Travel

Kauai

Establishment neighborhood
Polihale Beach
Hwy 50, Waimea
Your rental car contract will prohibit you from accessing this beach—and should you attempt it, you'll understand why. The road is terrible, but the beach at its end is incredible. At 17-miles long, its one of Hawaii's longest beaches and it is vast and stunning and more or less empty. It abuts the Napali Coast and shares those epic views. Similarly, it faces the open ocean and the waves are intense, making the water only safe for strong swimmers. Most visitors come to walk the beach.
Hanalei Bread Company
5-5161 Kuhio Hwy, Hanalei
This brand-new, open-air coffee shop café—from the same people as Bar Acuda—is one of those spots that's perpetually packed, though you can generally always snag a spot (they also do a lot of perfect pre-packed beach picnic fare). While it's not exclusively allergen-free, there are tons of options for the gluten- and dairy-averse, including really good almond milk lattes and delicious rolls and breads. Brunch-time is particularly prime (consider a stop on your way to hike the Napali coast), as they offer very kid-friendly crepes, as well as lots of egg dishes.
Beach House Restaurant
5022 Lawai Rd., Poipu
Sure, the views from all sides are stunning—one of the island's best snorkeling beaches is immediately below—but the food here is also reliably fantastic. This is partly due to the fact that it's co-owned by Peter Merriman, who knows exactly how to nail the upscale Hawaiian beach vibe, but a fair share of credit goes to chef Marshall Blanchard who turns out seafood-inflected comfort food that's the perfect amount of fancy. This translates to a really good option for big celebratory family dinners, as well as low-key sunburnt lunches. Don't miss stand-outs like panko-crusted calamari and the fish & chips (with pineapple tartar sauce)—there's a straightforward kid's menu, too.
Kukui’ula
2829 Ala Kalanikaumaka, Poipu
Kauai is paradise, in part because it's the least touristed of Hawaii's islands, but with that comes a dearth of good place to stay. One relatively new and excellent antidote to the housing crunch—particularly for families, or anyone traveling with other couples—is the Lodge at Kukui'ula, a private club in Poipu that stretches across 1,000 acres. Comprised of multi-bedroom homes—most with adjacent guest houses—it is really well done, with plenty of high-end touches and amenities. It is so well done in fact, that you might find yourself spending too much time sprawled out on the couch, and not enough time at the beach. While all the homes are equipped with lavish kitchens, the club restaurant is excellent, and serviced by an on-site organic garden. There's a multi-level pool, complete with hot tubs, a water slide, and a beach (the real beach is just across the road), a keiki play room lined with toys, DVDs, and all the things you might not have packed, including bouncy chairs and strollers, and an on-site outfitters staffed by locals who know all the island's secrets—what's better is that they'll take you there, or…
Merriman’s Fish House
2829 Ala Kalanikaumaka St., Poipu
Peter Merriman was one of the pioneers of the local food scene in Hawaii—he was at the forefront of efforts to grow vegetables in the local volcanic soils, so they could be eaten fresh (rather than after a lengthy journey on a boat). Today, he partners with local farmers to serve his three restaurants, and there’s one each on Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island. The dining room and menu are dressed up without being overly stuffy, so it’s ideal for a nicer family or group outing. Try the upcountry salad (made with kale and butter lettuce from local farms), the fresh-caught mahi mahi, and vegetarian taro cake.
Kauai Juice Co.
4270 Kilauea Rd., Kilauea
There are so many good cold-pressed juices and kombucha teas at this Kauai shop, which has locations in Kappa and Kilauea. Most of their drinks are made from local, organic produce, and they are all served in glass bottles, which you can return to Kauai Juice Co. to be recycled, and for a refund. Bonus: A portion of proceeds goes to Hawai‘i SEED, a nonprofit that supports local farmers, sustainable agriculture, and GMO education and labeling legislation.
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