What to Wear
Very casual - T-shirts, shorts, light pants, dresses, a light cotton sweater, and a windbreaker. A coat and tie are not needed. There is a washer/dryer in the unit. Average hi/low is 85/74 in August and 78/66 in February.
Detailed temperature and rainfall information for Kauai is posted HERE. Scroll down to Kauai and look at the figures for Poipu.
Big Save in Koloa (map, from airport) is where we usually go. The Kukuiula Store (map, from airport) is a small grocery store closer to the Kiahuna that has most of the basics and usually excellent fresh Ahi (tuna). If you want mainland megastores, there is a Walmart (map, from airport) and a Costco (map, from airport) (both are not far from the airport).
The Shops at Kukuiula is the shopping center at the roundabout in Poipu where you will find a variety of nice restaurants and shops as well as a large Long's Drugs store for supplies. Kukui Grove Center in Lihue is Kauai’s largest shopping mall and features restaurants, events, department stores and gift shops.
Things To See & Do:
Our favorite guidebook for Kauai is The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook: Kauai Revealed (web site: www.wizardpub.com) by Andrew Doughty. There is a copy in the beach house, but you may wish to purchase a copy before you arrive. Also check the guest book for things to do and places to eat, as our guests provide us with the most up-to-date information. Check out this link for some of the best points of interest to see on Kauai. Also see this link for some great tips on Travel Channel's top 7 things to do on Kauai. Also, Kauai was featured as one of the Best Trips of 2017 in National Geographic Traveler magazine. Check out the article, pictures and videos here.
Swimming and Snorkeling
The beach at the Kiahuna is one of the best on Kauai. Be careful swimming in certain areas (see the guidebook) as there can be dangerous currents. You can snorkel in the ocean at the Kiahuna, but it is better to the east in front of the Ko'a Kea Hotel and at the Marriott Waiohai. For up to date beach and surf information go to www.kauaiexplorer.com. A fun snorkeling beach on the North Shore (the other side of the island) is Ke'e Beach (map). Snorkeling here would be part of a bigger outing to Hanalei and possibly hiking along the Na Pali Coast. Usually Ke'e beach is sheltered by its big reef which is fun to snorkel around, but in the winter the waves are too strong for snorkeling. On the East Shore, a nice place to snorkel is Lydgate Beach and State Park (map). The beach is protected from the surf by a couple of big rock reefs, which at one point provide approximately 100 yards of relatively calm, shallow (4-6 feet) water with excellent snorkeling. Good for families with small kids. However, recent comments in our guest book have complained about poor maintenance of the park.
Surfing & Boogie Boarding
Beginning surfing lessons are offered on Poipu Beach (the Kiahuna Beach) by the Kauai Surf School. Here you can sign up at the Beach Hut and ride little waves for short distances. For beginning lessons that are a bit more challenging and waves that offer a longer ride, you can drive to Kalapaki Beach (map) and go to Kauai Beach Boys (also give lessons at Poipu). Last time I visited Kalapaki I saw a couple taking a lesson together. They must have caught 15 waves in under an hour! There is more aggressive surfing and boogie boarding at Kealia Beach (map) but be careful here due to the currents and the rocks. Also, very advanced surfers and boogie boarders ride the waves on Poipu Beach (the Kiahuna Beach) beyond the shore break out in front of the Marriott Waiohai and the Ko'a Kea Hotel. Locals also like to boogie board at Shipwreck Beach (map) in front of the Hyatt Hotel, but this is also for the very advanced only.
We highly recommend visiting Na Aina Kai (map). Children love it. My grandkids (6,8, &10) love the playground. We had a difficult time getting them to leave! Built by the first wife of Charles Schulz (Peanuts) and her extremely talented 2nd husband at huge expense. Magnificent gardens and sculpture.
Kauai Mini Golf is the best mini-golf course we've seen (map). It's clean, friendly, and not tacky. Good food at relatively low cost. The grand kids love it. Its close to Na Aina Kai (the Botanical Garden above). Just North of the road to the Kilauea Lighthouse (Shell station). Next to the Banana Joe's Fruitstand.
It is always fun to take a trip to the North Shore of the island to see the picturesque little town of Hanalei (lots of fun places to eat and shop), to see Ke'e beach (map) (and the caves and streams near there), and to hike along the cliffs of the Na Pali Coast. The hike along the Kalalau Trail on the Na Pali coast is truly amazing and starts at Ke'e beach. The Ke'e Beach to Hanakapi'ai beach leg of the hike is 4 miles round trip. Don't swim at Hanakapi'ai though, it is extremely dangerous. Also try the "Awa'Awapuhi" hike, from the top of Waimea Canyon out to the Cliffs overlooking the Na Pali coast. Who needs a helicopter?
For more hiking ideas, check out "Kauai Trailblazer" by Jerry and Janine Sprout.
Zip Lines, Kayaks and ATV Tours
Some friends of mine really enjoyed doing the Zip Line tour to Kipu Falls offered by Outfitters Kauai. Outfitters Kauai also offers ATV tours of the Kipu Ranch as well as kayak tours all over the island. My son in law really loved the Na Pali Coast kayak tour, but it can only be done in summer when the North Shore swell is low. This is a strenuous trip, but is one of the best ways to see the Na Pali Coast up close!
