When you dream about your perfect honeymoon, what images float into your mind? Sun drenched days lazing on white sandy beaches and swimming in crystal blue waters? Drinking chilled champagne whilst watching a beautiful sunset? Perhaps even embarking on some once in a life time activities?
Well for me it was all of the above and my honeymoon dreams came true when I spent the most memorable 7 nights of my life with my new husband on the breath taking island of Kauai in Hawaii.
Going to Hawaii had always been a dream of mine and visiting the magical island of Kauai was something I had wanted to do ever since I was 12 years old and watching Jurassic Park which was filmed on the majestic island. I was completely mesmerized by the lush jungle, breath-taking mountains and spectacular waterfalls and I could only hope that one day I would get to go and experience it first hand (minus the dinosaurs of course).
20 years later and my husband and I decided that there was nowhere else we would rather go on our honeymoon. With Hawaii being just a short 5 hour flight from California, another place that we had been dying to visit, we decided to to tie it in with a road trip along the Californian coast, which was the perfect plan to break up the flying times from the UK.
After a fantastic but exhausting trip around California we hopped on the flight to Kauai hoping that it would live up to our expectations! We arrived at night so thought we would have to wait until the morning before having a chance to see if we had made the right decision but little did we know that we were about to be swept off of our feet! For our honeymoon on Kauai, we had decided that we didn’t want to stay in a hotel and wanted somewhere with more privacy where we could have our own space so instead we chose to stay in a serviced apartment. After doing lots of research we had decided on Whaler’s Cove in Poipu Beach which is a short 20 minute drive from Lihue airport. From the website, it looked exactly like what we were looking for; a small group of apartments with a pool and BBQ area that overlooked the beautiful blue water. Although our expectations were high, we couldn’t believe how truly amazing it was when we arrived! As Whaler’s Cove had been very booked up we ended up staying in the split level 3 bedroom Kaikala penthouse and when we stepped through the front door we were completely blown away! The door opens into a huge open plan kitchen, dining and living room area which is very tastefully decorated with lots of Hawaiian touches and furnished to the highest standard. This leads out onto a large terraced balcony overlooking the cove which we were immediately drawn to. At this time the moon was shining down onto the water and the sky was flooded with stars. We collapsed onto the loungers and cracked open a bottle of champagne as we lay back and looked up to the sky through the fronds of a gently swaying palm tree. There is nowhere else on the island we would have rather been!
After we had forced ourselves off of the loungers, we explored the rest of the apartment. Upstairs there were two large bedrooms which both looked out to the sea and a beautiful large tiled bathroom decorated with pretty shells. Downstairs, just off the living room was the master bedroom, which has its own equally beautiful en-suite and walk-in wardrobe area and also had huge French doors which opened out onto the terrace so we made sure that we left these open when we went to bed that night.
The next morning we awoke to the sound of the lapping waves and we couldn’t believe the beautiful view from our bed. The sea was sparkling in the sunlight and I caught the glimpse of some movement out in water. Jumping out of bed like a child on Christmas morning, I flung open the doors and began squealing and jumped around the balcony when I realized there were dolphins swimming in the cove! On closer inspection, we also spotted two large turtles lazily browsing around in the reef. At that moment I knew we were somewhere very special.
As we headed out to explore the rest of the resort and to have a swim in the pool, we ran into the manager of the apartments, Marianne. She was the most wonderful woman who couldn’t have been more helpful. She told us all about the island, where all the best beaches and restaurants were and even loaned us some snorkeling gear so we could head down to the cove and get a closer look at the turtles. She also told us that from December to early May you might be lucky enough to see whales from your balcony!
We headed straight for the cove with our snorkel gear and were greeted by numerous beautiful fish swimming around in some of the clearest water I have ever come across. I had been snorkeling in other countries before but this was a whole other experience, there were so many wonderful things to look at I could hardly contain myself. My husband had to eventually drag me out of the water so we could go and have breakfast. After drying off we took a 2 minute stroll down the road where we found a cute little cluster of shops and restaurants, we picked one at random and sat down to a beautiful breakfast of fresh fruit, pancakes and delicious smoothies. After breakfast we nipped into the adjacent Living Foods Market which was full of great locally sourced organic produce to purchase some groceries for the apartment. We were then set for spending the next 6 mornings eating breakfast on our balcony watching the turtles grazing in the cove!
The rest of the day was spent lounging around the beautiful pool. Set just meters from the cove and with a handful of gently swaying palms and sun loungers dotted around it, the atmosphere around the pool is one of relaxation and with its close proximity to the sea, if any whales or dolphins decide to make a visit then you would have another perfect view from here.
