Kauai Travel Guide

Aloha! We got so many questions about our recent trip to Kauai, so we wanted to break it all down for you. We could not recommend the island enough! It was absolutely gorgeous – super lush and green. If you’re looking for a laidback island vibe with good food and drinks, then you’ll love Kauai!

For my outfits and what I packed, here’s everything I wore in Kauai!

Where to Stay

The last time we visited Kauai we stayed in the South Shore. This time, we split our trip up and stayed in the South Shore for the first half and the North Shore for the second. Because it can take a while to make your way around the island this worked great and allowed us to experience different areas. 

1 Hotel Hanalei Bay (Princeville – North Shore) – This property just opened in February 2023! Overall, it was incredible and such a special and peaceful place. You can’t beat the views from the pool up above or the restaurant. It also has a pool at ground level with cabanas and easy beach access. 

Koa Kea Resort (Poipu – South Shore) – We loved it here as well! The view was incredible and the courtyard past the pool makes for the perfect place to watch the sunset and sip on some Mai Tais. Speaking of mai tais, the best I ever had was made here! Specifically, at the restaurant on property called Red Salt that we highly recommend. One of our favorite meals of the trip! 

Sheraton Kauai Resort (Poipu – South Shore) – We stayed here back in 2016 and loved it also – prime location! 

Grand Hyatt (Poipu – South Shore) – We’ve never stayed at this resort but have heard it’s amazing! We checked out the grounds and it’s stunning.

Where to Eat

Bar Acuda – Whatever you do, don’t miss coming here during your time in Kauai! Our friends recommended this spot in the North Shore to us and we are so glad we went. It’s a Spanish tapas spot that focuses on fresh, local and seasonal ingredients. I loved the cucumber salad so much that I had to recreate it as soon as we got home. Other dishes we recommend are their Whole Roasted Tomato, Pan Roasted Broccoli, Seared Sea Scallop, Grilled Lamb Riblettes and any dessert they have as a special! Their Dulce de Leche Cheesecake will live rent free in my mind forever along with their Calamansi Tart which was also 10/10.

Red Salt – Aside from having the best mai tai around, this is another spot you shouldn’t miss! The Miso Monchong is a must-order! Other dishes we loved were the Ahi Bruschetta, Filet Mignon, and the Hawaiian Bread Pudding. Whatever you do – don’t leave without trying the bread pudding. The Koloa Rum caramel sauce is out of this world. 

Kiawe Roots – Many locals recommended this spot to us and we loved it! Their cocktails were incredible and we recommend ordering whatever cocktail they are featuring as a special. I had a Lilikoi martini and Andrew got a spicy mango margarita. They’re known for their smoked meats.

Keoki’s Paradise – A great date night spot! We love their macadamia nut crusted mahi mahi so we recreated it here as well as their Hula pie. 

Welina Terrace – The view is unbelievable and their food by former Nobu chef Misao Masuda is just as tasty. Their brussels sprouts, hawaiian kanpachi crudo, and Kushiyaki A5 beef are menu highlights. They also feature sustainable wines, craft cocktails, and a wide variety of sakes & Japanese whiskies. Loved the live music from local artists as well! 

Merriman’s – Chef and owner Peter Merriman was one of the first to focus on farm to table regional cuisine. Their food is delicious and drinks are amazing! I would recommend ordering fish, of course and their famous mai tai with lilikoi foam. There are locations on the big island, Oahu, and Maui as well as Kauai.

Ama – Well known to be some of the best ramen on the North Shore, it also offers some amazing views!

More casual restaurants/food

Kountry Kitchen (get the macadamia pancake!) – Of all the restaurants in Kauai, this is the most nostalgic for me. I grew up coming here with my family during vacations and still dream about their HUGE Macadamia Nut Pancake with Coconut Syrup. It’s insanely delicious. This time we did macadamia nut and banana in our pancakes and it was amazing. Check it out and have a bite for me alongside one of their giant coconut lattes! 

Taco Libre Taco Truck – Great spot that came highly recommended. 

Big Monster Sushi Truck – Quick and delicious poke bowls. Don’t miss it! 

The Fresh Shave (THE BEST!) – Hands down the best shave ice we’ve ever had! They make all of their syrups in house and you can taste the difference. Such unique flavors and not overly sweet. Mine had coconut chia seeds with lime and Andrew opted for the strawberry bananas. A must-try in Koloa town.

Kenji Burger – You may have seen this spot on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. Their burgers are SO good!

The Tasting Room – Great for some bites with wine tasting. GET THE FRENCH ONION SOUP! 

