Our Time On Kauai

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Posted 12/26/2015

Greetings from Kauai.  We landed here early in the day and we were at the hotel pool and beach by lunch time.  Don’t forget, we are staying on Starwood points (squished in one room) at the St. Regis Princeville Resort.  But we have our portable bed, so we made it work.  And yes, the hotel is quite spectacular with a few buts which I will talk about later.

So, the first day was “hotel day” and we hung at the pool.  We rented snorkeling gear and stand-up paddle boards and played in the calm waters of Hanalei Bay.  IMG_1027We did all of this in between and during frequent sun showers.  But don’t forget, we knew that we were staying on the rainy side of the island when we booked the trip.  And, as I said then, at least if it rains, maybe we would see rainbows.  And yes, we saw amazing ones! (Look at the pictures) It was worth the rain!

We had dinner that first night at Bar Acuda, which seems to be a hot spot, in the town of Hanalei.  We saw Ben Stiller!  There we shared a bunch of delicious tapas and agreed it had been our best meal thus far in Hawaii. My kids are becoming pretty adventurous eaters which makes it so much better for me when choosing restaurants.

The next day we had a raft tour of the Napali Coast booked.  Unfortunately, it was canceled due to high winds.  I knew this was risky to book in the winter, but hoped we would get lucky.  We did not.  Rob and I had seen the Napali coast via helicopter on our honeymoon in 1998.  (Remember, we flew to Hawaii for free on Delta)  We wanted the kids to see the coast too.  I had opted for the raft as Rob and I have already done the helicopter on Kauai, and we planned to do a helicopter on the big island.  I also passed on the catamaran tour as there was no snorkeling or exploration of sea caves like there was with the raft.  We had only one option.  To return one day in the summer :-), to do the raft and the Kalalau Trail hike, which I am dying to do, but which we also skipped this trip because of the previous rainfall and dangerous conditions. :-(

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Spouting Horn

With a free day ahead of us, we headed south to explore the town of Koloa and the well known Poipu Beach.  (Rob and I stayed at the Hyatt at Poipu Beach on our honeymoon in 1998-not on points).  We had a great lunch overlooking Poipu Beach at Brennecke’s Beachfront Restaurant.  From there we went and checked out Spouting Horn and saw a turtle hanging on the rocks.  Really cool!

IMG_1127After that, we headed to Waimea Canyon State Park.  We drove all the way to the end of the road.  We made frequent stops along the way at the lookouts, where we took mini hikes, and we checked out the Lodge at Kokee which was another fun stop.  It rained on and off during our drive, but at one lookout we were treated to the best rainbow we had seen on our whole trip.  I may never get a picture like this one again!Image 199

We made one stop on the very long drive back to the hotel at the Kauai Coffee Company.  Here we sampled a ton of different coffees, and enjoyed watching the ongoing video that details the coffee growing process.  When we finally got back, we had dinner in Princeville at Nanea,  the restaurant at the Westin, the sister property to the St. Regis.  It was also really good and very close to the hotel which was great because we were exhausted from our day.

Image 139We were off to Princeville Ranch the next day for a horseback ride and waterfall hike.  The only other time my family had gone horseback riding was when we were in Colorado in the summer of 2013.  On that ride, the horses followed one another in a line at a snail’s pace.  Although the kids really enjoyed their first horseback riding experience, it was definitely a little boring.  I actually think Rob fell asleep on the horse.

This horseback ride was better.  Although the horses still just slowly walked, we had free “rein” of where we could go along the route.  We just needed to move in the same direction and stay close to the guide and the group.  We had to really control the horses to get them to move, not to eat!, and to go right or left.

IMG_1146After riding for about 20 minutes, we left our horses and began a 20 minute moderate, but very slippery descent to a waterfall.  Here we swam in the waterfall (check) and had a rugged, but very nice picnic lunch.

The hike back up to the horses was even more adventurous (especially in the winter because of the gushing waterfall).  You are tethered to a line as you cross the middle of the waterfall so you do not get swept away by the falls.  After that, you are tethered once again as you have to climb up a small rock wall.  The hike was as much fun as the ride.  Back at the top, we got back on our horses and returned to the ranch.  The whole tour was about three hours and I highly recommend it.  It was great!

IMG_1219From the ranch, we headed to Hanalei town for shave ice and shopping.  That night we went to the hotel Luau.  Although the fire part of the show was very cool, the rest of the show was a bit boring for the kids.  But, we had to get the Luau in.  As I have said in the past, when in Rome……Luau check.

Image 123The next day we went mountain tubing with Kauai Backcountry Adventures.  This experience was the authentic version of our favorite ride at the Atlantis, the Rapids River ride.  (Remember we flew to the Atlantis for free and earned tons of Marriott points when we stayed at the Atlantis).

During the tubing, you go through 5 tunnels, one of which you are in for about 10 minutes.  You have headlights on your helmets so you can see while you are in the tunnels.  They encourage you to do the last tunnel without your light.  We did!  The whole adventure was a lot of fun and relatively easy, unless you are claustrophobic or hate cold water.

Image 234After our tubing adventure, we had lunch in the town of Kappa at the infamous Bubba’s Burgers.  We had a prime dining location overlooking the main street in Kappa.  We had a lazy afternoon at the hotel and then dinner in the St. Regis bar, where we shared a few apps and some sushi.

Image 165Our last day on Kauai we spent at the hotel, eating and swimming and watching a movie (The Walk) in the room.  We had flights that night at 6:30 to the big island.  Before we drove to the airport, we headed north past Hanalei where we checked out the dry and wet caves and saw the start to the Kalalau Trail.  I am so sad we did not do this hike–next time!.  :-(

Ok, now more about the St. Regis as I promised above.  The actual hotel, the setting and view are spectacular.  Our room was so nice and modern and perfectly fine for the 5 of us.  But…Rob did not think the gym was great.  The pool and the beach were small and unfortunately, when we were there, the Pacific was calm with no waves.  (We like waves!)

But, the real problem lies in the fact that even if you stay for free on Starwood points, like we did, everything that you do in the hotel is so expensive.  Rob and I got 2 coffees every morning for $5.00 per cup.  The hotel luau was crazy expensive, as was our meal in the St. Regis bar and our various meals at the pool.  We sent just the kids to the breakfast buffet (at the low price of $21 per kid) as I did not want to spend $38 to eat some eggs and bacon.

The upside to all of this is that during our stay, I earned three (3) Starpoints on our incidental charges (like meals) because I am an SPG Gold member and upon checkout, I used my American Express Starwood Preferred Guest card to pay our hotel bill (for meals, etc) and I will receive two (2) Starpoints for each dollar spent at Starwood resorts with the card.  So, on the plus side, I will earn a bunch of Starwood points due to our very high St Regis bill for our extras!