My blog has often had articles sharing themes for millennial women about growing up and how to deal with all the up and downs, rites of passage, fun, heartbreak, and lessons that we all go through. As some of you may know, I recently went to Kauai with my family, and entered a new phase of my life when Jason asked me to marry him.
He proposed on a cliff on Heritage Trail overlooking the tropical Pacific early on a Sunday morning. I loved soaking up every moment of this new era, celebrating with my family when we got back from our hike (and the rest of our trip), and with his family went we returned home to California.
Jason and I have been together for almost five years and as you can imagine, have grown up quite a bit individually and as a pair, over the course of our courtship. He picked the perfect place to make the next step official as my parents got engaged in Kauai and his parents and my sister and brother-in-law, both honeymooned there. It’s a special place for both sides of our family and I’m so excited to officially combine them!
So, since it has such a significant place in my heart, I’m so excited to share with you some amazing things to see, check out, eat, visit, and do on the Garden Island of the Hawaiian Islands! It really is quite stunning!
I love tradition so I love going to Luau’s whenever I am in Hawaii. I like learning about the hula, what the moves mean, and ancient customs of the Hawaiian people. Not to mention, the food is phenomenal! My sister and brother-in-law set it up that we went to the Smith Family Garden Luau. (Smith happens to be there last name… I wish we had a familial connection there cause I’d love to be a Luau performer and just move to Kauai! haha) The two went there when they honeymooned and enjoyed it so much that they made sure we went this time around.
The Luau takes place on this stunning grounds that grow many amazing tropical fruits, exotic plants and flowers, and integrate sculptures and decor that are native to the Hawaiians, as well as the Tahitians, Phillipinos, and even Kiwis, as all those islands of the Pacific have influence on the people and culture of Hawaii.
I went to school in Arizona and never saw the Grand Canyon so it was nice that we ended up checking out Kauai’s version of it. It breathtaking, and like the ocean, one of those things that makes you feel small. I loved seeing the water falls and the peaks of sunlight through the clouds on the overcast morning that we visited. It made it seem extra magical and rain forest-y. Afterwards we explored some nearby hikes to see various views of the Canyon.
We spent a day driving up to the North Shore (we were staying in Poipu on the South Shore-which I highly, HIGHLY recommend). It was a whole other world up there and a little bit more local heavy since there is a higher tourist count down in the South part of the island. We went to some amazing beaches with lovely views. There was one time where my whole family was in the water and a light rainfall came down and it was so warm and amazing. I felt relaxed, happy, and grateful to be in ocean water that feels like a bath tub!
We also explored the town, had yummy food trucks, and were caught in the rain- so we sipped beers and guava juice under an overhang. It was kind of magical and amazing and I really liked that we ventured to other parts of the island!
It’s freakin’ unbelievable. They have an oasis of family fun infused with resort living and tropical flair. Since there was 8 of us, we definitely needed a condo (and the one we stayed in was pure luxury- I want to live there) so we could have our own rooms and kitchen, yet still be together but if you are looking for hotel life- the Hyatt is it. It sort of reminded me of a high-end cruise off the beach. You can hear ukulele lessons going on, enjoy ocean views, and lounge by an amazing pool (that looks like the ocean) while drinking a cocktail (lava flow for me!).
I’m not sure if I have ever discussed this on my blog but I really love the ocean and marine biology. Any Discovery Channel show that features the ocean, I could just watch for hours! Deep water doesn’t freak me out (heights more so) and I love learning about life in the sea. It’s fascinating. I got this passion from my Dad who loves animals-especially marine life too-so he, Jason, and I all went out on a Zodiak tour (with Tara and the gang at Kauai Sea Riders) and snorkeled at some amazing spots on the South Shore. The highlight of snorkeling though was swimming alongside the sea turtles.
Apparently, sea turtles are making a huge comeback and there is thriving community of them in Kauai. It was so incredible to be near them, in their natural habitat and not surrounded in an aquarium or zoo.
Koloa Fish Market (poke!)
