Updated: Jul 30
August 2022 – Kauai Hawaii
Breakaway Fishing Tours
Waimea Canyon State Park
Koke’e State Park
My aunt and uncle own a timeshare on Kauai Island, HI. They’ve mentioned many times that if we ever want to use it for a week, to let them know and we can pay the management fee and it is ours. When planning a family vacation for the year, we discussed where we should go, prompting me to reach out to them. They had already booked their weeks, but let me buy one of them, meaning we were going to Hawaii in 2022!
Our vacation was the very end of August, so perfect before kids started back at school. Hawaii had always been a dream, but one I didn’t imagine to actually happen. Since we decided to go for it, we went big. I knew this was likely the only time we’d go, or at least the only time we’d all go, so we went all out. Our goal was to see the entire Island in a week, and we came extremely close. I booked 4 excursions for this trip. Deep Sea Fishing, Napali Coast Tour and Snorkeling, a Luau, and an ATV tour. All were exceptional and allowed us to really experience the island and see so much of it. There was definitely sea sickness involved in the fishing excursion, but we did catch two 50-pound yellow tuna! Matthew decided cruises were not in our future, and like Vegas we can say we experienced a fishing excursion and never have to do it again. Much of our time was spent just exploring different areas of the island. We enjoyed traveling to the canyons and the views of the park. Our favorite beach spot was in the north. I saw every sunrise on this trip, and each was beautiful. This is a rainy island, but we only had two days where rain affected us, and we were still able to enjoy the days.
Day 1: we literally arrived, drove to our condo, checked in, walked to see where the ocean was in comparison to where we were, and went to bed. We stayed on the east side of the island in the town of Kapa’a at Pono Kai Resort. The resort itself is older, but very nice, and our condo was right on the beach. This isn’t the type of resort that has everything on site. There isn’t a restaurant or shopping. It does have a pool though, nice accommodations and a lovely courtyard. We were warned but still surprised to see all the chickens. They are everywhere and roam freely. From what we learned on excursions throughout the week, hurricanes throughout the years had destroyed chicken coups freeing these birds. Kauai does not have any natural predators that would hunt the chickens, so they’ve thrived throughout the years.
Day 2: we started by shopping for food. Our plan was to eat as much as possible at the condo, rather than eating out. However, I would not recommend this plan unless the plan is to relax at your resort. There is so much to do, and you don’t get around very quickly on the island. We ended up throwing a lot of food away because it was too hard to go back to the condo for meals.
After shopping and breakfast we headed north to explore. We stopped and saw the Kilauea Lighthouse in Kilauea, and went swimming at Anini Beach. This beach was extremely calm. Too calm in fact for the kids, as they wanted to enjoy bouncing in some waves. We didn’t stay long, and continued further to the north, ending up at Hanalei Beach. This was our favorite beach, and we spent a lot of time here enjoying the crashing waves. There is also a cave across from the beach parking that we were able to walk in and explore. We went to the town of Hanalei and walked through some shops and had lunch.
Day 3: was our first excursion – our ATV tour at Kipu Ranch Adventures. This was a ton of fun. We did get dirty! This tour takes you through a cattle ranch, and you end up with amazing views of both mountains and the coast. They do a nice job of highlighting the history of both the island and the ranch, and point out several areas that you can recognize in movies. After our tour we mapped our way to a couple of waterfalls, which could be seen right from a parking lot, but from a distance. Then back to the resort for dinner and relaxing by the pool. We were all pretty tired already. Being 5 hours behind our home time zone is hard to adjust to, and had an early excursion the next day.
