Soldier to Soldier Hawaii

You Can See a Lot of Kauai in Just 3 Days

[Music] Aloha! Let's get you to Kauai, Hawaii's Garden 
Isle. If you're like me, you often hear that it's   the best of the Hawaiian islands, the must-see 
island. And that it takes a full week or more to   do it justice. But if you don't have that kind 
of time, you can see most of the highlights in   just three days and I'll show you how I did just 
that.

But there's no doubt about it, you'll want   to stay for seven days, ten days and possibly the 
rest of your life. I'll show you where I stayed,   where I ate, where I hiked, 
where I drove, where I kayaked, where i sailed, and what i love 
most about this spectacular,   easy to navigate, friendly Hawaiian isle. First a little geography. You'll arrive at the 
airport at Lihue. From there it's a short drive   to Kapa'a, centered between the north and south 
coast, it was my home base. This east side of   the island, known as the Coconut Coast, is a 
spectacular place to catch sunrises. Thanks to   an abundance of roosters, you won't miss one of 
them. The North Shore has the Kilauea Lighthouse,   Princeville and a lifetime supply of beautiful 
beaches. On the South Shore is the postcard   perfect Old KIaloa Town, food trucks galore, 
the Eucalyptus Tree Tunnel, Port Allen, where   you'll board boats cruising the NaPali Coast, 
surfer-friendly beaches, perfect for sunsets,   and Waimea Canyon.

The northwest side of 
the island is home to the skyscraping sea   cliffs of the NaPali Coast. Your car can't 
make it there but a coastal cruise sure can. My journey to the Garden Isle started at LAX 
aboard a non-stop LIH bound flight. Here's a tip:   keep a pen close for the arrival questionnaire 
you're always required to fill out just before   landing. The small Kauai airport is easy to 
navigate. Getting my rental car couldn't have   been easier. Here's another tip: always check 
to see if you can get a discounted rental car   through your airline or another membership 
program. It can be a real cost-cutter.   In 2015 Airbnb changed the way i travel forever. 
Since then I've stayed in some incredible places   all over the world. From London to Rome, 
to Oahu, the Big Island and Maui. And Kauai   is no different. I rented an Airbnb at Aston 
Islander on the beach in Kapa'a. My beachfront,   poolside condo couldn't have been more perfect 
for me.

I love a great view and a great location.   Centered between the north and south shores, 
just feet away from the oceanfront Lava Lava   Beach Club, with the Coconut Marketplace and all 
its shops restaurants and free shows out front,   checked all the boxes for me. This place offered 
me all the benefits of a large resort without   any of the hassles. A worry-free experience 
with no cost parking and no extra resort fees.   Day one and the roosters make sure 
i'm up for a spectacular sunrise   right out my door. When visiting a place for the 
first time, i try to keep the first day as free   as possible. No planned excursions, no places 
I have to be. Heading for the north shore i hit   the highway, stopping briefly at a lookout for 
an expansive look back at the Coconut Coast. My first stop on the North Shore the Kilauea 
Lighthouse at Kilauea Point National Wildlife   Refuge.

Lighthouse and refuge tours may be limited 
or suspended. Check their websites as you plan   your trip. But open or not, make sure you take the 
short journey from the highway to view the point.   The setting is spectacular. From high above 
you see the waves crashing onto the rocks below   as you look out toward the lighthouse, perched 
high atop the point since 1913. See if you can   spot a red-footed booby, an albatross, a Hawaiian 
monk seal, a green sea turtle or a humpback whale.   This is after all a humpback whale sanctuary. On 
my way out i spotted a flock of nenes. The nene,   also known as the Hawaiian goose, is Hawaii's 
state bird.

Spotting so many on day one has   got to be good luck. Continue along the 
highway exploring as you go. It's an island,   most roads lead to or end at a beach. As a gulf 
coast southerner, shade trees on beaches fill   me with envy, and Kauai has more than its share. 
Grab a bite in Princeville and continue along the   highway past two Hanalei lookouts. At the valley 
lookout you'll see how fertile soil is farmed. While at the bay lookout you'll get an 
expansive view of mountains valley and bay. The North Shore can be rainy, 
especially in winter months,   but five minutes of rain here was all I 
experienced in my three days on the island. Make your way over the Hanalei Bridge to Hanalei 
Bay, taking in the view at Hanalei beach. Continue along the highway to Wainiha Bay Park, 
a thin strip of easily accessible rocky beach   with great views. The North Shore gets about 85 
inches of rain yearly making it very lush. The   winter months, especially February, aren't too 
friendly to North Shore swimmers or boaters,   but summer months, that's a different 
story.

