The oldest of the eight main Hawaiian Islands, Kauai is known as the garden isle. Nearly circular in shape, it is divided into four geographical areas. The north shore is known for its taro fields, dramatic sea cliffs of the Nā Pali Coast. The east side (coconut coast) is the most populated area of the island. The south shore is known for its family friendly amenities and quaint towns. The west side is home to the rugged landscape of the Waimea Canyon. Kaua‘i Visitors Bureau, (808) 245-3971.
National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG)
The NTBG encompass nearly 2,000 acres of gardens and preserves in different areas of the island. Tour the Allerton Garden in Koloa which is divided into garden rooms with exotic plants, sculptures and water features and which has figured prominently in television and film including Jurassic Park. 4425 Lāwa‘i Rd., Kōloa, (808) 742-2623.
The Koloa Jodo Mission
A Buddhist Temple which dates from 1910 feels like a touch of Japan transported to the island. 3480 Waikomo Road, Kōloa.
A blow hole in Koloa, Kaua’i.
Kauai’s Hindu Monastery
With views of Mount Waialeale and the all-granite, hand-carved Iraivan Temple, self-guided and guided tours of the monastery founded in 1970 are available. 107 Kaholalele Road, Kapaa.
Waimea Canyon State Park and Kōke’e State Park
Known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, Waimea Canyon State Park is a great destination for picnics, hiking, relaxing or for spotting waterfalls. Kōke’e State Park affords some of the most spectacular views of the Kalalau Valley.
Pa’u a Laka (Moir Gardens)
On the grounds of Castle Resorts Kiahuna Plantation and The Beach Bungalows (in front of Plantation Gardens restaurant), this spectacular garden built in the 1930s features plants that require little rain, such as bromeliads and succulents. The gardens also showcase an impressive collection of orchids. 2253 Poipu Road, Poipu.
Waioli Huiia Church
This emerald church in Hanalei is one of the most photographed buildings in Kauai. 5-5363A Kuhio Hwy, Hanalei.
Capt. Andy’s Sailing Adventures & Raft Expeditions
Departing from Port Allen for imposing views of the north shore, the Nāpali Snorkel BBQ Sail (among many adventures to choose from) includes a snorkel adventure and lunch. (808) 335-6833; napali.com
A once-in-a-lifetime helicopter tour of Kauai from Nāwiliwili Harbor, and Hanapepe Valley, to Manawaiopuna Falls and Olokele Canyon. The 60-minute Kauai Grand Island Tour is an exhilarating way to see many island gems courtesy of expert pilots. 3643 Ahukini Rd., Līhu‘e, (808) 246-0008. islandhelicopters.com
Among the many adventures offered, Wailua River Paddle & Swim encompasses paddling on the Wailua River, and swimming in the company of informative and friendly guides. 3-5971 Kūhi‘o Hwy., Kapa‘a, (808) 826-9844; kayakkauai.com
Learn to make leis and haku (flower coronets) from a local expert. 1640 Papau St., Kapa‘a, (808) 634-9999; kauaimade.net/listing/heavenly-hakus
Kukui‘ula Shopping Center
A popular meeting place with shops, restaurants and galleries. A farmer’s market with music, local produce and homemade specialties takes place on Wednesdays. 2826 Ala Kalanikaumaka St., Kōloa, (808) 742-9545; kukuiula.com
Koloa Rum Company
Award winning, premium, single-batch Hawaiian Rum made on Kauai. Daily sampling tours are available from a fun and friendly staff. Don’t forget to pick up a bottle of the newest creation coffee rum. Historic Kilohana Plantation, 3-2087 Kaumualii Hwy, Lihue, (808) 246-8900; koloarum.com
EAT AND STAY
Grand Hyatt Kauai (and Anara Spa)
This expansive and well-manicured resort features some of the best amenities on the island including the Robert Trent Jones Jr. golf course, several dining options, a lettuce farm, tennis courts, salt and traditional pools and spa. 1571 Poipū Rd., Kōloa, (808) 240-6440; kauai.grand.hyatt.com, anaraspa.com
