Kauai with Island Air

coconut

Wander Hour - Kapaa

Wander Hour - Kauai

The state of Hawaii consists of a chain of islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Visiting the other accessible islands from the island of Oahu is easy as driving a car thanks to Island Air! As an Oahu-based blogger, it’s always a treat to visit the other islands and when Island Air challenged me to explore an island for twelve hours, I was all game!

For this trip, I visited the island of Kauai which holds a special place in my heart as Charles and I celebrated our 13th year anniversary earlier this year. Twelve hours in Kauai is extremely doable. Just check out the things I did while I was there:

Ha Coffee Bar

Wander Hour - Ha Coffee Bar

The warm, inviting space of Ha Coffee Bar and our coffee

We had an early start to our day by taking the earliest flight to Lihue from Honolulu (Flight 109 that departs at 6:05AM). We hopped on an ATR 72 with propellors. I’ve always been wary with propellor planes as I deemed it too small for my comfort but Island Air definitely changed my mind! After a short 40 or so minutes, we landed in Lihue and headed straight to Ha Coffee Bar for a cup of coffee after picking up our rental.

Mocha is my go-to drink wherever I go. I enjoyed my mocha and it’s one of my favorites that I’ve tasted. The space is warm and inviting and the baristas were as well. Located about five minutes from Lihue Airport, stopping by Ha Coffee Bar is a must for coffee drinkers!

Kalalau Lookout

Wander Hour - Kalalau Lookout

View from Kalalau Lookout

The last time I was in Kauai with Charles, we headed up north towards Hanalei and made our way around the island towards Waimea. By the time we arrived at Kalalau Lookout, there was no view as the clouds had taken over. I vowed that the next time I was on the island, I would have to stop at the Kalalau Lookout first and we did just that.

If you’re heading to Waimea Canyon, I would highly recommend stopping at Kalalau Lookout also as it a 20 minute drive from the Waimea Canyon Lookout. From here, you can view the gorgeous Kalalau Valley which is only accessible by a 22-mile round trip hike on the Kalalau Trail or by boat (if weather permits).

Waimea Canyon

Wander Hour - Waimea Canyon

View from the Waimea Canyon Lookout

As soon as we got a glimpse of the beautiful Kalalau Valley from the lookout, we headed back towards Waimea Canyon to check it out. Reminiscent of a small-scale Grand Canyon in Arizona, Waimea Canyon is a feast to the eyes and an unlikely landscape in Hawaii. Although it isn’t as grandeur as Arizona’s famed canyon, it’s worth a visit as the landscape is beautiful. There were about three helicopters flying in the canyon while we were there and if that’s something you’re interested in, definitely check it out. Safari Helicopters is one of several helicopter operators on the island that you can use to view the canyon up close.

Ishihara Market

Wander Hour - Ishihara Market

Cheap plate lunches and spicy ahi poke

In Waimea, try Ishihara Market (Yelp) for some cheap eats. The plate lunches are $5.99 and filled with lau lau or kalua pork, chicken long rice, lomi salmon, macaroni salad or greens, tako poke (octopus for those who aren’t familiar), and rice. We also ordered a spicy ahi poke. The plate lunches and poke are located at the deli.

The Fresh Shave

Wander Hour - The Fresh Shave

The Fu Manchu

For dessert, we headed back towards Lihue to stop at The Fresh Shave. The Fresh Shave has been on my list forever and I finally got the chance to try it this time around. I ordered the Fu Manchu: strawberry, banana, and cream topped with fresh strawberry puree and apple bananas.

The Fresh Shave is located outside of Warehouse 3540 which was a pretty cool spot for kid’s clothes, ladies’ swimwear, and other eats on Fridays!

Koloa Rum Company

Wander Hou - Koloa Rum

Entrance of Koloa Rum Company

After shave ice at The Fresh Shave, we stopped at Koloa Rum Company after hearing about their rum tasting (which is free by the way!). For those travelers who are 21 and over, it’s worth a visit to sample their various rums!

Wander Hour - Koloa Rum Company

Inside the gift shop and the rum tasting

In the gift shop, you put your name on the list and wait till their next tasting. We came just in time as the tasting started in four minutes.

Wander Hour - Koloa Rum

Various rums at the Koloa Rum Company

Although it was a short tasting, I enjoyed our time there and the bartender was a joy to be around! In case you’re wondering, the coconut and coffee rum were my favorites!

Wailua Falls

Wander Hour - Wailua Falls

View of Wailua Falls

For a quick access to a waterfall without the hassle of hiking, check out Wailua Falls. The parking is tiny but as there are tourists (and locals alike) marveling at Wailua Falls as a quick stop, a spot will open up eventually. Look over the fence and take in the beautiful sight of the waterfall.

Hanalei Pier

Wander Hour - Hanalei Pier

View from the pier

As we headed up north towards Hanalei, the weather took a turn for the worst and the once beautiful sky that illuminated Waimea Canyon turned dreary and overcast. We headed out on the pier and took in the landscape before venturing towards Tunnels.

