Kauai Travel Diary

March 26, 2018

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Kauai Travel Diary with recommendations on where to go, what to eat and where to stay - M Loves M LA/OC fashion blogger

It seems like so long ago since we were on Kauai, even though it was just a few weeks ago. Matthew and I love the Hawaiian islands. When we were dating, we went to Oahu, and then after we got married we went to Maui, and then we kept going back to Maui. For our babymoon, we had talked about visiting Kauai for the first time, but wanted to go somewhere we already knew and loved, so back to Maui we went. Finally, though, we were able to plan a trip to Kauai. It was our first big trip with Augustine. I have been so excited to share our Kauai Travel Diary with lots of recommendations on where to stay, what to eat, and what to do! I hope you find this helpful if you’re planning a trip to the island! And if you’ve never been, book a trip! Honestly, you won’t regret it!

Last year we didn’t go to Hawaii and we were a little sad about it, although we were so busy wrapped up in new parent obligations. We told ourselves that 2018 would be our Hawaii year, and maybe now was the time to visit Kauai. The only thing I knew about Kauai was that it was “The Garden Island,” and very green and tropical. I heard that it was the best for honeymooners and retirees because it was a little more sleepy and it can be rainier than the other islands.

As soon as we landed on Kauai, I was in love. I’ve loved Oahu and Maui but there was something very different about Kauai. I felt like I was actually on an island with roads paved right into the mountainside – lush vegetation surrounding us with the most beautiful turquoise beaches peeking through on the other side. Of course, we were greeted with lots of rain and gray skies as well, since it was the end of their rainy season. Luckily that subsided after a few days, but I was still in awe. The landscape is absolutely breathtaking!

This was definitely a different kind of a trip for us because it was our first with Augustine. Sadly I got sick right before we left, and then Augustine got sick two days after we landed. Augustine’s being sick made things especially difficult for us because he didn’t sleep well in the hotel. We got very little sleep, but it allowed for earlier mornings and more time to explore which was a plus!

It was also an adjustment because we didn’t have the luxury of doing whatever we wanted whenever we wanted. We still had fun but I’ll just say that the first trip post-baby is definitely one to get used to. But if you go into it with the right expectations {a reader said, “Refer to it as a family trip, not a vacation.”}, that will help!

Despite being sick, and getting little sleep, I loved Kauai, though. I honestly think it might be my favorite island and we didn’t even get to see it in its true summer glory. I can only imagine that when it’s not the rainy season, the sky is the most stunning blue and the water is just as clear as can be. I just couldn’t get over how beautiful the island was and I felt like there was actually a lot to do. Sure, it doesn’t have a city/downtown, but there are tons of shops and most importantly lots of good restaurants.

The food, you guys, the food! Everything we had was so delicious and I especially loved how many great coffee shops were around. When we were in Maui last {2016}, there weren’t any cute craft coffee shops. And I know I looked! Actually, I forgot, there was that one in Kihei, Belle Surf Cafe. But that took a lot of digging! In Kauai, there are tons of cute coffee shops and even coffee food trucks in every area! If you love a good cup, you’ll be quite impressed. Many of the places made their own syrups and offered lots of dairy-free milk options. Also, if you’re vegan or vegetarian, there are so many great health food stores and restaurants! Every menu had something I could eat, and it was always delicious, filled with local ingredients. I will say that Kauai is expensive, maybe a little more than Maui, but that’s kind of typical for the islands in general.

I wanted to do a roundup of favorite places that will hopefully be helpful if you plan a trip. I also included some places we wanted to try that we, unfortunately, weren’t able to get to. Next time for sure! Because there will be a next time. Just maybe when Augustine is a little older!

Ok, prepare for a bunch of photos!

