Kauai, the fourth largest of the Hawaiian islands, is fondly known as the Garden Isle. Travel beyond its pristine, sandy shoreline and it’s easy to see why. Embellished by emerald mountains and cascading waterfalls, Kauai’s vast, wild acreage evokes the timelessness of the Polynesian jungle. If you’re looking for an escape where the wifi is weak and the crowds are nearly nonexistent, Kauai is your ultimate destination.
Home of one of the wettest spots on earth, Kauai is an enchanting Eden unspoiled by development. As such, only 20 percent on the island can be explored by foot. The rest can be seen from a birds-eye view on a tour with Safari Helicopters. From the fluted ridges of the Na Pali Coast to the dusty red bowl of Waimea Canyon, Kauai’s geography is spectacularly diverse, carved over 5.1 million years by volcanic activity and wind and sea erosion. Located just minutes from Lihue Airport, Safari Helicopters is equipped with a top-of-the-line helicopter fleet and experienced pilots eager to acquaint you with Kauai’s marvelous topography.
Now that you’ve got the lay of the land, it’s time to dip into the warm, aquamarine sea. Blue Dolphin Charters offers a variety of tours, from exhilarating rafting expeditions to romantic sunset cruises. Dolphin sightings are guaranteed on the company’s most popular tour. The journey begins aboard a luxurious catamaran with breakfast on the water and then, when the vessel reaches the undeveloped Napali Coast, it’s time to dive in and swim alongside brilliantly colored tropical fish and turtles. On the trip back to the harbor, enjoy unlimited beer, wine and cocktails with a delicious buffet lunch.
It’s hard to make sense of Kauai’s beauty without getting to know its culture. At the Kauai Museum, you’ll develop a deeper, more nuanced understanding of the island’s indigenous and immigrant heritage. Through robust archives, a series of ever-changing exhibits and events, the Lihue museum perpetuates the stories of the island’s people — both the Polynesian voyagers who traveled the Pacific on sailing canoes in search of new islands and the ethnically diverse immigrants who came to Hawaii to work on its world-famous sugar and pineapple plantations. You can learn to string a flower lei, practice the ancient art of coconut weaving, enjoy live Hawaiian music and meet some of the island’s modern cultural leaders.
When you’re tuckered out from all that exploring, there’s no better place to rest your head than the St. Regis Princeville Resort. With a worldclass view of Hanalei Bay and the emerald mountains that skirt the shore, you’ll find little reason to leave the grounds of this posh and secluded North Shore hotel. In addition to elegant rooms and stunning views, you’ll enjoy top rated restaurants, premier boutique shopping, spa treatments, ocean activities and a large oceanfront pool. At the St. Regis, you’re guaranteed to wake up feeling like royalty.
Fuel up for a new day of adventure with a sunrise drive to Kauai Coffee, a gorgeous seed-to-cup coffee estate offering walking tours, roasting demonstrations, club memberships and tastings in Kalaheo. Kauai Coffee is Hawaii’s largest coffee grower, with more than 4 million coffee trees grown and sustainably harvested on 3,100 acres in Kalaheo. Be sure to stop in the gift shop and spend some time relaxing on the veranda with a fresh-made cup of joe. Our recommendation? The Kauai Blue Mountain: A unique, well-balanced dark roast with a malty flavor and fruity notes. It’s the ultimate expression of island coffee.
At the Shops at Kukuiula, you’ll experience the very best of modern island flavors and design. Plantation-style architecture compliments the shopping center’s tasteful offering of shops, boutiques, contemporary art galleries and award-winning restaurants. Located in sunny Poipu, the center’s popular Wednesday farmers market part of an exciting menu of culinary events and musical entertainment. If you’re looking to step out on the town, Kukuiula is the place to do it.
In the Hawaiian language, “holo holo” means to go for a leisurely ride. A Holo Holo Charters boat tour offers a dynamic and picturesque opportunity to do just that. Depending on the tour you choose, you’ll venture to the Napali coast or the forbidden island of Niihau. Along the way, you’ll snorkel with the plentiful ocean life, explore ancient lava tubes, venture into sea caves or watch an orange sun paint the sky as it sinks into the blue sea. Whether you’re seeking a wild adventure or a relaxing sail, Holo Holo has got you covered.
Replenish for a night of activity with a check-in at the luxury oceanfront Hokuala Kauai resort, where guests gain access to a playground of stunning beaches, pools, tennis courts, a spa and fitness center and a sublime Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course. Complete with cultural discovery activities and an on-site restaurant that prizes locally sourced ingredients, the 450-acre property offers endless shoreline trails and inland lagoons skirted by spectacular foliage.
No trip to Kauai is complete without a a traditional Hawaiian luau. Hosted by the Smith family of Kauai's Wailua River Valley, Smith’s Garden Luau offers a memorable night that includes a pig roast, ukulele music and hula. The evening begins with a stroll of the 30-acre garden grounds and a chance to witness the cooking of a kalua pig in an earthen imu oven. In addition to kalua pork, the buffet-style menu features local favorites, such as beef teriyaki, chicken adobo and fresh-caught mahi mahi. After the feast, grab yourself a Mai Tai and enjoy the show!
Destination: Kauai is a special advertising section in the July/August 2018 print issue of HAWAII Magazine.