Kauai is a the very definition of a lush tropical island. Several movies were made here. Life in Kauai runs on a Hawaiian schedule which is slower than a typical US location. Years ago a grant was given to widen the bridge between Princeville and Wainiha from one lane (cars have to take turns) to each direction having their own lane. The locals successfully killed the project because they wanted to keep things slow.
Hawaii: Off the Beaten Path by Sean Pager is a bit dated now, but I have found it to be the best single guidebook which covers all the Hawaiian islands. I have yet to be disappointed by anything which was recommended in this book and there are very few things we have discovered which weren’t listed in this book. The Hawaii Revealed books and now Smartphone apps are written by opinionated authors who provide greater detail than most guides. I have come to trust judgment on activities, hikes, etc but don’t always agree with their restaurant assessments.
If you are looking for a B&B and don’t want the hassle of screening them try contacting Hawaii’s Best Bed & Breakfasts run by Barbara and Susan Campbell. They have good taste and high standards.
Hawaii Wildlife Guide by Les Beletsky is a decent single volume book covering much of the wildlife you will find in Hawaii. Dolphins and other Cetaceans blow bubbles underwater and then use the bubble rings as toys. The Coffee Times has a number of interesting articles about Hawaiian history and culture.
Sites to Visit
Koke’e State Park: on the south west end of the Island. As you drive up to the park you have numerous overlooks into the 3000 foot canyon which has been called the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. Nice hiking trails. At the top of the park is Kalalau lookout where you can look down on the Na Pali coast. It can get cold and wet so bring a sweater and a rain jacket.
Limahuli Garden and Preserve: 1000 acres of beautiful plants with breath-taking scenery all around http://www.ntbg.org/gardens/limahuli.php
Na Pali Coast: Most people aren’t up to hiking the full length of the coastal trail. The two other ways to see the coast are by boat or by helicopter. Both are great experiences. Depending on the time of year, the seas might be pretty rough resulting in either an exciting (or awful) trip depending on how susceptible to motion sickness you are. We really enjoyed Catamaran Kahanu. Captain Lani was great. Boats used to leave from the north side of the island which got you to the coast quicker, but there have been some issues raise by the EPA, so your only option might be leaving from the southern coast. Most of the boat trips include a 1-3 hour snorkeling stop which can be a lot of fun.
Food to Eat
If you order fish in any restaurant, you can hardly go wrong… the fresh fish is great!
Jo2 is Jean-Marie Josselin new restaurant. Food was decent, but not as amazing as I remembered his previous restaurant, A Pacific Cafe.
Bali Hai in the Hanalei Bay Resort: I don’t normally like hotel restaurants, but the view is glorious at sun down, the food was excellent, and the service was outstanding.
King and I: Good Thai food. I didn’t like the Pad Thai, but all the sea food dishes were excellent. They had an appetizer of shrimp with had a number of rice noodles poked through and then cooked. It was wonderful.
Tidepool’s in the Hyatt Regency in Poipu has good food and a fun atmosphere. You seem to be sitting in grass-thatched huts, surrounded by pools filled with koe. The Hyatt is an amazing hotel.
Barbecue Inn: Reasonably priced family food in downtown Lihue.
Roys: A well known Hawaiian chain. The food in Hawaii is much better than in the state side restaurants.