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Kauai is my most favorite place on the planet. Below is a quick guide I have created to send off to my friends when they ask me where to go and what to do. The feedback I have gotten is great so I wanted to share it with everyone.

This is not the end-all-be-all tourist guide to Kauai, these are just a few of the things I like to do everytime I go back.

For the first timers there is a great audio tour iPhone app I found Kauai GPS Tour Guide it gives you facts as your driving around about historic and interesting locations. The second app Kauai Beach Guide has a lot of useful info about the beaches as well as real time surf reports. If you are not familiar with the local ocean and beaches this app could really be helpful, and keep you safe.

Food:
You'll find out that every meal you eat on the island is $25+ so we tried to limit when we ate out-- that being said there are some things you have to try.
  • Pono Market 4-1300 Kuhio Hwy, Kapaa, HI 96746. This is the local hole in the wall market that servers super fresh poke and delicious fried chicken; its a great place to pick up food for a picnic.
  • Foodland in Kapaa also has an awesome deli with a lot of traditional Hawaiian food, their prices also seemed to be cheaper than Safeway. 
  • Dukes in Lihue is a little touristy but still a must go at least once. Their food is on the pricey side but the atmosphere is awesome and I think they have a happy hour. You have to try the Hula Pie for dessert it is huge and awesome. 
  • The ultimate locals food joint we found in Lihue is called Mark's Place. It is in the middle of a residential area and a total local hang out, but I got a Korean beef, sesame chicken, with a salad, rice and chowmein plate for 7 bucks. You have to go here and it's not to far from Poipu. 1610 Haleukana St, Ste A, Lihue, HI 96766
  • There are tons of local open air markets to get fresh fruit. That's what we did for breakfast most days.
  • Lastly we stopped off and had some killer fish tacos (warning the were huge) on the way to Polihale beach at a place called Island tacos. They where done differently than most fish tacos --not fried and it was a nice change. 9643 Kaumualii Hwy, Waimea, HI 96796

Sites:
You have to see the basics if it is your first time to kauai so here they go.
  • Waimea canyon it's like the Grand Canyon of the pacific very cool. Beautiful misty vistas and awesome red dirt.
  • Spouting horn just up the road from Lihue, near Poipu, is a cool under water cave that shoots up water.  If you go in the evening you can watch the sunset from the Kukuiula boat harbor...you'll pass it on the way to Spouting Horn it's beautiful and there are not a lot of people.
  • The Opaekaa Falls are just up the mountain from Kapaa and is one of the rainiest places on earth. 
  • Across from the waterfalls is a nice side visit to the ancient Kamokila Hawaiian Village Kuamoo Road, Kapaa. Very friendly and knowledgeable guides, I learned a lot.
  • Smith Family Luau is a pretty affordable show I think you can do it with or with out dinner to save a couple bucks. 
  • Also in Kapaa is the Coco Palms Resort, this was the place to be in the 60’s and 70’s. Elvis Presley filmed Blue Hawaii there and the gardens are still open for tours. Unfortunately it was decimated my hurricane Iniki and has been closed since 1992. 
  • Haneli is my second favorite town on Kauai it's small quit and they have a cool pier that shoots into the bay. It was great place to watch people learn to surf or just take in the beautiful surroundings. You can also rent kayaks in town and launch them at Haneli beach. The rental companies strap them to your rental car and send you on your way. It's only15 bucks for the day and it is a lot cheaper then renting them waterside. You can kayak up the slow moving river through the valley it's very scenic.
  • Past Haneli is where the trail starts for the North Shore. Because the roads don't go completely around the island this is the only way to see parts of the North Shore unless you take a boat. 
  • Kealia Lighthouse is a bird sanctuary and from November to May Humpbacks breed and give birth on the East side of the island.  Last time we where there, about 50 humpback whales were jumping and playing off the tip of the point - it was awesome.
  • Bike rentals in Kapaa are fun and there are plenty of places to ride them. They built a bike trail that runs from Kapaa north past Kelia beach along the ocean really nice ride and very affordable.

Beaches:

  • Poipu has some great swimming beaches, but it is pretty touristy.
  • Anini beach and past Anini beach is a cool place to snorkel especially if the more northern beaches are blown out. We saw a turtle here while snorkeling.
  • Ultimate snorkel beach is probably Ke'e it is super scenic, but last time we were here it was blown out big time. Also word of advice when you head up north past Haneli get an early start. It gets crazy and there is minimal parking. 
  • We also liked Lydgate state park, but not the Lydgate beach itself. You can head down to the camp ground and that beach runs for ever. We probably had a mile of beach to ourselves.
  • If you want a beach where maybe you can't swim but want your space, Polihale is it. It is literally where the road ends and takes a drive on a bumpy dirt road but it's well worth it. You need to get your money out of that rental car, and going to this beach you will. The views are amazing and the beach is empty. Go for an afternoon and stay for sunset.

Other Fun Things to Do:
  • You can take a chartered catamaran to the Napali Coast to snorkel and take in the beauty. The North Coast of Kauai is the backdrop for many famous movies.  The Captain will point them out as you pass them.
  • If you're a movie buff, there are couple tours that will satisfy your geekiness. The ATV tour on the private Kipu Ranch will stop off at the site they filmed the Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom opening river scene. You can take horseback riding tours and there are also a couple van tours but I have not taken them.
  • There are always Helicopter tours...they are pricey but you get to see the island form a unique perspective.
  • Hawaii has the unique climate that lends it self to growing coffee.  Most people associate the city of Kona on the Big Island with coffee, but Kauai has it own coffee plantation.  Koloa Estates is the largest coffee farm in the United States.  They offer free tours a huge gift shop and all the coffee tasting you can stand.