Kaua’i Favorites

Kauai Travel Guide by Ashley Neese

Happy Thursday friends! I hope you are having a wonderful week. I can’t believe how quickly May is passing. It’s been busy since returning from Kaua’i and I am trying my best to keep the slow island vibes lingering as long as possible!

I know a few of you are planning trips to Kaua’i and I wanted to share some of our favorite spots with you. First off, you must get this guidebook. It was recommended by a friend and we loved it. Such great suggestions, advice and everything we followed was just as the writer said. The copy we had was a tiny bit out of date for some food selections but that didn’t matter to us as we did our own research in that department.

Kauai Travel Guide by Ashley Neese

Kauai Travel Guide by Ashley Neese

If you’re going to the island for the first time I strongly suggest spending some days on the North and South shores. They are so different and it’s really nice to see them both. The East and West shores are easy to get to having a home base in the North or South. The beauty of Kaua’i is that it is so small and you can travel from the North to South shores in a hour depending on how far North you are. Coming from L.A. we found the driving to be such a breeze and actually fun too! Imagine that. Not something you hear either of us saying very often. We rented a tiny car and it was perfect for getting into little parking spaces and saving on gas.

One thing that is worth mentioning here because we didn’t hear much about this until we got to Kaua’i, if you’re staying on the North shore be sure your place isn’t moldy. Because it is super wet there mold grows quickly and in many places it is just taken as normal. We are super sensitive to mold and the first place we found via AirBnb was gross! We quickly got out of there and went to a big hotel on the South shore for a few nights to regroup. We ended up finding a great, non-moldy AirBnb spot in the North shore that was down the street from the St. Regis Resort. Jason actually asked the owner on the phone if the place was moldy. I realize that might sound cray cray but after what we had been through we needed to be sure. I’ve heard that VRBO is a better place to find listings in Kaua’i too.

Below are some of our favorites and a few notes. I didn’t list everything because some of the hikes and beaches we went to were private. Kaua’i is a great island to explore and just see where it takes you. The pace of the island is slow and the energy is deeply healing. The islands of Hawaii are actually the tops of mountains. They go all the way down to the earths core. I strongly believe this is one of the reasons I felt so rooted there. Energetically Kaua’i is such a grounding place and because it has been kept so pristine it is easy to feel like you are undeniably part of the earth.

Kauai Travel Guide by Ashley Neese

Kauai Travel Guide by Ashley Neese

North Shore

Limahuli Garden and Preserve is set in a verdant tropical valley on the north shore of the Hawaiian Island of Kaua`i. The Garden is backdropped by the majestic Makana Mountain and overlooks the Pacific Ocean.

This garden is epic and is one of the only places on the island you can see a tiny selection of native plants. Incredible conservation going on here.

Na Pali coast. MUST. You can hike it, take a chopper over it, or take a boat along side it. Jason and I opted for the boat trip this time and it did not disappoint. Schools of little dolphins, majestic coastal views, sea caves. We would do this again in a heart beat. This is the company we choose per the book I suggested. Brand new boat and some decent snorkeling at the end too.

Tunnels Beach. If you like to snorkel this beach is world class. Super calm waters for Kaua’i. Loads of reef to check out gorgeous tropical fish. I suggest renting snorkel gear in Hanalei or bring your own. We bought cheap stuff at the dollar market and it was a hassle in the end. Get to this beach by 7:30am for a parking spot in the warmer months and bring plenty of water and snacks. Also, fins are a must!

Kauai Travel Guide by Ashley Neese

St. Regis Spa. Yup. We did this too. It rains a ton on the North shore which is why it is so beautiful and lush. One afternoon we spent in the spa and it was so restorative and relaxing. They use all organic products and have cold lavender towels to take into the sauna or steam room with you. The co-ed room is tiny but very cozy. We didn’t get any treatments, just used the spa facilities. Much more relaxing and comfortable than the crazy Korean spas I adore in L.A. $50 for the day.

Harvest Market. We pretty much lived at their salad bar. I swear I have never tasted sprouts so fresh! Insane Ahi Tuna sandwich. Great organic market with everything you need to stock up on. Loads of pantry items, a decent bulk and body section. Good service and they have these punch cards that save you $5 if you shop their often. It can get a little crazy at lunch time and you will see plenty of shoeless hippies here.

