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  • Writer's pictureShayna Gaman-Bean

Kid-Free Kauai: Take Two

Updated: Nov 27, 2023

"Kauai is a magical place that leaves an imprint on your heart, and once you visit, you will always yearn to return." ~ unknown

Last year when we traveled to Kauai for a work conference, we thought we would be one and done so we crammed so much in our short time there. It was so amazing that when the opportunity presented itself again this year, we couldn't turn it down. And this time we were able to convince some friends to come along with us. And it was amazing!!

This time we were going to do it a little differently and dedicate some time to relaxation. And we definitely succeeded at that! We also were able to book early enough that we were able to stay at the resort the conference was at and it was beyond amazing!!!

Day 1:

Super early wakeup call this morning for a 0430 ride to the airport. We got there just a little too early to check in so we waited around for a little bit until they opened.

Check in was quick and easy and then to our gate. Fortunately there was a good breakfast spot open so we had breakfast there and then it was time to board.

We saw my colleague who was also attending the conference at breakfast. Turns out he and his family were also on our flight to Maui.

The flight to Maui was uneventful and we got a little sleep too. Just too excited to sleep too much!

We had a 2.5 hour layover in Maui, just enough time to get some food and drinks and then onto Kauai.

We arrived at 1300 and it was super quick getting our luggage and rental car (a jeep) and then off to our resort, Grand Hyatt.

We got to the resort around 1500 which was too early to check in, but they still gave us some vouchers for free drinks and an app poolside.

We checked in about 1600 and our room was amazing with a phenomenal view of the ocean.

We quickly showered and changed and then headed to Poipu Beach to meet up with Linda and Nathan.

We saw the famous green sea turtles at sunset.

And then had dinner at Brennecke’s. Great dinner and great to see friends.

The moon this night was amazing!

We were all exhausted and headed back to the resort to crash.

Day 2:

Of course we were jet lagged now and woke up super early, but it worked out perfectly as I was able to check into my conference and go to a few lectures. It was great seeing so many old faces and a bunch of people from work. Even ran into some people from residency.

I left at the 0900 break and Mike and I headed to the gym before relaxing poolside all day.

We rented a cabana at the adult pool and Linda and Nathan joined us.

It wasn’t a super busy day at the pool and we had the cabana from 8am-5pm. We got there about 1100 and this was my view for the day:

We had some food and drink before heading into the pool.

We soaked in the adult pool for a little bit before heading into the lazy river and then we went down the water slide, super fun! And we explored all of the pools:

The waterslide:

We even went down to the beach. It was a red flag day with big surf, so we just watched the surfers for a little bit then went back to our cabana to relax and eat and drink more.

Then back to the pools for more exploring. We did this all day and it was perfect.

I am just obsessed with this place, it is stunning!!

Then off to shower and then we headed to dinner at Lava Lava Beach Club. Another great dinner.

We were all exhausted and it was a long drive back to the resort!

Day 3:

This was our first big adventure day!

I woke up early again, headed to my conference for a little bit and then off to the gym.

Linda and Nathan met at our place at 1000 and then we all drove up to Waimea Canyon and explored the following places:

1. Iliau Nature Loop: Short 0.4mi and easy with great canyon views.

2. Ni’Hau Viewpoint: View of the island in the distance

3. Canyon Trail: challenging 1.5 mile hike to more views of the canyon. It’s also where you can access the trail to Waipoo Falls. We passed on the falls because it was just a trickle at the time.

4. Kalalau Valley Lookout: Initially cloudy but quickly cleared for amazing views

5. Pu’u O Kila Lookout: Even better views! Again super cloudy when we arrived, but quickly cleared. We took a bunch of pics on the trail nearby. So amazing!!!

6. Then a yummy lunch a little down the hill at the Koke’e Lodge. Also bought some souvenirs there.

Then back to the resort to get ready for dinner.

We met up with Mike's sister, Jordan, and her boyfriend for dinner at Lava’s at the Sheraton. Great to see them and catch up and dinner was so yummy!

What really added to it was that there happened to be a Luau taking place, so we got the see one for free!!! And it was quite impressive!

Then back to the resort for one last drink and listening to a Hawaiian group perform music and dance.

Day 4:

I was still on California time and awake at 0430, so I did some “work” on our patio while listening to the sounds of the ocean and staring at the stars in the sky. Actually a great way to start the morning.

I went to my conference for a little bit then brought breakfast back and then we got ready and headed to CJM stables for our horseback ride..

We checked in at CJM at about 0900 and were on our horses by about 1000. I loved my horse Cash. Mike’s horse Lazy was a pain in the butt and kept eating.

But the ride was pretty amazing and the weather was a little warm, but pretty perfect nevertheless. And the best part, it was just the 4 of us with our guide Robert.

