The Garden Isle
Stay, play and dine in beautiful Kauai, Hawaii’s Island of Discovery. – By Micaela Myers
Known as the Garden Isle or Hawaii’s Island of Discovery, the lush island of Kauai features 50 miles of beaches, mountains, rainforests, rivers and waterfalls. With the majority of the island inaccessible to cars, Kauai indeed invites visitors to discover its beauty via boats and kayaks, horseback rides, hikes, helicopters and more. Those looking for a tropical resort vacation or an active outdoor adventure will certainly find what they’re looking for and more in Kauai.
The St. Regis Princeville Resort is ideally located overlooking picturesque Hanalei Bay (stregisprinceville.com). Known for its bespoke service to guests, the resort also offers ocean-view pools, suites complete with signature butler service, the full service Halele’a Spa, on-property entertainment and ocean activities, such as paddleboarding, canoes, snorkeling and more.
Families on a budget may opt for the Kauai Marriot Resort in Lihue on Kalapaki Beach (marriott.com). The hotel offers free shuttle service to and from the nearby airport and recently underwent a $50 million upgrade. Rooms start at under $300, and the extensive pools and ocean access make the property a natural playground for children.
For many, the islands are a yearly vacation spot. The Kukui’ula property on Kauai is a second home resort community offering lots, custom homes and club cottages for sale (kukuiula.com). The 1,000-acre property features an organic farm, spa, 18-hole Tom Weiskopf-designed golf course, beach club, restaurants, shops and more. Starting this November, Kukui’ula will also offer two-bedroom cottages for daily and weekly rental.
Kauai offers all levels of adventure. For spa treatments and water activities, you wouldn’t even need to leave your hotel. But for those looking for outdoor activities beyond the resort grounds, the options are endless.
Golf lovers can take the whole family for a round at Kauai Mini Golf & Botanical Gardens (kauaiminigolf.com), featuring an 18-hole putting green style course in a lush garden. Or, opt for the real deal at the recently renovated oceanfront courses in Princeville: Makai Golf Club (makaigolf.com) and the Robert Trent Jones Jr. Prince Golf Course (princeville.com).
This may be the garden island, but most of the vegetation you see isn’t native. Working to change all that is the Limahuli Garden and Preserve on the North Shore (ntbg.org/gardens/limahuli.php). Visitors can tour the garden for a small donation, and the preserve part of the organization is working to nurture native species. Continue on to Ke’e Beach, literally the end of the road on the North Shore, and hike the famous Kalalau Trail.
To see parts of the island you can’t see any other way, and get a bird’s-eye view of the canyons, waterfalls and coasts, bring your camera on a Sunshine Helicopter tour (sunshinehelicopters.com). Explore the island by boat and see crystal-clear waters framed by dramatic and picturesque cliffs on the Holo-Holo Charters Napali Coast tour (holoholokauaiboattours.com). Kayak, zip line, ride horses, swim and hike with Princeville Ranch Adventures (princevilleranch.com), or join Kipu Ranch Adventures tour guides on board top-of-the-line ATVs to explore the ranch’s famous movie locations or swim at the base of a private waterfall (kiputours.com).
Whatever your plans, make sure to visit Waimea Canyon on the west side of the island. Known as “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” Waimea stretches 14 miles at a mile wide and 3,600 feet deep. Lookouts provide views of the canyon’s crested buttes, rugged crags and deep valley, or hit the trails for a hike in and around the canyon.
Enjoy views of Hanalei Bay and Bali Hai at the Kauai home of Michelin-awarded chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Kauai Grill at The St. Regis Princeville Resort features some of Jean-Georges’ celebrated dishes with the highest quality of meats and freshest local fish available (kauaigrill.com). Or, dine on the impressive balcony with amazing views at the resort’s Makana Terrace, which blends Asian cuisine with fresh local produce (stregisprinceville.com).
Those looking for delicious, casual fare in Hanalei should keep their eye out for the Kauai Ono food tuck. Check the wide board for the day’s specials and you won’t be disappointed.
Common Ground’s 60 acres mean organic garden tours and fresh fair at The Garden Cafe, a field-to-table restaurant offering breakfast and lunch Tuesday through Friday and a weekend brunch (cgkauai.net).
For tapas and wine, head to Bar Acuda. With cuisine inspired by chef and owner Jim Moffat’s travels to southern France, Italy, Spain and Portugal, the restaurant’s provincial-style menu features tasty dishes for sharing with a wine list of 50 handpicked, estate-bottled wines emphasizing Rhone-style grape varietals.
Wherever your trip to Kauai takes you, the island is sure to relax and inspire with its lush valleys, dramatic mountains, rushing waterfalls and clear waters, combined with tasteful resorts, unending adventure and fresh cuisine to match. LBM