First stop Kauai! Growing up in California, Hawaii is the one of the easiest tropical vacation to get to, so it’s no wonder that growing up I came here every few years. That being said we also had family that lived on Oahu so usually that was the island we flew to. Of the many trips to Hawaii I still haven’t been to all the islands. So when we were planning a trip to Oahu for my cousins wedding I thought this was a good opportunity to make a pit stop at another island.
My husband and I decided we would try Kauai out since we had already been to Maui together. We stayed at the Sheraton Kauai Resort and rented a jeep because that is the dream rental car when your in Hawaii!
Our first day we decided to explore the south side of the island. When I pictured Kauai I was thinking Jurassic park status with lush jungles. In actuality the south side was more desert like than the north. First off we hit Glass beach. I am obsessed with shell and glass hunting at the beach. I blame my family, who when I was growing up, would hid real gems and shells they had bought in the sand for me to find! I grew up thinking perfect sand dollars the size of my hand and purple amethysts were just chilling on the beach for me to find. Yet, I still have the hunger for what I call “treasure hunting” at the beach. I thought the whole beach would be all glass but it was intermixed with the sand so it gave me a little challenge in the hunt. Next we went to Polihale Beach State Park. This requires a long drive, partially off-roading (yes!) and when we arrived it was a beautiful beach, but not one to go swimming it. It was windy, the waves were scary and it wasn’t that exciting except for the pretty views of the mountains.
Each night after coming back from an adventurous day we would go to the hotel bar and grab a Mai Tai and Pina Colada and go watch the sunset.
One day we went to the north side of the island. Here we hiked the Kalalau Trail which is along the Napali Coast of Kauai. This was beautiful and exactly how I had pictured Kauai. We hiked to Hanakapai’ai Beach and then up to the Hanakapai’ai Falls. This took most of our day, about 6 hours total and 8 miles. Bring hiking shoes because the terrain is wet and slippery. Once we got to the waterfall it was breathtaking. Of course we had to take a dip in the pool below the falls and the water was so cold! Once we finished the hike we enjoyed some pretty good snorkeling at the beach located near where you park. On the road to the hike there are also some dry and wet caves you can explore. We only saw the dry one, which we walked around in fairly quick. It was cool but nothing to write home about.
Next we hit up Queen’s bath! This was very cool. Remember to check the tide schedule before going to make sure the water is low enough where the bath isn’t getting waves crashing into it. There is a rock here you can jump off into the bath. Come early though because it can get crowded and there is no real parking. You either have to park at one of the hotels nearby and walk or be really lucky to get one of the 5 spots in the dirt by the unmarked entrance to the trail. However, it was worth all the hassle to find and get to this place to see it.
Then we went to Secret Beach. Somehow we like trying to get to all these places that are unmarked and hard to find. This was even harder than Queen’s Bath to find. We went down a lot of roads before finding the correct one. There is one road that leads to a few houses driveways and in between two of the houses is a path down to Secret Beach. The beach was massive and there were hardly any people there. If this is on your list come prepared with lunch and a chair or umbrella if possible. We had our towels and some water which was sufficient for a few hour visit. This beach was pretty cool. About halfway down the beach by the tree line there is a rope swing which one must partake in. Great water and waves to play in, no snorkeling here though.
Next stop, Oahu! Every time we go to Oahu we always stay at the Turtle Bay Resort. Here we met up with my parents and brothers family. Our first day we decided to hike Diamond Head. Bring water on this hike!! Little shade is available and it got pretty warm while we went up it. Also as you go up there is a tunnel that you have to walk through. It can get very dark and cramped with people walking in both directions so hopefully you are not claustrophobic. Then there are a bunch of stairs to get to the top but once there the views are to die for! Then it is all downhill from there!
Turtle Bay Resort has some good snorkeling right in their bay, easy access and rental equipment for 2 hours. Just a short drive south from the resort is a town called Haleiwa. Here there is a restaurant called Haleiwa Joes and you can get these cool cups that have sand and seashells in the bottom when you get a Mai Tai. In Haleiwa there is also the Haleiwa River which we paddle boarded and kayaked down. There is a shop right before the bridge that you can rent from and has a beach for easy entrance into the water. Here you can see sea turtles swimming out to the sea! Its a nice relaxing paddle up and back to the ocean.
Both islands offer different things. For more seclusion and outdoor hiking I would suggest Kauai, for more activities and also being able to go to a large city Oahu is the place to go.