a mention on the blog.
The Grand Hyatt Kauai is on the south part of the island. This area of the island is generally a little warmer and sunnier but doesn’t have quite as spectacular vegetation like the rainier parts of the island up north. The Grand Hyatt really lives up to its name as everything is so big and impressive with the open air lobby makes for a stunning entrance.
We had a second floor room with an ocean view. It was a sizeable room with Hawaiian decor and a marble shower with top of the line fixtures. A sliding glass door opened to a private lanai with a beautiful partial view of the ocean. The staff was super friendly and helpful and left us a complimentary bottle of champagne and a delicious fresh pineapple in our room when we checked in.
The property at the Hyatt is so impressive. It’s a sprawling resort, a simple walk around the property is a fun morning or evening activity. There are so many trees, plants, and flowers and beautiful views of the ocean. The biggest draw of the Hyatt is the pool options.
They have an amazing array of pools including a waterslide and a lazy river that connects different pool areas. There’s also a separate, massive salt water lagoon that is great for lounging or swimming. Daniel and I loved swimming in the lagoon because it seemed more relaxed an uncrowded. I think the Grand Hyatt would be an amazing hotel for families. We saw many kids having a blast in the pools and on the waterslide.
The beach right in front of the hotel offers some nice views and good waves for surfing or boogie boarding, but the water was a little too rough for mainlanders to swim. We enjoyed breakfast every day at Ilima Terrace, which had a great buffet spread and gorgeous ocean views.
Things We Did
Kauai has a lot to do but since the island isn’t that big, it’s possible to see a bunch of sights all over the island. We spent one day visiting the west part of the island, one day on the north side, and one day on the south side. We definitely didn’t see everything, but Daniel and I are “drive-by” tourists. We like to visit a tourist spot, take it in, get a feel for it, and move on. We aren’t the all day explorer type.
We took a day trip to the west side of the island where we saw Waimea Canyon, Koke’e State Park, and Polihale State Park. It was a nice easy drive through some cute little towns and up the mountain. We went right to the top to Koke’e State Park, which offered a stunning view of the Kalalau valley. The view is often obscured by fog, but we were lucky to arrive while it was still clear.
Waimea Canyon, “the Grand Canyon of the Pacific” is stunning. It was created by erosion and also the collapse of a volcano. There are several lookouts to get different views. We stopped at a few and marveled at how gorgeous (and massive!) the canyon is.
Polihale State Park isn’t as common a trip as our other destinations, and it’s easy to see why. To get to this beach, you have to travel down a dirt road that is several miles long. We were in a sedan, so this was a very uncomfortable ride. I definitely recommend renting a jeep if you plan on making this drive. We were regretting our decision to come here, but once we arrived, we realized it was worth it.
This wild beach is just spectacular. It is so beautiful and there were only a few other people there, which made it feel special.
The next day we took a trip to the north shore of Kauai. On the way we stopped at Wailua Falls, which is a pretty waterfall lookout. I probably wouldn’t make a specific trip here but if you are traveling between the south and north shore, it makes for a pleasant detour.
Our next stop was the Kīlauea Point National Wildlife Refuge. It’s a refuge for seabird nesting colonies and has a cool lighthouse. It is a nice short stop, offering some great views and if you’re lucky you can see some beautiful birds. Next, we headed up to Hanalei Bay. It was a cute little town and a pretty beach. But, we decided not to spend much time there and then headed over to Princeville.
We went to the St. Regis to check out the property and have a drink. The lobby and bar are absolutely beautiful, and the view of the lush green mountains are amazing. I definitely recommend going to the St. Regis and enjoying a drink outside on the patio.
We were really lucky with weather but had our first rainy day of our trip on our fourth day in Kauai. We decided to just check out some local attractions and went to Poipu Beach and Spouting Horn. Poipu Beach was desolate because of the weather, but we were able to see a turtle hanging out on the shore. By the time we got to Spouting Horn, a spot on the coast where the waves hit a narrow opening in lava rocks and water shoots upward, it was absolutely pouring. We basically just ran up to the lookout, watched a couple waves, and ran back to the car.
