Kauai Vacation

Our favorite activities, places, and food from our Feb 2019 trip to the island of Kauai in Hawaii

Abagail and I recently got back from a vacation to the island of Kauai in Hawaii. We stayed for a week and had a nice time. It was a bit of an expensive trip, but we both feel like it was worth it. We’re physically and mentally refreshed, especially after not going on any major trips in 2018. The sunshine didn’t hurt either (except for my left knee where I forgot to put sunscreen on). 🌞

We stayed on the east side of the island in the town of Kapaa. Kauai is a pretty small island. We rented a car to zip around and explore, which worked out well. While neither of us are what I’d describe as beach people, we still appreciated the beauty of the island and ocean. Here’s our favorite stuff we got up to.

Kauai Trip Highlights

Hotel Room View

Sunrise from the hotel room patio

Where we stayed wasn’t super fancy, but it was right on the beach. It felt like a retirement community, which was kind of surreal. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s just a thing. We appreciated the quietness of our neighbors. You can’t beat the view we had of the Pacific ocean.

Eat Healthy

Succulent sign outside of Eat Healthy

Eat Healthy is a delicious all-vegan restaurant that was super close to our hotel. We ate there three times throughout the week, once for each meal of the day. Super good. The curry we had for dinner with a sweet potato samosa was the food highlight for me.


Natural food stores are so wonderful when traveling while vegan. There’s a great one in Kapaa called Papaya’s with a salad bar, prepared foods, and solid selection of everything else you’d expect at a market. Definitely worth the stop (or multiple stops).

Donkey Beach

Donkey Beach is a bit north of Kapaa. It’s got this walkway through an arch of trees that intersects with a bike path. It then connects down to the beach via a short trail.

Abagail walking down to Donkey Beach
The view of Donkey Beach
Micro-plastics washed ashore on Donkey Beach

A bummer at Donkey Beach was the large amount of plastics washed ashore. It was a strong reminder of the fact that plastics don’t go away and end up in the ocean (and then inside of animals or on beaches).

A big theme of this trip for me was getting more in touch with how beautiful Earth is and the beings that coexist on it but how much damage we are causing to ourselves, those beings, and the planet.

McBryde Garden at the National Tropical Botanical Garden

Abagail and I did the self-guided tour of the McBrydge Garden, and it was so beautiful. It’s located on the south side of the island and totally worth the time and cost of admission.

View of the McBryde Garden

If you enjoy plants and walking around, I highly recommend the McBryde Garden. There are lots of interesting and endangered plant species. The scientific work they are doing at the garden is impressive too – like studying and promoting breadfruit as a sustainable food source in areas where it can grow since it is a nutritionally-complete food.

Loved the colors of this plant

Also, it’s really close to Spouting Horn, which is a neat little stop on the beach that shoots out water from the waves like the blowhole of a whale.

Kuilau Ridge Trail

My personal highlight of the trip was our hike on Kuilau Ridge Trail. We woke up early and were the first ones on the trail. It was sunny and muddy. It was a total blast.

Abagail and I taking a selfie at the peak
The mud was fun! Like being at a spa. Except that I got bad blisters. 😅
View from the trail

The hike wasn’t overly difficult. It was probably a mile and a half or so to the peak. Beautiful views the entire way. Highly recommend.

Waimea Canyon

There’s this really large canyon on the island with a sweeeeeet drive up to it. It was rainy when we got to the overlook, but it was still breathtaking.

Looking out at Waimea Canyon


The north side of the island has this cute little town called Hanalei. There are lots of restaurants and shops. We had yummy avocado toast at Hanalei Bread Co. that hit the spot. After lunch we had a relaxing walk along the beach.

The beach at Hanalei Bay

Kauai Community College Farmers’ Market

It’s only on Saturdays, as far as we know, but it’s an awesome farmers’ market. Lots of fresh produce and food options. It was a great way to spend a couple of hours. I ate my first bahn mi (wow), and we both got this delicious white pineapple nice cream (just the frozen blended fruit, nothing else)

The Spot

We’re suckers for sugar-free desserts, so we went to this little sorbet shop called The Spot in Kapaa twice. They have a strawberry banana sorbet with no added sugar. So darn good.

Strawberry banana sorbet at The Spot


I don’t know if I’d recommend going to Kauai unless you absolutely love the beach and have always wanted to go. It’s kind of pricey and a long trip. We didn’t spend any time on the other Hawaiian islands, so I can’t speak to how Kauai compares.

I’m glad we went though. It’s amazing how developed the island is. There are cool hikes and pretty beaches. The locals we chatted with were friendly, and the vibe was pretty laid back.

The two aspects of the trip I’m most grateful for are getting to spend a bunch of time with Abagail and having the time and headspace to read. I made my way through a few books that have already had an impact on me:

  • Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now by Jaron Lanier
  • How to Walk by Thich Nhat Hanh
  • The Pocket Dalai Lama compiled and edited by Mary Craig
  • A Monk’s Guide to a Clean House and Mind by Shoukei Matsumoto

Taking a break from daily life to relax and think about my physical and spiritual health was so wonderful. Now it’s time to get off island time and back to the real world of making stuff.

Author: Brett Chalupa

day: software developer, night: comic artist

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