There are several tour books in the condo with information and ideas for swimming, snorkeling, hiking, fishing, and more. This is a little get-started list for people who have never been to Kauai. These are mostly well-known attractions. If you want to go to more secluded beaches and hiking trails, the books in the condo can tell you how to get to them. Go to http://www.communitywalk.com/kapaa/hi/map_397757/map/397757 for a map of many of these locations.
Go to as far north as you can on Kuhio Highway (the same highway that runs in front of the condo) to Ke’e Beach. Go early because parking is an issue. This is one of the few crowded beaches on Kauai but so beautiful, it is worth it. It has a reef so kids can swim very safely and there is snorkeling. (We have snorkeling gear in the condo for you to use.) There is a lifeguard and a public restroom, but no food available to buy. After that beach, you can start backtracking back south, hitting as many beaches as you can stand.
The next beach coming back south is Ha’ena, which has a snack wagon. A famous snorkeling spot, called Tunnels, is there, but involves a 10 minute walk along the shore to get there. (Again, it is worth it!) Just ask anyone to point you to Tunnels. Gorgeous! and beautiful fish. A tip: bring frozen peas to throw to the fish. Then they come to you and there is less work!
Hanalei Bay beach is an iconic image of Kauai. From the highway, when you are in the town of Hanalei, take Aku Road to Weke Road and go right, until you get to the end. Park there. You can see the Hanalei River flowing into the ocean and watch the kayaks and outrigger canoes going out to sea. Then walk onto the Pier and enjoy the wonderful view. Take a swim there. In the summer it is usually very calm. Beautiful clear water. There are amazing sunsets at Hanalei if you happen to be there at that time. There are several restaurants in Hanalei, and many shops.
If it is earlier and you are not exhausted, go to Kilauea Point Wildlife Refuge (http://www.fws.gov/kilaueapoint/) on the way back to the condo, to do some bird watching. (They close at 5 and charge $5 per person. It is a US National Park Service park, so if you have a pass, it will work there.) You can take pictures of the the lighthouse and birds from a view point above the park.
Go home and pass out.
On another day you can go way to the west side of Kauai to Waimea Canyon and Koke’e State Park (http://www.kokee.org/ ), a must see, the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”, according to Mark Twain. (It will take about 45 minutes to the town of Waimea, plus time to get up to the top.) There are several lookout points to see the canyon and a ranger station at the top to point you to hiking trails. There is a little restaurant there, or you can bring a picnic lunch (we have some coolers and blue ice in the condo) and you can have a picnic on a beautiful lawn, in front of the ranger station, with chickens and some geese hanging around for handouts. There are some Koke’e trail maps in the condo. Check with the Sierra Club for guided hikes. If you do some hikes, this will take up most of a day.
Another day you can explore the South shore: Poipu and Koloa.
Poipu has snorkeling beaches, a cute restaurant that overlooks the beach–Brenneke’s, a blowhole called the Spouting Horn (it can be very dramatic, but varies) and a shopping center with restaurants of many price levels (the famous and expensive Roy’s at one end of the spectrum and a Hawaiian hot dog stand at the other.) Koloa is an old colonial town with cute shops including one owned by some friends, The Wine Shop (http://www.thewineshopkauai.com/), which has wines and liquors of all varieties as well as gourmet specialty items. (We don’t get a kickback; we just like the place!)
There is a lot more, including hanging out at the Resort. We have some ideas in a manual in the condo and several books that we leave available. One book people love is “The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook” which is well-organized and full of tips, including how to get to the many “hidden” beaches of Kauai.
Sightseeing/snorkling boats: These leave from Port Allen, on the Westside. A typical trip gets as far as the Napali Coast, one of the few ways to see this fantastic piece of geography). I have gone on trips with Blue Dolphin and Holo Holo Charters (no kickback and no endorsement) that were professional, well-run and safety-conscious. (Holo Holo has some smaller catamarans that seem to skim the water and are less likely to result in sea-sickness. The smaller size of their boats allowed them to poke into some of the many caves along the way, so that was an added benefit.) I am sure many others are good, too.
Fishing boats: Some boat excursions are dedicated to fishing, not sightseeing. Some of these leave from Port Allen, many leave from the Harbor, in Lihue, more conveniently located to the condo. The Campbell family went out with Breakaway Fishing Charters, email@example.com, and caught their own weight in fish, it looks like. And these were mostly mahi-mahi! The crew filleted the fish for them and they grilled their catch (what they didn’t give away) at the barbecues by the pool at the condo complex. This is the only company I have some knowledge of. (See the Campbells’ comments on our Guest Book page.)
Restaurants: There are so many! We have a section in our Guest Manual with some of the nearby restaurants and some that we think are especially good. The Concierge in the lobby has a big book with the menus of all the restaurants on the Island. One place I love is Duke’s an old-time restaurant in Lihue, in the Harbor area, about 15 minutes away. It has an amazing view, good food, and is kid-tolerant. You will think you are in Honolulu in the 1930s. For a splurge and an amazing sunset view, go to The Beach House in Poipu. Find out what time the sun sets and make a reservation for a half hour before that. If you are up north in the Kilauea Lighthouse area, there is a simple restaurant, Kilauea Fish Market, which is not expensive and very delicious. You can bring your own wine or beer (they don’t have a liquor license) and sit on the patio.
Botanical Garden: There are several botanical gardens on Kauai. My favorite is Limahuli Garden (http://www.ntbg.org/gardens/limahuli.php), in Ha’ena (almost as far north as you can go, just before Ke’e Beach.) It is located in a lush valley, and run by people who are passionate about retaining and restoring the flora of Kauai. The tour winds around and up a hill and ends up at an elevation with gorgeous views. You can picnic up there if you want and you will want to spend time and take pictures.
I am sure you will find many other wonderful places to go and things to do. Another person you could check with if you want advice is our On-Island Manager, Larry Fudge, (808) 635-1111. He will be available to you for any condo-related emergencies and also for general information on Kauai. Golf is a specialty.