I haven’t written a blog post in over a year (!) but definitely do not intend to abandon my dear Bellezza Corner. In today’s post, I wanted to share the ins and outs of my recent trip to Hawaii that I took with my boyfriend over the summer. We went to Kauai and it was simply magical!
Many years ago, my parents had visited Kauai and told me that it was a must-see in my lifetime, and that they had never been to a more beautiful place in all their travels. It has been on my vacation wish list since then, and I must say, the island did not disappoint.
We had a little bit of pandemic-related coordination to do ahead of time – the “rules” may have changed since then, but basically we just needed to take a PCR test 72 hours beforehand and upload all of our information to the state website of Hawaii. We had also heard from other tourists upon arriving that each of the Hawaiian islands were operating under their own unique restrictions due to the pandemic, and that island hopping was proving difficult at times. We were really content with staying on what I had heard was the most beautiful island, and that’s exactly what we did.
We stayed at the Marriott Kauai Beach Club, which was absolutely gorgeous. It featured a giant, lush courtyard in the center, several restaurants, a luxurious pool and a private beach along one side of the whole resort. We really didn’t do too much planning ahead of our trip, and the resort staff were tremendously helpful in booking different excursions and activities for us.
What we did
Hawaii (and Kauai specifically) is a huge destination for hiking. There are SO many trails to choose from and we love working out, so this was definitely on our list. On our first day, we asked some locals at the resort which trail we should do, and one of the suggestions was the nearby Sleeping Giant or Nounou Trail. It was rated online as an easy to intermediate level. It was not. Oh my goodness it was not. There were some dicey points on this trail, let me tell you. I was worried about one of us falling on a few ocassions too – and good luck receiving medical attention at the tippy top of that mountain if you needed it. We had our Apple watches running for the whole hike and were proud of our 3 hour, 4.6 mile hike of 1,085 ft. See photo evidence of such below. 🙂 That was sort of all the hiking we needed to do this trip.
On our second day, we went to a nearby beach town called Popui. It was cute and we grabbed lunch there and walked around the town. We also took this day to plan out some further excursions for the rest of our trip.
On our third day, we went on the Wailua River Cruise at the Wailua River State Park. There were hula dancers and musicians on the boat and it was a peaceful ride into the Fern Grotto – a fern covered grotto made of lava rock. We had to get out of the boat and walk into the grotto, which was incredible. Little mini falls surrounded us from inside the grotto, as we took in the natural beauty around us. We again enjoyed a traditional musical and dance performance here. They told us that many weddings take place inside the grotto and it is regarded as the most romantic place on the island.
The following day we had arranged for a private fishing charter. We went out in the ~very~ early morning with our captain and one other couple. We trolled around, leaving shore quite a ways, but did not catch a single fish! (I was ok with that, since fishing makes me sad…) It was a nice day out on the water regardless.
Later that night we took a walk next door to our resort and discovered the most beautiful, brand new resort called Timbers. Oh my goodness is this place stunning. It is built right into the cliffside and features an infinity pool overlooking a fantastic view of the ocean. There was also a private restaurant on site (where we ate our favorite dinner of the trip another night) that featured fresh vegetables from the resort farm.
We spent the next day just relaxing and walking around. I like to just enjoy loosely planned vacation days too, without packing in too many activities and early mornings every day. Chris and I don’t get to spend too much time alone together, so it was really nice.
Next was our long awaited helicopter ride! We went with Sunshine Helicopters for anyone looking for a great company. Again, this was something my parents (and many others I talked to who had been to Hawaii) had suggested as a must-do activity. We were lucky enough to book one and even luckier to find ourselves in the front row of the helicopter. I sat right next to the pilot and Chris in the window seat to my right. Side note: We heard the Hawaiian version of “Over the Rainbow” a nauseating number of times during this trip – including through these headphones pictured below. I like the song, but oh my god.
This experience was one of my highlights of the week (see the boat tour below for the first place highlight day 🙂 ). The views of the coast were breathtaking. I was definitely nervous at first (I had never been in a helicopter before) but it actually felt very stable once up in the air. I could have potentially done without some of those hairpin turns inside caverns and waterfalls, but we all survived. There is no other way to see the whole island, or all the waterfalls then by air.
Take a peek at my Tik Tok video I created to enjoy some of the amazing views we took in!
On our final day we embarked on a fabulous boat tour of the Napali Coast – the most beautiful area of the entire island. We were on a very high speed boat, the fastest boat of all the tours available, in fact. The tour company was Kauai Sea Tours. The staff were amazing, and we had a wonderful time.
Shortly into our trip, we were visited by the largest pod of dolphins I had ever seen. We live on Siesta Key Beach and are fortunate enough to see dolphins regularly. Neither Chris nor I had ever seen so many like this – it was the most special experience. There had to be hundreds. (See my Tik Tok video below I made of our trip for some of that dolphin footage!) Our tour guide told us that these dolphins were actually asleep! It was very early in the morning and they were cruising alongside the boat as we went at a slow speed. One of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.
Shortly thereafter, we also saw a couple giant sea turtles, who sometimes hang out right up at the surface of the water. We were guided along the coast, listening to many fascinating stories about this area, including the many major films that have been shot there: Pirates of the Caribbean, King Kong, Jurassic Park and so many more. You can see why, the natural beauty of the mountains is unparalleled. We also had a rather overcast morning that day, which drew in a beautiful fog along that coated the tops of the mountains.
By the end of our trip, we could have stayed a few more days but were generally ready to return home. I will say that Kauai was expensive! The food alone was costly and then of course the excursions, but the experiences were wonderful and well worth it. Due to the pandemic, there was a shortage of rental vehicles on the island and we could not arrange to have a car during our stay. This is one thing I would have done differently, because we didn’t always have the easiest time getting around the island with taxis. That’s definitely something I’d recommend others to do.
Overall, a dreamy trip full of memories that will last a lifetime.