This is a post that’s a bit different than the usual posts. I wanted to take a second to laud our travel agent and tell you all about our most recent trip. A romatic getaway to the Island of Kauai Hawaii, planned by Monique with Plumeria Breezes Travel.
Back in March we reached out to the wonderful Monique to help us book our anniversary trip to Hawaii. Monique was absolutely full of recommendations, pointers, and the knowledge needed to help us plan the best trip to Hawaii we could have ever imagined. I highly recommend her if you need to book a trip and, like me, are so tired of planning every day of everyone else’s life and are absolutely ready to let it go too, and just enjoy the trip.
At the airport we decided to have breakfast, and get any food we were going to eat on the plane. As we were walking around we noticed we didn’t have headsets for our phones and let me tell you, they’re freakishly expensive. When you can find the exact same headphones for 1/3 the cost online you know they are marking the crapola up out of them. After 5.5 hours of movies, a brief nap we were finally descending into the island of Kauai. To our right was open ocean so that was a bit unnerving as we were landing but to the left we could see the beautiful mountains of the island and the Napali Coast.
When we landed in Hawaii we were greeted by warm breeze and smiling faces. After a short walk, we grabbed our bags and were taken by bus to the car rental place, which was about .1 mile away so what’s the bus for I don’t know haha. I know everyone is always trying to up-sell, to make the bigger dollar, so when we were offered to upgrade to a jeep, I said no thank you. But when the lady asked if we were planning on heading to the beach and the canyon and really suggested us taking the jeep, we said okay and we are very glad we did. We then headed to Costco on the advice of a local, and a frequent visitor. We grabbed some alcohol, water and some snacks for the hotel. We also grabbed lunch from Costco. We then headed to the Grand Hyatt. Through lush green landscape, and even a road seemingly tunneled by trees we headed south. Windows down, warm breeze blowing, and island music on the radio to say we were really feeling the island vibes.
Immediately after parking we were greeted at the hotel by extremely friendly staff and beautiful leis. We checked into our room, were congratulated on celebrating our anniversary with complimentary champagne! We got situated and wandered the grounds a little bit. We discovered I forgot some necessary toiletries so we ran down to the Longs Drugs just down the way. We were surprised to find so many restaurants right in that little mall area. After wandering around, and smelling the air sweet with island barbeque we decided to eat at Kiewa. We found out that the owner used to do a food truck and just recently opened this space. This open-air restaurant with their hip trendy interior was just what the doctor ordered! Nick ordered the crispy pork and I ordered the BBQ pork sandwich and oh my gosh! It was so good! Later in the week we ended up going back because it was so good.
After eating a spectacular breakfast that was included in our room cost, and taking in the beautiful sunrise in the Ilima Terrace, Nick and I walked around the hotel some more. We found the Spa and made an appointment to get my hair done. Doing this allowed us access to all the amazing amenities that the spa had to offer. Access to a lap swimming pool, a private spa area and much more is included in your price of your hotel room. Daily there are HIIT classes, an open gym, guided walks and tours of the shipwreck beach, and so much more.
It was only 8 am by this time so The Hubbs and I decided to head out to Shipwreck beach and check that area out. It was beautiful and quintessential Hawaii with the mountains in the background, cliffs and turquoise water. The perfect backdrop to our anniversary photos with Vanessa Hicks Photography.
After our walk and a brief cooling down in the hotel room, we went to Koloa Rum company to sample the local rums. What we got was so much more. The beautiful miss giving the tours taught us about how the islands were united as a kingdom and once the Europeans landed were decimated by the diseases carried through the ships. About the beautiful Queen who tried to pull the island back together but was forced to back down. About how the local language made to help the Chinese, Japanese and Pilipino immigrants talk to one another Pidgeon, was almost an extinct language. At one point in time it was estimated that less than 300 people under the age of 30 spoke Pidgeon fluently. With all the immigrants coming into the state of Hawaii her grandparents were taught that if they spoke Pidgeon to their children, if their children spoke Pidgeon they were considered less than, and stupid. Proudly in the 70’s there began the reformation of the language and the rise of young people learning. Then they overturned the law that forbid anyone from speaking the language and to this day Pidgeon is no longer a threatened language. After trying our samples and eating what was the most delicious macadamia coconut cake around we made our way to the shop. They have so many cute hats, and shirts as well as their yummy rum.
After that we stopped at Safeway and Walmart. Just a little word to the wise, candy, local coffee, alchohol and postcards are cheaper anywhere but in the touristy places.
We went back to the hotel to get my hair done for the photos, by Chelsea. She was so kind and easy to talk to and did exactly what I had envisioned for my hair. After chatting with her, and after about 3 pounds of hairspray, I went back to our room, which had been beautifully cleaned. And to our surprise we found a ton of things on our bed. The day before we had noticed a paper on our nightstand that had “complimentary items just in case you forgot them” and Nick and I were circling all the things on it. The last I saw this paper was on the floor because we were throwing it back and forth. The housekeeping must have found it and actually paid attention and put it on our beds! I couldn’t believe it. They got a big tip the next morning for going above and beyond.
