some of my favorite

I’ve finally compiled some of my favorite places to eat and drink….and some fun things to do….

and this post really just touches on a few things here and there.

If you have a specific question on a place or restaurant….ask in the comments

and i will do my best to answer it.

Because i live on the North-shore….i tend to favor the North-shore.

If you are staying on the South-side….then i’m sorry.

There is one good restaurant that i love…it’s called “Living Foods” in Poipu. Great Breakfast and lunches…

but a bit overpriced on all the products in the market. Other than this…..i’m at a loss for south side

loves and living.

If you head to the North-shore….or are staying on the North-side…then this post is just for you;-)

Also…..lots of places offer PUPU’s.

Pupu’s mean appetizer….not POO POO’S as in POOP…even though it sounds like you are

ordering POOPOOS.


{my friend Melissa on her bike at Hanalei Pier}

*Hands down my favorite lunch place is The Garden Cafe at Common Ground in Kilauea.

The portions are large and two people can normally share a single entree. Most everything is Farm

to table….organic and fresh. Try the Kalua pork nachos or the Kale salad.  They don’t serve alcohol….

but they should. I’m pretty sure you can bring your own wine in…..because nothing goes better with

farm fresh food then some fine boxed wine.

*The best place to see chickens is everywhere.

 I tend to speed up now when i see a chicken crossing the road ….but please don’t let PETA know.

*My favorite snorkeling beach is Anini and Hideaways

I don’t snorkel…..i keep the cooler company….

but the kids love Anini….. we also love Hideaways beach.

Hideaways is a bit of a hike down with only a few parking spaces available at the top.

Hideaways is NOT recommended in the Winter months due to the high surf.

*Our favorite shave ice truck is Wishing Well in Hanalei

It’s a mom and pop truck with not reliable hours…..but it’s good. Make sure you get your shave ice

over a scoop of ice cream.

*Best Kalua pulled pork plate is from the Hanalei Taro lunch wagon

It’s a little green lunch wagon right next to Wishing Well shave ice.

Honestly….the best. Try the Kalua pork sandwich or go more local and get the plate…which

has mac salad with taro in it. mmmmmmm.

*I love the Date with Fate smoothie at Moloa Sunrise in Moloa

It looks like a fruit stand from the outside…..but they have wonderful smoothies and 

good eats at this roadside cafe. It’s situated right between Anahola and Kilauea.

*Best farmers market is in Hanalei

It’s every Saturday morning at 9:30-noon.

Everyone gets there early….and everything get’s picked over fast…so i suggest getting there when it opens.

You will find the BEST salsa…..from Sal

The best in fresh squeezed juices….try the cucumber mint…..from Akamai Juicers.

Seriously the best fresh Chevre’ is the Lilikoi Chevre’ from Kunana Dairy.

*The best place to take a farm tour

Only because we eat their goat cheese like it’s going out of style…..i highly recommend going on a 

farm tour at Kunana Dairy in Anahola. You will get to try all the local fruits and see how they make their cheese.

*Our favorite place to try Stand up Paddle-boarding

Hanalei is really the only and best place. Make sure you go late afternoon so you can see the sun set.

*Best bakery and a great place for pastries is Kilauea Bakery in the town of Kilauea.

Great place to go for coffee or a latte….pastries and the best gluten free cake and they also have good pizza.

{sometimes Julia Roberts hangs out here…..but for some reason…never when i’m there}

*Our favorite place to grab a waffle with your morning cup of coffee is Java Kai at Hanalei coffee roasters 

in Hanalei.

I love the waffles here….make sure you get it with whipped cream and coconut.

*Best place to grab a burger is Duane’s char ono burger in Anahola.

 Bubba’s ….which is good….don’t get me wrong….and more known…

but Duane’s is better. 

*Best place to jump off a pier is the Hanalei Pier.

No words needed ….

except…it’s not recommended and the signs all say “DON’T UMP OFF IER”

*Best looking pool server is Bryan Buick at St. Regis in Princeville.

Bryan recommends the Ahi sliders should you be staying at the Regis and hanging poolside.

*Best fish tacos is at Fish Express in Lihue across from Walmart.