I love seafood in general and poke bowl places have been popping up all over the city, just further confirming my love for sushi/raw fish. The poke in Hawaii though? Sorry California, but you just can’t compete. All the fish is so fresh… I loved it!
This gorgeous trail, right off of the Hyatt, is where Jason proposed and is now one of my new favorite spots on this earth. It’s stunning, and thankfully, not overly strenuous. It offers amazing views and will forever be a special place in my heart.
Delicious restaurant! We went twice. That is how good it was. The fish is all fresh and freakin’ phenomenal! And the way they prepare it? Spectacular! I had seared ahi once and another time had omi in an amazing macadamia nut sauce. It was divine. As were the cocktails, rolls, and calamari! I come from a family that is BIG on calamari and nothing can really compare to theirs. I could have made a meal out of that alone.
So the food is way above par but one of the most special things is the gorgeous sunset and view that surrounds this glass-walled restaurant. It is really amazing and a must-visit!
Brennecke’s – Shaved Ice
I love all tropical flavors. Guava, passion fruit, pineapple, mango, watermelon… I don’t discriminate. Because of this, it was pretty hard for me to pick what flavor I wanted my shaved ice in at Benneke’s. I settled on guava and mango and underneath, they put delicious, fresh macadamia nut ice cream and it was sugary, refreshing, Hawaiian bliss!
Jason took me and my family here the night of our engagement to celebrate and it was this phenomenal farm-to-table culinary experience by the amazing chef, Roy Yamaguchi. All the food, decor, and details had that instagram-y. blogger-lovin’ feel to it and was the perfect setting for the first family meal after he put a ring on it! 😉
We took a little stop here to try some delicious flavors and take a tour of the plantation that boasts millions of coffee plants. It gave all of us some extra energy and my niece and nephew were served macadamia nut ice cream cones and were quite happy for the adventure as well!
In the shopping center in Koloa, there was a delicious farmer’s market that had all the fabulous pies, fresh fruit, flowers, live music, yummy eats, and coconut drinks that your little heart could ever desire. I love farmer’s markets in general but a Hawaiian one, is simply better!
Our last night there, my parents took us all out to Rumfire to enjoy a final celebration meal and toast to a great vacation. Stunning views and amazing fresh fish…it’s a must! Right outside there was a beautiful walk way to get some movement in after the amazing meal and lots of little bon fires and strung lights. (Shout out to one of my best friends Stephanie for surprising us and treating us to a celebratory bottle of wine at dinner!)
I love them. They are just a Hawaiian drug store but I think they are better than all other drug stores for many reasons: they have POG (pass-o-guava juice), Maui Babe (best tanning/after sun products ever), a plethora of chocolate macadamia nuts, island based beauty products, and fun souvenirs. (I bought something for our bar cart -as I usually do- post cards to add to my growing post card collection, and a cute little tiki hula girl air freshener for my car-haaii!).
Other Fun Deets:
-A helicopter tour and zip lining came recommended but we decided to forego the helicopter and chose snorkeling over ziplining since I looooove the ocean and sea life.
-My nephew loves all boy things and is super into Big Foot so when we learned about the Menehue (little Hawaiian people in their folklore…essentially), we had to go to all spots that it was said that they lived, had been, or created…like the fishpond you can find in that link.
-Back in 1996, there was a hurricane in Kauai that let many chickens loose…so you can find chickens roaming wild basically everywhere. They are beautiful too… and are as common as pigeons (if not more) in big cities.
As you can see, we did a lot and really took in all the gorgeous views, amazing food, and fun spots this special island has to offer. It really is one of my favorite places in the world… especially now, and I’m so excited to have the chance to share all my recommendations with you- as well as this exciting new step in my life! Get ready blog world, I’ve got lots of wedding planning posts happening! ;o)
SO, a big thank you and lots of love to my family and friends for all the happy wishes, thoughtful messages, sweet gifts, and love…and mostly to my FIANCE (woo!) for picking me, loving me, planning such a special moment, and for being my best friend. Mahalo!