The Complete Kauai Vacation Guide

So, you’re planning a vacation to Kauai. This is the complete Kauai Vacation Guide based on my experiences, opinions, and preferences. I hope it helps you plan your trip. It is the online version of my ebook, Plan Your Best Vacation to Kauai Ever, Where to Stay and What to Do on Kauai. If you’d rather save it to your computer and read it there, right click on the link and download it.

Topics in this guide

Aloha!

So you’re planning a vacation to Kauai –

Congratulations! You are going to have SUCH FUN! First, you’ll be flying in to Lihue (airport code LIH) and you may be able to find a direct flight from your city or at least the west coast of the U.S. Mainland into Lihue. A few airlines do this these days. If not, your airline will probably schedule your connecting flight from Honolulu for you.

If you have to do it yourself, you can do so with either Hawaiian Airlines or Go! Airlines http://www.iflygo.com/.

Also check out Hawaiian for great rates to Hawaii.

My Favorites on Kauai

My Favorite area is either Poipu (or Koloa) or Princeville.

They both have their own charm. Princeville gets a bit more rain than Poipu, but not too much.

My favorite hotel:

Hands down, the Grand Hyatt Kauai in Koloa (near Poipu). This is one of those places that I just love. Lots to do, they’ll watch your kids or help you get married. The grounds are awesome. Nice place. $299 a night at expedia.

And, if you are military or GS and have access to them – I also *really* enjoyed the beach cabins on barking sands beach within the Navy’s Pacific missile range facility. This was in 1996 (on my honeymoon), and I haven’t stayed since, so I don’t know the current condition, but they were so fun and isolated and on the most awesome, empty beach you’ve ever seen.

Activities :

The hiking on Kauai is amazing, if you are into that kind of thing, and the Na Pali Coast boat trips are also a must-do in my opinion. Every time we have gone out on the rafts, we have seen dolphins. The rafts can’t leave from the North Shore anymore, so these days I mostly recommend so these days I mostly recommend Na Pali Catamaran.

Best Weather on Kauai

Kauai is an island full of great weather

Sure, there’s a bit more rain on Kauai than some of the other islands, but there’s never much on the south and west shores (so you can always find sun) and there’s still not a whole lot. Passing showers means 5 minutes of (warm!) rain and then 1 to 5 hours of Sun. We never give up on what we are doing for a passing shower.

Sunniest weather is in Waimea (20 rain inches per YEAR) and second sunniest is in Poipu or Koloa.

Kauai in the winter is still warmer than California much of the year, and the ocean is still 72 degrees. Oh yeah.

Best Hotels in Kauai

These are the best hotels in all of Kauai, in my opinion.

If you consistently find higher prices than what I have found, maybe prices are up due to season high season or some other reason. If you find lower, don’t question it, just book it!

Best Overall, Beach-Locations, or Luxury Hotels On Kauai

Best Family Hotels in Kauai

  • Aloha Beach Resort Kauai, $84 at priceline
  • Lae Nani, $147.00 at website, $158 at priceline
  • Hyatt Regency Kauai, $299.00 at expedia
  • Sheraton Kauai Resort, $189.00 at expedia
  • Kauai Marriott Resort and Beach Club, $199.00 at expedia

Best Budget-Priced Hotels on Kauai

Many of these hotels don’t list with expedia and priceline. If you call them directly for reservations, be sure to ask “do you have any discounts that could bring my rate down?” You could get a yes and a better rate off the bat.

I also highly recommend bidding on priceline. Many of these smaller operations do not sell rooms to priceline, and so if you are bidding on Priceline you will normally get something like a resort or a 2 to 4 star hotel. Remember, you can’t pick your hotel if you bid, just your desired star level.

You’ll have the most luck with getting low bids accepted on priceline when the hotels are hurting for visitors, but try anytime. You could really get some good deals.

As an example, if you visit bidding for travel you’ll see the Kauai Marriott has accepted bids around $110 to $125 in the past. Compare this with the best price I could find at $199 a night, and the savings are substantial.

