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Wailua River



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Driving Tours

  - North Shore
  - South Shore
  - West Side
  - East Side
There are four distinct geographical areas on Kauai and each can be reached by car. Listed below are some interesting things to see and do in each area.

The North Shore
Visit the Kilauea Lighthouse featuring the largest clamshell lens in the world. There is also a bird sanctuary here. Go on a tour of a Guava Plantation. Visit historic Hanalei Town. Anyone old enough to remember Puff the Magic Dragon might also recall that he lived by the sea, in a town called Hanalei. This is the town Peter, Paul and Mary wrote about although the name of the town is mispronounced in the song in order to rhyme with the word sea.

Don't miss Ke'e Beach at the end of the road. You'll also pass Lumahai Beach where Mitzi Gaynor was going to "wash that man right out of her hair" in the movie South Pacific. Stops at the wet and dry caves are fun for witnessing funky lava tube formations. For lunch, don't miss the Hanalei Gourmet, in the old school house building. Old town atmosphere, great peel and eat shrimp and sandwiches. Burger lovers won't want to miss Bubba's Burgers. For dinner, Postcards Café is much more than its name implies. Located on the left as you come into town, it features some of the best gourmet vegetarian and fish dishes found anywhere on the island, served in a relaxed casual atmosphere.

The Princeville Hotel is worth a visit if you only valet park and walk through. Situated high on a bluff overlooking the ocean and Hanalei, the views are fabulous. If you have a moment, the bar has large overstuffed couches and chairs to relax, unwind and enjoy the view. The restaurant downstairs, La Cascada, has excellent service and food. The Sunday Brunch at the Hanalei Café in the Hotel is also very good with flamed desert crepes to die for.

Enjoy live jazz Sunday afternoons at the Hanalei Bay Resort. The Restaurant has a wonderful view of Hanalei Bay and excellent food.

The South Shore
Don't miss Spouting Horn and the National Tropical Botanical Gardens. The Beach House Restaurant is pricey but excellent and features Pacific Rim cuisine. To enjoy the ocean front location, stop in the bar for a Mai Tai and pupus. The snorkeling and surfing right in front of the Beach House is some of the best on the island. Roy's Restaurant in Poipu also serves Pacific Rim cuisine and is very highly rated (deservedly so). Don't miss the chocolate soufflé for dessert.

The Hyatt Regency Hotel shouldn't be missed. Valet park and have a drink on the veranda or the upper pool bar. The view is terrific from either location and most evenings there is live entertainment on the veranda. Call the Hotel to confirm entertainment times. The Sunday Champagne Brunch is one of the best on the island.

Right next door is the Poipu Bay Golf Course, home of the PGA Grand Slam of Golf each November. Enjoy a sandwich at the clubhouse with a forever view of the course.

Picnic at Poipu Beach Park, which has lawn and covered pavilions right on the water. Brennecke's Beach nearby is excellent for body boarding. Brennecke's Restaurant is a great spot for lunch or dinner with an unbeatable view. Historic Koloa Town looks much like it did at the turn of the century. Many shops and restaurants to enjoy here including Lapperts for ice cream and Pizetta for great pizza. You can also take a bicycle trip that includes a tour of the old Sugar Mill (first in the Hawaiian Islands).

The West Side
Although the main attraction on this side of the island is Waimea Canyon, you may also want to continue on to the end of the road to Poli Hale Beach. There you'll find several miles of rugged, remote white sand beach and if you should happen to have a four wheel drive vehicle (not recommended otherwise) you can drive on the beach. This is the longest white sand beach in the Hawaiian Islands. In Waimea Town, a great place to eat is Plantation Steakhouse. They've won the Chili cook off for several years and their steaks are great.

Just outside of town on the left, the restaurant and brew pub at the Waimea Plantation Cottages is worth a visit. Located right on the ocean's edge, the cottages themselves are former sugar plantation workers homes, lovingly restored to their original condition.

Salt Pond Park is a favorite of many locals and is right on the ocean. Hanapepe Town is an old historic town and now features many different art galleries. Friday night is Art Night and most all galleries are open from 6 until 9pm. The Hanapepe Café has excellent vegetarian fare and is open for lunch most days. Call for the nights they're open for dinner.

And for a shot of java, stop in the ever-growing Kauai Coffee Company in Eleele. It's surpassing Kona Coffee in production. There's a great visitor center with almost a dozen—maybe more by now—coffees to sample.

The East Side
The Wailua River is the largest navigable river in Hawaii. Two different boat companies offer inexpensive trips to the Fern Grotto. It's a pleasant 15-minute trip with live music and hula on board. Several kayak companies offer trips up the Wailua River, some with a one-mile hike to a waterfall with swimming hole. You can reach the Wailua Falls by car. Those are the same falls that were made famous in Fantasy Island. Coconut Marketplace has a twin movie theater as well as a large number of shops and restaurants.

The Marriott Hotel is located on a beautiful white sand beach on Kalapaki Bay. The salad bar at Dukes Restaurant at the Marriott is the best on the island, and the fresh fish superb. And don't miss Portofino's at the Marriott for Italian dining. You can enjoy the Marriott beach by driving to Kalapaki Beach Park, a public park located right next door. Nawiliwili Harbor, where the cruise ships come in, is also located here. Also right on Kalapaki Bay, for lunch or dinner don't miss JJ's Broiler featuring a view of the water. The Cobb salad is not to be missed.

Further up the highway are the two large grocery stores in the area, Foodland and Safeway. Memas Thai Food, Kintaros Japanese Restaurant and Coconuts are all on the highway in this area and are terrific. In Kapaa, Beezers Ice Cream Parlor looks just like the old fashioned ones did and Bubbas Burgers is an institution. Look mauka (toward the mountains) behind Kapaa Town, and you'll see the Sleeping Giant.

For more info or to book an adventure, call toll free 1.800.427.5996 or email info@kauaivacationhelpers.com

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