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Kauai FAQs

Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with any company listed. The information is provided as a convenience without guarantees, assurances, warranties or representations, implied or otherwise. I do my best to keep up with changes but please let me know if any information is incorrect or if you’ve had a bad experience.

Orchid by T

ACTIVITIES: Where to begin! There’s so much to see and do here on your own starting from your front door. More on that farther down the page but contact Susie if you are interested in connecting with a fun and knowledgeable activity specialist.

BOTANICAL GARDENS: Our favorite is Allerton Garden. We also like the grounds around the old Plantation Gardens Restaurant where they have a nice collection of orchids. There is also a small cactus garden in the back that was started by the plantation manager who lived there years ago. The grounds are free and open any time.

BABIES and KIDS: Aikane Kauai is an excellent choice for a family vacation. Our home is one of the closest to Poipu Beach Park with a protected lagoon and playground equipment over a spongy surface. There is a baby gate for the stairs at the house and a wagon. Write or call if there is anything you need that’s not mentioned. You can also check with Kauai Baby Rentals

CAR or 4WD?: A car is essential to explore. You really don’t need a 4WD unless you want to get to Polihale in the winter or some of the back roads. The places most likely to get stuck don’t have cell service. There are several taxi companies and ride sharing services on island. Once you’re at the house there are 3 beaches, a restaurant, a deli and a surf shop within five minute walks. A public bus stop is about a third of a mile from the house.

CAR RENTALS: The best deals I’ve heard for Kauai rentals are Rentacarkauai, Discounthawaiicarrental and Costco Travel. Turo has become popular over the past couple years.

DINING: The Beach House is our current favorite for food and views. Reservations well in advance are required, especially for sunset. La Spezia in Koloa is also quite good. We’ve also enjoyed The Table in Kukui’ula.

For a date night, we like Red Salt at Koa Kea. It’s an easy walk along the coast from the house. We usually go just before sunset and order drinks and dinner at the pool bar. 

For family dinners, Kalapaki Joe’s is close and casual. They also have a good happy hour. There’s also Paco’s at the Kiahuna Golf Club. One of our favorites though is picking up food from Da Crack and going to Poipu Beach with beach chairs for sunset. Koloa Fish Market is the go-to for lunch take out. Some of the best food on Kauai can be found at food trucks. Some of our favorites are Craving Thai in Koloa and Shaka Burger often across from Costco gas station. There are several new restaurants in the Poipu/Koloa area to add once we try them.

DRIVING: Here are a few driving tips, customs and local laws.
1. Seat belts are mandatory and hand held cell phone use is not allowed while driving.
2. Traffic: I try to avoid driving between Poipu and Lihue or Kapaa between 7am to 8:30am and 3:30pm to 5pm or allow for an extra 15 to 25 minutes. When coming back to Poipu from the north shore, try the Kapaa Bypass road. It’s scenic and usually avoids the traffic. Driving north through Kapaa is usually smooth but southbound is often stop-n-go.
3. Beware of cars making random U-Turns, sudden stops, half-way pullovers. Scenery, people, animals and sights are often distracting.
4. One-lane bridges are found all over the island. Common practice is to let 5 to 7 cars go at a time or clear the line. Then alternate.
5. General courtesies like letting cars merge in is appreciated and usually received with a smile and a “shaka”. Honking is almost always considered rude.
6. Basic directions: “Makai” (towards the ocean) and “mauka” (towards the mountain). Very useful on an island.
Roads here can be blocked for hours and often no way around. It is also possible for the Hanalei Bridge to close for flooding. The Kauai Traffic Alerts Facebook group and Google Maps are very helpful.

DOCTORS / EMERGENCY:
House calls: Poipu Mobile MD.
Closest Medical Clinic: 5371 Koloa Road, Koloa. Phone: 808.742.1621. Walk-ins accepted. Call first.
Urgent Care: 2829 Ala Kalanikaumaka Rd, Unit B-201, Koloa. Phone: 808.742.0999
Main hospital/ER: Wilcox Memorial Hospital, 3-3420 Kuhio Hwy, Lihue. Phone: (808) 245-1100
Emergency Room – Phone: (808)245-1010

EARLY ARRIVALS AND LATE CHECK OUTS: An early check-in may be fine. It depends on condition after last departure and whether additional maintenance is required or scheduled. Feel free to msg me to check on progress if arriving before 4pm. Or even better, stop in at Duke’s Barefoot Bar on Kalapaki Beach. Free and valet parking at the Royal Sonesta, formerly Marriott.