Best Romantic Hotels and Hotels for Weddings On Kauai

Bidding on Hawaii Travel at Priceline and Hotwire

Bidding on Priceline and hotwire is a great way to save money on hotels and sometimes even flights to Hawaii. I have personally bid and gotten $55 at the Royal Kona Resort, and $120 at the Waikoloa Marriott. My friend got $110 at the Waikoloa Hilton, and $85 at the Hapuna Prince. All of these hotels are on the Big Island.

I know someone who bid and received a roundtrip flight from San Francisco to Honolulu for $250. These are good deals!

Oh, and don’t forget car rentals. You can get great deals on car rentals by bidding.

The only issue with bidding for hotels is that you won’t know what hotel you get until you are locked in to paying for it. You just specify a certain star level or class of hotel.

The only issue with bidding for flights is that you won’t be able to specify an exact time, but they do tell you it will be sometime between x morning hour and x evening hour, so not too bad.

So How Should I Bid on Hawaii Travel?

Hotels:

I like to decide on a hotel I like, then find out what its star level is. Then on Priceline, I go directly to naming my own price, and during the process priceline will tell you what the average price is for that star level. I then bid half of that.

The priceline website will have a ticker of recently accepted rates in the area you are searching for that is helpful.

An awesome resource is the bidding for travel forum. If you scroll down on the home page you’ll see three Hawaii forums, based on which islands you are planning to visit. People bid, and then come here and post their accepted and rejected rates.

I have heard that the posted ‘median retail prices’ at priceline are sometimes inaccurate. I don’t worry about this in Hawaii because I am so familiar with what the hotels cost here. You, however, may want to check prices on the website of a few hotels that are the same star level as you want. You can then try to bid 50% of that.

Rental Cars –

$15 a day is a good place to start, and check the recent winning bids on Priceline.

Flights –

I like to bid 50% of whatever the going rate is and then bid up in $50 increments if that is refused.

Most Fun, Must-Do, Activities and Things to Do on Kauai

This is my list of the most exciting and fun things to do on Kauai in my opinion.

Inexpensive or Free Activities on Kauai

  • Queen’s bath – mostly cool because it looks so idyllic. Only good in the summer months when the surf is not high http://www.hawaiiweb.com/kauai/sites_to_see/QueensBath.htm
  • Check out Waimea Canyon. Looks out of place in Hawaii but is pretty darn cool to look at.
  • Hiking – the hiking on Kauai is the best in the state. If you are into hiking, you are in for a good time.

Best Ways I like to Save Money on Kauai

Bidding for travel

I like bidding at priceline for hotels and rental cars and airfare. This can save a lot of money right away.

Hawaii Entertainment Book

Normally here, I would recommend the Hawaii Entertainment book from Entertainment.com . However, if you will just be on Kauai, it won’t be much good for you. If you will be island hopping to Maui or Oahu, then think about it.

The book is typically best for Oahu, second best for Maui, and marginal for the Big Island and Kauai. I can’t recommend it for Kauai or the Big Island, really. Sigh. Wouldn’t it be nice if that changed in the near future.

Best Kauai Beaches and Must-See Beaches on Kauai

Don’t hit all of these unless you are really into beaches. Just pick a few and take your time.

Note:

In Hawaii, all beaches are public. Anywhere that there is water, there must be public access to the shoreline. If you are in a residential neighborhood and want to check out the beach, just look for the blue signs that say “shoreline access” and follow the path, even if it’s directly between two houses.

Sometimes, though, residential beaches do not have restrooms or showers.

Don’t worry about directions too much. Kauai is a small island and you can see the ocean from almost everywhere. If you can see the ocean, you can find your way.