I then put on my pretty dress, watched a YouTube on how to tie a tie, and met Vanessa Hicks out at shipwreck beach. Vanessa is an absolute treasure and I would highly recommend her for your photos anywhere in Hawaii. We had a blast and even chatted for a bit after our session. Since we were all dressed up anyway, we decided to go out to one of the fancier hotel restaurants Dondero’s. This unfortunately was one place I would not recommend going. Their food was so expensive and our waiter seemed to have better things to do, such as chatting up the bartender. The food was also not good. We ordered the Caesar salad, which as you can see came as whole leaves of romaine with bricks of bread they called croutons. This was tasteless, except for the whole pieces of fish wedged in the salad. The croutons tasted like Styrofoam. We also ordered the fried mozzarella, that too was tasteless. The breading on the mozza balls was barely crispy and the cheese inside luke warm. The red sauce served under the mozza balls tasted like it was made from tomatoes that weren’t ripe. My husband ordered the Mushroom Tortelli. Same story as the other food, it was bland and boring and tasteless. I honestly feel like it was a waste of $85. Yes $85 for a small salad, 9 quarter sized mozza balls, and three tortelli. One cool part of our hotel is that every day in the main lobby people are allowed to sell their "wares" as my husband called it so you get some local vendors in there selling some super cool things! And showing off their parrots.
We woke up early this day too, not because we had set the alarm but because they are 3 hours behind us in Hawaii. The breakfast at the Ilima Terrace is really delicious. They have a variety of breads, bagels, sweet treats like apple fritters, coffee cakes, and muffins. For proteins they have a cold case with fresh salmon, cream cheese, different kinds of fancy cheeses, capers, pickles, salad makings (yes for breakfast) and 4 different kinds of juices. They do serve coffee and soft drinks and alcoholic beverages too. As far as the hot items they had every day eggs benedict, bacon, sausage, spam hash, scrambled eggs, an omelette making station, miso soup, pancakes, waffles, island French bread, coconut syrup, regular syrup, Hawaiian bread pudding, and they had a cereal bar. There also was a rotation between hawiian pork buns, and potstickers too. So much variety. Oh my gosh Lest we not forget the oatmeal bar! I wonder why I gained 9 pounds in 6 days.
After another glorious breakfast, we drove our car west, and headed toward Waimea Canyon. There was an opportunity to hike at the top but a word of warning 1.8 miles would take you 2-3 hours so plan accordingly and bring plenty of water and snacks. We went to the end of the road, all the way to the top. We were greeted by two gentlemen in loincloths, barely covering anything set up to blow their horns into the canyon at the top. Before you hit up the lookout there are men making delicious fresh fruit smoothies. Oh and chickens. Lots of “stooped chickens” as they call them.
After heading back down we went even further west to Polihale Beach one of the furthest places you can go on this side of the island. This little gem was told to us by my hairdresser and is a quiet little beach surrounded by cliffs. The locals go here to get away from the tourists. They do have a shower station which was a nice surprise after milling around in the sand. I will warn you, this is where the jeep came in handy. Someone on our way out was driving in to the beach in a little mazda car and they had 10 cars behind them, I assume because they had to go so slow in the rough roads.
On the way back we stopped at the Red Dirt Shirt company, where we found the best deals on shirts. About $10 each. They even gave us these cute little glass snails, which we then mailed to our kids along with their souvenirs from the day. I will say this was one of the best pieces of advice from the Rum lady. Mail back your clothes, take more booze! We ended up using the flat rate boxes and it was relatively inexpensive, cheaper than checking an additional bag that’s for sure.
On the way back to the hotel, we ate at Taco loco which was about 20 minutes up the road. I ate the enchilada plate, and my husband ate the carnitas plate and let me tell you, this was the best food we ate all trip! Everything was so flavorful, and even though it was food truck style and we ate at picnic tables I would have easily paid more for it! We went back to the hotel and explored all the pools but ended up in the adult pool this time. There is a little slide from the adult pool into the lazy river and we just had a blast! Around the end of the lazy river there is two waterfalls and one you can sit in/ under and feel like you have found a secret little grotto in the wilderness. After a little while we ventured out once again to find a dinner spot.
We found this cute little marketplace and just happened to be there when the hula dancers were giving their performance.
The man behind the mike was so entertaining.
For example, he asked “who’s here for the first time in Kauai?”
People put their hands up “We call youmua manawa malihini. Who’s here for the second time?”
Other people put their hands up.“We call youlua o ka manawa malihini. Now who here has visited 3 or more times?”
So many people put their hands up. “We call you… rich!”
At this point I was laughing so hard I had tears in my eyes. One guy was wearing a Yakima shirt in the crowd and the man behind the mike called him Mr YAKEEMA.
They then gave us a brief history of the kids in Hawaii and the rich tradition of the hula.“At two years old the children are given their first formal introduction to the Hula. They learn the moves, the stories and the traditions. At 7 years old they are introduced to the props of the hula. The gourds and the other musical instruments. In your teens you begin performances and competitions, and when you become a 3X you become the singer with the guitar.”
