when to go
Kauai is a year-round destination. the temperatures are mild from 75 to 85F on any given day - so the main consideration is rain. the wet season typically runs from November thru March, but can vary greatly, depending on which side of the island you choose to stay. the North Shore is the wettest, the South Shore is drier and the West Side is the driest. whale watching begins in late December and often lasts thru April. Tip: make sure to look for the nesting Albatrosses on the North Shore in Princeville starting November thru early July, when the young chicks take flight.
another consideration is the surf. in the summer the north shore is mostly flat and snorkeling at Tunnels beach is one of the preferred activities - come mid September the first swells will change the calm waters into a surfers paradise - the sailboats that have been anchoring during the summer in Hanalei Bay will be leaving in the weeks to come and big waves will be eagerly awaited by all surfers. we have seen some 30-50 foot waves one quite a few winter days. needless to say snorkeling on the north shore in the winter is not recommended and all snorkeling excursions head to the south shore.
lay of the land
Kauai is located in the tropics + in the middle of the Pacific ocean approx. 2,500 miles away from the West Coast USA - the best way to get here is by airplane - a 5 1/2 hr flight from L.A, San Francisco or Seattle. cruising to the island by boat is very time consuming and not advisable. Kauai is almost perfectly round in shape with a size of approx. 553 square miles. it is home to over 1,000 waterfalls, and 113 miles of shoreline of which 50 miles are golden, sandy beaches. the charming beach town Hanalei is located in the far north , and the resort town Poipu in the far south. there is only one highway - it traverses the perimeter of the island, and stretches almost all the way around the island - but not quite all the way- which means the road ends at Ke'e Beach. this area aka "the end of the road" marks the beginning of the famous 22 mile Na Pali Coast + the Kalalau Trail. from here on you can only continue on foot. in the summertime ( May - Sept ) kayaks launch from Ke'e beach and travel down the coast to the other end of the island - eventually everyone will be picked up in a van at Polihale beach for the ride home - this is a one way trip...and only recommended for those who don't get sea sick!
what to wear
island attire is very casual: shorts, summer dresses and flip flops will do for almost any occasion. if you pack one nice outfit + a pair of shoes for a fancy night out you should be good
what to bring: bathing suits, flip flops, trashable sneakers, snorkel gear if you have it - if not it can be purchased or rented easily - a hat or baseball cap for sun protection, a pair of long, lightweight pants if you plan a jungle hike. sunscreen is a must!
most vacation rentals + hotels have beach towels - and if not they are best bought on the island - you will find unique + hip hawaiian prints, that you can find only here - I personally love the beach towels from ABC store and Whaler's General Store - plus they make fantastic souveniers
getting around on Kauai
a rental car is simply the best way to get around on Kauai. make sure to reserve your car in advance with one of the big car rental companies: Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Fox, Hertz, National or Thrifty. or try local style with Island cars ( 808-246-6000) - Kauai Rent a Car ( 808-246-1881) or Kauai Car + Scooter Rental (808-245-7177). and for the thrill seekers try Kauai Harley Davidson ( 808-241-7020)
there is a local bus system called the "Kauai Bus", covering the stretch from Kekaha to Hanalei - www.thekauaibus.com
Tip: never leave your convertible roof open or windows open - a surprise rain shower is always possible even on a cloudless day!