This past summer, my family and I visited the beautiful Hawaiian island of Kauai. Although we stayed on the southern coast of the island, we were able to explore all Kauai had to offer during wonderful day excursions hiking, boating, and riding aboard a helicopter. The island is easily one of the least populated of the Hawaiin islands, and the lack of overwhelming commercial tourism was what made it so attractive to my family. We loved the natural beauty and geographic diversity of this island, and because it is relatively small we were able to see most of it over the course of our nine day stay.
For the first half of our trip we stayed at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort, which offered beautiful views of the beach, fantastic pools, waterslides, and a lazy river, friendly staff, and quality food. We were very pleased with the service and quality of our stay at the Grand Hyatt, and there were definitely a wide range of people staying there. It was family-friendly, fun, but also quite relaxing.
After a few days at the Grand Hyatt we transitioned to Koloa Landing, where we stayed in condos for the remainder of our trip. This was definitely a good move for our family, because while the Grand Hyatt was beautiful, a four person family with 17 and 19 year old kids was not very conducive to a standard size hotel room. The condos at Koloa Landing were lovely, clean, and spacious. The four of us were more than comfortable, and it was nice to have our own kitchen and living space to spread out. The balconies overlooked the pool, and the complex was easy walking distance from the ocean. Again, the pools here were huge, boasting water slides, Jacuzzis, and waterfalls. It was easy to find a quiet spot tucked away, but it was also very family friendly.
Tracy Murphy Travel did a great job of planning our trip so we alternated lounge days and adventure excursions. Some of the excursions we went on included hiking, a helicopter ride, a boat ride down the Na Pali Coast, and a Luau. We hiked the Waimea Canyon and surrounding areas with a private tour guide from Tours by Locals. Our tour guide, Kate, was absolutely fantastic! She was so knowledgeable about the area, went at a pace that worked for us, and was so friendly. The Waimea Canyon was absolutely stunning, and is a definite must-see. We also took a helicopter ride with Blue Hawaii. This was my first time in a helicopter, and frankly I think my jaw was dropped the entire time. We got to see the entire island, including Waimea Canyon, which we had seen a few days prior, and the Na Pali coast, which we would see up close a few days after our helicopter ride. It was incredible to see just how geographically diverse the island was, and the views were breath-taking. Additionally, because we were in Hawaii, we of course went to a Luau. Although it seemed like a necessity and a quintessential piece of a Hawaiian vacation, it was not my favorite part. I think it is an awesome experience for younger kids and families, but I think my family, being a bit older, found it a bit cheesy.
My absolute favorite day was spent on the north side of Kauai at Hanalei Bay and cruising along the Na Pali Coast. Our boat ride was booked through Holo Holo Charters, where the staff and tour guides were super fun, easy-going, and knowledgeable. On our boat tour we went into caves and waterfalls along the coast, saw the stunning beaches, watched dolphins and sea turtles swim past us, explored beaches and rock formations that have made their way into iconic movies like Pirates of the Caribbean, and even took a swim in the stunningly blue water. The coastline was breath-takingly beautiful, and I was blown away. After our boat ride we spent some time relaxing on the beach of Hanalei Bay, which was peaceful and set to the beautiful backdrop of mountains. It truly was the perfect day.
-Submitted by Emma Murphy, January 2020