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
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!
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).
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.
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
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
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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!
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.