Day 4: was a NaPali Coast tour. This tour was located at Port Allen Pier in Eleele, on the south part of the island. The crew on the boat was really good. The views of the jagged rocky coast on this tour were fantastic. The catamaran we were on was nice, but Matthew did start to feel nauseous after awhile. The rest of us weren’t phased. We saw dolphins and sea turtles while on the tour, both coming right up to our boat. We stopped to snorkel, which I was not a fan of. I envisioned thousands of bright colorful fish, and plants and reef. There were fish, but mostly just right around the boat, and the floor of the ocean where we were was just black lava rock. I also really struggled with having my face in the water and breathing through the snorkel. I’m not sure why but it made me panic. Our boat had a waterslide which we used during this time, and we floated and swam for awhile. Our trip back to the pier was really rough. The waves splashed well over the sides of the boat, drenching us. That evening we enjoyed dinner at Taps and Hops Eatery in Kapa'a. We were pleasantly surprised with how good the food was here.
Day 5 – We had no excursions planned on this day. We decided to explore the south part of the island. We started at Poipu Beach, which was by far the busiest beach we’d encountered. It was a nice beach area, with a boulder breakwater that keeps the area very calm. Even with the breakwater, there were some waves large enough they broke over the wall of rock into the protected areas. It was rocky as you entered the water, so a little hard on our feet. We saw a sea turtle swimming right through the swimming area and a sea lion both swimming and sunning on the sand. We stayed for awhile here, then went to the town of Koloa for some shopping and lunch.
After lunch we made our way to the Waimea Canyon – known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. There is a vehicle fee to visit this area, but one pass allows access to Waimea Canyon State Park, as well as Koke’e State Park. We didn’t do any trails on our trip through the parks, sticking to the lookout points. The views of the gorge were so spectacular, pictures can’t do justice to the beauty. The weather we encountered was the first time rain really affected us, with a steady drizzle that would subside and then start again. With the rain, we did have a cloud coverage that would temporarily block our views but waiting just a few minutes allowed them to pass and expose the magnificent images of the canyon. Koke’e Valley was the final lookout, which was the most obstructed by cloud coverage. But when they cleared, we had rainbows accenting the beautiful valley, with rocky landscapes, lush green growth and the coast of the pacific all wrapped into a gorgeous package for us to enjoy.
Day 6 – Deep Sea Fishing and Luau. Our day started very early. We were at the Small Boat Harbor in Lihue before sunrise to meet captain Jeff. I opted to book a private 4 hour charter, as the price was actually less this way, and we had the entire experience to ourselves. We do not fish. This was booked just for the experience of it. Traveling out of the harbor to our destination was pretty cool. The water wasn’t terribly rough at first, and we sat at the back looking out to the island watching the sun rise. Once we were out of the harbor, the waves were much more intense, and our boat was small. Matthew was feeling queasy pretty quickly. We had lines out to troll on the way to a buoy which is where we would stop.
Once we arrived at the buoy and Captain Jeff stopped the boat, the waves were real. The boat rocked and pitched side to side and moving about was extremely difficult. He switched out our lines and almost instantly one took off. I had the pleasure of learning how to fish at this moment. I would reel in the line until the fish pulled, then let the line go. This cycle went on for what seemed like forever. Twice the fish pulled and swam off, meaning the cycle started all over. My arm was numb from reeling, the boat was pitching. The adrenalin rush of fighting with this fish kept me from noticing the fact that everyone else in my party was sick, two were throwing up. On the second attempt to get the fish in the boat, Captain Jeff pulled out a hook. I would reel as the boat went down with a wave, and hold when we’d go back up. He had the hook, could just barely see the fish below the surface and it took off again. I felt like crying. I was exhausted, both arms numb – one from reeling, the other from holding onto my reel to stabilize myself. I looked around hoping to pass it over in defeat and have someone else finish. And no one could. They were all sick. So I had no choice but to finish this. After what felt like hours, but may have been as little as 10 minutes or as much as 30, I honestly have no clue, the fish was at the surface and Jeff was able to hook it and get it into the boat. It was huge! A 50 pound yellow tuna!
Something that none of us realized when we booked the trip is the fish is gutted right on the boat. Apparently Tuna meat is “sensitive” and he had to do this and get it on ice quickly to preserve the quality of the meat. As I sat down after catching my fish, the nausea overwhelmed me. The adrenalin no longer there, I was sick. I joined the others and started throwing up almost instantly, as our captain is gutting the fish I just caught, blood covering the floor of the boat.