Courtyard Kaua‘i at Coconut Beach
Most rooms at this oceanfront hotel have views of the Pacific. 650 Aleka Loop, Kapa‘a, (808) 822-3455; courtyard.com
Eating House 1849 by Roy Yamaguchi
The famed chef’s nod to Hawaii’s plantation past with dishes like mochiko crusted calamari and rissoles Portuguese shrimp turnovers. 2829 Ale Kalanikaumaka Rd., A-201, Kōloa, (808) 742-5000; eatinghouse1849.com
Kauai Marriott Resort
Situated on Kalapaki Bay and featuring one of the largest pools in Hawaii, this resort provides quick access to the island’s airport. A nearby Jack Nicklaus-designed championship golf course, and several dining experiences from executive chef Guy Higa whose personal farm-grown produce feature on menus make this a well-rounded resort. 3610 Rice St., Līhu‘e, (808) 245-5050; marriott.com
Sheraton Kauai Resort
Set on 20 acres on Poipu Beach, this 391 room 11 suite resort features live Hawaiian entertainment, dining and pool. 2440 Ho‘onani Rd., Kōloa, (808) 742-1661; sheraton-kauai.com
Koloa Landing Resort
This beautiful luxury resort features some of the largest and most unique two, three and four bedroom villas on Kauai with grand lanai (balconies), full kitchens and modern amenities. The 25-acre resort also features pools, spa, fitness centre and plenty of on-site activities. 2641 Poipu Rd, Kōloa, (808) 240-6600; koloalandingresort.com
Living Foods Market
The market provides local produce, freshly prepared food, a juice bar and handpicked imports from around the world. The poke bowl, pizza, and salad bar are outstanding. 2829 Ala Kalanikaumaka, Kōloa, (808) 742-2323; shoplivingfoods.com
Castle Resorts Kiahuna Plantation and The Beach Bungalows
The 35-acre oceanfront condo resort was once a sugarcane plantation. Expansive grounds with large trees, flowers and ponds and easy access to the beach make it popular with families. 2253-B Poipu Road, East Entrance, Kōloa, (808) 742-2200; castleresorts.com
Merriman’s Fish House Kauai
Chef- owner Peter Merriman is is known for being a pioneer in the “Farm to Table” movement in Hawaii. 2829 Ala Kalanikaumaka St, Kōloa, (808) 742-8385; merrimanshawaii.com
Serves Italian-inspired fare with traditional Hawaiian ingredients, innovative cocktails (including the signature Glitterati), and Papalani gelato (salt pond is our favourite). The pizza, chicken marsala and ono picatta are outstanding. 5408 Koloa Rd., Kōloa, (808) 742-8881; pizzettakauai.com
Plantation Gardens Restaurant
Set amidst the beautiful grounds of Moir Gardens and led by Chef Ken Morikawa, the restaurant offers flavour combinations that represent Hawaii at its finest. Don’t miss the poke or lau lau (seafood cooked in ti leaves), served with rice and stir fried vegetables. 2253 Poipu Road, Kōloa, (808) 742-2121; pgrestaurant.com
Ko’a Kea Hotel & Resort at Poipu Beach
A modern and luxurious property, this boutique resort offers luxury amenities (like valet service), modern rooms fit with marble tile bathrooms, and ocean views. Part of the Meritage Collection, the resort is one of the most romantic properties on the island. 2251 Poipu Rd, Kōloa, (888) 898-8958; meritagecollection.com/koakea
Specializing in inventive modern Mexican fare, cocktails and with a hip vibe, this restaurant is open for lunch and dinner. Fish tacos, flautas and margaritas are standouts. 2829 Ala Kalanikaumaka St., Kōloa, (808) 742-8884; tortillarepublic.com/hawaii
Easy airport pick-up (just look for the punctual shuttles at arrivals), friendly staff and lots of vehicles to choose from in Kauai. 3250 Hoolimalima Place, Lihue; hertz.com
This original travel article first appeared in the Summer 2016 issue of City Style and Living Magazine.