Lifestyle blogger, photographer, mother to my son Boden and frenchie Smalls, wife to my hubs Trevor. I built this space in an attempt to inspire you to find your edit and empower you to create the life you desire. Through digital content and honest storytelling, I hope to guide you along the way. Because everyone has an edit, and I'm here to help you find yours.
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Kauai… your beauty is unreal. As a first time visitor, I wasn’t sure what to expect other than lush scenery and dinosaurs here and there (at least from what Trevor had told me from his time there as a little kid ????).
It is the second island of Hawaii I’ve explored next to Oahu — and it certainly was my favorite thus far. If anyone is planning an upcoming Hawaiian vacay — this post is for you. The garden isle is most definitely one to consider for your next visit!
Hawaii ended up being the perfect location — being so close to us on the west coast and offering so many options for relaxing and adventuring. The debate fell between Kauai and Maui and we ended up choosing Kauai, which was oh so dreamy.
Let’s face it — the winter months can get real hard. So much that Trevor and I have learned over the years that booking a warm weather vacation is a definite must. Since we had our recent “baby-making trip” to Greece in October, we decided to pick a place closer to home for our “babymoon trip” — one that fell within the safe zika-free areas to travel. Eight days spent in pure sunshine with all the good vibes. Both mama and daddy-to-be were in their element.
Sharing below a guide comprised of our favorite places across where to stay, eat, drink, play, hike, shop and relax. Major thanks to everyone who passed along their from previous travels — it made for one great itinerary!
When choosing where to stay on the island of Kauai, be sure to keep in mind the time of year, the weather and the types of activities you want to take part in. Here’s a great breakdown of all the four shores and what they have to offer + insight on the weather. We were debating between the north and south part of the island and eventually landed on the south as it was showing more consistent sunshine during the time we visited — late February to early March — and offered some excellent options with accommodations.
Located in Koloa on Kauai’s sunny south shore, The Grand Hyatt offers incredible ocean views, a very welcoming staff, great restaurants and bars, the most luxurious spa and a championship golf course. We loved the location of this resort — sitting on the white sands in Poipu. Every morning, we were able to get up to catch sunrise either on the beach or hiking to the right and the left of the property. In addition, we were able to explore the vibrant towns of Lihui, Kalaheo and Waimea via rental car (#ProTip: rent a convertible or droptop Jeep for cruising — so great to take in the scenery fully). We had a balcony that looked out onto the ocean that was enough to fuel your soul each day. The staff welcomed us with the sweetest gift package of Martinelli’s, a “Baby’s First Words in Hawaiian” and their gorgeous leis upon arrival.
If you’re looking to stay in a resort on the north part of the island near many other things to do, we were recommended this resort which used to be the St. Regis prior to the rebrand. You’ll be near the Hanalei, Kilauea and the beautiful Napali Coast.
And if resorts aren’t your thang — we love toggling on vacation — definitely check out the amazing properties around the island ranging from condos to waterfront villas and more. The island is totally drivable and you’ll be able to explore all the areas you’d like no matter which region you end up staying in.
Chef Roy Yamaguchi pays homage to Hawaii’s cultural heritage with his tasty plantation menu and vibrant space located in the The Shops at Kukui’ula. They’ll start you off with some edamame while you decide on your picks. I highly recommend starting with the potstickers and crispy fried cauliflower and brussels then tasting the spicy ramen bowl and ribeye steak.
Another great dinner choice located in The Shops at Kukui’ula — Merriman’s offers an elegant, yet casual setting with views and one amazing farm to table selection of food. Love that they serve only the freshest products with almost all locally grown or caught using sustainable methods.
This place was AHmazing. It was a “must-visit” recommendation from many of my followers and I am oh so glad we got to experience it during our stay. It’s situated right on the ocean where you can and should arrive early before sunset to get a seat on the outdoor lawn, sip a beverage or two and then watch the gorgeous orange and red sky develop as the evening comes. Parakeets flock to the palm trees on the property making for one unique experience — and once you head inside for dinner, be prepared for the visit to heighten even more. Everything that we ordered was top notch! I ordered my very first seafood linguine and could not stop raving about it during and after. Trust me, this place is a must!
An island favorite that is another must visit during your trip. Go here for a more casual bite during lunch and be prepared to have your mind blown. They serve “hawaiian style dogs” which is basically the coolest hot dog you’ll ever experience. They toast a “puka” or hole in the middle of their freshly baked hawaiin sweet bread bun and then you get to choose one of their garlic lemon secret sauces to be injected into the hole along with your choice of dog (veggie or polish) that’s topped with a hawaiian fruit relish. As a first timer I opted for the Kauai special and chose a spicy secret sauce. It was CRAY.