I told you he was funny! After that we headed to the Tortilla Republic, to have dinner. We shared the chicken quesadilla, and the chips and salsa. My husband had the fresh lime margarita. This was delicious. I would say this though. The cilantro crema and the guacamole STOLE THE SHOW! I would literally pour it straight into my mouth if it didn’t make me look like a crazy person.
After another delicious breakfast, we headed out to Koloa, and chatted with a few of the locals there. We asked where they eat to avoid all the tourist price mark ups. She said that people usually eat at the big save, because it comes with a drink, and the food trucks are usually well priced.
Because I was craving ice-cream we ended up going to Lapperts. I had no idea they had fresh baked goods, and served coffee so we got distracted by their yummy Peanut Butter Bar and their Chocolate Macadamia Nut Brownies. The gal behind the counter said they get up and at work by 3 am to make sure everything is baked fresh and ready each morning. We went to the Spouting horn, which we have renamed the sprouting horn because when we first read the sign we could swear that is what it said! It was so cool and, along with the visual show, it sounded like a pounding drum and a jet flying overhead. After lunch we headed back to the hotel, and got ready to take our friend’s photographs at shipwreck beach.
We couldn’t have gotten a better sunset and beautiful Hawaii vibes than we got. We then headed to Kiawe again and this time we tried the pink dragonfruit drink to support Breast Awareness (our servers words not mine) We all laughed about how we should have more awareness for breasts! We had the crispy pork (yes again because it was that dang good) the chicken Caesar salad with balsamic reduction (DROOL) and the POG juice. Everything again was top notch.
After a busy few days we decided this day was one to spend in the pool! There are cabanas to rent for $150-$1000 a day but we found some chairs under one of the many umbrellas that are set up. We spent most of our time jumping into the salt water pool, although we did enjoy the waterslide at mach three too! We enjoyed food from the Captains Bar and it was what you would expect from a pool side bar and grille.
After 6 hours we got cleaned up and headed out for dinner at The Eating House. Rumor has it The Eating House was the first restaurant on the island that popped up in 1868. We had their appetizer of edamame which was perfectly salty and with a hint of spice. I ended up eating the calamari with a Caesar salad and my husband had the Spicy Bowl. Both were delicious. My favorite thing about the restaurant was the big quote on the wall “espoza feliz, vida feliz” Truer words have never been spoken.
This was the long-awaited helicopter tour day. For breakfast I had a bagel with cream cheese and bacon, which as it turns out was my favorite breakfast. After catching some of the Hawks game at the Captains Bar, the food was great and the bartenders were AWESOME, We headed up into Lihue for our tour with Sunshine Helicopters and looked around those shops nearby. Again, if you want t-shirts or anything like that be sure to go straight to the source and not get stuck in these strip mall type things. But it is fun to look around nonetheless.
After being bussed to the airport and getting on our emergency belts we got on the helicopter. We had paid for the upgraded seats to be sure we got to sit in the front of this big windowed helicopter. We were with a man named Jed, who was a second-generation helicopter pilot and the pilot who drives all the Hollywood big wigs around. After about 10 minutes in the air, he decided that it was too much of a low cloud day to be able to tour around the island today. I was heart broken but we still got to fly down to our hotel and over the coast a little bit. We did get a full refund and the only thing I would say is don’t schedule your tour the last day you are supposed to be there just in case you have to reschedule due to weather. I would say after a wonderful almost week on the island this was the biggest regret. Not having enough time to schedule a boat tour, or do a helicopter ride we went back to our cars and headed north. We ended up turning around at the Coco Palms (a large skeleton of a hotel that the Hollywood big wigs used to stay at in the age of Elvis) because of all the bad traffic. Even though this was only about 35 miles from our hotel, it took us over an hour to get back.
Helpful hint, plan for everything to take about double the time to get from point A to point B. We ended up eating at No. 1 teriyaki which was basically like eating from a Safeway deli. The coconut shrimp was good, but everything else I could have done without. We ended up going to Walmart to get a set of headphones for the plane that worked with my phone. I have since returned them because I bought the cheapo ones that kept cutting out, but it worked to keep me entertained for the plane ride.
Because of the overcast day there was not one soul in the warm pool, so we hopped right in and enjoyed the privacy. The Jacuzzi was an added bonus of which they have 3 to choose from! I definitely suggest the upper one because you can see the ocean from it.I almost forgot! They have a complimentary washer and dryer at the hotel, and free soap and dryer sheets! This was so nice and I wish I had known this before hand because I would have packed WAY less stuff!
This was the day we set for home! Just FYI as well, the airlines have an agricultural station for your bags to check for dirt, sand, fresh fruits and vegetables. They also check your carryon once you’re in the airport before you are allowed onto the waiting area. And the airlines do not get there more than 2 hours before your take off time so don’t show up 3 hours early thinking you’ll get to have coffee and breakfast in the airport before you leave. We wend back to Ajax parking (best parking in Seattle) got our cars and headed for home.
I had the most enjoyable time on this trip because I didn’t really have to plan anything, we ate when we were hungry, drank great rum, and I really appreciated all the little extras Monique with Plumeria Breezes Travel took into consideration when booking our stay! Seriously go use her!