Since we traveled to Kauai in the winter, the first few days of our trip called for rain basically all day on the north and east side. Luckily, our plans were based primarily on the south shore also known as the sunny side. In addition to the sites below, this side of the island is also home to the popular towns of Poipu and historic Koloa. Unfortunately we didn't have time to explore these areas but many people choose Poipu as their home base for it's sunny beaches, resorts, restaurants and shopping.
If you've been to other Hawaiian islands, you'll quickly notice that Kauai embraces the aloha spirit to the fullest and has a much more laid back vibe than almost any other place we've traveled before. Instead of large touristy resort areas you'll discover a mix of eclectic small towns each offering their own charm. First up on our south shore adventure was exploring one of these cute towns I'd read so many good things about. So, after eating breakfast at Kountry Kitchen in Kapa'a, we hit the road in search of Hanapepe Town. Hanapepe is a sleepy little town but one that shouldn't be missed. Visitors seem to instantly be transported back in time (or maybe inside a Disney movie as the town served as the inspiration for Lilo and Stitch). Don't miss the chance to cross the Hanalei River on the famous swinging bridge and wander around the cute shops and galleries. If you happen to be in the area on a Friday evening the town also hosts a weekly art night from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m.
After wandering around for a while, we got back in the car to find our next stop - Kauai's famous Glass Beach. Not your typical sandy shores, the beach is located in an industrial area and the "sand" is comprised of tiny pieces of sea glass which have been formed over the years from discarded glass. The glass pieces are much finer than I was expecting and if you didn't know, you'd likely mistake it for sand. However, if you spend some time hunting, you can find bigger pieces in a variety of different colors. It's worth the quick stop and there is room for parking along the roadside. This beach is also said to be a popular spot for monk seals although we didn't see any while we were there.
We headed back east a few miles to visit Warehouse 3450 which didn't open until 11:00 a.m. This was the cutest collection of shops featuring Hawaiian-inspired clothes and handmade goods. Different vendors rent out spaces so it's easy to pop from one to the next. It's a great spot for souvenirs if you're looking for something more unique than what you'll typically find in the chain stores. The lot is also home to The Fresh Shave which was top on my list as I've made it my life goal to try as many shave ices places as possible. Aside from their adorable (and totally insta-worthy) airstream camper they had a great selection of gourmet shave ice concoctions (all with a mustache theme). Many of them are served with fresh fruit toppings and I thought had a rather unique flavor compared to some of the other places I've tried.
After satisfying our sweet tooth we headed back toward Port Allen for lunch. Along this route you'll pass Kauai Coffee Plantation which is a popular stop for many people and offers tours of the plantation to see how the coffee is made and sample a variety of flavors. My husband and I don't drink coffee so we didn't stop but this could be added to your morning if you have extra time to spare. We were scheduled to go on a sunset cruise with Captain Andy's that afternoon and had some time to kill so we popped into Kauai Island Brewery (located across the street) to grab a bite to eat and try out some local beers.
Check in for our boat tour began at 2:30 p.m. We had originally booked the Na Pali Coast tour which takes you north for breathtaking views of Kauai's famous towering sea cliffs. Unfortunately, the weather wasn't cooperating (which is common for the winter months) so we sailed to the south shore instead. You do have the option to switch your tour to another day, but with everything we had planned we chose to still go. If you're dead set on seeing the Na Pali coast by boat I would recommend visiting during the summer or having a lot of flexibility in your trip to switch things around as the weather can change in a moment's notice. It was still a great experience with an amazing dinner, all the sneaky tikis you can drink, and an awesome crew! We also got to see sea turtles and a pod of six humpback whales swimming alongside the boat.
Some other great south shore sites to add to your itinerary are:
I love creating detailed travel guides to ensure you get the most out of your time. On this blog I'll be sharing some of my past trips in hopes that it helps you plan your next adventure. Pack your suitcase you never know where I'll be heading next!
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