WYZA® Insider tips: Kauai

This week, WYZA's CEO and founder, Michael Farley, takes us to his favourite travel destination; Kauai. 

This beautiful island is part of the Hawaiian archipelago, the fourth largest island of the America's 50th state. Kauai is nicknamed the 'Garden Isle', and it's not hard to see why, as lush rainforests cover the island. 

Q. Why did you go there?
Robyn and I used to own a condo on Kauai and it blew away in a cyclone some 20 years ago. We decided to return for a three week holiday last August.

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Soak up the traditional Hawaiian culture during your time in Kauai

Q. What is your favourite travel memory in Kauai?
Taking time out every evening to enjoy the sunsets, watch the amazing different sunsets every evening pre dinner over Bali Hi with a glass of wine.

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The stunning sunsets seen at Kauai

Q. Which 'don't miss' experience do you recommend? 
Play the Makai golf course at Princeville, take the chopper ride over the Na Pali Coast, visit the local markets. Visit the great beaches and try a little paddle boarding! Take the boat ride along the Na Pali Coast.

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Be sure to visit the local markets in Kauai

Q. What was your favourite purchase from Kauai?
Go to the markets and find jewellery made from tiny shells, amazing bracelets not sold on the mainland.

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Kauai's beautiful rainbows

Q. What food did you most enjoy there? 
Start the day with an Acai bowl at the fruit van in Hanalei Bay. You will find some excellent French wines in liquor store in Princeville shopping center.

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Enjoy the beautiful fresh produce on offer in Kauai

Q. Did you go on any good walks?
We liked visiting the gardens and walking for miles. The Allerton gardens on the south of the island are really worth a visit.

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Kauai offer places of intriguing antiquity and scenic landscapes

Q. What is your best money-saving tip for travellers?
If you are going to play more than six games of golf on Makai course pre pay you will save 40 per cent. Also, visit the different markets every day and buy your fruit and veggies fresh as it is much cheaper than stores. Stay in a self-contained condo. I recommend Pali Ke Kua.

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WYZA® CEO and Founder Michael Farley in Kauai, Hawaii

Q. What is your best travel advice?
Allow plenty of time for flight check ins and don’t get stressed on the start of your holiday. Travel business class if you can afford it. I have long legs so a must for me.

A guide to Kauai travel
The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook: Kauai Revealed by Andrew Doughty is an excellent resource. Amazon’s website describes the book as “the finest guidebook ever written for Kauai”. I agree. It is available in both paperback and Kindle formats.

Beaches

Hideaways Beach Public access to Hideaways can be found just past Pu’u Poa. The steps are in disrepair so the trail can be quite tricky to navigate.

Hanalei Beach is a spectacularly beautiful setting with three distinct areas. Black Pot Beach, located by the pier, is a hangout for locals. Pine Trees, on the opposite end, has picnic and barbaque facilities. The middle section is where we set up for a day at the beach. Parking is convenient and there are showers close by.

Lumahai Beach is located a couple miles past Hanalei, is where Mitzi Gaynor “washed that man right out of her hair” in the film South Pacific. There are two entrances to the beach, one higher up where you take a short trail down and one at the road level. It is a beautiful setting and never crowded. The Lumahai River flows into the ocean at the west end, and you may see folks swimming in the river. The ocean is rough and lava rock plentiful, so swimming is not advised.

Continuing down the road you will find Haena State Park and Tunnels Beach. There is a great snorkeling reef a ways east (right) down the beach. It is a fairly long trek, especially if you are carrying chairs, an umbrella, a cooler, etc. Haena often has a food truck with fish tacos.

You will find Ke’e Beach at the end of the road. The beach is protected by a reef, so the water is generally calm, though often not particularly clear. There are trees which may provide a little shade - a little relief from the sun.

The Queen’s Bath is a lava rock tide pool, not a beach. It is located just off Punahele Road, where a small parking area is designated. When you get down to the rock field at the base of the trail, go left for 130 metres or so. Weather/surf conditions can make the hike difficult and swimming impossible, so use caution.

We head to Anini Beach at least once a week. The beach is protected by a reef, so children can enjoy playing at the water’s edge. There is often a vendor with paddle boards and surf sails for rent.

Hiking

The Kalalau Trail begins at the end of the road, at Ke’e Beach. While the whole trail is 18 kms and requires camping permits, you may want to go the first 3 kms, as far as Hanakapiai Beach. In the summer months there is a sandy plateau for resting; in the winter the beach has been washed away. If you have the stamina, take a spur up into the valley to Hanakapiai Falls… making the route a total of 13 kms. Bring bottles of water and snacks.

The Wai Koa Loop is a beautiful 8 km path, only recently opened to the public. It passes beneath the towering Norfolk Pines and through an old mahogany plantation. Don’t miss the spur down to the ancient Hawaiian ponds. Parking for this trail is located next to the Miniature Golf and Botanical Garden, which we love.

Activities

The history of the Kilauea Lighthouse is interesting, and the bird sanctuary is amazing. You will likely see many different tropical birds flying and nesting in the area. Guided tours with a naturalist are available by reservation.

If you are interested in authentic slack key guitar music, there is a concert every Friday at 4pm and Sunday at 3pm at the Hanalei Community Center given by Sandy and Doug McMaster. It is a casual, laid-back venue for music and story-telling.

The Limahuli Gardens are located almost to Ke’e at the end of the road. These gardens feature Hawaiian history and species native to the island.

Na Aina Kai grounds feature themed gardens enhanced with bronze sculptures. The two and a half hour walk to the beach is a must.

Restaurants

Bar Acuda, a tapas bar/restaurant in the quaint village of Hanalei, is excellent! I would recommend making a dinner reservation, especially during the busy tourist season.

Lunch and/or dinner at the Mediterranean Gourmet, down the highway toward Tunnels, is at the top of our list. It is located right at the ocean’s edge. In high surf you can feel and taste the ocean spray in the air. Make a reservation and ask for a table by the windows. Plan to arrive before the sun goes down so that you can appreciate the location.

For an evening with a local feel, check out Tahiti Nui in Hanalei. It looks like a dive… a dive that was featured in the movie, The Descendants, with George Clooney. The food is OK… but the local music and atmosphere is worth it.

Have you ever been to Kauai? Share your favourite travel experience below.