If you follow Green Wedding Shoes on Instagram, you noticed Jason + I (and our 2 daughters) were in Kauai a few weeks ago. We LOVE going to Hawaii (it’s only a 6 hour flight from Los Angeles where we live) and something about the islands … it’s just magical there! We hadn’t been to Kauai since we got engaged (so over 12 years ago!) so it was fun to return to the Garden Isle, this time with our family. :) If you are thinking about Hawaii and not sure which island, you can find our Oahu Travel Guide here, Lanai Travel Guide here, Maui for the Adventurous Couple here, Andaz Resort on Maui heree and the Big Island here!
How to Get There
There are lots of direct flights from LAX! You’ll fly into LIH airport. The airport is small so it’s pretty quick to get your bags. You can also fly from Honolulu if your local airport doesn’t have direct flights. It’s an easy flight and you could spend a day or two in Honolulu as well! (If you decide to do that, definitely check out our Oahu Travel Guide)
Should I rent a car?
Yes! I got this question a lot and you’ll definitely want a car – unless you really don’t plan to leave the resort (which is an option but you’ll definitely miss a lot of the magic Kauai has to offer!). I love exploring on the island and there aren’t many taxis or ubers here, so a rental car is a good idea! If you are on your honeymoon (or just the two of you), I would highly recommend a convertible or a jeep – no better way to explore the island than with the top down!
Where to Stay
Kauai is a very mellow and quiet island. I think it’s probably one of the more quiet islands (definitely a lot more quiet than Oahu and Maui!). We decided to split our trip into two different hotels so we could share two possible hotel options with you guys! I’m typically not a fan of mixing up where we stay for the week, but honestly both resorts were so great (and very different!) that it was fun to mix up our stay – especially if you can’t decide which one is best for you! When trying to decide where to stay we worked with our friends at the Kiwi Collection. Kiwi Collection is the world’s largest curated collection of luxury hotels and it’s a great place to search when looking for the perfect hotel for your next trip. I love that you know all the hotels on their site will be amazing since they review every hotel before it’s listed on their site!
There are 3 main parts of Kauai – the South shore, North Shore and the East Coast. The South Shore is known for being more sunny, the North Shore is known for being rainy (but so pretty!!) and the East Coast is a good spot right in the middle with more of a town here than the other sides. Both hotels we stayed at were on the South Shore. We wanted sun and great beaches – plus there aren’t a lot of hotel options on the island and we think these two are the best! Now a bit more about each hotel and why we loved them…
We stayed at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa for the first 4 nights of our trip. This is the largest resort on the island of Kauai and above is their lobby…pretty amazing view!!! As soon as you arrive you are greeted with a fresh flower lei (love that and really feels like you are in Hawaii!!) and then we were off to see our room. Since the resort is quite large (they have over 600 rooms!), it was a bit of a walk to our room but the grounds are so gorgeous we didn’t mind at all. We had an ocean view and our room was a nice size for a hotel room with a great balcony.
Below is the view from our room…
You’ll notice you can see the lagoon and beach from our room. This was one of our favorite things about the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa – it really was such a gorgeous resort to walk around. And the pool area! Perfect for traveling with kids! The Grand Hyatt has three large pools, including a lazy river with a waterslide (so fun for both kids and adults!), a large activities pool with basketball and volleyball nets, and a peaceful adult-only pool with private cabanas. There’s also a man-made saltwater lagoon. The beach here is pretty dangerous so it’s not a good swimming beach, but still makes for a lovely beach to take walks on each morning or evening.
One thing I really love about visiting Hawaii? It’s SO easy to wake up early (with the time changes) so you get to see amazing sunrises like this one below from their beach :)
Ok, let’s talk resort food! Typically not the best but the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa does have some great options (YAY!) if you choose to just stay on property (we did this most of our stay here – it was just SO EASY with kids…and if you have kids – especially a toddler, this is key to have a good vacation!).
Breakfast – we enjoyed the breakfast buffet one morning at Seaview Terrance and it was really good. It is a bit pricy for everyday, but definitely recommend at least one day during your stay. They had an omelet bar, pancakes (with coconut syrup!), lots of fruit options as well as oatmeal and more …. The other mornings for our trip we enjoyed breakfast at the Club. If you upgrade your stay for the Club package it comes with breakfast here each day as well as snacks in the afternoon and drinks. Great option to save on food costs a bit!
Lunch – poolside lunch is our jam! Easy way to keep enjoying the sun and water. Poolside dinning is always expensive but the food here was pretty good. Highly recommend the fish tacos or fish sandwich for lunch. The fresh fish in Hawaii is just so good!! Anytime I have the option for fish here, I go for it! :)
Cocktails + Dinner (aka fave meal of the day!) – We really enjoyed eating at the Seaview Terrace (this is the lounge you can see in that first photo). We ate dinner here almost every night – it had such a great view (that is the sunset view below), live music – and was just easy with kids! Not a huge menu here but the Ahi Burger was SO GOOD! Had that two nights as well as the Poke Bowl which was also really good. I can never get enough fish when in Hawaii!! The cocktails were all a bit sweeter than I prefer, but the blood orange margarita and the watermelon cooler (both seen above) were quite yummy! Cocktails + a Sunset + Live Music = Bliss!