You are welcome to a later check out if there is no one arriving or no scheduled maintenance the day of your departure. Best to phone me a few days before departure to check. Guests leaving on a red-eye flight will often include the night of departure in their reservation to have it guaranteed allowing a full day of fun, a leisurely dinner and time for showers before flying out. Here are some ideas if you have a regular check out and a late flight out:

  1. Save some of the longer drives like up to the Waimea Canyon and Kokee Park for your last day. The Kokee Lodge serves lunch and there are some nice walks or just relax in the cool meadow across from the lodge. The other long drive is to Hanalei and Haena. We like KP Lihue and Dukes for dinner before flying out. KP is a small place in Lihue with tasty food and good service.

2. Resorts and clubs occasionally offer day passes like the Royal Sonesta minutes from the airport and the Grand Hyatt in Poipu. The Poipu Beach Athletic Club has offered day passes in the past. There’s also the YMCA in Lihue.

3. Other suggestions are visits to Allerton and McBryde Botanical Gardens, The Kauai Museum, Grove Farm Homestead Tour, and Kauai Coffee.

FISHING: Last I checked, salt water fishing does not require a license but one is needed for freshwater (trout, bass). For deep sea fishing try http://www.kaibear.com/

FRESH FISH: All grocery stores on Kauai sell fresh locally caught fish but will vary depending on weather and luck. Koloa Fish Market usually has local caught fish (and delicious lunches).

KAYAKS: There are several companies that rent single and double kayaks for Wailua River. Not recommended on windy days.

Early morning Ke’e Beach

KE’E BEACH / HAENA BEACH PARK / KALALAU TRAIL: Planning ahead is required to visit this area. Park entry and shuttle or parking reservations are required and may only be purchased on line. They often sell out and there is no cell reception there. The last spot for reception with most carriers is Hanalei. No other beach on the island requires reservations. The only hiking permit required on Kauai is for Kalalau if going beyond Hanakapi’ai Valley. Reserve both a morning and afternoon parking permit if planning on hiking to Hanakai’ai beach or falls. Details at https://www.gohaena.com/

LUAU: Smith’s and Kilohana are about 35 and 20 minutes from the house, respectively, are very good. Be sure to sit in the front row for a chance at an impromptu hula lesson on stage 😉

Connector trail to Awa’awapuhi

MUST SEE/DO: Some of my favorite things to do on Kauai;
1. Coastal walk from Shipwrecks (Hyatt) heading east along the bluffs continuing for about 3.5 miles. There are several beaches along the way. This is also a good place for whale watching too. You can start from Aikane by walking down to the ocean then left on Pe’e Road for about a quarter mile. Look for a small parking lot and trail between Embassy Suites and Makahuena Condos. This is the start of a coastal path which runs in front of the Hyatt then to Shipwreck Beach.
2. There is generally good snorkeling in the protected bay between Poipu Beach Park and the Marriott, a 5 to 10 minute walk. There is also another protected bay about a mile west toward Spouting Horn adjacent to the Beach House Restaurant. Better at lower tides.
3. Check out the orchid and cactus gardens on the grounds surrounding the Plantation Gardens Restaurant.
4. Waimea Canyon is also excellent. You can see much just from the road. Favorite hikes are Waipo’o Falls and Awa’awapuhi.
5. The Na Pali coast is spectacular! 3 ways to enjoy; a. Drive north to the end of the road and park at Ke’e Beach and take the 2 mile hike to Hanakapi’ai Beach from there. Be sure to get a reservation first. A very nice taste of this slippery trail is in the first half mile which takes you to a point where you can look down almost the entire Na Pali coastline. b. View from the Kalalau lookout at Kokee State Park. There are 2 lookouts. There is a nice trail from the second lookout along the ridge. We also really enjoy continuing along this trail (Pihea) to the Alakai Swamp Trail. The views are spectacular if not too cloudy. We’ve been out there many times when it looks completely socked in but over the course of eating lunch and resting the view often opens up. c. My favorite way to see Na Pali is by boat. We’ve been out with both Na Pali Experience and Captain Andy’s.
6. For zip lines, check out Outfitters Kauai. I’ve been on the hike/zip line tour with my kids. Really fun!