Tunnels

Wander Hour - Tunnels

Hibiscus en route to Tunnels and the shoreline

A great place to snorkel if weather permits and the swells aren’t huge as they usually are in the winter. I definitely want to come back in the summer with the conditions are perfect for snorkeling.

Wailua Shave Ice

Wander Hour - Wailua Shave Ice

Lave flow shave ice and Wailua Shave Ice’s various flavors

Wailua Shave Ice: another stop for some shave ice. This time, I ordered a lava flow. Ever since moving to the island a few years ago, my love for pineapple has grown and with that being said, I loved this shave ice a lot! Located in Kapaa, there’s a lot to do in this part of the island and after shave ice, check out Kiko nearby. It is a cute boutique full of great gifts!

Wander Hour - Kiko

Right outside of Kiko

To wrap it up, here’s what I did in Kauai in 12 hours:

1.) Grabbed coffee at Ha Coffee Bar

2.) Checked out the view of Kalalau Valley at Kalalau Lookout

3.) Stopped by Waimea Canyon

4.) Grabbed some plate lunches and poke at Ishihara Market

5.) Stopped at The Fresh Shave for dessert

6.) Sampled some rum at Koloa Rum Company

7.) Marveled at Wailua Falls from the lookout

8.) Walked on Hanalei Pier

9.) Checked out Tunnels

10.) Grabbed shave ice at Wailua Shave Ice

11.) Browsed around Kiko, a cute boutique in Kapaa

As Kauai is a tiny island, I was able to cram so many activities in one day and still had time to wind down as soon as I arrived home by taking the last flight out (7:48PM)! Twelve hours in Kauai is incredibly doable and if you’re interested in visiting Kauai or any other islands in Hawaii, check out the flight schedules to see where Island Air can take you! Thanks Island Air for sending me to Kauai and back!

This post was sponsored by Island Air. Despite receiving compensation, all opinions are of my own.

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Kauai

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Wander Hour - Kauai

Kauai

Kauai, known as “The Garden Island” was as beautiful as I imagined it to be. This is where Charles and I decided to celebrate our anniversary. We were in Kauai briefly for a layover last year but I was so excited to finally explore the island this time around, albeit a short amount of time. I’m definitely going to make my way there again in the summer.

Wander Hour - Kauai

Wander Hour - Kauai

Wander Hour - Kauai

Wander Hour - Kauai

Wander Hour - Kauai

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Wander Hour - Kauai

Wander Hour - Kauai

Wander Hour - Kauai

Wander Hour - Kauai

Wander Hour - Kauai

Wander Hour - Kauai

Wander Hour - Kauai

Wander Hour - Kauai

Wander Hour - Kauai

Wander Hour - Kauai

Tips:

  • As with Oahu, the North Shore in Kauai has turbulent waves during the winter. 90% of the beaches that I wanted to go to were in the North Shore so Charles and I weren’t able to go in the water. With that said, during any time of the year and at any part of ANY of the Hawaiian islands, “when in doubt, don’t go out” is a phrase that is often used here.
  • You should also exercise caution when hiking. If you’re not in shape, have fear of heights, etc. rethink whether or not you want to hike. Do some research. Even better, check with your doctor. The hikes can be strenuous and extremely dangerous (hence why I would never reveal any hiking trails on my blog or social media despite people periodically asking me directions to certain places). A lot of hikes aren’t paved, some are on ridges and/or cliffs, and many involve crossing streams (which you probably don’t want to be doing when it’s raining in case of flash floods).
  • If you have an questions about the two points above, refer to this article by Civil Beat about the dangers of Mother Nature in Hawaii.
  • On a lighter note, start your day off with some coffee from Ha Coffee Bar as soon you land and retrieve a rental car which is a must on the island. Ha Coffee Bar is right by the airport. I ordered the mocha and it was probably the best thing I’ve ever had on the island!
  • The customer service at Pink’s Creamery (Yelp) in Hanalei was spot on! Super nice! I ordered the haupia (coconut) and kona coffee ice cream.
  • Wailua falls was magical. Worth visiting if you want to see a waterfall. Plus you just drive up to it! No need to hike!
  • We saw a lot of Mexican-Island fusion while in Kauai. I’m assuming it’s up and coming on the island maybe? Pictured above is the cajun ahi taco that I got from Island Taco in Waimea. One was sufficient enough for me. It came with chips and salsa which is pretty good but not as spicy as I would like it to be. For dinner, I had the chipotle garlic shrimp from Da Crack (Yelp) in Koloa. It’s a bowl of spanish rice, pico de gallo, chipotle garlic shrimp, and chipotle mayo. It was yummy but coming from California, it’s not my top for obvious reasons.
  • Waimea Canyon was gorgeous! I’d recommend going there if you’ve never been to the island before. It’s known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” From here, you have to drive a little bit more if you want to reach the Kalalau Lookout and see the Kalalau Valley and a glimpse of the Na Pali Coast. We drove up there and we were in the clouds so no views for us. Next time for sure.
  • On your way to Waimea Canyon, far off in the distance, you will see “The Forbidden Island” on the horizon. This island is called Niihau. No one is really allowed to visit the island although they do have limited tours. Population? 170 from the last Census.

Have you been to Kauai before? What’s your favorite thing to eat or do there? 

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