Tidepools – This is one of the main restaurants at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa (it’s the building above on the left). We had dinner here one night. It was a really fun vibe here and the food was good – it was a lot slower service than the Terrace, so keep in mind if dining with kids. Would be perfect for date night, but if you have kids just keep that in mind (go early!). Lots of tasty fish options for dinner and if you go, definitely get the Tahitian Ceviche – YUM!!
Why We Loved The Grand Hyatt Resort & Spa
The grounds at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa are just so gorgeous. We loved taking a walk after dinner (during the day was just too hot – something to keep in mind if you visit in August!). With all the different pools and lagoon, the pool area never felt too crowded and you could stay at the resort all day long but feel like you had lots going on with the different pools, beach area, dining options, and more!
Would you recommend this hotel for a honeymoon or for families traveling with kids?
Both! The Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa is really great if you are traveling with families. All the pools, the water slide (my daughter who is 6 LOVED it!! My 3 year old really wanted to go on it but there is a height requirement so keep that in mind if you have younger kids who are a bit more brave!), as well as the live music at night. Our daughters loved the ukulele music and hula dancers they had each night at the Seaview Terrace. Parents will love that it’s right by the bar! Honestly, our kids didn’t want to leave the hotel the whole time we were here. I wanted to go somewhere else for dinner one night and they were like, why mom? Everything you need is here! It’s heaven for them. And you know when traveling with kids, you want them to be happy!
For couples traveling without kids, the pool area is so large and there is a very large adults only section so this is so nice. They have a Sushi Bar/ Restaurant which would be great for dinner one night – would also recommend Tidepools for dinner – so there are 2 great dinner options, plus the Terrace if you want an easy dinner. They also have a spa here which would be so great to take advantage of! I love using the spa on vacation we just didn’t have time this trip…next time!
For our last 4 nights on the island we drive a few more miles south to the Ko’a Kea Hotel & Resort at Poipu Beach. We loved that this hotel had 2 great beaches within an easy walking distance from the hotel. The beaches here were great for swimming, snorkeling and surfing! You can rent snorkel equipment and surf boards from the hotel which makes it super convenient. The pool here was pretty small, but was nice to take a swim before dinner. :)
I loved taking a morning walk along the beach here each morning. Every morning we saw a seal, lots of roosters (yep, roosters on the beach here are a thing!) as well as lots of turtles! So fun.
The Ko’a Kea Hotel & Resort is a boutique hotel and has one restaurant for breakfast and that same restaurant then also has dinner (for dinner it is called Red Salt). Red Salt is supposed to be one of the best restaurants on the island, but we were disappointed to see the restaurant had no outdoor seating – we LOVE sitting outside by the ocean when in Hawaii…to me, that is Hawaii…dinners outside by the water! But, here is a very important tip!! We happily learned that you could actually order the Red Salt menu outside at the tables by the pool bar for dinner! I would definitely recommend doing that if you stay here – or even if you just visit for dinner one night. The food at Red Salt was AMAZING! And we just loved sitting outside. Warm evening breezes outside for Hawaiian dinners really can’t be beat! We did this for 2 nights here and they were some of our favorite dinners. I would highly recommend the following from Red Salt: Hamachi Yellowtail Sashimi, Furikake & Wasabi-Crusted Seared Ahi and the Kona Lobster Gnocchi – all so good!! And now dreaming of them…..
Relaxation at Ko’a Kea Hotel & Resort
Jason & I decided to treat ourselves to a massage our last day there (after a week of traveling with 2 kids under 6, you deserve a bit of pampering!). Anyways, the spa is pretty small, not the type of spa you’ll spend the whole day at (there is no spa pool or relaxation rooms), BUT we each agreed that our massage there was one of the best we’ve had. And honestly, I’d much rather have an amazing massage than an average massage with pretty spa grounds. They also had daily yoga each morning on the lawn in front of the property by the ocean! Such a great way to start the day….
Would you recommend the Ko’a Kea Hotel & Resort for a honeymoon?
Definitely! While we were at the Ko’a Kea Hotel & Resort I would say about 80% of the guests were couples. There were a few other families with young kids but not a lot of teenagers running around here! Felt very quiet and relaxed. If you are looking for a super relaxed hotel for your honeymoon, this would be a great pick. The rooms have a nice simple modern design, luxury bath + shampoo products by Fresh (loved that!) and they have turndown service which is just so fun when traveling!
What to do in Kauai
I got a few questions about what else is there to do in Kauai besides hiking and the beach…well, those are two of the most popular things to do here!! I love Kauai since you can really do both here – whether you just want to relax by the beach and pool or want to do more intense hikes or surfing (this island is great for surfing!). You can also of course snorkel, explore some of the smaller towns, go tubing (I really wanted to do this but our youngest is 3 and you need to be at least 5). I also highly recommend taking a drive to the North Shore as well as visit Waimea Canyon (we didn’t make it there this trip since my youngest is not a fan of hiking and I didn’t feel like carrying her for the hike but it is truly a gorgeous spot!).
