Mahaulepu Heritage Coastal Beach Trail
The great thing about this coastline hike is that there are several trails that run parallel to the island’s southern shore (with varying degrees of difficulty). The one closest to the ocean is more technical, and if you’re on the way back, the inland trails are friendlier and easier on the feet. Bring plenty of water and start early at Shipwreck Beach. From there, you’ll hike through different ecosystems and across sand and lava rock along the ocean (and curiously enough, along the edge of a golf course for part of it). The trail will lead you to either a semisecluded beach or Makauwahi Cave, a limestone formation that requires a good army crawl to enter.
Eating House 1849
2829 Ala Kalanikaumaka Rd., Poipu
After training in Los Angeles at Le Serene, Chef Roy Yamaguchi opened his first Hawaiian restaurant, Roy's, in the late '80s. Born in Tokyo, the menu was Hawaiian fusion, some of the first of its kind, and Yamaguchi went on to win a James Beard award. There are three Eating Houses 1849's scattered across the islands (the name is an acknowledgement of the first restaurant on Hawaii, which was called Eating House), and the one on Kauai is part of the Shops at Kukuiula (where a lot of the island's great restaurants are nestled). The menu changes frequently, but expect to find classics like potstickers, chicken wings, and an outstanding "Hapa" burger, which is a mix of beef and Kaluna wild boar. There's also an excellent spicy ramen bowl.
Living Foods Market Café & Juice Bar
2829 Ala Kalanikaumaka, Poipu
While you'll certainly find larger grocery stores in Kauai, you won't find nearly the same sort of health-centric offering, from organic and local produce, to bio-dynamic wines. There's also a prepared food counter where you can pick up fresh juice, sandwiches, smoothies, and salads, including pretty excellent egg and cheese sandwiches and gluten-free crepes.
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.
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.