Obviously you can spend more than   a day exploring kauai's north shore, but if 
that's all you've got, you can see a lot. Try to make it to Haena Beach Park. There's a lot 
to see: expansive beaches, lava rocks to climb,   in front of lush mountains, while lifeguards watch 
all. If you're lucky, a food truck might even be   in the parking lot. Just across the street is the 
massive, though easy to drive right by and miss,   Maniniholo Dry Cave. With a sandy floor and high 
ceiling that gradually tapers down, this cavernous   arena could host one of Hawaii's larger lauas. 
At 300 feet deep, it's a don't miss. It's also a   thing of legend. Choose yours: a secret escape 
route from Waimea Canyon on the South Shore   or home to a fish stealing evil spirit. 
The cave was my last North Shore highlight. On the way back make a quick stop 
at the community park in Kilauea.   The aloha sign, shaped out of 
shrubs, is certainly selfie worthy. Heading to my Airbnb i stop at Keālia 
Beach on the east side's Coconut Coast.   It's an expansive beach, one with strong 
surf and even stronger surfers.

But   it's not my last beach of the day. 
I've got one just outside my door. Man does not live by apple bananas and peanut 
butter alone. Sacrificing good meals for lots   and lots of great sights this day means I'm 
deserving of a no-holds-barred supper at Lava Lava   Beach Club, just yards from my home base Kauai 
condo. Ending the day here–outside, beach side,   with live music, cool breezes, Kona beer and 
fantastic food–is the best way to finish   a near perfect day of exploration. Now to bed. 
The roosters will be up early and so will I. What'd i tell you? Day two. Time to hit the river. And i 
don't have to go far to start the day. i planned two paid excursions 
for my three days on Kauai.   First up the Wailua River kayak and 
waterfall hike with Rainbow Kayak Tours.   The meeting place? A snorkel shop 
right in front of the Islander.   So close to my door, I couldn't be late 
for the 7 a.m. meetup if I tried. And   i'll just give it away now, this was a 
fantastic experience.

A great paddle,   yes. A great hike, yes. Beautiful scenery, 
beautiful view, yes. But it was an outstanding   experience thanks mostly to Zach, our guy.It's 
the king. The king of the Wailua. Here's a tip:   solo travel has benefits. Case in point: 
you almost always get paired with the guide.   This time even paddling isn't required. The 
ultimate tour. I do nothing. I do nothing. The Wailua River is on the east side of the island 
between Kapa'a and Lihue, just a short drive by   van from our Kapa'a meeting point. To get to 
and from secret falls requires several miles   of paddling and a one-mile hike. You'll cross the 
river on foot, Hike through tall elephant grass,   walk riverside across a boardwalk and cross a 
couple of small falls until you catch your first   glimpse of majestic 120-foot-tall Secret Falls. 
You're the first group to get here.

This place,   it's going to fill up fast. First up: a Hawaiian 
lunch backpacked in by Zach. Sandwich, chips,   pineapple and water. Then it's time for the king 
of the Wailua to make his way behind the falls. [Applause] Make no mistake, the water 
is ice cold and behind the falls   it's kind of hard to breathe. But it's 
the least a king can do for his subjects.   Our return trip, Zach filled 
it with insight and humor.

Almost all this water is coming from the middle 
of the island: Mount Waiʻaleʻale which competes   for the wettest place on Earth. You guys seen 
the movie Castaway with Tom Hanks Same stuff   that he used to tie his raft together when 
he finally left the island–the hal bush.   It's also considered a canoe 
plant, meaning it was brought here   on the canoes by the Polynesians 
when they discovered Hawaii. [Laughter] I make that noise and he gets hungry [Laughter]   This five to six hour Wailua River kayak and 
waterfall hike departs twice daily, weekdays   at 7 a.m and 12 30 p.m from the snorkel shop 
just behind the Coconut Marketplace next to the   Islander.

If you do go with Rainbow Kayak Tours 
and Zack is your guide, bring your best dad jokes.   He's got a few hundred, shares them freely 
and would love to add to his collection.   When a good guide recommends a place to 
eat, take him up on it. Case in point,   the Fish Express at Lihue. It's a grab 
great food and go kind of place [Music]   and it's all I needed to fuel my afternoon South 
Shore drive. The ultimate goal: Waimea Canyon.   Like most everywhere on the island, 
it's an easy stress-free journey. Just before you get to the 
canyon or on your way back,   pull off the road and take in the 
Martian like beauty of Red Dirt Falls. It's an oddly peaceful place with 
no little green men in sight. To visit Waimea Canyon you don't pass through 
or pay an entrance fee at a ranger station.   Instead when you park in the canyon lookout lot 
you buy a ticket from a machine. Here's a tip:   just shoot a photo of your tag with your phone so 
you have the number handy to enter when paying.   Put the receipt in your car window and you're good 
to go.

