Today I’m recapping the first part of our incredible time in KAUAI! When I left off with my last recap, we were getting ready to island hop from Maui to Kauai. We had a quick 45-minute flight west and got our rental car (another Jeep—you just have to have a Jeep in Hawaii!) and drove to the darling Waimea Plantation Cottages for our first stop on Kauai. Out of everywhere we stayed, the cottages might be the most “home-away-from-home” feeling place. We loved it and felt so restful there. Here’s some photos of where we stayed:
The way Waimea Plantation Cottages works is that it’s a hotel, with a traditional front desk and all the amenities, but each “room” is its own cottage. They are all historic plantation cottages from the sugar plantations on the island, and they were relocated to the resort. We stayed in Cottage #69, which is one of the two-bedroom oceanfront cottages. We had a beautiful sweeping front porch with rocking chairs, a sweet little living room, full kitchen, two bedrooms and bathrooms (not that we needed two bedrooms to ourselves obviously, but the location was prime), and it was just so relaxing and homey. All the reviews ahead of time said that the Waimea Plantation Cottages is real “old Hawaii”, and at least from an outsider’s perspective, it really felt that way. The pace of life is slow and the emphasis is just on enjoying the company and the views of the ocean. The whole resort was so peaceful and the setting was idyllic.
At check in, we noticed that they have a huge selection of complementary DVD rentals (and tvs with DVD players in the cottages… we don’t even have one of those at home anymore!) and board game rentals. We picked up some scrabble, chess, and a couple of movies and watched one of them the first night. We were exhausted from the travel and passed out.
The next morning, we woke up to our beautiful view and feasted on our leftover pineapple-banana bread that I mentioned in my last recap and we brought all the way from Maui.
At this point, to give a real recap of our time, I have to switch gears and tell you about a certain someone who played a big part in our time in Waimea. Her name is Lila. She’s a cat, and Grace fell in love.
On our first night in Waimea, we were eating dinner on the porch of the hotel restaurant, and we had this little tabby cat come up to our table. We fed her a little bit of our scraps (best idea? no, but she was so sweet and clearly a stray and hungry) and Grace was instantly enamored. We started to walk back to our cottage from the restaurant and Lila followed us part of the way, and then we didn’t see her again. Flash forward to the next morning. She’s waiting for us on the porch our cottage, and Grace is IN LOVE at this point. She’s petting her, asking me if we have any food for her, etc. We did not. I’m not really a cat person, but Grace asked what we should call her and I said Lila. From that point, she was our cat for the rest of the vacation. She was pretty beat up-missing some teeth and really skinny-but even I have to admit she was a sweetheart.
That night we got her some cat food from the grocery store in town and fed her a couple more meals before we switched sides of the island. She was like having a pet on our vacation. Grace was really blue when we had to leave her. But we found some information from a local cat rescue that told us she probably belongs to a colony and has been spayed, so we were happy to learn that. Anyway, I couldn't write this post without sharing a little bit about Lila. She was adorable. And if you’re ever in Hawaii and meet a stray pet you love, you can actually take them home-the Hawaii humane society will help with getting it on the plane and all that! Thank goodness we didn’t know this until AFTER we had to leave Lila!! (sorry Grace).
Getting back to our time in Waimea, we took our first morning slow, ate breakfast outside, played some chess on our porch, and walked on the beach just outside our cottage.
We had a 1pm reservation to go on a boat tour of the Na Pali coast, so our day centered around that, and we decided to drive into town early to get lunch. Waimea town is tiny and so cute-it’s colorful, easy to walk, and has amazing food options. We chose the Shrimp Station for lunch and it was the tastiest island-fast-food imaginable. Everything is shrimp-based (imagine that?) and we ordered the shrimp burger and the coconut shrimp.
We walked off our lunch with a little bit of shopping and then we had room for dessert-SHAVE ICE! I’d been wanting to get shave ice the whole trip but we just hadn't made it happen yet. I’m glad we waited because JoJo’s shave ice is the best I’ve ever had. For the uninitiated, shave ice is a Hawaiian delicacy. And there’s no typo-it’s SHAVE ice, not shaved ice. I had to keep reminding Grace. It’s similar to a snow cone, but a zillion times better. The ice is carefully shaved, not crushed, and often nestled on a bed of ice cream. Then syrups are drizzled over top based on whatever flavor you order. It’s seriously so good.
I ordered a #1 (rainbow) and Grace ordered a #15 (pineapple, coconut, and macadamia cream). Both were incredible but I think Grace ordered best. JoJ’s does their shave ice on top of macadamia nut ice cream, and it’s so fresh and simple. Just delicious. If you’re in Kauai, GO. They have a location in Princeville too.
After shave ice, it was time to drive to the marina to hop on our boat!
The Na Pali Coast is something I’d been wanting to see for years. You have probably seen images of it as it’s in a lot of movies, most famously Jurassic Park and Pirates of the Caribbean. It looks very Jurassic Park to me (the originals), and those are some of my favorite movies. So it was really fun seeing the iconic coastline in person.
We used the tour company Na Pali Experience. I would highly recommend it. Our captain was Captain T, and he was AWESOME! I want to go back just to take his tour again.
It was about a 5-hour trip, which sounds kind of long, but it flew by. We toured the coast by boat, explored sea caves, snorkeled right off the boat, and jumped in a couple of other times just to cool off and swim. We saw dolphins, sea turtles, and tons of fish. It was one of my favorite days of the honeymoon.
Here are some of my favorite pics of the day:
Some of my favorite parts of the day were going in the sea caves and snorkeling. We were on a tiny boat (highly recommended-more expensive but you can go in narrower spaces) and would zoom into these crevices in the rock. Grace was TERRIFIED at first but once we realized what a pro our guide was, we relaxed and had so much fun.
Snorkeling was awesome. We probably saw at least 10 sea turtles, and tons of coral and fish. Grace was a little uncertain snorkeling since she hadn’t been since she was a kid. So we held hands the whole time and although she was kind of an anchor dragging me backwards against the current, it was one of the sweetest memories from the honeymoon :)
After the boat tour we stopped by the local grocery store on our way back to our cottage and got some frozen pizza and microwave popcorn (and the aforementioned cat food). Not the most glamorous meal on our honeymoon, but actually one of my favorites, because we got to have it at “home” and watch a movie we checked out from the hotel lobby. It was just cozy and perfect after a long day in the sun.
The next morning it was time to switch sides of the island and go to Princeville! On our way out of Waimea, we got some awesome smoothies and Hawaiian snacks and decided to drive up and see Waimea Canyon.
Waimea Canyon is known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”. It’s a beautiful canyon in the inland part of the island, but it doesn’t take long to drive up from the beach in Waimea. The drive was super pretty.
And that’s it for Waimea! Princeville, our last stop of the honeymoon, was gorgeous and I can’t wait to share that recap. Thanks for following along-it’s so much fun revising all these places!