Kauai Adventures

Every December I look forward to returning to Hawaii to kick off the holiday season. Over the last few years, we’ve split our time between two or three islands. This year, we decided to stay on Kauai for the entire week. Kauai is one of the most untouched islands in Hawaii. It’s largely covered by a tropical rainforest, and it’s full of majestic waterfalls and dramatic cliffs where movies like Jurassic Park and King Kong were filmed. It’s a laid back piece of paradise that should be on your radar if you’re looking for a vacation that’s a perfect balance between adventure and relaxation.

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The Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa is a special property. This is our fourth time staying at this hotel because it feels like an authentic Hawaiian experience. It’s an open-concept resort along the beach, so you feel connected to nature wherever you are on the property. There’s a lazy river, pools with water slides, and a gigantic salt water lagoon right next to the ocean (where you can usually find me with a coconut vodka cocktail). The Anara Spa is beautiful and newly renovated where you can get a signature Lomi Lomi Hawaiian massage (ask for Crystal or Rachael - they’re the best)! The restaurants are some of the best on the island. Tidepools is a romantic, floating restaurant, surrounded by a koi pond, and Stevenson’s Library has some of the freshest, most interesting sushi combinations imaginable. My mouth is still watering thinking about those meals!

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Kauai is an ideal island for adventuring. Over the years we have made some amazing local friends (shout out to Amy and Kristal), who on this trip brought us hiking down a cliff to swim in Wailua Falls. We even swam, climbed and hiked to get behind the waterfall, which was one of the most magical experiences. Another must-see is the Na Pali Coast. This year, we ventured out with Captain Andy’s and rafted along the entire coast. We were even able to pull the raft into some caves to see hidden waterfalls. It’s definitely more of a bumpy ride, but one so worth doing because you get close and personal with nature in ways that larger boats don’t allow. At one point we even had hundreds of dolphins circling our raft!

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We love staying on the south side of the island, but it’s also worth taking a trip to see the north side. You’ll find lots of food trucks on your drive so be sure to stop at a few and enjoy the local flavors of the island. We had a delicious coconut-crusted Mahi and taro sweet potato fries from the Fresh Bite food truck and the one next to it. Once you’re fueled up from the food, there are beautiful beaches to explore. Anini Beach is a quiet area with warm water and soft, gold sand. We also checked out Secret Beach which felt like a private, special slice of heaven. Towering cliffs are the backdrop of this beach, and it’s surrounded by sections of lava rock. It’s called Secret Beach because it’s not the easiest to get to. No public road leads to this beach so you either have to hike to it, or go down a few unmarked, unpaved roads. The views and warm waters are so worth the adventure!

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It’s hard to not feel the spirit of Aloha when in Kauai. From the delicious local flavors, to the warm and welcoming nature of the people who live there, the island fully embraces you and makes you never want to leave. You get in a routine when you’re in Hawaii, one that makes you feel at home. One of my favorite daily traditions was every morning we would get kombucha from the Kauai Juice Company. The kombucha is made with all local ingredients, like dragon fruit and lilikoi - so flavorful! I always cherish our memories from the island, and it couldn’t bring me more joy to start off the holidays in one of the specialist places in the world.

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Your Guide To Hawaii

If you’ve been following my adventures over the last few years, it’s no secret that Hawaii is one of my favorite places in the world. My husband and I try to visit the islands once a year because they have become our home away from home. I often get asked, “Why return to the same place every year?” The answer is simple. I have never travelled to an island where the nature makes me feel so small. We are greeted by warmth and kindness everywhere we go because “that’s the spirit of Aloha.” The food is infused with fresh, local flavors and there is never a shortage of breathtaking excursions to explore. The energy is different in Hawaii. Some say one of Earth’s chakra points is found there. It completely re-centers and refocuses me—something that everyone, especially New Yorkers stuck in the concrete jungle, can benefit from. 

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When planning your trips to Hawaii, I highly recommend visiting Maui and Kauai. Oahu is fun, but it feels more like a big city, so I prefer to get as much of the local experience as possible. In Maui, the Marriott Maui Ocean Club in Kaanapali Beach is a beautiful property. It’s located on the beach and has an open-air concept design that makes you feel as connected to nature as possible. There are plenty of ocean-front dining options in the area to choose from and, if you’re a golfer, many luxury courses to play. The water is bright blue and if you walk along the beach, you will come across Black Rock, a calm area to snorkel and swim in (about 15 minutes walking from the hotel).

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The Road to Hāna is a must-see when in Maui. Rent a jeep, and drive through the lush rainforests and towering waterfalls of the island. Everywhere you look is photo-worthy. The drive will make you feel so connected to nature, and if you follow an app on your phone (there are many to choose from), you can even get out of your car and swim in a few waterfalls, depending on the weather and water conditions. Last year we found a natural pool at the base of a waterfall to swim in and this year we discovered Black Sand Beach towards the end of our drive in Wai’anapanapa State Park. This beach was created several hundred years ago when the rough surf collided with fresh lava flow. We even got to crawl our way into a natural lava tube! Set aside a full day for this adventure - you won’t be disappointed. 

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Other note-worthy things to do in Maui are whale watching tours, zip-lining, and hiking. And let’s not forget about the delicious food! Mama’s Fish House is a staple in Maui and is one of the most romantic date-night restaurants on the island. Try the stuffed lobster Mahi Mahi, baked in a macadamia nut crust - it’s heaven! The island also has a lot of vegan-friendly restaurants, which are delicious because local vegetables and spices are incorporated into the dishes. If you have a sweet tooth, here’s a guilt-free treat you must try: vegan coconut milk ice cream. This can be found on the Road to Hanā and a few other locations throughout the island.

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Kauai is the second island we traveled to after a few days in Maui. This island has my heart. It’s more remote, lush, and tropical. The cliffs and mountains surrounding the island are so majestic that they were used as the shooting locations in Jurassic Park, King Kong, and a slew of other films. This island is a nature lover’s paradise. The Grand Hyatt Hotel in Poipu is where I recommend staying. The hotel embodies the magic of Hawaii with vibrant plant life and grand views of the ocean everywhere you walk. The property has some of the best pools I have ever experienced, including a natural salt water lagoon (where you may find me sipping some local coconut vodka, club soda and lime cocktails). The spa is ranked one of the top spas in the country and every year I book the Lomi Lomi massage, a type of healing massage special to Hawaii. The hotel also has two of the best restaurants on the island. Tidepools, a floating restaurant surrounded by a pond full of Koi fish and Stevensons, a Japanese restaurant with sushi sourced from Japan are two musts. The food is healthy and fresh on this island, and I even found kombucha made from all local ingredients at the Kauai Juice Company (like dragonfruit, guava and lilikoi)! 

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The excursions are endless in Kauai. Some of the best and most breathtaking hikes of your life will be on this island. The snorkeling is unbelievable. Poipu Beach, just minutes from the hotel, has been ranked as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and it lives up to that title. I have never snorkeled with so many fish before that all looked so different and beautiful. When we were messing around with the camera, an Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle swam right up to us. Of course I didn’t touch the turtle, because in Hawaii you are not allowed to for the protection of them, but to see the turtle so unexpectedly and close was magical. There are plenty of waterfalls to explore and nature trails, like the Fern Grotto. We finished our time on the island with a sunset dinner boat cruise along the coast, where we saw dolphins, whales, turtles and flying barracudas (yes, they really do fly and thats the first time I learned about that)!

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It’s always hard for me to say goodbye to Hawaii because of how deeply I connect with the islands. But the experiences in so many areas of untouched land will forever stay with me and continue to inspire me to immerse myself in nature as much as possible. As they say in Hawaii, Mahalo for reading about my adventures! 

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