There are oodles of places to grab fish tacos….from fried to grilled….but so far my favorite ….and 

you get 2 large fish tacos that can easily be shared are from Fish Express. They don’t have seating here…

it’s a fish market that also carries great poke’ ….so just order and eat in the car. If you wait to get back to 

your place with your fish tacos then the tortillas will be soggy. Word to the wise.

*Want to hike with the best scenery in the world? 

Head north to the end of the road and either do the 2 miles in to Hanakapi’ai beach and 2 miles back out…..

or go the extra 2 miles from the beach up to the one of the most wonderful waterfall…

but better than the waterfall are all the little swimming holes in the rocks on the way up.

Next time i head up…i’m taking the kids and we will spend the day lounging around the pools

soaking and playing.

The best time to hike is before 8 am….and even earlier if you can. The parking lot fills up fast because

the beach there is also one of the best snorkeling beaches on the North shore….so may i suggest getting there

before 7:30 am. I hike the 2 miles in and 2 miles out at least once a week.

*Best sushi is from Hanalei Dolphin

I especially love going into the fish market in the back and ordering a roll or two which they will slice

and you can take it with you to a picnic on the beach.

*Great place for dinner and atmosphere is Bar Acuda in Hanalei

This is the place we head to when we have friends in town. It’s tapas Hawaiian style….small places…

which are on the pricier side….but everything is fabulous. Try the fresh chevre’ and honeycomb.

{my friend Tonya works at the bar….make sure you tell her i sent you….she makes a damn good greyhound}

*Only the best ginger margarita in the world

It’s served at the St. Regis bar. Try not to swallow your tongue when you see the $16 price tag…..

because only ordering one is not good enough…you must have 2.

The valet parking is FREE at the St. Regis….you just have to tip the valet driver….and the sunset

watching is the best….right from the bar.

*Best server is Bryan Buick at the Mediterranean restaurant 

He works most Monday….Friday …and Saturday nights. Tell him i sent you;-)

*Best place to camp is Polihale

Not that you are coming to Kauai on vacation and will want to camp……but since this is the only place i’ve

camped….then i suggest it. 

*Best place to get pizza at a family joint

I’m not going to lie…there is not good pizza here….but so far the best of the best is Brick Oven Pizza in Wailua.

My kids love getting the pupu pizza …..and they give all kids pizza dough to play with.

*Best macadamia nut cinnamon roll is from Wake Up Cafe in Hanalei

It’s worth all 293874927349 calories.

*Best place to rent a bike and go for a bike ride is in Kapaa

Grab a bike from Coconut coasters and head out on a family bike ride along the coast.

*Best place for an Ahi wrap is at Mermaids in Kapaa

Hands down….best Ahi wrap ever. 

*Best European inspired cafe in Kapaa

Hemingways…….the quiche is to die for.

*Best Luau for a family is Smith Family in Wailua

We went a few years ago……the kids loved that they could run all around and it’s open and family friendly.

*Best authentic luau is at the Mediterranean restaurant in Haena

Yes… hubby works here…..but the family that runs the Luau is what makes the show…..

it’s a great Luau at a restaurant that is on the ocean. I don’t suggest going if you have kids ….but it’s

wonderful for a coupe or family with older children.

*Only the best of the best in vegan and whole food living is Rainbow Living Foods in kapaa

Okay….i’ve never eaten here…but my two friends who eat vegan and LOVE everything  whole foods

eat at this place. I trust that it’s good by the way the burrito looked even though i think it should

have been wrapped in a flour tortilla but instead was wrapped in lettuce and just because their kid was crying

that a burrito really should have a tortilla but didn’t…i’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt.

*Best local hangout is Tahiti Nui in Hanalei

I just suggest not wearing your floral shirt or a lei around your neck when you are here after 9 at night.


These are just some of our favorite little places that we tend to frequent…..

and we were not paid for any endorsements {totally welcome though…just call me 555-1212}


  1. Best Food Truck: Mele’s Kusina in Anahola (I think?) ….across from the swinging bridge

    Best Smoothie is Moloaa Sunrise Fruit Stand | “Date with Fate” is so yummy!

    Best Hot Dog is Puka Dog at Poipu Beach

    and of course……

    The VERY Best Hostesses are the Buick Family in Princeville 🙂

    Just might see you all again……this fall (wink, wink)

    J Wo

  2. This is so fun and helpful! I am going to pin it so I can easily find it if/when I go back to Hawaii!

  3. Keoki’s Paradise in south shore is really good. I had Lava Flows and a steak which was VERY good! We ate at the table in the bar and there were two Hawaiian man playing guitars and singing and they were very good.

