Some people like to pack as much into a vacation as possible, and Hawai’i’s many islands each beckon. However, Joan and I decided to deeply explore a single place: Kaua’i, the Garden Island. It is the oldest of the islands and quite beautiful. We loved exploring Waimea Canyon, the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. I really wanted to see the stunning view from Pu’u o Kila Lookout, but we arrived just as the clouds rolled in. Joan was so patient as I begged for just another minute, which turned into twenty; I almost made us late for the amazing lu’au at the Grand Hyatt, where we were staying. Joan learned to hula, and we enjoyed the performance of various Pacific Island dances. We did enjoy seeing Spouting Horn after going out for lunch in Poipu at the Beach House, which has a lovely view of the ocean. Then again, it is hard to get a bad view anywhere on the island; it’s so beautiful.

Because it was March, to take a boat to see the Na Pali coast, we had to leave from the west, and so we went with Liko Kaua’i Tours. On our tour we saw sea turtles mating, bottle-nose dolphins, spinner dolphins, and humpback whales. Riding along the coastline was also gorgeous if very bumpy. We later took a helicopter tour with Blue Hawaiian to see more of the island; over 70% of the island isn’t accessible by cars (and much of it is privately owned anyhow). I was a bit nervous about getting into the helicopter, but it was really incredible even when it became overcast and a little dizzly. On our last day and just before we needed to make it to the airport, we trekked the two miles to the beach and two miles back along the Na Pali coast on the Kalalau Trail. I was so glad I was wearing Tevas because they meant all the red clay mud was no big deal, AND when I was tired and hot I could just walk into the water unlike everyone who was rock hopping (not to dis rock hopping, which is great). The trail was difficult, but every turn was stunning. Despite how much we enjoyed the boat and helicopter tours, hiking was our favorite way to see the Na Pali coast.

Of course, I’d be remiss in not sharing that we also enjoyed immensely staying at the Grand Hyatt and just being lazy at the pools. If I’m honest, it was actually a challenge to leave the resort most days because it was so wonderfully relaxing, and they had incredible restaurants (and great pineapple) and views.

Food tips: We loved the spicy poke at Ishihathe Market in Waimea. Joan called it that poi (steamed taro root, which is a lavender color) does taste like wallpaper paste. Kalua pig and chicken lu’au are excellent, and so are Hawaiian sweet potatoes (purple sweet potatoes). If walu (butterfish) or opah (fish) is on the menu, order it. Lambert’s Ice Cream has a “can’t decide” option where you can put 5 scoops together, so you know what we got. Shave ice is amazing IF there is a fruit sauce, not syrup; enjoyed it at Hee Fat General Store in Kapa’a.

If you want to plan your own adventure, check out “The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook.” It was awesome.