My husband and I were joking that it might be easier to go to Hawaii, than decide which family to spend Christmas with, this year. This is turn, made me think of all my fond Hawaiian memories. As a child, my parents would take us to Oahu. In high school, I was lucky to go to Maui twice with my zoology class. My husband and I went to Oahu in 2006 to visit a friend and in 2008 we went to Kauai for our honeymoon. Each island, that I've been to, is simply a paradise. With direct flights into Honolulu and Li'hue, it's only a 5 hour flight from Seattle, so why not visit these tropical islands?
Kauai has many amazing spots for snorkeling, eating, and just laying by the beach. My favorite snorkeling places in Kauai are Hideaways, Tunnels, and Ke'e. We had the best gelato in Poi'pu. We brought a few books so the beaches of Kapa'a near our hotel were perfect for reading in the sun.
The first full day we were in Kauai, we started easy snorkeling at Lydgate State Park. The cove is protected by a rock wall but the swell still breaks over the rocks and some fish get in.
We found Hideaways Beach a few days later. It is picturesque and probably the best snorkeling spot on the island. We went back to this beach several times, even though our hotel was at least 30-40 minutes away. We're probably biased but the whole North shore was pretty amazing for snorkeling and sunning. Hideaways is pretty secluded though and the coral was fantastic. The view from up above is gorgeous but walking down the the rickety staircase to the beach is a fun and beautiful experience too.
Tunnels should really be called Turtles Beach. There were so many there and at Ke'e just down the road. They were so peaceful and plentiful that we got tons of pictures of them.
Napali Coast and Waimea Canyon were great day excursions. We hiked a few trails in Waimea Canyon but due to the heat, we didn't do more than a mile or two. There's a reason Mark Twain once called it "the Grand Canyon of the Pacific". There were fortunately many view points and ledges with railings to get gorgeous photos. In my opinion, Napali Coast was best seen from the ocean. You can get the full appreciation of the 22 mile trail without suffering from heat stroke. The ocean spray was very refreshing too! We saw dolphins, turtles, and the fish seen while snorkeling were amazing. Captain Andy's is one of the many possible boat companies that you can take to tour the coast. If you're feeling adventurous, I recommend bringing lots of water, sunscreen, bug spray, and a well broken in pair of hiking boots before attempting the Napali Coast trail!
While there are many amazing places to eat in Kauai, I highly suggest, the King and I Thai in Kapa'a and ask for Porcupine shrimp! We also enjoyed Scotty's Beachside BBQ, right on the water. Our guidebook, Kauai Revealed, couldn't stop talking about it!
Next up: Oahu-North Shore, specifically Turtle Bay