A Day Trip to Kaua'i from Aulani
An Aulani Resort Reviewby Cheryl Pendry, PassPorter Featured Columnist
Last modified 11-20-2014
On our visit to Disney's Aulani, we took the bold, and perhaps foolish step of taking day trips to Big Island, Kaua'i, and Maui. Big Island was the first part of this series of articles.
The second island we headed to was Kaua’i, also known as the Garden Isle, and for good reason. As we came into land from our short half-hour flight, we could see vast expanses of green vegetation beneath us. It was as if we were entering a whole different country, having come from the sprawling mass of Honolulu.
Kauai - Wailua Falls
Enjoying the splendour of Wailua Falls, near Lihue.
This is very much a rural place, as shown by the chickens that you’ll no doubt encounter at some point during your visit. Brought to the island by the original settlers, they now appear on postcards, and pretty much wherever you look. We found our first one just outside the airport!
It’s important to know a couple of things about Kaua’i before heading there. Look at any map, and the first thing that will strike you is the lack of roads. There’s literally one that rings about three quarters of the coastline, and one that goes inland, and that’s about it. Large chunks of the island are only accessible by boat, hiking or air, and to get the best perspective of the island, you’ll need to either get your walking boots on, take to the water, or invest in a helicopter trip.
We did the latter, although sadly we were thwarted in our endeavors, as the rain came in just as we got to the airfield. It’s the second thing worth thinking about if you’re on a day trip here, either from Aulani or from the Disney Wonder's fall 2015 Hawaiian itineraries. We made the mistake of booking the last flight of the day, so we had no further options open to us again. If we do it again, and we do hope to make it back to Kaua’i to finally take the helicopter tour, we’ll go for an early slot. Then, if the weather doesn’t cooperate, hopefully we'd have a second chance later in the day to see the part of the island not open to visitors who stick to the road alone.
Despite that setback, we did manage to see enough of Kaua’i to give us a good idea of what it has to offer. My faithful guidebook told me that no visitor should leave the island without seeing Waimea Canyon State Park, and I have to say I think that advice was spot on. This is the road that heads inland, and from Lihu’e, home to the island’s airport and cruise port, it’s not a quick journey to the canyon. It takes around an hour and a half, but my goodness, it is worth it. The view from the lookout is absolutely majestic, and reminded us of the views from the Grand Canyon, albeit on a smaller scale, and with more greenery. The colors and contours in the rock beneath us really took our breath away. The place's nickname, "Grand Canyon of the Pacific," is well earned.
The other major draw here is the coastline, and particularly the white sandy beaches. Of course, these can be found on all the Hawaiian islands, but here, they’re clearly popular, judging by all the hotels we saw with private beaches. We visited Poipu on the southern side of Kaua’i. That’s home to Spouting Horn, a natural blowhole in black lava, and it looked as if it was breathing water in and out. We lucked out here and found a superb restaurant by one of the rare public beaches. Brennecke’s Beach Broiler served up some wonderful food, and gorgeous views. It really did feel like paradise!
Our final stop of the day were the Wailua Falls, just outside Lihu’e. When we saw them, they were roaring with water, following a downpour. It was certainly the best time to visit them, as with any waterfall. A word of caution though, if you drive there on your own. The road seems as if it’s not going to lead anywhere, but trust the signs, as it does.
It’s a shame that we didn’t have time to explore Lihu’e itself, apart from seeing its airport on the way in and out of the island. My guidebook had pointed out a number of sights there I would have liked to have visited, had we had more time; I guess there’s always next time. When we do get back there, perhaps we can make it to Kaua’i Museum to learn more about the island’s history or the Grove Farm Homestead, site of one of Kauai’s plantations.
Kauai - Spouting Horn
Spouting Horn in action!
Is it worth making a day trip out to Kaua’i from Aulani? I would definitely say so, but do keep in mind that you’ll need to work out how best to see the parts of the island that aren’t accessible by road. We enjoyed our visit to the island without our helicopter flight, but taking that flight is one very good reason to try again on our next trip to Aulani. In the final of this series of articles, I’ll be looking at our day trip over to the beautiful island of Maui, perhaps our favorite of all three day trips we took during our time at Aulani.
Updated 11-20-2014 - Article #1135
by PassPorter Travel Press, an imprint of MediaMarx, Inc.
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