Kauai: Top Attractions
|Patchwork Dreams: Off the radar, into paradise in Kauai (Comstock)|
The Drive From Hanalei to Kee Beach
In Hawaii there are roadsstretches of asphalt that link points A and B. And then there are roads that are a vacation destination in their own right. Such is the case with the little road from Hanalei to Kee Beachdotted with one spectacular beach after another, quaint one-lane bridges, and bends that invite you to pull over and view the serene landscape. Even better, at both ends await two of Hawaii's best beaches. Although the drive is free, it represents the height of luxury: Money cannot buy everything, but renting a convertible is a worthy investment.
Additional Info: 800.262.1400, www.kauai-hawaii.com/
Hyatt Regency Kauai Resort and Spa
On the sunny southern coast, this sprawling water playground consistently gets rave reviews. Reminiscent of 1920s Hawaii, the low-slung building has a great open-air feel, with spacious guestrooms and lanais. The Hyatt boasts one of Kauai's top-rated dining destinationsthe ultra-romantic Dondero's with tables surrounded by marble or perched on the water. Golfers delight in the island's top-rated, hotel-adjacent Poipu Bay Golf Course.
Princeville Resort Kauai
The tone at the North Shore's top-rung resort is set in the grand lobby, overflowing with chandeliers, marble, and that view, the one you've seen framing the most dramatic panorama in all the islandscurvaceous Hanalei Bay and the jagged Na Pali coastline. The hotel is built into the edge of the cliff, so all the rooms enjoy the same view as the lobby, and work their way down to the pool level, which also naturally benefits from that same staggering view. Golfers must make the long trip from the mainland to play Princeville Golf Club.
One of the best spas in the state, ANARA offers oil therapies for detoxification or revitalization; pohaku, Thai, and a dozen other massages; and specialized treatments like Kauai coffee brush or Hawaiian salt glow scrubs. Tough choices, but if these are your biggest problems . And don't leave without a year's supply of ANARA's cocoa mango lotion. It soothes your skin and your soul.
The Beach House
This fabulous, independent waterfront restaurant could simply allow its location establish its reputation, the flanks of palm tree, and warm, gentle breezes that blow through its over-sized sliding doors. Instead, they add to the ambiance with innovative Pacific Rim cuisine, like wasabi-encrusted snapper with lilikoi lemongrass buerre blanc and kiawe grilled meats and fish. Be sure to arrive before the sun sets, and bring sunglasses.
The Beach House: 808.742.1424, www.the-beach-house.com
From powerboats to catamarans, Holoholo offers great tours of the dramatic Na Pali coastline to suit all speeds. From five- to seven-hours longdepending on whether you cruise over to the "forbidden" island of Niihautours provide lunch, snorkeling, and probably some dolphin pod-sightings. For the ultimate in luxury, live big and charter the entire boat for your own tour. But know that afternoon sunset tours offer better photo ops, and smaller boats let you get closer to the shoreline.
Holoholo Charters: 808.335.0815, www.holoholocharters.com
Enjoy a touch of southern Italy in Hawaii at this famed and fabulous fine-dining restaurant in the Princeville Resort. Don your finest and settle in before the sun sets for a meal to remember. From trompe l'oeil to terracotta, the stage is set for rarified risottos, perfect polenta, and grilled local fish.
La Cascata: 808.826.9644, www.princeville.com/stay/pvdining.html
There's one-of-a-kind, then there's Pure Kauai one-of-a-kind. They'll customize a Kauai trip for you like no one else. They've ferreted out the best private everything, including the best personal trainers (who make house calls), the best private chefs, and the best guided hikes, and other activities. Choose their seven- or ten-day deluxe packages or create your own.
Pure Kauai: 808.826.9801, www.purekauai.com
Helicopter Rides Over the Na Pali Coast and Waimea Canyon
Since a whopping 80 percent of Kauai is otherwise off-limits to visitors, the only way to truly appreciate the island's majesty and mystery is from a whirly bird. Drink in the Hanapepe Falls where Jurassic Park was filmed; shudder over the sheer walls of mountains lining the Na Pali coastline; swoon over tiny spits of private sandy beaches; swoop over colorful Waimea Canyon (the Grand Canyon of Kauai); and hover in awe over the wettest spot on earth, Mount Waialeale Crater. Go home happy.
Island Helicopters: 808.245.8588, www.islandhelicopters.com
National Tropical Botanical Gardens
These diverse and lush botanical gardens include the McBryde Gardenhome to Queen Emma and her stunning formal gardens in the late 19th centuryand the Allerton Gardens, the world's largest assemblage of rare plants. Not to be missed by horticulturalists or backyard gardeners, they contains over 200 palm species, striking bamboo stands, and lush water features. Make a reservation for the tours, which are quite informative.
National Tropical Botanical Gardens: 808.742.2623, www.ntbg.org
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
Best Hotels in Kauai
Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa
Koa Kea Hotel and Resort
Waipouli Beach Resorts & Spa Kauai by Outrigger
The Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas