Words by Tara Michie. Photos by Tara Michie.
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Even though I live in Hawai’i, island hopping is a common way for us locals to go on a quick vacation (or “holoholo”) on the weekends. I always love exploring other islands and seeking out a little adventure. Tyler and I decided to go on a weekend adventure to the North Shore of Kaua’i. It has always been the island we escape to after a long week.
The Lihue Airport is a quick flight over from Honolulu (or any island for that matter). You can choose from several different interisland airlines including Hawaiian Airlines and Island Air. I always suggest packing light and checking in on your phone to avoid any lines at front desks. The interisland terminal is usually always a breeze. There are also domestic flights that fly direct from the mainland through Hawaiian, United, and Alaska Airlines.
Kaua’i is one of those places where you’ll need a car to get around. There is no reliable mass transit and hitchhiking will definitely get old. The Lihue Airport has all the major car rental companies to get you in a car and on the go.
Where to Stay
THE PALMWOOD: This well-curated guesthouse is tucked down a quiet, winding road and conveniently situated between Kapa’a and Hanalei. Tyler and I stayed in the East Room and got our very own hot tub and hammock. With a pool and the best gourmet breakfast (made by the owners’ son, Mychael), if you want a more intimate and peaceful weekend on the North Shore, I definitely recommend staying at The Palmwood.
HAWAI’I OVERLANDER: If you’re looking for more freedom and adventure, I highly suggest renting a 4×4 with Hawai’i Overlander. It is such a unique experience and allows you to experience all of the open beaches throughout the island. All of their vehicles come with a rooftop tent, propane stove, water, and the 411 on the dos and don’ts of camping around the island.
Where to Eat
JAVA KAI: We always like to stop in Kapa’a for a good cup of coffee and explore the surrounding shops before making our way to Hanalei. I love the iced chai latte and espresso brownie bars from this shop.
HUKILAU LANAI RESTAURANT: Mychael from The Palmwood suggested Hukilau for dinner and mentioned the poke nachos. I love poke nachos (raw ahi with all the fixings, wonton chips, and a wasabi aioli drizzle) and will go to any restaurant if it’s on their menu. Theirs is a fusion of Hawai’i’s mixed cuisine and there’s a little something for everyone.
HANALEI BREAD CO: I love a good coffee shop, so Hanalei Bread Co. is a necessary morning stop before any adventuring takes place. They have fresh-baked pastries every morning and a great breakfast menu including—my favorite—an amazing pizza with all the fixings.
WISHING WELL SHAVE ICE: This is a great place to go in the afternoon to cool off. Shave Ice is a popular treat in the hot Hawai’i heat and all of Wishing Well’s syrups are organic.
Where To Explore
HANALEI PIER: The pier is probably one of the most photographed places in Hanalei and for good reason. It stretches out over the most popular coastline and is surrounded by the dramatic Hihimanu, Namolokama, and Mamalahoa mountain ranges. If you want to get a little adventurous you can jump off the pier, too.
NA PALI COAST: Drive all the way to the end of the road and hike part of the Kalalau Trail (or all of it if you’re in for a real adventure). The trail is one of the most dramatic and picturesque areas of Kaua’i. If you have the entire day, you can hike to Hanakapi’ai Falls and enjoy the waterfall! The Kalalau Trail is a popular but dangerous hiking trail and requires some solid hiking gear, as well as water, food, and the proper camping equipment. If you decide to go to Hanakapi’ai Falls, bring a lot of water, a snack, and your swimsuit.
THE BEACH: Choose any of the beach dotted along the Hanalei coast. You can’t go to Hanalei without enjoying a little sun and salt water.
What To Know
TRED LIGHTLY: Over the last few years Hanalei has become one of the most-visited [and photographed] places in Hawai’i. Simply said, it is a small place with a lot of tourists. Be respectful to the locals when you’re driving, out at restaurants, or enjoying the places they call home. Wave to people when they let you go down the one lane bridge, don’t cut in line at the coffee shop, and leave the beach better than you found it.
SNAP HAPPY: We all love taking photos of beautiful places and our experiences on vacation. But be mindful of sharing it with the rest of the world. Unfortunately, geo-tagging is ruining a lot of less-frequented, special places all over Hawai’iand the world. The reason it was so special is because no one really knew about it, so be respectful and discrete about the places you visit and how you are sharing it on social media.
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