Hawaii, Kauai, Travel

Heading Back to Paradise: Our Christmas Trip to Kauai

Throughout the years we’ve traveled to some pretty amazing destinations around the World, but there’s one destination that keeps drawing us back in for more: the Hawaiian Islands.

Cue the ukulele music and ocean breezes…

Flying into Kauai

Over the last 11 years we’ve traveled to these incredible islands over ten times to celebrate college graduations, anniversaries, Christmas, and birthdays; and to check off epic bucket list items like skydiving, manta ray night diving, and volcano chasing (check, check, and check). It’s a place where we got engaged, have celebrated big accomplishments, and have healed from loss. The islands re-center me in a way that I haven’t experienced anywhere else, and I always come back to “real life” more focused than before.

We visited Kauai with my family back in 2016, and during that trip we were able to show our family some of our favorite spots on the island. And on our most recent visit in 2019, we had the honor of showing off the Garden Isle to three of our best friends.

Sunrise in Kauai

I’ve written a lot about Kauai throughout the years, so today I’m taking a moment to share some of the highlights from our fifth visit to the Garden Isle. I know we’ll be heading back to Kauai sooner rather than later, and a few of these activities will definitely be on our itinerary for next time.


Beach Bummin’ at ‘Anini Beach

This north shore beach just happens to be one of my favorite beaches on the Garden Isle. It’s a favorite for many reasons, but the biggest reason is the opportunity to swim with sea turtles. Of course, when it comes to wildlife one can never guarantee a sighting, however, every time we’ve visited ‘Anini Beach the sea turtles have been there. (Keeping our fingers crossed our luck continues). This north shore beach is protected by an offshore reef so it’s the perfect place to snorkel in the winter months. And snorkeling with sea turtles is the best way to snorkel.

'Anini Beach, Kauai

“Seas-ing” the Day with Captain Andy’s

In my opinion, it’s not a trip to Kauai without seeing the breathtaking NaPali Coast. Whether you prefer to explore by land, air, or sea, this 17-mile coastline is not to be missed.

As a true mermaid-at-heart, I’m happiest on the water. Now combine that happiness with a front row seat for whale watching (in season), sailing along the spectacular cliffs of NaPali Coast State Park, partaking in a couple of “sneaky tikis” (aka Mai Tai’s), and finishing the night watching a beautiful Hawaiian sunset–well, that’s my idea of perfection.

Cody and I got engaged along the NaPali Coast back in 2009, so not only is this sailing adventure a fun tradition, but it’s one I love reliving time and time again.

Captain Andy's Dinner Cruise
Napali Coast, Kauai
Whale watching in Kauai

Scuba Diving

I have logged multiple dives on both Maui and the Big Island, however I’d yet to have an opportunity to scuba dive in Kauai. So Cody and I booked a two-tank morning dive with Fathom Five Adventures in order spend some time blowing bubbles off Kauai’s south shores.

Fathom Five Divers
Sunrise in Kauai

We dove at two different dive sites that day–Harbor Ledge and Three Fingers–and during my time underwater I spotted a rare loggerhead turtle, a juvenile shark (with a broken jaw, according to the dive master), and many schools of fish. It truly was a fin-tastic day and I’m grateful that I was finally able to add Kauai to my dive log.

Getting “Lei’d” at Smith’s Tropical Paradise

I recommend a luau to any first time visitor to Hawaii, and because this trip marked our friends’ first visit to the islands, we had to celebrate the occasion with a luau at Smith’s Tropical Paradise.

We spent the evening enjoying the lush 30-acre botanical garden, the open bar, and an incredible feast of Hawaiian classics–including kalua pork, mahimahi, fresh poi, mac salad, and more. As a vegetarian, I found that there were plenty of acceptable options within the standard buffet offerings, however, the staff also brought me a special vegetarian plate full of delicious options. I definitely had enough to eat, and with the drinks flowing from the open bar it was a good thing that I over-indulged on carbs. 🙂 Besides, vacation calories don’t count, amirite?!

After dinner we made our way over to the open air “Pele Amphitheater” for an entertaining show, including the mesmerizing fire-dancers!

Smith's Tropical Paradise

During our week-long adventure, there were days full of fun activities, and also plenty of time to relax at the beach. We played in the surf near Kealia Beach on the east side, we relaxed with a few drinks at Kapa’a Beach Park, and we saw a Hawaiian Monk Seal basking in the sun on Poipu Beach on the south shore.

Our trip to Kauai was the perfect break after a busy holiday season full of events, parties, and family. We were able to explore, relax, and recharge, and left the island ready to take on 2019!

Monk Seal at Poipu Beach, Kauai

Have you been to Kauai? What’s your favorite memory or experience?

2 thoughts on “Heading Back to Paradise: Our Christmas Trip to Kauai”

  1. Homesick! Favorite memory of Kauai? After a good rain, we went mud-sliding down acoupla irrigation shouts … you’re really not suppose to do that being as most of them are on private property, but when you know a guy … A hui hou Krystle, ALOHA!

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