PLACES TO AVOID:
1. Queen’s Bath in Princeville (injuries, rogue waves, parking)
2. Kipu Falls (injuries, now officially closed)
3. Use extreme caution at Hanakapi’ai, Lumahai and Polihale Beaches. These beaches are known for the strongest currents. ALL beaches on Kauai can be safe and ALL can be dangerous. It’s not always obvious. Sometimes the biggest waves have intervals of 30 minutes or more between sets.
4. Air tours. As your host, life long Kauai resident and avid hiker, I highly recommend exploring Kauai by car, easy short walks, longer hikes and by boat, ways that are fun, immersive, tactile and not as disruptive for everyone else. More info here.

Poipu Bay Course from the Mahaulepu coastal trail

GOLF COURSES ON KAUAI: Poipu Bay and the Kiahuna Courses are within a half mile from the house. You’ll find a greater mix of residents and visitors the Kukuiolono Golf Course and Wailua Municipal Golf Course. Kukuiolono is a 9 hole course about 20 minutes from the house. Wailua is about 35 minutes away and is located along the coast. Check out the Kauai Golf Course Guide for more info.

GROCERIES: Leaving Lihue Airport, Kukui Grove Shopping Center is on your left about a quarter mile out of Lihue on your way to Poipu. This where you’ll find Safeway (open 24/7) and CostCo. There are two grocery stores in Koloa (2 miles from the house). Big Save is across from Koloa Post Office and is like a small Safeway. Sueoka’s (ABC) is where Highway 520 meets Koloa. Kukui’ula Store is in a small strip center on Poipu Road about half way between Koloa and Poipu. Living Foods is in the nearby Kukui’ula Shopping Center. Brennecke’s has a mini sundries store located across from Poipu Beach Park about 3 blocks from the house. Kiis is a grocery shopping service on Kauai. If used, please be sure deliveries are scheduled for after 4pm on your arrival day.

HEALTH FOOD STORES: Living Foods in Poipu, Vim ‘N Vigor in Lihue and Papayas Natural Foods in Kapaa.

CJM morning ride


HORSEBACK RIDING: CJM Country Stables is closest to the house and offers coastal rides.
Princeville Ranch is an hour away. They also offer zip line and other adventures.

FARMERS MARKETS: Farmers Markets are held outdoors around the island. Best to get there early.

DayMarketTimeLocation
MondayKoloaNoonKoloa Ball Park.
TuesdayKalaheo3pmKalaheo Neighborhood Center.
WednesdayPoipu3pmKukuiula Shopping Center
ThursdayHanapepe3pmHanapepe Community Center.
FridayLihue3pmVidinha Stadium.
SaturdayPuhi9:30amPuhi Community Park

HIKING ON KAUAI: One of the nice things about staying in Poipu is that it’s about an hour and a half to get to the end of the road at Ke’e Beach on the north shore and a little less in the opposite direction to go to the end of the road at Kalalau lookout. Extra vigilance is required on Kauai trails due to rapid erosion, undermining and loose volcanic soils and rocks. We stay well back from the edge.

Maha’ulepu coastal walk is one of my favorites and is also the closest. It can be started right from the house. Walk out the front door to the ocean and turn left. Walk along Pe’e Road as it winds up the crater then cut through the parking lot at the Embassy Suites then along public paths to the beach fronting the Hyatt then up the limestone trail continuing along the coast.

We often start from the Shipwrecks Beach parking lot heading east – a few minute drive. There are a number of trails that roughly parallel the coast. The total length is about 3.5 miles each way. Better for late afternoons or early mornings. Bring water. Also good for whale watching November-March.