Things We Ate
Most of our meals in Kauai were more casual than what we had in Maui. We had some amazing food in Maui but were growing a little tired of fancier $300 dollar meals. We stuck mostly to the area on the south shore that was around our hotel.
Tortilla Republic- This Mexican restaurant was recommended to us by an employee of the hotel when we asked if there were any good places nearby. We ate in the “upstairs” section which is a little more upscale. We really loved the food and experience here. Our waiter was so nice and friendly. They gave us some free chips, salsa, and guac for our honeymoon and I could have eaten enough for a meal right there. The guac was made at the table and it was delicious.
I got fajitas which were fresh and tasty and Daniel had a scallop dish that he really loved. This was a surprising little gem. We liked it so much we went back here for lunch on another day!
Lappert’s- When we were in Maui we stopped at this ice cream chain and split a white chocolate oreo dipped waffle cone with caramel coconut macadamia ice cream. It was amazing!
As we were exiting Tortilla Republic, Daniel spotted a Lappert’s in the same little shopping plaza. Daniel is an ice cream fanatic, and I was blown away by the chocolate dipped waffle cones, so Lappert’s became our nightly tradition in Kauai. We tried many different flavors, always in a white chocolate, oreo dipped cone, and it was one of our favorite aspects of our entire honeymoon!
Savage Shrimp- This was located in the same cute little shopping plaza as Lappert’s (no doubt the reason Daniel suggested it). It is a little hole in the wall shrimp place with a few outdoor tables. The menu is mostly shrimp, prepared in every way imaginable. I got the fried shrimp and Daniel had Aloha shrimp which was prepared in a creamy, spicy, buttery, chili sauce. We loved this meal too! We love most meals I guess, but this place really is great. If you like shrimp, I would definitely recommend it.
Duke’s- This well known casual beachside restaurant with a well known salad bar and famous Hula Pie dessert. The view on the deck was really nice. I got the salad bar for my entree which was unremarkable but satisfying. Daniel had grilled Monchong with the salad bar. We split the big piece of Hula Pie, which is essentially a giant piece of ice cream cake with a cookie crust and macadamia nut ice cream, covered in hot fudge and whipped cream. It was a pleasant meal but not among the best we had. If you do go, you definitely have to save room for Hula Pie!
Plantation Gardens- This was one of our more disappointing experiences. We made a reservation here because the grounds are supposed to be full of beautiful gardens and lovely scenery. We were planning to have a drink and walk around before dinner but we arrived during a downpour. So we missed out on the gardens and the windows were covered on the patio. We started with crab rangoon and sweet potato rolls. The rolls were really amazing, warm, fresh, and delicious. Daniel had a fish stir fry and I had a burger. We both thought our entrees were mediocre. I can imagine a dinner here is really lovely with the gardens, but if it’s raining I would definitely wait for a better day.
Bangkok Happy Bowl- This was a little sushi and Thai place in an outdoor mall. Here we ordered an embarrassing amount of food. We couldn’t decide if we wanted hot food or sushi so we just decided to try a bunch of everything. We had a few apps, soup, pad thai, orange chicken, and a couple big sushi rolls. The waiter asked us if we were expecting more people and found our order hilarious. We couldn’t quite finish everything but did enough damage to get some applause from our waiter at the end. We loved the sushi rolls here. They were fresh and delicious. They have a lot going on, which sometimes can be cloying, but these were super tasty. The hot food was just ok, so I would definitely stick to sushi here.
Puka Dog- Puka Dog is a super popular hot dog stand. We felt like we had to try it, so on our last day here we grabbed a Puka Dog for lunch. It is a polish sausage put in the middle of a hollowed out bun with a creamy garlic sauce and lilikoi mustard. We got some lemonade to wash it down that is made fresh to order. It’s definitely a good hotdog and fun little experience.
We had a wonderful time in Kauai. It is so beautiful and relaxing. There’s a ton to do but everything is accessible. We were torn about how to spend our Hawaiian vacation and ended up completely satisfied with visiting Maui and Kauai.