When it comes to eating out in Poipu you are spoilt for choice and there are many great places to dine all within a few minutes walk. Some of our best meals were had at Dolphin Sushi, Jaquelines Tapas and Tidepools all of which are local to Poipu. Our very best meal in Kauai, however, was in the North of the Island in Hanalei Bay at ONO 560. ONO 560 is a pop up restaurant which only takes place twice a week. Here, you dine under a canopy at communal tables with 8 other people beneath the stars. We were a bit unsure about the communal dining concept at first but we had the best night, met such interesting people and the food was exquisite. The menu at ONO 560 changes every service and consists of a set 6 course meal of traditional Hawaiian food with a modern twist. Every single thing we had was simply divine so this is definitely worth a visit but you must book well in advance.
There were several beautiful beaches close to where we were staying in Poipu which have great snorkeling and surfing but we were also keen to see more of the island so we spent our whole second day driving up the coast stopping at all the different beaches to do some sunbathing, exploring and snorkeling. There are so many beaches on the islands it’s almost impossible to see them all but out of all of ones that we visited, our favourite by far was Tunnels beach on the North shore. Here, the snorkeling was just incredible. The reef was spectacular and there were brightly coloured fish everywhere you looked. We even spent half an hour swimming up close and personal with two giant sea turtles who were just happily eating away at the coral while we watched them in awe.
There are also some fantastic hikes and waterfalls on the island. One of our favourites was Wailua Falls near Lihue where we saw the most beautiful rainbow appearing from the crashing waterfall. We also loved the Queens Bath which is a striking volcanic lava trail leading into the ocean which tails off into a small pool of calm water. It’s a beautiful place for swimming (when the ocean is calm) and it is really peaceful as it is quite difficult to get to. Don’t let this put you off though, it was well worth the 10 minute hike across the black lava rock.
On day 3 we decided to drive into the National Park Reserve to Waimea Canyon which was simply breathtaking. The canyon road is dotted with lookout points which offer you the most incredible views of the red and green Canyons. I have never see such awe inspiring natural beauty before with the contrasts of the red dirt and the lush green jungle making this a unique natural wonder!
Having seen these canyons we thought the views couldn’t get any better but that was until we saw them from the sky! My husband was dying to take a helicopter ride over the island and we decided we couldn’t come somewhere so amazing with such diverse landscape and not see it all, so day 4 we took to the skies! We opted for a private trip in a small helicopter so that it would only be us and the pilot and my husband somehow convinced me to go for the option of removing the doors from the helicopter! Despite being completely terrified as we were taking off, as soon as I looked out at the views I was mesmerised. The pilot took us all over the island through canyons, jungle and waterfalls and even along the Napali coast which is part of the island that can only be accessed by boat or helicopter. I don’t think there is anywhere in the world that offers so much diverse natural beauty all in one place. It was the most incredible experience of my life and something we will remember forever.
Going up in a helicopter is such a great way to see all of the island and gives you ideas of where you would like to go and visit on foot for a better look. One of the things we decided we wanted to do was to go zip lining through the jungle as we had heard that it was offered in one of the private reserves that we flew over. The next day we arranged to take a trip to Kipu Ranch (where they filmed Jurassic Park and Indiana Jones) where we spent an afternoon kayaking along a beautiful river before finding ourselves flying thousands of feet above the trees on zips of up to 1800 feet long, it was completely exhilarating!
Another thing that we knew we had to do when on Kauai was take a boat trip along the Napali coast. This section of the Kauai coastline is not accessible by road and is famously beautiful with towering peaks, lush green cliffs, hidden sea caves and numerous crashing waterfalls. We looked around the island and there were plenty of companies offering boat trips out to this area but there was one company that stood out to us above the others which was Napali Experience. One of their key advantages was that they have small boats which take just 8 passengers which is in contrast to most of the other companies whose boats often take up to 40 people and are too big to weave in and out of the sea caves. The small boats also make for a much more personal tour and give you plenty of time to chat with the knowledgeable local captain. So for our last day in Kauai we booked a 5 hour boat trip with Napali Experience and it was fantastic!! The boat took us all along the spectacular coastline and we were able to go into all the sea caves along the way. At one point we had about 20 dolphins swimming alongside our boat and playing and spinning in our wake which was a magical experience. The trip included a stop off to do some snorkeling on an otherwise inaccessible reef where I even saw a small reef shark (my husband still can’t believe he missed it while he was off following an angel fish). Throughout the trip our captain kept us entertained with interesting facts and stories about the island and coastline and welcomed us back from our snorkeling escapades with the freshest juiciest pineapple he had sliced up fresh on the boat. This trip was a real highlight of our honeymoon and we are so glad we managed to get on the trip due to a cancellation as they usually book up weeks in advance.
I could go on and on about Kauai and Whaler’s Cove but you really do have to see it to believe it. Choosing this location for our honeymoon was the best decision we ever made and has given us memories that we will treasure for the rest of our lives!!