  • Kee Beach (north shore) – Calm with good snorkeling and swimming in the summer, a famous movie filming location
  • Tunnels – Large beach with good snorkeling and deep water caverns for scuba, no facilities
  • Hideways (north shore) – Amazing beach, 10 minute hike from parking area. Secluded but accessible. No facilities. Calm in summer.
  • Anini Beach (north shore) – Huge, protective reef, easy to get there, great snorkeling and swimming
  • Moloaa Beach – Protected, beautiful cove with good swimming
  • Lydgate State Park (east shore) – Awesome for families, very protected area, nearby playground
  • Poipu Beach Park – Excellent facilities, excellent swimming and snorkeling. Great beach
    Kauai really is an island of awesome beach after awesome beach and much of the shoreline is beach around the entire island. You can‟t go wrong, so I just listed some of my favorites here.

Honeymoon Campervan Vacation on Kauai or Maui?

January 2, 2010 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Kauai, Kauai Activities, Maui, Maui Activities, Vacation Planning 

We are planning our honeymoon to hawaii for around april this year for around ten days. We fly into Oahu then were planning on staying just a couple days there before heading over to Maui or possibly kuaui? Have any suggestions on which one would best suit honeymooners? We love to explore and though it might be fun to rent a campervan for a few days…and travel around the island? How long do think it would take to drive around the entire island? Also do you think it is possible to do all these three islands in ten days or should we stick to just two?

Well, I can answer this one easily 🙂 because as far as I know Kauai doesn’t have any campervan rentals available on the island.

(Update, April 2011 – Kauai now has campervan rentals!! How wonderful! So now … I could recommend either island.)

So you should go to Maui. And Maui is lovely, you will love it.

How long it will take you will depend on how often you stop and play. You could do it in a day if you just drove – of course you can’t completely circle either of these islands. On Maui, the road ends in Hana, and on Kauai, the road ends at the Na Pali Coast.

Honestly, I always recommend no more than two islands on any vacation around a week in length – otherwise there is just too much standing in airports and packing and unpacking and renting and returning for me. However, you’ll need to decide if you will kick yourself or not for just doing two islands. That’s a very personal decision.

Congrats, and have a great vacation – and check out my digital guide books to the islands
– no cost!

Kauai Vacation Planning Made Easy – Kauai Revealed Review

The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook – Kauai Revealed is truly a work of art when it comes to appreciating and revealing the beauty and joy awaiting you on your vacation to Kauai. There is an ultimate guidebook for each of the major islands, written by the same authors, and they are all fabulous. I have lived here for over a decade and I have each one. I don’t even go to the other side of my island without bringing my book.

Here’s some quotes from the book that will give you some idea of what kind of a guide and planner this is:

In a sense, this is not a guidebook, it’s more of a love story. We first came to Kauai as tourists and were immeidately smitten. We had no idea that a place like this could exist anywhere in the world. Now as residents, we marvel at its beauty every day.

Our objective in writing this book is to assist you in finding the bliss that can accompany a Kauai visit. We recognize the effort people go through to visit here, and our goal is to expose you to every option imaginable so you can decide what you want to see and do.

So, the book begins, after an introduction and ‘the basics’, with sights – North Shore sights: in Anahola, Kilauea, Kalihiwai, Princeville, Hanalei, and Ha’ena. Then, East Shore Sights – Wailua-Kapa’a, and Lihue. South Shore sights: Koloa, Poipu, and Kalaheo. West Shore Sights: Hanapepe, Waimea, Kekaha, Polihale, and Waimea Canyon.

The next section is Beaches, then Activities, Adventures, Island dining, and Where to Stay. This book truly encompasses virtually everything you would want to know about Kauai.

Here’s an example of the stellar – and completely unique – advice available on every single attraction they talk about:

The dunes of Polihale are famous throughout the islands. The beach averages 300 feet wide, and the dunes can get up to 100 feet hight. Walking down a dune like that can be fun; walking up is a monster. Better to walk around unless you are training for the Ironman Triathlon. Locals drive their 4WD vehicles right on to the beach. If you try it, be aware that there is no AAA on the island, and you are a LONG way from Lihue. …

So get the book: The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook – Kauai Revealed – It may be the best thing you do for your vacation!