Gosh, where do I even start? And how do I describe an island as peaceful, relaxing, lush and breathtaking as Kauai? I don’t think I can do it justice.
I’m kind of glad Oahu was the first island we visited, because after being somewhere that was a bit busier, Kauai was such a breath of fresh air. We got there just before the sunset and this was the view from our hotel balcony and it all felt so perfect. I just kept asking myself “is this real life?!” We stayed at the Kauai Marriott and it was beautiful. Not only did it have a giant pool setup but the beach was RIGHT THERE. Plus complimentary Mai Tais!
Our first morning, we grabbed breakfast at the Kalapaki Beach Hut — I totally ate a breakfast sandwich on a hamburger bun and I’m not gonna lie, I didn’t mind it! — then went on a HELICOPTER RIDE. Oh my god. I think we were all pretty nervous. In that first picture, I am probably telling Joey something along the lines of “I think I’ll just have a panic attack mid-flight” and I think my face says it all in that second picture.
BUT! It ended up being epic-ly fun! And not scary! And most of all, STUNNING! I could feel myself getting kind of worked up as I got into the helicopter but I took a breath and decided to just enjoy it and I felt instantly relaxed. Plus I was sitting right next to the pilot and he flew in the army, so I figured I was safe. He was also a Kauai native, so he knew the area so well. It’s incredible to me that so much of Kauai is uninhabited. There’s just so much natural green beauty! You’re not flying over cities and towns and buildings, you’re flying over waterfalls and craters and miles and miles of trees.
Also, get this… I literally took ZERO pictures. I had my phone in my back pocket and kind of didn’t feel like digging around to get it out. Plus they videotape the whole flight and I knew Joey and Lori were both taking plenty of pictures, so I just took the whole thing in with my own two eyes. It was
pretty really nice. Side Note: Our pilot had an epic playlist to go along with our flight! Think the Hawaii Five-0 theme song during take off, the Jurassic Park theme song as we flew over the waterfall they shot for the film and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” when we were above the coastline. Spent the rest of the day lounging on the beach. Perfect day or what?
The next morning, we drove into Kapaa, which is basically the cutest, and grabbed breakfast at Java Kai. It’s a coffee shop/quick breakfast kind of place so my heart was truly happy and a line piled up right after we ordered so I felt we’d made a wise choice. I HAD to order an açai bowl and it was not disappointing! Though I think I loved it most for being a vehicle for granola? And here’s the thing about Kauai… wild roosters everywhere! If you’ve never actually woken up to the “cockadoodledoo” of a rooster, you haven’t really lived.
Post-breakfast, we went on the most incredible hike. I’ve been on some good hikes, but I think this one takes the cake. Our pilot had pointed in out on our helicopter tour and I think we were all immediately sold. Plus it was only two miles long and if you’re doing a vacation hike — aka working out on vacation is not my thang — then two miles is just perfect. When the starting point of your hike is already the most beautiful thing ever, it’s hard to imagine it could get better, but oh IT CAN.
Not gonna mention the part where I was with three people who kept trying to get the score of the Broncos game on their phones during this hike or that I cut my toe and used the scariest spideriest bathroom ever, because that stuff doesn’t even matter when I think back on that view of the ocean. It was almost unbelievably beautiful. Lori said this was her favorite part of the trip and I can see why. These are the types of experiences you remember all your life.
And then you refuel with Mexican food at a little stand on the side of the road. It was possibly because I was starving (we all were!), but best tacos ever? Joey and Adam both got a chile relleno stuffed inside a burrito (what?!) and Joey CLEANED his plate. I think we were all impressed but grossed out but impressed? Either way, if you come across Paco’s Tacos, do not pass it up.
The next morning, Joey and I went on a little beachside stroll — extra pretty in the morning light — before packing up our suitcases, loading the car and heading back to Kapaa for one last meal in Kauai. We noticed Kountry Kitchen had quite the crowd the day before so we figured it had to be good. I ordered lilikoi juice and this small pancake 😛 And by little, I mean bigger than the plate. Sadly, I didn’t make it through the entire thing (which was DELICIOUS) but I did discover coconut syrup and that’s all that really matters.
Spoiler Alert: Kauai was my favorite island of the trip. If you’re thinking of going, GO. If you’re not thinking of going, GO. I think I’ll be dying to go back for the rest of my life.