Another delicious spot to visit during lunch time where you can explore a menu of unique and healthy foods with tasty island flavors. A great place for poke bowls, tropical tacos and fresh lemonade.
This is like Kauai’s Whole Foods on crack — a local grocery store where you can find gluten free and organic options that serves the best breakfast items everyday at 7am. Stock up on snacks for your road trip around the island here and fuel up on their patio before you hit the road with a breakfast sammy.
The name speaks for itself — get your sushi fix here from rolls, to burritos, to bowls and creative sides. A great spot for lunch while exploring the town of Kilauea.
Legit visited here multiple times during our visit as it was TOO GOOD. Not only did they offer an extensive menu of the most delicious morning beverages from bulleproof and golden tumeric lattes made of organic, fair trade coffee to smoothies… they offer the best acai bowls in the area too! My favorite order consisted of the High Line Coffee (Bulletproof concoction) and the P.K. Bowl with added almond butter and chia. Talk about the best start to the day!
This was another amazing morning stop! Situated in the back of a local market, this juice bar offers some amazing concoctions to kick start your day the healthy way. Juices, kombucha, smoothies, chia pudding and acai bowls. Loved the options they had here and the cool, local vibes like surf vids playing while you order and a jujitsu studio right next door.
Such a fun joint to pop into for drinks, bites and easy, porch deck vibes. We got some drinks and apps here to break up the day and looked out onto the ocean with the biggest smiles on our faces. They have live music during the evening and an awesome gift shop and deli in the downstairs quarters. Such a fun environment to check out!
If you’re looking for a great spot to drink out of a fishbowl while watching some games that happens to be the most western sports bar in the US — look no further. Some great food — even poke is on their bar menu, the best happy hour, and all the sports (and ocean) you could ask for.
During our visit to Hanalei Bay and Princeville, some locals recommended this spot for tasty drinks and bites. This is where I got my first virgin Mai Tai and it was delectable. The poke bowls were also to DIE for.
This was the best decision Trev and I made during this trip with regards to adventure — something we’ve been wanting to do for a long time that sits right up there next to our adventures of sky diving and hot air ballooning. We signed up for a private luxury helicopter tour that lasted an hour long with the most friendly pilot and most insane views of the entire island. After asking locals and doing research online, we landed on Mauna Loa for a heli tour company and couldn’t recommend it more. #ProTip: you’ve GOT to go doors off option… it’s a freaking rush.
A trip up to this north shore bay is a definite — it’s a beautiful two mile long beach surrounded by mountains which makes for the perfect spot to set up a blanket and soak up some rays during the day. Be sure to pack a lunch or grab a bite in town at the many options available! You can easily hop and turn it into one eventful day of eating, drinking and shopping.
A fabulous way to explore what I thought was the most gorgeous part of the island — the Napali Coast. You can rent a catamaran and sip cocktails during sunset at sea for one romantic evening out on the water. Keep watch for whales and dolphins and keep your eyes peeled for rich hues of green, red and black as the lowering sun highlights the unique coastline.
Pay a visit to this quaint, charming town located on the north shore of the island. Hit up the lighthouse, visit the secret beach, walk the Wai Koa Loop Trail and enjoy the many shops and food. Rent bikes if you can! Another fun way to explore the island — check out the options here.
If you haven’t attended a luau and you’re visiting Hawaii — then this is a must do experience full of good eats, cultural background and lively entertainment. Conveniently there was one at The Grand Hyatt during our stay there so we decided to check it out. The food was insane — the best spread for a mama and her growing baby :). I’m talking shredded pork, sweet rolls, poke and all the accompaniments. Plus the dancing and fire throwing is unreal!
Situated right beside Shipwreck Beach in front of The Grand Hyatt Resort is a perfect hike that has terrain change, different beach views and a distance as long as 4 miles round trip if you’d like. We woke up early to catch the sunrise on this hike and continued on to see sand-dune cliffs, limestone formations and Mahaulepu Beach. Sea turtles are sometimes said to be spotted here — along with golf balls from the nearby gorgeous course.
Pack a bag and head to this state park for the day to get in some epic hiking across easy, moderate and difficult. We chose to conquer the Canyon Trail which ended up being just under 4 miles round trip where you can experience Waipo’o Falls — a gorgeous 800 foot cascading waterfall — and Kumuwela Lookout.