The lookout has an expansive two level deck that allows you to take in the 10 mile long, 
3000 foot deep vibrantly colored gorge. Waimea   Canyon was formed by the Waimea river as 
it carried rainfall from Mount Waiʻaleʻale,   one of the wettest places on earth. You could 
spend a lot of time hiking and exploring here,   but my aim this day is to get to 
a South Shore beach for sunset. As i make my way back down the coast something as 
simple as tall grass in the afternoon sun becomes   a top roadside attraction for me. It's Hawaii. 
Look around. Even simple things are spectacular. I make it to an expansive South Shore 
beach in plenty of time for sunset.

At this wide treeless beach 
surf is up and surfers are out providing a great free sunset show [Music] Kauai, like a lot of Hawaii, shuts down 
early. Just before 9 p.m. I was the last   diner served at Bobby B's, a pizza place 
at Coconut Marketplace near my Airbnb.   My day starts early so bedtime 
isn't something i'll fight. [Music] Day 3: the Nāpali Coast. No 
roosters. They're still asleep.   Why so early? I have to get to Port Allen on the 
South Shore by 7:30 a.m to catch the boat or in   this case catamaran. From Kapa'a it's 23 miles or 
46 minutes according to Google Maps. There are no   early morning traffic delays and there's ample 
parking at the port. I arrive in plenty of time.   After a captain's briefing we walk to the dock 
and board Layla, a 50-foot Kauai made catamaran.   This is Holo Holo's five-hour Nāpali Coast snorkel   and sailing tour and it's the only 
other excursion i booked this trip.

First up we snorkel at a coral 
reef not far from the dock.   The water was cold, but not 
behind the waterfall cold. The company provides snorkeling equipment 
and the crew outfits passengers.   With little wind and calm seas the sails 
stay down as we power up the Nāpali Coast.   Making good time, we reach the end of 
the sea cliffs before turning back.   Time for lunch: sandwiches, veggies, a 
bit of pasta and drinks of your choice.   The cruise also offers a continental breakfast. 
As we make our way back down the coast our focus   turns to whales.

And on this near perfect day 
we spot a mother and calf in the distance and   then more whales. With a little encouragement 
from Van Halen they give us a show. Make sure   you bring binoculars or a zoom lens. You don't 
want to miss out on a close-up look. I popped   a few Dramamine the night before and morning of 
this ocean outing. A few people spent most of the   cruise leaning over the back of the boat. Here's 
a tip: make sure you pack Dramamine or Bonine.   You can burn too much time searching Hawaii 
stores for it the night before it's needed.   If you never get motion sick don't risk it on 
the Pacific Ocean during your Hawaiian vacation.

Like yesterday's waterfall hike this was 
a wonderful way to spend the first half   of a Kauai day. The catamaran was sleek and fast, 
the crew informative and fun, the food was good,   the arrival directions clear. Just a 
great experience all the way around. [Music] You guys want to see a Pterodactyl?   Thank you. The second part of my final day I follow the South 
Shore's Eucalyptus Tree Tunnel to Old Kaloa Town. A bit of time travel to Hawaii's plantation past. i spent some time in the shops and ate more 
than my fair share at two easy-to-find food   truck villages. [Music] Keeping with the 
theme, I head back to Kapa'a and peruse one   of the many farmers markets on the island, 
There's one somewhere just about every day. And what's Hawaii without an Elvis tune? [Music]   A free hula show at Coconut Marketplace was the 
perfect way to wind down a spectacular last day on   the island. The shopping center has a supermarket 
sized ABC Store and several restaurants, all   walkable for me. My Islander Airbnb is just yards 
away. I spent some time exploring the Islander:   photographing flowers and trees and enjoying some 
down time on my own backyard beach.

[Music] Of   course there is no way my last night wouldn't 
feature another Lava Lava Beach Club meal. [Music]   So you see it can be done. You can see a 
lot on Kauai in just three days. This was   my itinerary. It's what I found interesting, what 
I thought I could accomplish. Do your research,   read reviews and then see Kauai. It will 
change the way you see every place else. Aloha!   [Music].

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