At this point Captain Jeff asked what we wanted to do. This experience was supposed to be fun and we were all miserable. He would take us back in if we wanted or we could continue. The kids decided they wanted to catch something, so we continued. Our captain walked around dumping puke buckets while we continued to fish. He was an absolute saint.
A line went out pretty quickly after he put the rest back in the water. Charlee took this one, and it was a smaller fish (though still bigger than anything I’ve caught on a lake) and she was able to reel it in pretty quickly. Another line went out shortly after, and this was another fighter. Whitney did most of the reeling, but at one point switched off with Gal for a few moments to rest her arm. This was another 50 pound yellow tuna!
After the 3rd fish, we were done. The ride back to the harbor was much easier than the way out. It was calmer and we were traveling faster, so the waves didn’t seem as rough. As soon as the boat started moving again, my nausea subsided. Matthew on the other hand was still a mess. Once we docked, our captain took out our fish again so we could get more pictures. This was awesome for him to do, as you can imagine it wasn’t very easy on the boat to hold up these huge fish and get a decent picture. We opted not to take any meat back with us, we just wanted to go. We were very grateful for the excursion but will never do it again. The captain was great, catching fish was exciting, we just can’t handle the nausea and subsequent vomiting associated with being on the open water like that.
We decided to head back to our condo and took naps. We had our luau later this evening, and even though once we were off the boat our nausea subsided, we were exhausted and felt gross.
That evening we dressed up and went to Smith Family Garden Luau. This was our favorite excursion booked. When we arrived, we were brought to sprawling gardens, where you can either ride a tram or walk on your own. They sell feed for the chickens and peacocks roaming around, so we opted to walk and feed birds on our way forgoing the tram. The gardens were lush with so many different plants, flowers and trees. We had so much fun walking through and took hundreds of pictures in this beautiful paradise.
Before dinner, they have a ceremony around lifting the pig out of the ground. It was hard to hear, but we got the gist of it. The food was buffet style, and the options were endless. During dinner there was hula dancing and the emcee was entertaining, telling jokes, explaining hula dance and singing.
After dinner the show began. We walked to the outdoor theater and watched a show that had dancing, fire, lights. It was really fun and they did a good job of explaining the history and where each style of dance originated.
Day 7 – relax. Our trip was packed full of many adventures, and this was our last full day on the island. We had no agenda. We decided we wanted to relax at the beach and take it easy. We headed north again, to our favorite beach Hanalei Beach. We laid on the beach and bounced in the waves. Skipped rocks, got knocked over by waves. At one point it started to rain, and we went into the town of Hanalei to eat and did a little more shopping while we waiting for the rain to pass. After lunch we went back to beach and remained here until sunset. It was the perfect relaxing day. We remained until the colors lit up the sky then headed back to our hotel. I will note that as we were driving, reds and pinks streaked the sky behind us so I wish we would have waited a little longer before heading back to our condo for the night.
Day 8 – our flight home wasn’t until after 9pm this night. We spent the day really just driving and looking for anything we may have missed. We stopped at the Poipu Beach again, visited Kauai Coffee, and just explored by car. My aunt and uncle who own the timeshare we used were flying in this day to start their vacation. We were able to meet up for lunch at Duke's Canoe in Lihue, their favorite restaurant. After lunch we were beat, as were they. They headed to get settled into the condo, we went to the airport. Our week in paradise had come to an end.
Day 1 - Arrived on island and settled into hotel
Day 2 - Explore north end of island - Hanalei, Hanalei Beach, Anini Beach, Kilauea
Day 3 - Kipu Ranch Adventures ATV Tour
Day 4 - Napali Coast Tour
Day 5 - Poipu Beach, Waimea Canyon State Park, Koke'e State Park, Koloa
Day 6 - Breakaway Fishing Tours, Smith Family Garden Luau
Day 7 - Back to favorite Hanalei Beach and town of Hanalei
Day 8 - Kauai Coffee and Lihue
Another picture on our map!