Poipu Bay is the best option. Call the pro shop for pricing. They frequently have special deals that are not advertised; ask about them. Recently your children, up to age 21, could play for free if you paid one green fee.
In or Near Poipu (where Kiahuna #74 is located):
A number of excellent restaurants are within walking distance including Keoki's (American/Hawaiian, map, Yelp), the Plantation Gardens (high-end Hawaiian, Yelp), and the Red Salt Restaurant (contemporary Asian/Hawaiian, next door in the Ko'a Kea hotel, map, Yelp) which is excellent and you can share appetizers, salads and entrées. There are more restaurants in the Poipu Shopping Village where Keoki's is located. It is not as good of a value as it used to be, but you can order take out from Keoki’s bar menu and have dinner on our lanai. The Beach House is the most popular restaurant on the south shore. Outstanding ocean front property with beautiful sunset views in the winter. Very expensive; food average. More restaurant options are just a few minutes away by car in Old Town Koloa and in the the new Kukui'ula shopping center. Good Mexican food can be found at Tortilla Republic (map, Yelp) where we prefer the upstairs menu. For inexpensive take out Mexican, try Da Crack in the old Kukuiula Store center next to Seasport Divers (the yellow submarine). You can also get excellent fruit bowls and smoothies for late breakfast or lunch at Anake's Juice Bar inside the old Kukuiula Store at the back of the store.
Outside Poipu (where Kiahuna #74 is located):
The most beautiful "dining" views on the island are from the Makana Terrace at the St. Regis in Princeville (eclectic Hawaiian fusion, map, Yelp). We always went here for lunch when this was the Princeville Hotel, but currently only open for breakfast and dinner. The Hamura Saiman Stand (map) is a famous locals spot in Lihue. All they sell are noodle bowls and teriyaki chicken and steak strips. This is a real taste of authentic local culture! On the East Shore in Kapa'a is JO2, one of the best restaurants you will find anywhere. It serves modern Hawaiian food with hints of Japan and France, map). It is owned by Jean-Marie Josselin, the former chef and owner of A Pacific Cafe in Kapa'a, which was the best on Kauai. Also in Kapaa are two of our family's favorites, Hukilau Lanai (seafood/contemporary American, map, Yelp) and Kintaro (Japanese, map, Yelp). Great espresso! If you into pure espresso, Small Town Coffee Co, makes the real deal (think Italy, map). We are unaware of any other place on the island where you can find an espresso remotely close to this. Great pour overs and local small batch roaster! Aloha Roastery in Old Town Koloa has excellent coffee.
The Kiahuna (Castle Resorts only) has a nice gym with cardio equipment and weight machines. Free use of the gym is included with your stay.
Medium/small sized, but upscale with cardio equipment and weights. Has a nice spa area for showering and relaxing post work-out. Non-hotel guests may purchase a 5-workout spa/fitness pass (usable over 30 days) for $225 or a 10-workout spa/fitness pass (usable over 30 days) for $400 (map, Yelp). When we are in town, we go here (map) for fitness training and classes. Class schedules can be found here. YMCA (22 min drv. 3-2087, Ste L, Kaumualii Hwy, Lihue. 808-246-9090) This new facility in Lihue has a nice pool and fitness center. No free weights. $10/day. $75/mo for a family (includes kids under 17) (map). Kauai Athletic Club (29 min drv. Kukui Grove Prof. Bldg., 4370 Kukui Grove St, Lihue. 808-245-5381) Free weights, machines, cardio, pool, racquetball, a deli, and more. Lihue’s real full-service gym. The problem for me is that it’s in a 70’s building which feels dark, stuffy, and cheap inside. That doesn’t seem to bother many people though (map, Yelp). Island Gym & Fitness (29 min drv. 4-1196 Route 50, Hanapepe . 808-335-2706) This medium-sized gym has free weights and machines. A good option for a full-service gym. $10/day, $30/wk, $80/mo (map gets you to Moi Rd. Turn right on Moi Rd. and immediately left into the parking lot for the Gym, Yelp).
* Note that pricing info could have changed since posted here.
Here are some tips from our nephew’s family:
There are 3 places on the East Side (Kapa'a) where we like to go when we
are willing to spend a little more.
Hukilau is written up in several places as the best food on the island and we agree. Kintaro seems to be the place to go if you're local and celebrating a big event; we like the Teppanyaki experience when we go there.
Waterskiing on the Wailua River (Kenny): link Zodiac to the sea turtles out of Kalaheo (Captain Tara & Nick): link Here's the place to go for biking on the East Side: link We rent our snorkel gear @ Boss Frog's (www.bossfrog.com), which is both better and & less expensive than Snorkel Bob's. Our favorite place to snorkel is probably Tunnels Beach on the North Side (it might be a bit treacherous for the kids). Ke'e Beach at the end of 56 (extreme northwest corner of island) is great for kids. Be cautious in winter months as these beaches have high, rough surf in winter. You won't want to miss Secret Beach on the North Shore. Long hike down and back with wide soft sand beach for the kids. High and rough surf in winter.