A great 6 mile hike packed with drop offs and views of the Napali Coast. Plan for about an hour and a half each way. If you have time for one hike on the western part of Kauai, I’ve read this is it.
Talk about a taste of aloha — this husband and wife owned boutique spans across all four islands with its nine stores. I visited the shop inside The Shops at Kukui’ula and fell in love with the on-trend assortment of breezy sundresses, cute separates and accessories from fringe earrings to crochet bags. Check out the shop’s Poipu Insta to see what the brand has to offer at this specific shop location!
I loved stumbling into this output which felt like a mix between a spa and a luxury retail shop. Aside from their grand organic bath and beauty product line (which you can shop on their site or via amazon), you’ll find gorgeous clothing from favorite brands like Parker and Rebecca Taylor.
The best boutique IMO that I came across during my visit — this gorgeous shop aims to share with you the spirit of Kauai into one brand via their commitment to local artists, apothecary makers and designers that stand behind sustainability. You’ll find everything from candles, the best selection of swimwear, on-trend jumpers and dresses to the cutest kidswear. Loved learning about brands like Acacia RTW, Yireh and Auguste the Label. I got the below jumpsuit for the night of our luau which was such a hit — along with the CUTEST little Hawaiian shirt for our soon-to-be little man!
If you’re seeking more lifestyle vibes — this boutique has it ALL. Delicate handmade jewelry for accessorizing, luxurious scents for the body and decor for the home from local designers. Peep at their insta to get a taste of the shops vibes. I was soo loving the poufs and pillows from B. L. I. S. S. (Beach Life is So Sweet) — I mean the black and white styles are so chic and oh so perfect for Baby B’s nursery!
If you’re up north shopping, you’ve got to check out this eclectic boho meets badass boutique ran by husband and wife. Their shops span across home, clothing, jewelry, apothecary and art with each item carefully curated from their travels around the world. I scored the amazing Solid & Striped one piece shown below and could have spent hours browsing there hanging with the laid back employees.
If you’re seeking a spa day — look no further… especially if you’re staying at The Grand Hyatt. The Anara Spa is pure HEAVEN. I had the opportunity to spend the morning here and got to experience all the 45,000 square foot property had to offer. I started off my day taking a HIIT class at the fitness center then popped in the cave-like lava showers with a waterfall spout. Then I was treated to the most luxurious facial where the local esthetician used products from one of my new favorite beauty brands — Eminence Organic Skin Care line. After my treatment I got to relax in their calming gardens while sipping tea and listening to the waterfalls. Check out their list of treatments here and be sure to incorporate this into your vacay if you have time! Thank you Grand Hyatt for the opportunity to experience this during our stay!
We drove out to explore Anini Beach along our drive from south to north and were pleasantly surprised by the length and amount of activity. It’s one of those “set up shop for the day” type beaches so be sure to pack towels, sunscreen, lunch and drinks. It’s considered one of the safer beaches along the north shore and you’ll get to see some amazing beach properties nearby.
This special beach is perfect for all things sunning and water activities. It was named for its traditional salt collecting ponds with a beach that is protected by an outside reef. The shallow pools make it great for snorkeling as well.
This small beach is one of Princeville’s favorites — with a somewhat hidden path found via a steep path near the Pali Ke Kua Condos. If you’re looking for a secluded option that’s beautiful and perfect for snorkeling, check this gem out.
Though some say the island of Kauai can be explored in 3-4 days, believe me when I say eight days spent in this tropical paradise most certainly was not enough.
If you’re headed to Kauai, I’d love to learn whether this guide was of help to you and also some of your favorites from the island!
As always, drop a comment below and be sure to check out the other travel guides on the blog for your wanderlust needs.
Aloha and happy travels —
// cb ????????
Lifestyle blogger, photographer, mother to my son Boden and frenchie Smalls, wife to my hubs Trevor.
I built this space in an attempt to inspire you to find your edit and empower you to create the life you desire. Through digital content and honest storytelling, I hope to guide you along the way. Because everyone has an edit, and I'm here to help you find yours.
Get To Know Me
Mother. Wife. Blogger. Photographer. I built this space in an attempt to inspire you to find your edit and empower you to create the life you desire. Through digital content and honest storytelling, I hope to guide you along the way. Because everyone has an edit, and I'm here to help you find yours.
Hi, I'm Cortney
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