Travel Diaries: Kauai

The lush, amazing, beautiful Garden Island of Kauai was Part II of my recent Hawaii adventure. If you haven’t read Part I yet, go read it first!

While Maui was all about family, Kauai was perfect for some alone time with my husband. I knew that Jurassic Park was filmed here, so I was expecting greenery, but was still completely blown away by how visually stunning this island is. I’m talking palm tree after palm tree, gorgeous waterfalls everywhere, and the most unbelievable scenery I have ever seen in my life. It’s true what they say – Kauai is just the prettiest.

We stayed at a vacation rental at the Hanalei Bay Resort, which we absolutely loved. It looks like a five star resort with a beautiful lagoon-style pool, has the most stunning views of Hanalei Bay, and shares its beach with the St. Regis (minus the St. Regis prices). I mean, you really can’t beat that. Every night, we would pour ourselves a glass of white wine, sit on the hills facing the bay and enjoy the most spectacular sunsets. I so wish we could be back there!

I’m so excited to share some of my favorite images from the trip – it was incredibly difficult to edit these down, because every part of Kauai is so picturesque. These pictures do a great job of highlighting some of our favorite things about the island – Hanalei Bay sunsets, hiking part of the beautiful Napali coast, kayaking to the secret waterfalls, feasting on incredible sushi, and just the sheer amazingness of Mother Nature.

The beautiful grounds at Hanalei bay resort
DSC00801

DSC00791

Admiring the bay at sunset, just steps away from our room at the resort…truly breathtaking. 

DSC00805

The view from St. Regis’s outdoor patio – an amazing place to grab a glass of champagne right at sunset

IMG_7561

We hiked the first two miles of the Napali Coast. The full 11 hike mile is considered to be one of the most scenic (and dangerous) hikes in the country and requires overnight camping and permits. The first two miles to a secluded beach is supposed to be the “easier” portion, but it was still challenging for me – lots of ascending and descending on muddy trails with absolutely stunning views. Many hikers do an additional two miles to the waterfalls, but this takes the entire day. We were plenty satisfied with our three hour adventure and recommend this for less experienced hikers.

IMG_7580

IMG_7600

IMG_7637

IMG_7677

I mean, just look at those turquoise waters – just gorgeous! We were lucky to do this hike on a clear, sunny day. 

IMG_7672

The delicious sushi burrito from Sushi Girl! A must visit for anyone visiting Kauai- it’s a little hole in the wall stand en route to the Napali Coast with the freshest selection of take out sushi. We went here three times in four days – that’s how good it is (plus the food selection in Kauai is pretty limited). Especially good after hiking. 

IMG_7693

Our third day in Kauai, we signed up for a kayaking tour with Ali Kayaks on the Wailua River. This consists of fairly easy and relaxed kayaking for two hours, a moderate hike through a VERY muddy rainforest, and splashing around in a pool by the beautiful secret waterfalls that’s only accessible by kayaking. Such a fun morning adventure!  

IMG_7698

IMG_7704

IMG_7712

IMG_7807

Lazing around on Hanalei Bay beach on our final day in Kauai 

IMG_7818

Shave ice from Hee Fat, considered to be the best ice on the island! I had no idea what to expect, but this stuff is AMAZING. We got the strawberry and coconut real fruit syrup with macadamia nut ice cream on the bottom. So, so good. 

Hope you enjoyed this peek into our Hawaii trip! Be sure to follow me on Instagram @mrsgcg if you’d like to see more snapshots from our trip. And don’t hesitate to leave a comment if you have any questions or need advice about traveling in Maui and/or Kauai.

Travel Diaries: Maui, Hawaii

Aloha! I just got back from an incredible eight-day trip to Hawaii (four days in Maui, four days in Kauai), and have never felt more refreshed and rejuvenated. Aaand…depressed about being back in concrete jungle Chicago. I. love. the. island. life. Take me back already!

This was my first trip to Hawaii and my expectations were set pretty high, for obvious reasons. Having spent much of my formative years in Indonesia, I felt completely at home in the tropical climate the minute we landed in Maui. The warm air, the exquisite greenery, the dynamic landscape–I just couldn’t wait to soak it all up. The Maui leg of the trip was spent with my immediate family to celebrate my dad’s 60th birthday, so it made the whole experience all that more special. My parents and brother love traveling as much as we do, and we were adamant about making the most of our four short days on the island.

