#Kauai: The Bucket List

Kipu Kai Ranch view – part of the ATV tour.

You’d think that after almost four years here on this small island we would have seen and done it all, but with less than eight months remaining before we take off on the Big Adventure, we’re realizing there are several things we still haven’t experienced and would like to do before we go.

Neither Brett nor I are those people that feel compelled to do everything when we visit or live somewhere. We like to do enough to gain a better and/or deeper understanding of a place, but also are OK with leaving some things undone, to give ourselves a reason to want to return (or at least rationalize a reason to return).

Here is a list we’ve come up with (for now) of some missing Kaua’i/Hawai’i experiences we’d like to have before we leave:


Sunset view from the PMRF beach cottages
  • Rent a beach cottage for a couple of nights at the Pacific Missile Range Facility, to enjoy the beach and experience the gorgeous sunsets. This is one of our military benefits, and we’d be remiss not to use it before we go.
  • Hike Waimea Canyon. This is high on Brett’s list. By the way, the reason I don’t hike with him is that while my knee (that I broke over 18 years ago) is OK going uphill, going back down doesn’t go so well – same for stairs.
  • Hike the Stone Dam trail. Brett’s done this a couple of times, but it’s a hike I can do too because it’s flat!

    We plan on getting VERY dirty on the ATV tour!
  • Take an ATV tour out to Kipu Kai Ranch This is the only “touristy” activity we really want to try.
  • Get up early and hike out to watch the sunrise from the Pineapple Dump.
  • Take the tubing adventure tour with our grandson if our son and family visit next summer, through the historic irrigation system of the old Lihue Plantation. Apparently it’s quite the thrill ride!

    The Kaua’i Museum
  • Visit the Kaua’i Museum in Lihue. The reason we haven’t gone before now is that even kamaaina have to pay to visit, but we feel it’s something we should see.
  • Tour the Limahuli Gardens & Preserve. The garden, located on the north shore, contains a wide variety of native and Polynesian-introduced plants, including a 100+ year-old taro garden and terrace system that dates back to the earliest Hawaiians.

    The Limahuli Gardens taro garden and terraces


  • Celebrate our anniversary this year at Duke’s Kaua’i, down at Nawiliwili in Lihue. We’ve heard nothing but good things about the food and ambience there.

    The view from Brenneke’s Beach Broiler
  • Have a lunch date at Brenneke’s Beach Broiler in Poipu.
  • Have dinner at The Eating House 1849, in Poipu (Roy Yamaguchi is an award-winning chef from Hawai’i), and at Bar Acuda in Hanalei.

    Breadfruit is a protein and nutrient-rich staple in Hawaii and other islands in the Pacific Ocean.
  • Try breadfruit. I can’t believe we haven’t done this yet. WenYu bought a breadfruit at the farmers’ market yesterday (after I had written this post) and cooked it in the microwave. It was delicious! We will be buying it again. WenYu’s friend also bought an egg fruit which we had never had before – it was also tasty!

    Egg fruit – the inside is soft and sort of dry, and mildly sweet


  • Make an overnight visit to the Big Island to visit Volcanoes National Park (Haleakalā National Park on Maui is just going to have to wait until we can get back though).

    Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

This was a hard list to come up with for the reason that the thought of leaving the island, even for a little while, is almost more than I can bear. I will revisit the list in three to four months and check our progress.



16 thoughts on “#Kauai: The Bucket List

  1. That list includes so many of the wonderful things we’ve seen over the course of our trips to Hawaii. I hope you get to experience all of them. Most recently we saw the volcano and it’s such a great memory. I really hope you make it there before you leave!

    My first trip was to Kaua’i, and I still remember eating at a Roy’s restaurant. We’ve since visited several of them in various cities when he franchised, but none were quite as good as my memory of the initial visit. And I loved visiting Waimea Canyon, although it cleared up only one day we were there, so we lucked out. We talked about being on top of Haleakala for sunrise, but never got up that early. Ha! It was still pretty amazing. And COLD. My pics show us shivering in our light jackets, but what a view

    The other thing on my repeat list would be the Hula Grill on Kaanapali Beach…we loved eating with our feet in the sand. So many wonderful choices on those islands! Good luck getting through your list…it’s a good one.


    1. We are very keen to visit the volcano on the Big Island – our plan is to take the first flight over to Kona-Kailua in the morning on the first day, pick up a rental car and drivie down to the park. We’ll spend the night there (so we can see the glow at night), and then spend most of the next day there as well, driving back up to K-K and taking the last flight back to Kaua’i in the evening.