Lava Lava Beach Club – Fun place right on the beach to grab drinks!

Koke’e Lodge Restaurant – This holds a special place in my heart because I grew up going here with my family. We would spend 1-2 nights at their cabins and it lent a completely different perspective of the island. It’s a super casual and unique restaurant between the lookouts at Waimea Canyon and Kalalau.

Porky’s – Another tasty spot from Diners, Drive-ins and Dives! One of the most popular spots in Kauai. My personal favorite is is the pulled pork! 

Gina’s Anykine Grinds – Along with their teriyaki burger, their pumpkin crunch and coconut pies are to die for! 

Da Crack – Tasty grab-and-go Mexican food stand.

Brennecke’s – Fun casual restaurant that has tons of food options for everyone.

Wailua Drive In – Get their crusted mahi mahi – it’s a game changer.

Big Nick’s Burger Truck – Their Hula Girl burger is one of the best teriyaki burgers ever! 

Kilauea Fish Market – You can’t miss this iconic spot while in Kauai! They have a huge variety of snacks, fresh fish, meats, and some vegetarian options. Their ahi tuna wrap is AMAZING! 

Hamura Saimin – This came highly recommended and we wish we had more time to have tried it out! We heard their special saimin and lilikoi chiffon pie were incredible. 

Cafes, Coffee, and Tea

Little Fish Coffee – Love their acai bowls also!

Kalaheo Cafe

Hanalei Bread Company

Java Kai

Midnight Bear Bakery

Kauai Coffee Company – The iced coconut latte has my heart!

What to Do

Drive through the Tree Tunnel on the way to Poipu

Take a catamaran on Capt Andy’s to see the Napali Coast

Bamford Spa – We got a massage here and loved it! The facility is brand new at the 1 Hotel.

Waimea Canyon – Well known to be the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” – don’t forget to stop off and check out the red dirt along the way!

Kalalau Lookout – This one is a bit tricky because you never know what the weather will be like when you get to the lookout. The last three times we’ve been, two of them have been too foggy to see the view. On a good day, it’s one of the most incredible views.

Pu’u O Kila Lookout – This is another one nearby the Kalalau lookout. It has a bit of a different vantage point but just as amazing.

Rum Safari Tour at Koloa Rum Co. – We tried their rum tasting and loved it! We also heard that their rum safari is even better.

Hanalei Valley Lookout

Snorkel (favorite beaches below) – Going to the beach and snorkeling has always been my favorite thing to do in Kauai! Don’t be surprised if you see sea turtles!

Hike (favorite hikes below) – I can’t think of a better place to hike. There are countless trails and they all have the most beautiful views. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, try hiking the entire Kalalau trail!

Helicopter Tour of the Island – We’ve never done this but have heard it’s amazing.

Spouting Horn – You don’t need much time here but it’s pretty cool to see quickly.

Kayak Wailua River – So beautiful and peaceful.

Check out Maniniholo Dry Cave (near Tunnels Beach)

Warehouse 3540 – Cute spot for shopping, eating, and a little drinking.


Here’s a list of our favorite beaches. You really can’t go wrong anywhere in Kauai but we find these to be the best!

Hideaways Beach – My favorite beach in the world! 

Anini Beach – A great spot that’s pretty private and known for sea turtle sightings! We definitely recommend driving past the main parking lot until the road ends, otherwise there will be a lot more people near you.

Ke’e Beach – One of the most scenic beaches around! You will need a Haena State Park Permit, Ke’e Parking Pass and/or Shuttle Reservations to enter the park but it’s well worth it! 

Secret Beach 

Tunnels Beach – Such a beautiful beach with a backdrop of Mount Makana. Great spot for snorkeling! 

Puu Poa Beach – This is next to the 1 Hotel. It’s great for snorkeling and has an amazing coastline view.

Shipwreck Beach – We heard this is a great place for surfing if you’re into that!

Kiahuna Beach – It’s right next to the Sheraton hotel and one of our favorite beaches in Poipu.

Poipu Beach – Usually a pretty busy beach but still pretty.

Hanakapiai Beach – Like Ke’e beach, you’ll need a permit to go to this one. You’ll also need to hike 4 miles round trip!

Hanalei Beach


Kalalau Trail – This is our favorite hike and we highly recommend it while you’re in Kauai. The entire hike is 22 miles roundtrip but if that sounds a bit crazy, hiking the trail to Hanakapiai Beach is well worth it (and only 4 miles).

Kalepa Ridge

Sleeping Giant

Wailua Falls

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