When you dream about your perfect holiday, what images float into your mind? Sun drenched days lazing on white sandy beaches and swimming in crystal blue waters? Gazing upon phenomenal natural wonders? Perhaps even embarking on some once in a life time activities?
Well for us it was all of the above and our holiday dreams came true when we spent the most memorable 7 nights on the breath taking island of Kauai in Hawaii.
Going to Hawaii had always been a dream of ours and visiting the magical island of Kauai was something I had wanted to do ever since I was 12 years old and watching Jurassic Park which was filmed on the majestic island. I was completely mesmerized by the lush jungle, breath-taking mountains and spectacular waterfalls and I could only hope that one day I would get to go and experience it first-hand (minus the dinosaurs of course). Kauai is also a perfect place to travel to with children. The island is very safe and offers plenty for active families to do with numerous options for watersports, snorkelling, swimming at life-guard protected beaches and kayaking available along with cycling and hiking for all abilities. It is also jam packed with beautiful beaches, colourful wildlife and natural wonders so there’s plenty to see as well. It really is just one big tropical playground.
Getting to Hawaii is a fairly long trip being 11 hours from London to Los Angeles and then 5 hours from Los Angeles to Kauai but it is well worth it! We arrived at night so thought we would have to wait until the morning before having a chance to see if we had made the right decision but little did we know that we were about to be swept off of our feet! For our holiday on Kauai, we had decided that we didn’t want to stay in a hotel and wanted somewhere with more flexibility and privacy where we could have our own space so instead we chose to stay in a serviced apartment. Serviced apartments are great options for families over traditional hotels as they are not only usually cheaper than booking multiple hotel rooms but they also allow you to share the living space with your children so that you can keep an eye on them whilst still having some privacy. After doing lots of research we had decided on Whaler’s Cove in Poipu Beach which is a short 20 minute drive from Lihue airport. From the website, it looked exactly like what we were looking for; a small group of apartments with a pool and BBQ area that overlooked the beautiful blue water. Although our expectations were high, we couldn’t believe how truly amazing it was when we arrived! We ended up staying in the split level 3 bedroom Kaikala penthouse and when we stepped through the front door we were completely blown away! The door opens into a huge open plan kitchen, dining and living room area which is very tastefully decorated with lots of Hawaiian touches and furnished to the highest standard. This leads out onto a large terraced balcony overlooking the cove which we were immediately drawn to. At this time the moon was shining down onto the water and the sky was flooded with stars. We collapsed onto the loungers and cracked open a bottle of champagne as we lay back and looked up to the sky through the fronds of a gently swaying palm tree. There is nowhere else on the island we would have rather been!
After we had forced ourselves off of the loungers, we explored the rest of the apartment. Upstairs there were two large bedrooms which both looked out to the sea and a beautiful large tiled bathroom decorated with pretty shells. Downstairs, just off the living room was the master bedroom, which has its own equally beautiful en-suite and walk-in wardrobe area and also had huge French doors which opened out onto the terrace so we made sure that we left these open when we went to bed that night.
The next morning we awoke to the sound of the lapping waves and we couldn’t believe the beautiful view from our bed. The sea was sparkling in the sunlight and there was some movement out in the water, opening the doors and rushing outside we realised there were dolphins swimming in the cove! On closer inspection, we also spotted two large turtles lazily browsing around in the reef. At that moment I knew we were somewhere very special.
As we headed out to explore the rest of the resort and to have a swim in the pool, we ran into the manager of the apartments, Marianne. She was the most wonderful woman who couldn’t have been more helpful. She told us all about the island, where all the best beaches and restaurants were and even loaned us some snorkeling gear so we could head down to the cove and get a closer look at the turtles. She also told us that from December to early May you might be lucky enough to see whales from your balcony!
We headed straight for the cove with our snorkel gear and were greeted by numerous beautiful fish swimming around in some of the clearest water I have ever come across. We had been snorkeling in other countries before but this was a whole other experience, there were so many wonderful things to look at I could hardly contain myself. After drying off we took a 2 minute stroll down the road where we found a cute little cluster of shops and restaurants, we picked one at random and sat down to a beautiful breakfast of fresh fruit, pancakes and delicious smoothies. After breakfast we nipped into the adjacent Living Foods Market which was full of great locally sourced organic produce to purchase some groceries for the apartment. We were then set for spending the next 6 mornings eating breakfast on our balcony watching the turtles grazing in the cove!
The rest of the day was spent lounging around the beautiful pool. Set just meters from the cove and with a handful of gently swaying palms and sun loungers dotted around it, the atmosphere around the pool is one of relaxation and with its close proximity to the sea, if any whales or dolphins decide to make a visit then you would have another perfect view from here.