You’ll pass this amazing Tree Tunnel on your way to both hotels, where atop is a canopy of Eucalyptus trees! Simply magical…
If you take the drive North, I recommend stopping in Kapaa for coffee at Java Kai, you can drink fresh coconut juice out of a coconut (we found this at a market across from Java Kai). If you keep driving up the road, there is a cute town with some fun shops, Anahola Marketplace.
Above is Opaeka‘a Falls – you can see this waterfall from the parking lot so it’s easy to see and if you walk across the street you are greeted with this view below – it is SO GREEN here!!
We took the Red Eye flight home so the last day we were looking for something fun to do before our flight and we stopped at the Kauai Plantation Railway. You can ride the train there around the property (it’s about an hour tour) and you see some of the working farms. It was a fun activity to mix up the day a bit but our favorite part? You get to feed these super cute wild pigs!! They were so cute and there were a bunhc of babies…we were loving it! :)
Where to Eat
An island with endless poke bowls, fish tacos and shave ice? Count us in! A few must eats that I loved…
Kauai Beer Co – this is about a 5 minute drive from the airport and a perfect spot to get something to eat once you land. I had the Poke Bowl here and it was SO GOOD. Huge chunks of ahi.
Seaview Terrace (at the Grand Hyatt Resort) – we ate dinner here almost every night – it had such a great view, live music – and the Poke Bowl was really good here!!!Made for an easy dinner (esp when traveling with 2 little girls who had been in the sun all day!). So don’t miss it here.
Ko’a Kea Hotel & Resort Pool Bar – their Poke Bowl was so good! And love a Poke Bowl you can eat in the pool :)
The Fresh Shave – We are big fans of the organic, natural shave ice stands. The Fresh Shave syrups are handcrafted using fresh, local and organic ingredients. (this was in the parking lot of Warehouse 3540 – they also had a Poke Truck there that looked really good!). Fun flavor combos (we had the Fu Manchu – Strawberry + Banana + Cream and the Handle Bar – Pineapple + Coconut) and the cutest logo. SO GOOD! Probably my fave on the island :)
Waikomo Shave Ice – We also had to stop by Waikomo Shave Ice where you can get your shave ice in a coconut bowl (which you can take with you as a fun souvenir). Loved that they also use natural fruit syrups, and then top all their shave ice with fresh fruit and a delicious home made coconut cream sauce. YUM.
Little Fish Coffee – So many options to choose from here! We tried three different bowls here and all were so good! Before of the roosters here though – they will try to steal your food!!
Other Must Try Eats in Kauai!
Eating House 1849– We had a really great dinner here. It’s in a cute shopping area just a short 5 minute drive from Ko’ Kea Resort. Highly recommend the potstickers, brussel sprouts, Kampachi Sashimi and Roy’s Blackened Island Ahi. The cocktails here were also really good!
Puka Dog – These were recommended by the great Anthony Bourdain as a must try on Kauai so of course we had to. What is a Puka Dog? A Puka Dog is an entirely Hawaiian-style hot dog. Here is how they describe it, First, we toast a Puka (hole) in the center of our freshly-baked buns. Next, we add your choice of our garlic lemon secret sauce in mild, spicy, hot or lava along with a selection of one of six original tropical relishes: mango, pineapple, papaya, coconut, banana or starfruit. Finally, we top it off with a tasty local favorite: Aunty Lilikoi’s passion fruit mustard. While they don’t look like much they were REALLY REALLY good. Definitely recommend for an easy quick lunch one day.
Little Fish Coffee – looking for a great iced latte? This is the place!
Best places for kids in Kauai?
This was another question I was asked…I do think Kauai is perfect for families or couples so it’s really such a great place. Itineraries will be a bit different! If it had been just Jason + I, we would have definitely done the following: Hiked Napali Coast, Hiked Waimea Canyon, Gone tubing at Lihue Plantation, Surfing – along with beaches and longer dinners – ha!
For kids, honestly, our kids just wanted to go to the pool and beach every day! And we have a pool and live 20 minutes from the beach!! We really just kept it easy for this one and typically would wake up early (it’s SO easy to do in Hawaii with the time change!) have breakfast, then be at the pool or beach by 8am. Play there til 12. Get lunch. Then chill inside a bit….whether it was a nap for them or just some mellow time out of the sun (it is so easy to get burnt here so this helped with minimizing sun time), then shave ice around 3pm and then back to the pool or beach for the late afternoon and then dinner outside – preferably someplace with live music as they LOVE live music.
Our week in Kauai was so relaxing + very much needed…already dreaming of returning!! If you need more convincing that you need to visit, I have all our IG Stories from Kauai saved in our Highlights so definitely check that out as well! And thanks again to our friends at Kiwi Collection for helping with our accommodations for this trip.
Who has been to Kauai? What are your favorite things to do there? I’d love to hear in the comments!