We essentially did the same ride as last time along the beach and up a big hill and then into the valley.

The views of the beautiful blue water was just stunning.

We got to do some trotting and loping which was super fun!

After riding we had lunch at the resort then cleaned up and went Koloa Rum tasting at Gaylord’s. Super fun experience. Learned so much about the rum (she talked FAST and it was hard to remember everything), Here are a few facts:

  1. No more comercial sugar cane in Hawaii.

  2. They don’t use molasses and that can give hangovers.

  3. Unlikely to get hangovers from drinking this rum.

  4. Sadly all the other facts are jumbled and I’m sure I’d get them wrong haha!

The rum was too good!!! I really liked the coconut and coffee one!!

We bought sample sizes of everything and a few other gifts and then headed out to the grounds to take some pics. Of course there were lots of chickens and baby chicks everywhere! I just love these chickens!

Then I had to make a quick pit stop at Ross to buy a suitcase because I have way too much to bring home and then a quick rest at the hotel before spending the evening at the pool and having poolside dinner.

We ended at the hot tub, but by then I was getting soooo tired, so back to the room. This trip is of course going by too fast, but it sure had been amazing!

Day 5:

Per my usual routine, I was up at about 0430 and did some work on the deck while watching the sun rise and listening to the ocean. This has honestly been a favorite part of this trip for me.

We actually did have to get ready and leave pretty early, about 0615 from our room because it’s such a long walk to the car.

It was about a 30 minute drive to the Port Allen Marina where we checked in and met up with my cousin, Kainani, at the Blue Dolphin Charters storefront.

We weren't there long before we headed to the catamaran and headed out after some safety instructions.

We headed out just a little ways before stopping at a great snorkel spot.

Of course had to take the slide into the ocean which was so fun! The water was about 74 degrees and felt amazing! We immediately saw a ton of fish. I’m not sure what they were, but a large yellow one caught my eye right away and I followed that one around for a while and got some great video.

We snorkeled for about an hour and then headed on to the Nepali Coast.

It was such a perfect day! Somewhere in the low 80s, sunny, no wind and swells of about 3 feet. Apparently it’s not usually like that and it was the best conditions we can expect.

On the way to Napali, we saw lots of dolphins which was quite entertaining! They were playing Moana music and it was as if the dolphins were coordinating with the music. Hilarious.

Then onto the amazing mountain sides of Napali. As you go along the shores, the mountains start to grow and it’s so interesting that each of the crevices and valleys used to be from waterfalls and that humans diverted the water during the sugar caning era. Also, you can see the layers of lava flow from each volcano eruption when you’re close to the shore. Since the seas were so calm, we were able to get very close to the shore. We saw a few beautiful waterfalls. We stopped for a bunch of pics and to admire the shoreline for a bit. And of course it was Mai Tai time!

Then it was time to head back. It was a longer ride back than to get there, but it was so enjoyable to just sit and relax on the bow of the boat and watch the shoreline go back to a relatively flat terraine and to feel with wind in my hair. Of note, they also fed us breakfast and lunch along the way.

And, we saw even more dolphins on the way back!

We got back around 1300 and then headed back to the hotel for a shower and nap.

We woke up at about 1700 and headed to a poolside dinner. It was actually quite rainy, the first we’d seen this trip, but we had a great dinner nevertheless.

Then back to the room to pack and rest after a drink on the deck.

What a great end to an amazing trip!

Day 6:

My last early wakeup call and ocean listening time. It’s hard to comprehend that this place is like this all day, every day and not just special while I am here, even though it feels that way. Crazy!!!

I had a leftover cinnamon roll from the cruise yesterday and our last coffee on the deck. We slowly got ready and then dropped everything at the car and checked out at 0630. I checked in at my conference while Mike got a breakfast burrito. Then we were off at about 0700.

We hit just a little traffic, but otherwise uneventful getting back to the airport. Of note, that drive to from Poipu to Lihue is just so beautiful!

Car return was also easy and then this is when things went South. Apparently Hawaiian messed up our birthdays when booking our flight and that caused all sorts of problems. I never use the quiosks when checking in because I always have problems. Well this time I had problems again, but eventually it worked. We got all the way to TSA only to find out there was a problem and we had to go back to the check in line which was sooooo painfully slow!!! Ugh so frustrating! We finally figured out the issue and were on our way.

Quick pit stop at Starbucks and then onto our gate.

We had a quick and easy flight to Honolulu with a quick layover, just long enough to grab sandwiches and go potty and then onto our next flight.

This is when things were finally in our favor: We had amazing seats with extra leg room and just the 2 of us sitting together next to the window. We were super comfy and had a great flight home!

We arrived to SMF about 2030 got our luggage, met our driver and headed home.

Kids were still up waiting for us. It felt so good to give them hugs and love on them!



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