One of the great things about Kauai is that it is relatively small. This makes it very easy to get around and stops kids from getting bored on long journeys. There were several beautiful beaches close to where we were staying in Poipu which have great snorkeling and surfing but we were also keen to see more of the island so we spent our whole second day driving up the coast stopping at all the different beaches to do some sunbathing, exploring and snorkeling. There are so many beaches on the islands it’s almost impossible to see them all but out of all the ones that we visited, our favourite by far was Tunnels beach on the North shore. Here, the snorkeling was just incredible and the water is very safe with watchful lifeguards on duty all summer. The reef was spectacular and there were brightly coloured fish everywhere you looked. We even spent half an hour swimming up close and personal with two giant sea turtles who were just happily eating away at the coral while we watched them in awe.
There are also some fantastic hikes and waterfalls on the island many of which are very gentle and suitable for all ages. One of our favourites was Wailua Falls near Lihue where we saw the most beautiful rainbow appearing from the crashing waterfall. We also loved the Queens Bath which is a striking volcanic lava trail leading into the ocean which tails off into a small pool of calm water. It’s a beautiful place for swimming (when the ocean is calm) and it is really peaceful as it is quite difficult to get to. Don’t let this put you off though, it was well worth the 10 minute hike across the black lava rock.
Kauai also has a dedicated pedestrian and cycle path running up the coast at Kapaa for around 8 miles. Bikes are available for hire at various stores in the town and the route itself is very flat and gentle and has beautiful coastal scenery. It only takes an hour to complete the cycle but it was something that we really enjoyed. It is a great low intensity activity that everyone in the family can enjoy!
On day 3 we decided to drive into the National Park Reserve to Waimea Canyon which was simply breathtaking. The canyon road is dotted with lookout points which offer you the most incredible views of the red and green canyons. I have never see such awe inspiring natural beauty before with the contrasts of the red dirt and the lush green jungle making this a unique natural wonder!
Having seen these canyons we thought the views couldn’t get any better but that was until we saw them from the sky! A helicopter ride over the island really is a once in a lifetime experience and we decided we couldn’t come somewhere so amazing with such diverse landscape and not see it all, so day 4 we took to the skies! We opted for a private trip in a small helicopter so that it would only be us and the pilot! Despite being completely terrified as we were taking off, as soon as I looked out at the views I was mesmerised. The pilot took us all over the island through canyons, jungle and waterfalls and even along the Napali coast which is part of the island that can only be accessed by boat or helicopter. I don’t think there is anywhere in the world that offers so much diverse natural beauty all in one place. It was the most incredible experience of my life and something we will remember forever.
Going up in a helicopter is such a great way to see all of the island and gives you ideas of where you would like to go and visit on foot for a better look. One of the things we decided we wanted to do was to go zip lining through the jungle as we had heard that it was offered in one of the private reserves that we flew over. The next day we arranged to take a trip to Kipu Ranch (where they filmed Jurassic Park and Indiana Jones) where we spent an afternoon kayaking gently along a beautiful river before finding ourselves flying thousands of feet above the trees on zips of up to 1800 feet long, it was completely exhilarating!
Another thing that we knew we had to do when on Kauai was take a boat trip along the Napali coast. This section of the Kauai coastline is not accessible by road and is famously beautiful with towering peaks, lush green cliffs, hidden sea caves and numerous crashing waterfalls. We looked around the island and there were plenty of companies offering boat trips out to this area but there was one company that stood out to us above the others which was Napali Experience. One of their key advantages was that they have small boats which take just 8 passengers which is in contrast to most of the other companies whose boats often take up to 40 people and are too big to weave in and out of the sea caves. The small boats also make for a much more personal tour and give you plenty of time to chat with the knowledgeable local captain. So for our last day in Kauai we booked a 5 hour boat trip with Napali Experience and it was fantastic!! The boat took us all along the spectacular coastline and we were able to go into all the sea caves along the way. At one point we had about 20 dolphins swimming alongside our boat and playing and spinning in our wake which was a magical experience. The trip included a stop off to do some snorkeling on an otherwise inaccessible reef. Throughout the trip our captain kept us entertained with interesting facts and stories about the island and coastline and welcomed us back from our snorkeling escapades with the freshest juiciest pineapple he had sliced up fresh on the boat.
I could go on and on about Kauai and Whaler’s Cove but you really do have to see it to believe it. Choosing this location for a holiday was one of the best decisions we have ever made and has given us memories that we will treasure for the rest of our lives!!