Riley and I recently spent 9 days in Hawaii and had the most incredible time. This was the first time on the islands for both of us and after looking into our options, we chose Kauai, and Maui.
Kauai was definitely our favorite! We loved how small it was, the entire island was so lush, and it had the most gorgeous coastline I have ever seen.
Helicopter tour of the Na Pali coast. We opted to have the doors off, I highly recommend this! It was so freeing and felt absolutely unreal at times to be so close to nature in that way.
Snorkeling in Poipu at a public beach, as well as up near Princeville. We just rented gear for $5 or $10 per day, looking back we should have just purchased two sets to have in the car full time for any of our stops. There are some awesome hidden beaches (sealodge beach) that require hiking near the Princeville resort areas. This entire area is recovering reef so great snorkeling.
Waimea canyon (think a tropical, more colorful version of the grand canyon).
Hiking in Koke’e state park. Try for early morning, that’s when we were able to see the views the best- we would go before the lodge up there opens for breakfast, then go order a hearty breakfast bowl, coffee, and a smoothie after. We love the Pihea trail which takes you along the upper ridge of the Napali Coast and gives you great views down to the coastline. Another highly recommended hike in this area is the Awaawapuhi Trail, which takes you from about 3500ft down the valley ridge lines toward the coast. Lastly the Waipo’o falls hike takes you to the top of one of the bigger falls in the Waimea canyon.
The Kauai coffee company . We had to kill some time and ended up here, smelling the different roasts, enjoying the free samples, and walked the grounds. It made for a very relaxing afternoon.
It rained a lot! That’s why this island is so beautiful :) We only got rained out of one hike, the rest of the showers were shorter, and passed. Bring proper rain gear whenever you are out! You can check weather for the different times of year but I would just bring it to be prepared. Kauai does have one of the “wettest places on earth” so rain is almost guaranteed on certain parts of the island. Mt Waialeale receives around 450 inches of rain annually!
Check open and closed times for restaurants. This island is so small and relaxed, which is why we loved it. We also found that places for coffee and food were closed all of the time, or didn't open until 10 am haha - if the surf is good, the shop owner may not be in ;) Just be sure to check online for options or call first.
Lodging: We camped at Koke’e state park for the first two nights, and rented an air bnb condo in Princeville for the following two nights.
Here are some of our favorite photos from Kauai
We flew out early in the Morning for Maui. The flight was only 45 minutes and it left us with a full day to explore. We rented a car on both islands, I highly recommend doing this to be able to see and experience more.
The stops on the road to Hana. We swam in fresh water pools, saw so many waterfalls, went on a beautiful hike (the Pipiwai trail), and found some amazing places to stop for fresh “fast food” meals.
Watching the sun rise at Haleakala National Park (yes, even with all of the tourists, it is worth it).
Hiking the Waihee ridge trail.
Exploring black sand beach (Wai’anapanapa state park).
Download the shaka guide app if you plan to do the road to Hana. We were told by our helicopter pilot to try this and it was only $10. The app is basically an audio tour, sharing about history, and places to stop that we NEVER would have seen or known about, it was well worth it. Some of the commentary is cheesy but we loved the swim spots that we learned about!
We chose to do the road to Hana in reverse, starting from the south and we broke it up into two days to avoid rushing and crowds. This was really amazing, the first day we had so many spots almost to ourselves. We found the following morning to be similar until the end of the road to Hana (getting closer to Paia) when the popular stops were so crowded, were were skipping them all together.
Hike early in the morning to avoid the afternoon heat.
If you are doing the sunrise on Haleakala, you do need a permit (only for sunrise) that you purchase online ahead of time through recreation.gov. It was very cold up there, so bring a coat and hat, wear pants for sure and maybe pack a few blankets just in case.
If you are a foodie, you have so many amazing options. We really budgeted our entire trip from using points on airfare to camping in our tent to buying fruit (and always had that with us in the car). Most of our meals were fast casual- all of the fish tacos, sushi, and fruit bowls you could possibly want :) Which is exactly what I love!
Lodging: Our first night in Maui we pitched our tent at camp Olowalu. This was really nice, and had the best camp bathrooms/outdoor showers! There was pretty decent snorkeling on the coast just south/east of there. The second night we camped at the black sand beach, about half way through the road to Hana. This campsite was a large yard under the open skies, surrounded by dense jungle and some really cool cliffs/rock formations. Even if you don’t camp here, it is worth stopping by on the drive for an hour or so.
Our last 2 nights we checked into an air bnb in Kihei. In that area, we loved exploring big beach (the surf here was huge in the afternoon, I stayed out of the water but the beach is sandy and amazing), secret cove (a tiny hidden beach which is often used for wedding ceremonies), and our favorite cafe with plenty of healthy options was Nalus south shore grill. Akamai coffee is another favorite in Kihei. And while I’m on a roll the Paia fish market (there is one in Kihei) has awesome seafood. Our friends recommended that to us and we ended up going twice. I really loved the blackened fish tacos.
Here are some of our favorite photos from Maui.
We are working on videography as well for any of our future trips and even though it is a lot of work (editing and figuring out that work flow) it is so much fun! We may even like it more than photography! Only time will tell :) Let us know if you like our Hawaii video below!! We appreciate you following along and can’t wait to share more adventures with you.
Travel is very important to us, we love to explore this beautiful planet, meet new people, and to have new experiences.