Bar Acuda. Farm to table tapas. The North shore has limited food options. We enjoyed a romantic dinner here on the porch and it was lovely. The veggies and fish were super fresh and everything was perfectly cooked. The staff was friendly and it was a super pleasant experience. For weekends I suggest making a reservation for a good table.

Saturday Farmers Market in Hanalei. We didn’t actually make it there but gathered from all the locals it is the best farmers market on the island. We went to a little one in Kapaa that was okay. Nothing to write home about. If you make it to this one let me know how it is!

Secret Beach. Gorgeous 10 minute hike down to a pristine beach. Lava rocks, that thick, sticky Kaua’i sand you come to love and plenty of places to meditate.

Queens Bath. Super easy hike down to a lovely little waterfall and then a lava rock walk over to a pool formed by rocks. Incredibly beautiful. I was a little too scared to swim in it, next time for sure though. Not to be missed. One of the most beautiful places we visited.

Kauai Travel Guide by Ashley Neese

Kauai Travel Guide by Ashley Neese

East Shore

Hindu Monastery. Gorgeous. Peaceful. Quaint. Everything you would expect from a monastery. Meditating under the Banyan trees here was really special. Call in advance to book a tour. It was closed when we visited so we missed going into one of the main temples. Definitely want to do the tour next time.

Lydgate State Park. Super calm waters for Kaua’i. Very well maintained public beach park. There are two enclosed ponds which are great for kids, outdoor showers, picnic tables and restrooms.

Opeaka’a Falls Lookout. Stunning waterfall, worth visiting.

Wailua Falls. This is one that we hiked down to. It’s not legal but not really illegal either. We pulled up to the lookout and met an older man and his family that encouraged us to go down there. Jason and I hopped the wall and just stood there unsure what to do. There was literally no trail!

We waited around until we found a group of younger folks and asked them if they wanted to join us. A brave soul led the way and before we knew it we were swimming under these crazy awesome waterfalls! One of the highlights of this trip for sure. Rainbows. Laughter. Take me back!!

Kauai Juice Company. YUM! They know what they are doing. L.A. prices but worth it. All organic, local, etc. Interesting use of island veggies and fruits. They also make kombucha here. I was obsessed with the Strawberry Guava. Probably drank 5 of them. They do a bottle deposit too which is nice. We got a handful of dollars back on our way to the airport.

Kauai Travel Guide by Ashley Neese

Kauai Travel Guide by Ashley Neese

South Shore

Allerton Gardens. Take the tour. We were blown away by the landscaping. Mr. Allerton was a true conservationist and visionary.

Po’ipu Beach Park. Amazing for snorkeling. Not a big of an area as tunnels and the waters aren’t very calm but we saw the most gorgeous tropical fish here. Easy to access and you can hop in one of the many near by resorts hot tubs afterwards just don’t get caught ;)

Spouting Horn Beach Park. A really cool lava shelf where water shoots out the opening. It’s quite fun to watch especially when big waves come in. It’s got an interesting folklore that is worth checking out too.

Living Foods Market. We ate here a few times. Over priced but high quality food. Looks like a place you would find in L.A. or NYC.

Merriman’s Fish House. Delicious. Organic. Local. Beautiful space, romantic at sunset.

Kauai Travel Guide by Ashley Neese

Kauai Travel Guide by Ashley Neese

Kauai Travel Guide by Ashley Neese

West Shore

Polihale. More than 15 miles of pristine sandy beach. Most of the stretch is unprotected by a reef so waves here can be super strong. There is nothing out here and you have to drive a 3 mile gravel road to get there. That doesn’t stop the locals from making their way out for the day. Bring a tent or umbrella as there is no shade, full sun! I loved swimming here because I didn’t have to worry about stepping on coral ;)

Waimea Canyon. An incredible gorge that you just have to experience. If you’ve ever been to the Grand Canyon it’s a little bit like that. Breathtaking lookouts. It’s takes a good half day to do this trip from the South Shore but it’s worth every second. Would love to come back and camp there.


Where ever your Kaua’i travels take you have fun and enjoy each moment. It’s such a special place and I look forward to hearing what your experiences are. Lots of love.



  • Maja

    Oh Ashley, this looks just wonderful!

    • ashley

      Maja! Omg it was amazing. Such pristine land, very healing. Lots of love to you this weekend. xoa

  • Corina

    If it wasn’t that far away… ;-) Seems like you were having a great time!

    • ashley

      Thanks Cornia!!! You would LOVE it there. So much magic. Have a wonderful weekend. xoa

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