This year, my family decided to spend Christmas in Kauai & I couldn’t be happier that we did! It can be so tricky to get everyone together for the holidays between in-laws, kids, etc… so being able to spend a whole week with ALL my family was amazing!
I’ve been to Oahu a few times and this was my second time in Kauai. I went for the first time ten years ago with my sister, brother in-law & parents, and only remember bits and pieces of it. This trip, I feel like I was fully able to take it all in and absorb all the beauty that Kauai is. From what I’ve learned, this island is the least ‘tourist-y’ when compared to Oahu, Maui & Hawaii. It is called “The Garden Isle” of Hawaii and that couldn’t be more true. The island is like one big rainforest, full of the greenest trees, the bluest waters and most colorful cliffs. The scenery is truly amazing. There are so many different options when it comes to places to stay & see, things to do & things to eat, but I rounded up my top recommendations!
There were ten of us on this trip between Zack & myself, my siblings, their spouses, niece, nephew & parents, so we split up and stayed in 3 places near to each other.
In general, the island is expensive. Finding a good, affordable place to stay that is conveniently located will be helpful. Whenever we travel, AirBnB is usually the route we go.
Zack & I stayed here with my brother & his wife. It was a 5 minute drive from my parents & my sister’s family who stayed in this complex. Our place was in Princeville, close to the local grocery store and a several different food trucks, and even had a hiking trail that lead down to a secluded little beach. It was perfect for our time there.
We used an app we haven’t heard of prior to this trip – it’s called Turo. It’s like the Airbnb concept, but with cars. You basically rent someone else’s car for the trip and pay them for it, just like if you were paying to stay in someones house with Airbnb. We got a truck for the week and it was perfect. The owner met us & dropped off the car at the airport, & we arranged to pick him up on the way back so that he could essentially drop us back off there. It worked out perfectly, and we found it to be much cheaper than any rental car company.
→ Wishing Well Shaved Ice
We came here for an açaí bowl and we loved it. The fruit was super fresh, the toppings were perfect touches & the açaí was so good. Both of our bowls contained papaya, banana, almonds or chia seeds, & peanut butter. Zack got the ‘Good Times’ bowl & mine was the ‘Hanalei Signature’. Definitely a pricey bowl for it’s size, but still sooo tasty!
→ Chito’s Food Truck
Zack & I came here Christmas Eve morning for breakfast and left stuffed! We each ordered some type of build-your-own combos, mine being a mixture of egg whites/ avocado, linguisa (portuguese sausage that will change your life), & french toast. Zack’s was a Benedict with linguisa as well & bell peppers & Kauai coffee to top it off. A perfect island breakfast!
→ Sushi Girl
Calling all fish & sushi lovers! This place was the first place we ate on the trip and we loved it. Everything we ordered had rice, cucumber, lettuce, avocado, super fresh ahi poke and/or sushi. Our spread included:
- OG Burrito
- Legend Roll
- Miso Soup
- Poke Bowl
Dessert → Lapperts Hawaii
We got this ice cream three days in a row and would’ve gone back everyday if we could. The Caramel Turtle Cluster & Chocolate Fudge Peanut Butter Cup were our favorites. It is definitely a touristy spot – but so good.
Coffee & Smoothies → Hanalei Bread Company
This place had the BEST iced coffee we had on the whole island, in addition to super tasty smoothies. We came here twice and both times it was packed, but so worth the wait!
Not pictured – pizza from ‘The Hideaway’ near Princeville, breakfast burritos from Fredrigo’s, and of course, alll the BBQ from L & L Hawaiian BBQ!
Man, the possibilities are endless here. You can do just about anything on this island. BUT, if you’re traveling on a budget or on limited time and need to narrow down your options down to just a few excursions, these were my favorites!
Snorkeling with Kauai Sea Tours
We did this on Christmas and it was undoubtedly one of the coolest things we’ve ever done. We both had so many moments in sheer awe. We woke up at 5, drove to the other side of the island and were on a boat headed to the Na Pali coast by the time the sun rose. We saw two different huge pods of dolphins, then a humpback whale, and the most incredible, legendary cliffs in Na Pali. It was truly, truly, breathtaking. Not to mention all the fish and turtles when we snorkeled 🙂 This was a little bit of a rowdy ride for anyone who gets sea sick easily, but if you can handle it, we’d highly recommend it. Jake & JR were our guides and they made the day one we won’t forget. We hardly have pictures from this because we kept our phones away so they wouldn’t get wet, but here’s a few I managed to grab.
- Zip Lining at Princeville Ranch
My siblings, their spouses + Zack & I did this on our last full day in Kauai and we had a blast. There were 9 zips over gorgeous scenery, ending with a final line that was 1200′ for racing a partner. We LOVED this tour, and our super sweet guide, Taylor!
- Luau Kalamaku
We did this for Christmas night and thought it was great. Overall, it is about a 3.5 hour long ordeal, starting with an open bar, a massive, buffet of CARBS aka delicious Hawaiin food, dessert, then a show with story-telling, hula & fire dancing. It was a great way to spend Christmas. We loved this whole night from start to finish!
- Helicopter Tour
This was something we didn’t get to do, but I heard such great things about it. If we could’ve had time for just one more excursion, this would be the one we’d pick in a heartbeat!
I am so very grateful for my time in Kauai with my family and my fiancé. There was something so very special about spending Christmas all together on this gorgeous island and soaking in all it had to offer. It was a trip that I will always hold dear in my heart. Until we see you again, Kauai!