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loved this gingham dress!

food recommendations for kauai that are baby friendly

the prettiest blue floral maxi!

traveling to Kauai with a toddler - M Loves M Travel Diary

This striped hooded sweater came in handy! {fit info: size down! I always get an XS in this brand}

family photo at Waimea Canyon best coffee on Kauai family friendly hotel on Kauai - M Loves M LA & OC Fashion and Lifestyle Blogger food and activity recommendations for a family traveling to kauai - M Loves M Mara and Augustine on Kauai best acai bowl in kauai - M Loves M Kauai Travel Diary Matthew and Augustine go to the beach

Kauai Travel Guide

Where to Stay

We stayed at 3 hotels, if you can believe it! If you have a young one though, I would try to find an AirBnb or hotel that has amenities. It’s tough staying in hotels with little ones, especially around Augustine’s 18 month age. If he was a better sleeper, and not sick, maybe things would be easier in a hotel {sorry to our next door neighbors!}, but I also think having access to a kitchen/kitchenette would be very helpful, especially if you want to cut down on food costs. One funny thing was that when Augustine went to bed in the hotel, so did we! Because we only had one room, we couldn’t turn the lights back on after he went to sleep. Luckily the first two places had a balcony though so we could sit outside together for a bit.

Westin Princeville– We stayed at the Westin for the first 3 nights and loved it. The rooms are called villas because they have a kitchenette with a stovetop, full-sized fridge, dishwasher, microwave, and full kitchen cooking tools {even a blender!}. There was also an in-room washer and dryer which you know is so helpful with little ones! They also had a diaper pail and a high chair that they brought to our room, along with the crib! I would say this was a very family friendly hotel.

Sheraton– Based on our amazing stay at the Sheraton Black Rock on Maui we expected the same type of experience at the Sheraton in Kauai. Unfortunately, I don’t think they can compare at all. I would highly recommend the Sheraton on Maui, but this one was under par. It was also hard coming from such an amazing stay at the Westin to the Sheraton. The hotel is also currently under construction, so maybe once it’s done it will have a different feel. Poipu has a much different feel than the North Shore, though, and personally, we liked the North Shore a little better.

St. Regis Princeville – Since Matthew and I loved the northern part of the island so much, we spent our last night at the St. Regis. I think Matthew used up all of his credit card points but it was worth it. This is considered to be the nicest hotel on Kauai and it is gorgeous! The rooms itself could possibly use an upgrade, but the views and the property made it so worth it. I also loved that they had a free perk for little ones- you could choose a trio of a fruit, veggie, and protein to be delivered to the room at dinnertime- pureed or mashed! So nice right?

Where to Eat

Hananeli Bread Company

A really yummy organic bakery and coffee house. We actually went here three times! I loved their homemade breads, the veggie pesto sandwich was delicious, and they had really great coffees and smoothies.

Trilogy

Trilogy was a little spot we found after lunch at Kilauea Fish Market. They have delicious Intelligentsia espresso as well as a pastry case with raw, vegan and vegetarian sweets. Next time I have to try their breakfast burrito, which came highly recommended. Before/after you get your coffee, make sure to check out the boutique Hunter Gatherer.

Java Kai

Java Kai was delicious! We stopped for coffees {highly recommend the Mac Nut Latte!}, and their bagel breakfast sandwiches. I got the Surfer Girl and I’m not joking when I say I’m still craving it. The space is really well-designed and there’s a super cute boutique right next door that I’d also recommend checking out!

Kauai Juice Co

This is small juice chain on Kauai but one worth going to! They make fresh cold-pressed juices, homemade kombuchas, nut milks, and elixirs.. 80% of their ingredients are local and/or organic. We loved the Sexy Baby Maker Milk {don’t get any ideas!}- it contained brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, cacao, maca, honey, dates, and Tahitian vanilla. So yummy!

Postcards Cafe

Sadly I would not recommend this place for dinner. We ordered a few things and they just weren’t good. Matthew said mediocre at best. BUT they have the most delicious soft bread with macadamia nut butter that almost made it worth it. I might order just the bread to go next time and eat it in the car!