    Jo-Jo’s shaved ice in Waimea was also the very best shaved ice I’ve ever had! I got a rainbow with macadamia nut icecream on the bottom. We got a shaved ice at an outdoor mall area in Lihue or somewhere around there and it wasn’t good at all.

    There is hidden trail is at Shipwreck Beach at the Hyatt on south beach. We took it behind the cliff and beach at Shipwreck Beach and you come out at lithified cliffs that are so pretty!

  4. So excited to read your list! I must plan a trip to the North Shore.

  5. Bethany says:

    Thanks! Heading there in Sept but staying on the south shore, will definitely head north to try some of these!!

  6. I live on Kauai and the best Pizza is a toss up – Bobby V’s in Wailua or Pizzetta’s in old town Koloa. Brick Oven is good, but not like these other two. There are so many great food establishments all over the island…let’s not just concentrate on the north shore. I think you are partial to the north shore

  7. Hi Kasey… looks like we have a friend in common- Julie J. from Batavia. Julie and I went to high school together and she turned me onto your blog. We’re on an extended family vacation in Kauai– a month left to go. It’s our third time here (this time with a toddler)– started out on the north shore, now in Poipu, heading back up north in a week. Looks like we have some of the same taste in food! We love the Mediterranean. Also, I love the fish tacos at Papaya’s in Kapaa, but we’ll have to try Fish Express, as well. I agree on the poor pizza choices– Pizzetta’s just didn’t cut it for us (but I have Chicago– and now the NYC– pizza biases). Cheers!

  8. I haven’t been to the Northshore in 2 years so I am excited to visit some of your favorite places when we visit next year. Thank you for telling us some of your fav’s!!

  9. Thank you thank you thank you!!! I truly appreciate the list.

    Have fun in Chicago!

  10. Hi Kasey,

    What months are best to travel to Kauai?

    Thank You.

  11. Now, I just need plane tickets!

  12. I’m finally posting after being a long time follower…and, can’t believe as long as you’ve been on Kuaui that I’ve not shared this with you. My uncle Bob Gunter is the president of Koloa Rum on the island and they have a lovely tasting room experience you all might like to check out for a date night. He is in DC on business and we had dinner last night – I showed him your blog, acted like I knew you really well :), and he said this post was spot on with your local faves ! He also said Koloa is at the St. Regis, too! Said he’d love to meet you all…lots of contacts on the island – mentioned your decisions to stay or move. / they are on Face Book, too.


  13. I just found your blog and I’m loving it. We got orders to Oahu for December and can’t wait. Do you know anything about teaching in Hawaii? Off to check your other posts.

  14. We are in hanalei right now! About to take a surf lesson! Let’s get in touch
    About pictures. Thanks for all the recommendations here!

  15. kasey, my longtime close friend and college roommate sent us your blog as we were bringing our 4 kids to Kauai. Tonight we ended up at the mediterranean gourmet and met your husband !! Food and service was amazing and thanks for sharing! We are staying at the hanalei colony resort and leave tomorrow so our dinner was the perfect ending to a wonderful 10 days!!
    Best to you and your family, nancy and david

  16. Jennifer says:

    Is mermaids still owned by Debrah Elkins. If so tell her I said hello. I use to visit Kuai once a year with her brother Mike(friends travlin companion)

  17. Can’t wait to make the trip to Kauai someday. Have bookmarked this for the future!

  18. Hi Kasey. It was so good to finally meet you. Even though between Jamie and your blog I already kind of felt like I met you a long time ago. This list makes me want to spend more time on the North Shore. We have always been a little sheepish about our love for the goat farm tour but you make me want to shout it loud and proud. Thanks for your inspiration. Hooray for nerdy goat farm tours, hooray for packing up your families just because you like adventures, hooray for blogging about it!

  19. hi kasey! i really like your blog and your writing style. you crack me up. we are heading to kauai in 10 days and are staying in anahola. we have some friends that up and moved to kauai, too, earlier this year….
    reading about your journey is really inspiring. thank you for sharing your stories.

  20. Is there a decent zip line you coud recommend on the north shore?

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