In 2014, we took a few days and flew from Charlotte, NC to Lihue, Hawaii. For my airline peeps, CLT-LIH. We flew from Charlotte to Phoenix, AZ and stayed overnight. The first flight we had from Phoenix to Lihue was too early in the A.M. to make it from NC. The flight is pretty long. At the time it was the longest one we had been on. I definitely suggest bringing some snacks with you on the plane. 8 plus hours trapped in a tube with limited food options can make you very hangry. I regretted not having something extra with us from the moment the flight was over.
We stayed at The Courtyard Marriott Kauai at Coconut Beach for 3 nights. The property is very nice. Lots of open space and open air areas. The staff was very kind and helpful making our way around the island as first timers. There is a grocery store and places to eat in walking distance. You will have to walk on the side of the busy road, so I wouldn't recommend if traveling with young children. There is a beautiful pool area with a hot tub and bar. They also have a very nice bar area with a fire pit that is very relaxing to sit by in the evening.
The rooms are very nice. They are tropical themed and very well taken care of. We had a small balcony on our room that over looked the pool area. It was gorgeous to see as the sun was rising.
There is a beach area out front, but mostly for walking and photos. It's not for laying out and getting in the surf. It's pretty rocky from the lava. There are plenty of chairs for sun-bathing at the pool. It's a very beautiful beach and unlike any you will see on other non-volcanic islands.
Overall, we give this hotel 3 out of 5 pillows. If breakfast were included or free shuttle rides to/from a tourist spot we would bump it up to a 4. Great for small families and couples.
We rented a car from the airport. It was fairly cheap and totally worth it. The island has a lot to offer and it's spaced out. It's also just lush and beautiful with all the greenery, so the drives were amazing. Be prepared for high gas prices. It's an island in the middle of nowhere.
We highly recommend bringing hiking shoes or sneakers with good tread if you are going out sight seeing. Waimei Canyon (video) is one of the most beautiful natural creations I have ever seen. It should be on the Wonders of the World list. It's like the Grand Canyon but filled with lush greenery from the rain the island gets. It's a bit of a drive to get up there. Cows in the road. Chickens in the road. Just go slow and enjoy the views. There are lots of stops and photo ops along the way too. As dorky as it sounds I highly recommend taking a selfie stick or small tripod. I'm not big on strangers taking my pics because they don't always turn out the way you want. If you can do it yourself, go for it. Links below for items we use.
You will also need good shoes (that can get wet) if you plan on getting close to any of the waterfalls on the island. We weren't able to hike down to the base of Wailua Falls the day we visited because it was raining and made it very slippery. We caught breathtaking, amazing views from the road above. We took pictures that were so beautiful they are now enlarged and hanging in our living room. Highly recommend spending a few hours at one of the falls. Wailua was easy to find and had ample parking available.
We ate at quite a few different places and they were all fantastic. The Courtyard Marriott has a very nice outdoor, covered dining area. We only had small appetizers and drinks there. All were great. The benefit to eating there is you can charge it to your room and worry about paying at check out. Simple convenience. My favorite place we found was a breakfast spot. We read about it on TripAdvisor and drove to check it out. Kalaheo Cafe & Coffee Company is a friendly little cafe in upcountry Kalaheo on the way to Waimea Canyon. We got lucky and sat outside to enjoy some coffee and breakfast. Highly recommend this place. We give it 5 out of 5 forks!
We also ate lunch at a small spot near the hotel (walking distance) called Kauai Pasta. We tried the alfredo pasta, salads, ciabatta chicken sandwich and truffle fries. We also had local craft beers. It was all delicious. We give it 3 out of 5 forks.
If waterfalls, hiking, lush, beautiful greenery are things you love then this island is for you. There is a building height restriction on the island that prevents structures from being over 4 stories high which allows for the most amazing views regardless of where you are standing. We would love to go back and if anyone can figure out how to teleport us there and forgo another 9 hour flight please message us.
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