Kauai, Hawaii (Day 2): Exploring the Garden Island by Car

Summary: From our AirBnB in Kehaha, which is located on the southeast side of the Island of Kauai, we took a road trip around the Island to Princeville. Along the way, we made several stops, including a hike up Sleeping Giant Trail in Kapa'a. As recent flooding prevented us from actually getting to Princeville, our daytrip stopped just short of this town but there was plenty to see along the way. The Island of Kauai is so small that driving from tip to tip in one day is not only doable but a great way to spend the day. This blog post is part of 7-part series related to our time in Kauai. See our itinerary page and additional blog posts for more information about the Garden Island.


First Stop: Sleeping Giant Trail in Kapa'a. This trail is 3.2 miles in length and just 30 minutes to the top where you will enjoy a great view of Kapa'a below. We arrived early at 8:00 a.m. and were the second on the trail. Arriving early also has an advantage because parking, while free, is limited at the trail head.

Next Stop: Lydgate State Park in Kapa'a. After our hike, we headed over to Lydgate State Park to hang out for a bit at this beautiful, no-fee beach. We did not end up swimming as the surf was high and the swimming lagoon was undergo renovations after recent storms. We did enjoy our time at this white-sand beach and could see that it's a perfect spot for young families when the lagoon is open.

Double-back for Lunch in Lihue. Fish Express was worth the double-back to Lihue. This take-out only spot has amazing Poke. So many options and flavors to work with and all super fresh. We're still thinking about this lunch...

Next Stop Keālia Beach to Watch Surfers. With our bellies full, we headed back up the Coast past Kapa'a to Keālia Beach. Here we parked our Jeep facing the water so we could watch a talented group of surfers catch waves. It must have been great conditions because the beach was filled with surfers - the most we saw the whole trip. Staying in the Jeep worked for us as it provided seats and shade to watch the show.


Next Stop: Kīlauea Lighthouse. Next, we continued up the Coast to Kīlauea. While the Lighthouse path itself was closed, the lookout was open. Here you can watch for whales, take photos of the lighthouse, and enjoy the gorgeous views.

Sweet Treat at Wailua Shave Ice in Kapa'a. We did attempt to go to Princeville, but the road was under traffic control due to mudslides the road suffered the week before. We eventually gave up and headed back to Kapa'a (overall, no biggie actually). In Kapa'a, we stopped at Wailua Shave Ice to try Hawaii's famous desert.

Dirt. We completed the day with souvenir shopping at Original Red Dirt Shirts in Eleele near Waimea. Definitely touristy and a bit overpriced, this shop is nonetheless a great stop because it basically has everything you need if you're shopping for Kauai souvenirs. We like wearable souvenirs like hats as well as getting a mug to add to our travel-mug collection in our kitchen back home. It's unoriginal we suppose, but we love having my morning coffee with a side of travel memories.

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