I’ve wanted to go to Kauai for such a long time and this past week I finally got the opportunity to travel with my friend and her two kids. It was my first time going on a trip with preteens and whoa did I start using momisms fast! “This car isn’t moving until you put on your seatbelt” and “Stop fighting with your sister or we are not getting Shave Ice!” The latter was an empty threat because of course, I was going to stop for Shave Ice, it’s Hawaii! We stayed in the Hilton Garden Inn outside of Kapaa in Wailua Bay which ended up being a fantastic choice with the little kids because the hotel is connected to Lydgate state park beach that has rocks all around the beach to make a wonderful pool filled with tropical fish. In the winter month, which March definitely still is, most of the beaches on Kauai were too rough for them to swim so we were super glad to have an easy beach right in our backyard. Also, once during sunrise, I saw a whale breach!
Although I remembered Hawaii being the most wonderful place on earth, it was still overwhelming to be in such beauty with so many animal friends, flowers, and tropical vibes. The other beaches that were good for swimming and snorkeling were Kalapaki by the Marriot in Lihue and Poipu Beach on the south shore. Only 50 endangered monk seals are left around Kauai and you have a good chance of seeing them at Poipu because they hang out on the sandbar. We saw one and I got to lay on the sand close to a sea turtle and swim with them! (remember to stay at least 10ft away from all animals and don’t step on the coral!).
I did a lot of research on Vegan-Friendly spots on Trip Advisor, Yelp, and Happy Cow before the trip and I made a google map so I’d always be able to find a vegan meal wherever we were on the island. Note that I didn’t include juice and smoothie places or fresh fruit stands because they are everywhere. Add it to your phone and download before you go and then you don’t need to use your data plan while on the island, it’s all there offline and GPS works too which is great because data signals can be hard to find on Kauai. And speaking of GPS, I also downloaded this amazing audio tour created by Hawaiians called the Shaka Guide, they give you turn by turn directions to see all sorts of amazing sites and beaches while telling you stories and mythology about Hawaii. I highly recommend it, we love it and I got to learn ridiculous stuff like the beach where they filmed Gilligan’s Island.
And hikes and lookouts to so many waterfalls.
They also directed us to the best shave ice and other cool local stores.
I loved the town of Hanalei on the North Shore, Hanalei Bay is beautiful, you can see the Na Pali coast while you are swimming and it is the beach is gigantic and gorgeous. I’d probably stay there next time or in the summer. Right now, the road past Hanalei is closed because of the flooding last year. We also went to the farmer’s market there on Saturday where I bought tropical fruit, CBD oil, a dog collar (with tropical fruit), and a beach dress. There are different farmer’s markets almost every day on the island so I kind of used that schedule to plot out where we would adventure to every day but it ended up that pretty much everything is 20-40 minutes away so really you can go anywhere you want easily.
I do insist that on Sundays you got to Hanalei to check out the food trailer Holy Grail Donuts which is only open Sunday mornings. They make to order vegan taro donuts, fried in coconut oil, and topped with local fruits, chocolate, and vanilla. We had to wait in an epic line (complete with DJ) but it was totally worth it for flavors like Kumquat and Poppyseed or Dragonfruit lemonade. They broke da mouth!
In Kapaa, I was really excited to try a vegan version of Saiman, the coconut broth riff on Ramen that is so popular in Hawaii and when I found out that kids eat free on Tuesdays at Saiman Dojo it became a must do (Hawaii is expensive!). I loved the mushrooms and those Okinawan purple potatoes!
We also went to Eat Healthy in Kapaa a few times, its the cutest little cafe ever and they have a breakfast menu with tofu scramble burritos, Macadamia Nut Banana pancakes, acai bowls, and then lunch, dinner, and dessert too. We all loved the lilikoi cake and I was thrilled to see the youngest fall in love with her vegan cheese quesadilla.
Kapaa has a fantastic health food store called Papaya’s Natural Foods that has everything you could ever want and a deli with made to order sandwiches and tacos, a case of premade takeaway, and even desserts like the famous Haupia (coconut pudding), and all sorts of local products like Spirulina popcorn. And if somehow they don’t have what you are looking for this tiny town also has another grocery called Hoku Foods Natural Market that I didn’t have time to check out. From Papaya’s I LOVED the Hawaiian Taro Hash taco that I picnicked with at the beach. The Blackened tempeh sushi style taco with wasabi sauce, was an experience that I couldn’t pass up but wouldn’t replicate.
At home, I usually prefer soy milk with my coffee but getting fresh coconut milk in Hawaii is so special. I had one of the best coffee drinks ever at Sunrise Coffee trailer, and omg don’t get me started on macadamia nut milk, the Kauai Juice Co was totally legit and they have multiple locations. ❤
And having picnics on the beach is the best. We stopped at a poke place and I wasn’t even going to look at the different kinds of poke until my friend pointed out the tofu! It was so good, I don’t remember the name but it was on one of the Shaka tours.
We did some other tours too, I had always wanted to go tubing through the old sugar plantation on Kauai so I got to cross that off my bucket list thanks to Kauai Backcountry Adventures. And we got to drive over the road where the T-Rex comes at the cars in that famous scene from the first Jurassic Park!
Another day we did a sailing catamaran tour of the Na Pali Coast with Holo Holo tours and I got to see dolphins, whales, manta rays and swim with turtles! It was magical and they even had hummus so I didn’t starve when the sandwich bar came out.
Finally, I found out that through the Kauai Humane society you can adopt a dog for the day and take them on an adventure with you! They pack up a backpack with treats, water, poop bags and everything you need and the dog wears a little “Adopt Me” vest. It’s a win win win since the dog gets exercise and out of the shelter for the day, you get to spend time with a dog, and maybe someone meets the dog that wants them! And if you fall in love with your dog, don’t worry, they ship! We took Edwin to the Waimea Canyon and he was significantly more chill than any of my dogs.
Here some more pics, please ask away if I can help plan a trip, or if you want to take me with you! I’ll babysit!