The Kalalau trailhead at Ke’e Beach Park is the most weather dependent and is the only one requiring reservations. It is often sold out so if interested, book as far in advance as possible. Entry info at www.gohaena.com. For those not interested in the full distance, it’s worth going the first half mile to catch the view down the coast and Ke’e Beach overlook. Hanakapi’ai Valley is 2 miles in. The beach and stream can get extremely treacherous. My fav is going the additional 2 miles to the falls. No other waterfall hike on Kauai comes close. Be aware of possible falling rocks and flooding. Bring water and/or filter.

Near the Kuilau Ridge Trail.

Kokee and Waimea Canyon Parks have the most trails and the Lodge serves delicious food and specialty coffees. My favorites are Awa’awapuhi, Nualolo, Waipo’o Falls, Pihea and Alakai Swamp. Watertank/Berry Flats is a pleasant, mostly level easily accessible trail mostly under a tree canopy. Only forest views. I avoid the Kukui Trail – long steep switchbacks on the hottest trail.

I also really like the Nonou Trail (Sleeping Giant) and Kuilau Ridge Trail on the east side (25-45 minutes away).

PRIVATE CHEF: We’ve enjoyed delicious food at events catered by Chef Thomas Ryan, at Custom Catering Hawaii. 808-332-9856

RAIN IN THE FORECAST: Checking weather ahead of arrival is always a good idea but it is amazing how many forecasted rain days turn out to be sunny and beautiful! Forecasts are revised often. Also keep in mind that the weather station is at the Lihue airport which is not as dry as Poipu. The north shore tends to be quite rainy at times.

Rain here is typically passing showers. When we do get a rainy spell, Salt Pond Beach Park is typically drier. It will be best during the week. Occasionally we’ll get Kona winds when the wind comes out of the south. The east and northeast beaches typically have better weather under those conditions. Lydgate is a good choice.

SCENIC OVERLOOKS: Kauai has great scenic vantage points that don’t require any or just minimal walking. The closest is Spouting Horn in Poipu. There are several official lookouts on the way up to Waimea Canyon that require various degrees of walking. There are several more where you can just pull the car off the road. You’ll see them clearly as you drive up. The Kalalau Valley lookout is one of my favorites. This one requires about a 300 yard walk. Also check out Wailua and Opaekaa Falls and the Hanalei Valley lookout in Princeville.

SCUBA DIVING: There is good scuba diving around Kauai, especially the reefs off Poipu. Poipu is also one of the best snorkeling areas year round. There are several dive shops in Poipu and Koloa.

SNORKELING: Generally, the best snorkel beach is right around the corner from the house between Poipu Beach Park and the Marriott. It’s about a five minute walk along the coast and across the beach park. Another fun place is just adjacent to the Beach House Restaurant.

SUP/Standup Paddle Boarding: Kalapaki Bay is the most popular place to go. Boards can be rented there.

SURFING: Try Kauai Surf School. Book on their website. Here’s a link for surf forecasting. For board rentals, try Nukumoi Surf Shop. There are about a dozen surf breaks on the south side. The closest to Aikane is Waiohai (in front of the Marriott Hotel). It is a right and left hander generally on the softer intermediate side. It is one of the most consistent spots on the island. There are a few other spots a mile west of the house. All depend on wind, tide and swell for best conditions.

TENNIS COURTS: We like to play tennis at Koloa Park where you’ll find 2 lighted courts. The courts are located on Maluhia Road (tree tunnel road), just outside of Koloa, heading east toward Lihue. They’ll be on your right.

TSUNAMI: Aikane Kauai is by the beach and on the edge of the tsunami zone according to the civil defense map. Our personal residence is 3 miles from the coast and we would gladly open our home to our guests if ever needed. Hawaii Civil Defense conducts siren testing on the first working day of each month at 11:45am.

WEATHER: The weather is generally sunny in Poipu year-round. Here are the averages. Temperatures mostly range from high 60’s at night to low 80’s during the day. Island weather forecasts are based at the Lihue airport. Poipu is typically drier than Lihue. Forecasted rain usually just means passing showers.

Availability Calendar

Contact the owner for additional info.
Chris 808-639-4127 or kauaivp@live.com