Dolfin Restaurant Hanalei

We went here for lunch with my aunt and uncle, who just so happened to be on Kauai at the same time. I got the fish and chips and it was one of the best I’ve ever had. Normally fish and chips always tastes the same but this fish was so incredibly fresh, there was no question! They also have a fish market if you want to purchase any fish to go.

Verde

This was a Mexican restaurant that was recommended to us from a friend. I loved the veggie bowl I got but Matthew was not a fan of his al pastor tacos.

DaCrack

This place was so delicious, and unassuming since it’s just a counter that you walk up and order from! I loved their garlic shrimp burrito! We also got a bean and cheese burrito for Augustine that he devoured. This place is great when you want a quick bite to go!

Ama

A modern ramen and raw fish restaurant in Hanalei. This place was so tasty; we loved our dinner here. All the dishes were so unique and unlike anything we’ve had before. I loved that we sat outside and could look out at gorgeous garden and mountain views. This place is right next to Bar Acuda.

Wailua Shave Ice

I am not really a shaved ice person but we had to stop at this shaved ice food truck. We got the Almond Joy shave ice with nutella, coconut milk, toasted coconut and roasted almonds. It was so delicious and I would highly recommend it! This was right next to the Scorpacciata Neapolitan Pizza Food Truck but sadly they were closed. Pizza and shaved ice would have been a great combo though! They have picnic benches behind the trucks so you can hang out and eat there.

Pono Market

We went for the Mud Pie Milk Shake and it was delicious! Matthew’s coworker recommended it and we loved it!

Hanalei Harvest Market

Such a great health food market! They have locally grown and certified organic produce, groceries, ready to eat foods from the deli, fresh smoothies made to order, along with all kinds of supplements and health food items! If you have a dietary restriction, you’ll want to stock up on groceries here. It’s basically like a Whole Foods!

Kalalea Juice Hale

Supposedly the best acai bowl on Kauai. We went and loved it, although I will say it was a bit pricey. Matthew got the iced coffee with freshly-made coconut creamer {made from the coconuts behind the shop}, and he loved it so much he went back twice!

Koloa Market

This is just a little market but they have a great poke counter in the back! This was recommended to us by a local and we loved their options!

Little Fish Coffee

Such a fun place to go for breakfast! We went for an acai bowl and sandwich, and of course some coffee too! Loved the grassy lawn with picnic tables out front. Augustine loved trying to chase the roosters around too!


What to Do

Wailua Falls

This waterfall is so beautiful! It would have been amazing to hike down to see it, but because of the weather {and Augustine} we decided to save that adventure for another trip. You’re still able to get a good view from the top though

Waimea Canyon State Park

Known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” Waimea Canyon provides the most stunning views of the colorful canyon and waterfalls. I was hoping we’d be able to catch a rainbow here too! There was a local vendor there too selling fresh exotic fruits and baked goods!

Poipu Beach

Poipu is called “The Sunny South Side.” We stayed here the second half of our trip. This beach is one of the most popular ones in the area.

Lydgate Beach Park

This is a great family-friendly spot with protected calm waters and colorful fish. This is a great beginner beach for snorkeling.

Kamalani Playground

This was one of the most recommended spots to go with Augustine. Kids love the large community-built “Kamalani” playground where there are swings, slides, bars, tires, walkways, swinging bridges, even a volcano! There are lots of crevices and secret pathways that would make this a fun place for a game of hide-and-seek.

Opaeka’a Falls

“Opaekaa” means “rolling shrimp,” which were once abundant in the stream. Walk uphill from the Opaekaa lookout and across the road for another great view of the Wailua River Valley and interior plains.

Haena Beach – right by Tunnels

Haena Beach was one of our favorite beaches! It’s where the lush tropical jungle meets white sand beaches and the prettiest turquoise waters. The popular and very recognizable Mount Makana (Bali Hai) looms mysteriously above Haena Beach and gives a really pretty backdrop for sunsets and photos.