In no particular order, I’ve recapped my top five moments in Maui below. Not featured but also deserving special mention: sipping on Mai Tais and listening to the sound of crashing waves from our Maalaea Banyans lanai every night, sunset dinner at Kimo’s, and just the beautiful quietness of island life. Such a necessary break from a busy, stressful summer.

The Old Laihana Luau: Rated one of the best and most authentic luaus on the island, the Old Laihana Luau was a fantastic family experience. We booked the luau for my dad’s actual birthday, and it was the perfect celebration. Gorgeous venue right by the water with a spectacular sunset view, incredible service, traditional Hawaii cuisine (which was pretty good for a buffet meal), fabulous entertainment, and an open bar. All for hundred bucks per person. Not a bad deal and definitely worth it, especially during your first few days on the trip to really get in the Hawaiian state of mind.

DSC00562

DSC00570

DSC00578

DSC00590

DSC00609

DSC00611

IMG_7410

The feast at Old Laihana Luau: Fried rice, roasted pork, mahi-mahi, ahi poke, and stir fry veggies

Snorkeling on Kaanapali Beach: I’m a snorkeling newbie, so my husband and I were really, really excited to to check out Maui’s beaches. We didn’t want to waste a whole day on a snorkeling trip (though I now regret not doing Molokini Crater), but we heard that Kaanapali Beach’s Black Rock is perfect for a quick morning snorkeling dip. We had so much fun swimming side by side and saw a ton of little colorful fishies, including a baby sea turtle! It was amazing and an experience I’ll never forget. I just wish we had a GoPro!

IMG_7835 (1)

The unfiltered beauty of Kaanapali Beach – no underwater pictures, but you can see the Black Rock in the distance

IMG_7404

Giddy after encountering a baby sea turtle!

Road to Hana: Road to Hana is probably the most popular drive in Maui – I have major motion sickness and can barely drive, so I didn’t think I would enjoy the long, winding roads as much as I did. With some Dramamine in tow and my road trip-loving husband behind the driver’s seat, the entire fam left early in the AM for the spectacular journey to Hana. As my dad kept saying “it’s about the journey, not the destination” because the various stops along the way are just awesome. My favorite stop was the black sand beach at Wai’anapanapa National Park – we even brought home a lava rock for our home 🙂 Nature is so freaking cool, especially in Hawaii.

IMG_7508

Salted caramel coconut ice cream from Coco Glen, the cutest little stand on the Road to Hana. So delicious and necessary after the winding roads.

DSC00626

DSC00695

DSC00702

DSC00717

DSC00715

IMG_7504

Feelin’ victorious after reaching the black sand beach!

Sunrise at Haleakala Crater: This was actually a little disappointing for us, because the morning we decided to make the one hour drive up to Haleakala Crater was a foggy one and we didn’t see the full sunrise that most tourists rave about. BUT, the experience is still one that I’ll fondly look back on – we all woke up at 2:30 am, bundled up in sweaters and blankets (it’s 40 degrees up there, especially in the early morning!) and drove up to the crater in eager anticipation of sunrise. The atmosphere was really cool and we felt like we were floating in the cloud with other freezing cold tourists. If we could do it again, I’d go for sunset or check it out during the day so you can actually see the crater. Oh, well.

DSC00726

DSC00730

…Ahi Poke: Is it weird that one of my top five moments is food-related? If you know me at all, then no. One of our first meals on the island was at Maui Fish Market, after snorkeling on Kaanapali Beach. The food options in Maui and Kauai (especially in Kuauai) are limited–at least compared to big cities in the mainland–but the seafood is incredible. We feasted on baja fish tacos, shrimp, and AHI POKE. Maui Fish Market is where we first tried ahi poke, and it became our standard go-to meal for pretty much the rest of the trip. You just can’t beat that fresh island taste. Nom nom.

IMG_7402

So. fresh.

IMG_7400

Mahi-mahi sandwich. Drooling again.

Hope you enjoyed the pictures and stay tuned for my Kauai post, coming next!