Tunnels Beach

Tunnels is a classic and famous Kauai beach!  Lava tubes form the many underwater caverns which gives Tunnels its name. The sunsets here are magical!

Lumahai Beach

This long stretch of white sand beach was made famous by Hollywood when Mitzi Gaynor spent her time on this beach washing that man right out of her hair, in the movie South Pacific. South Pacific is one of my absolute favorite musicals so I had to go and it was absolutely gorgeous!


Places We Want to Try Next Time

Tahiti Nui

Apparently this place has the best mai tais on Kauai! And I love the story about how it started. Bruce T Marston, of California, (USA) met Louise in Tahiti while in the United States Air Force as a Lt. Colonel over 50 years ago. Louise was a native of Tubuai ( Austral Islands, French Polynesia) which is just south of Tahiti. Louise was a descendant of Tahiti Royalty in the lineage of King Tomatoa. They met in Tahiti, fell in love and married. Then they moved to Kauai and opened a small diner.

Bar Acuda

This was probably the most recommended restaurant but we weren’t sure how Augustine would do sitting through a meal. Chef & owner Jim Moffat’s culinary sensibility originates from the people and food he experienced during years of travel to the Mediterranean regions of Europe – including Southern France, Italy, Spain and Portugal – as well as twenty-five years of honing his craft at his award-winning San Francisco restaurants.

Island Taco

Love that this place makes homemade tortillas! Their tacos are Hawaiian-inspired too! We almost stopped here on the way to the airport but we were running late {of course} so had to skip it. I was a little bummed because all the food photos we saw on Yelp looked so good!

EatHealthy Cafe

source local, organic ingredients that are good for your health and the health of the planet.

Tropical Taco

So many recommendations for tacos on Kauai. This place looked delicious!

Scorpacciata Neapolitan Pizza Food Truck

We tried to go here for pizza based off some recommendations from friends who had visited the island but they had to close and didn’t reopen while we were there. I know you can get good pizza anywhere, but sometimes it’s hard to find on the islands. We’ll try this next time and report back!

Hamura Saimin

This is supposed to be a local favorite!

Art Cafe Hemingway

This is a “farm to table” kitchen and restaurant where they choose locally sourced and organic options whenever possible.. They pick freshly cut organic herbs from their own farm; they don’t use any preservatives or artificial coloring, and they make their dishes to order, so you can enjoy the best ingredients in good whole foods. Definitely, need to go next time!

Dark Roost Coffee

A coffee truck! Meant to stop here because we heard it was good!

Kauai Farmacy

This was recommended to us from the barista at Trilogy.

Our Place Kauai

A permaculture community parlor & kitchen hosting 100% Kauai produce, gluten-free, organic & vegan dinner parties in the ambiance of a newly renovated 1937 plantation home. This was recommended by a local!

Tropical Dreams Hawaiian Gourmet Ice Cream

Tropical Dreams is considered a “super-premium” ice cream. It is handmade with cream containing 18% butterfat and a low overrun. This means that less air is mixed in during the freezing process so it’s more dense. Can’t wait to try it next time!

Princeville Public Library

This would be a fun activity to do with little ones! Go for a local storytime!

Fern Grotto

During the two mile river journey, you’ll hear songs and stories of ancient Hawaii — like the King’s Highway, sacred Mount Kapu, and the First Hau Tree. Guests also enjoy learn the hula during a lesson provided by a young hula dancer.

Hanakāpī‘ai Falls

I would love to do this hike next time! It was a little long so we were worried about taking Augustine, but next time! The photos we saw looked gorgeous!


Have you been to Kauai? Did you have a favorite place you went? Or thing you did? Leave a comment for me, and anyone else traveling there! I would love to add to our notes for next time. Kauai was such a magical island and I know this was just our first trip of many!

xox

If you’re traveling to Hawaii, check out my Maui posts! 

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