      The original Roy’s in Poipu is now closed, but he’s opened the new restaurant in the Kukuiula Marketplace – we’re thinking of saving that experience for something special right before we go.

      We’ve been to Waimea Canyon a couple of times, but Brett has never hiked there and wants to try a couple of the trails before we go. It’s an all-day excursion though, and with just one car hard to pull off. He’s thinking of going in May or June, after YaYu has graduated and he can have the car for the whole day to get out there and back.

      I think first on our list will be the Kaua’i museum – we’re talking about going later this month.


  2. I can certainly recommend the ATV tour! We were out with only one other couple so we got the extended laid-back tour. The lunch break food really hit the spot. We hardly got dirty even though we went right after some heavy kona rains thanks to careful driving, but you sure can get filthy in a hurry by applying plenty of right foot!


    1. This is good to hear! We have been wanting to do this for a couple of years now, but just have never found the time or money before. We will be prepared to get very dirty, but hopefully it won’t be as bad as we expect.

      One of our options is to ride with the tour guide – it takes some $$ off the tour price, but we were also thinking he might not use as much of a “lead foot” as we might on our own.


    1. You are ON, sister! Let us know when and we will make the reservations. Are you coming with friends or ??? We could still ride with the tour guide and you and your fellow travelers could have your own ATV – we’ll work something out.

      We are so excited about seeing you again!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I will be there in early April for an Adventure Weekend with friends and then I plan on staying a few more days. I’m not sure if anyone will stay with me but I think quite a few people are considering it since it’s a long way to go for four days lol! Tell Brett we will be doing a 7.5 mile loop on the Napili trail!


      2. I will message you later to get details (or you can message me), but Brett would love to hike with you if possible. It’s one he won’t do alone, and would appreciate being part of a group.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Make sure to stay at the military lodge cabins at Volcano National Park. They were amazing.
    Sounds like a great bucket list to me!


    1. Thank you for the reminder! I had forgotten about Kilauea Military Camp. Brett is going to make reservations this coming week for a stay at PMRF (hopefully during spring break), and will try to get reservations for Kilauea at the same time.


    1. I am not a morning person either Vivian, but if I know in advance about something like this I can do it. We’ll take along coffee and a snack, so I should be OK. Our last attempt to get up for the sunrise was a dud because of big storm that had arrived, but we really, really want to experience on good sunrise before we head off on our adventure so I am motivated to do this.


  4. Hi Laura, like several here, we’ve done quite a few of the items in your bucket list during our visits to Hawaii over the years. Our Kauai ATV ride was a blast, in that the leader recognized I knew how to ride (I got my first mini-bike at age 6 ☺), and went out of his way to point out ruts and waterholes for me to bomb through. Loved it!

    We’ve done the tubing through the old irrigation systems as well, and it was likewise fun, but cold . . . brrr!

    And my fondest memory of visiting Hawaii Volcanoes NP on the Big Island was hiking across the lava fields, about 6 or so miles if I recall correctly. It seemed like we were hiking on the moon!

    So much fun ahead for you both/all!!!


  5. Haha – we are thinking of riding with the guide, but we’ll tell him we ain’t afraid of no ruts and waterholes! We are really looking forward to this activity, and hopefully can do it along with our good friend Denise when she comes to the island.

    We figured the tubing experience would be cold, but it’s the one activity that our grandson would be old enough to do this coming year. Fingers are crossed that they can make it. And, we’re going to do all we can and see as much as we can of Volcanoes NP in two days. I’m not sure I can hike six miles, but I’ll be giving it my best shot!


  6. Today the high temperature is 13 degrees here so I’ve been thinking a lot about Hawaii and wishing I was there instead of here!

    I’ve only been to Kauai once and it was only for a week, so the only thing on your list that I’ve done is hiking Waimea Canyon. We did a short hike and it was fun and the scenery is amazing! I like your list and it gives me ideas of things to do next time I’m there. I’ve also been to Haleakalā National Park on Maui at sunrise and that is something you absolutely have to experience. It’s cold up there though so be prepared for that, but it’s so worth getting up early and being cold for a short time. I’ve been to the Big Island and unfortunately did not get to Volcanoes National Park, but we did take a helicopter ride over the active volcano and that is #1 on my list of my most favorite things I’ve done on a vacation.

    I agree with you though that it’s best not to see everything before you go so you’ll have an excuse/reason to go back!


  7. After reading about all the cold weather back on the mainland I’m glad we’re here too. WenYu is especially glad she’s here and not back in Boston right now. Temperature is all relative though, and once you acclimate you can get chilled and/or feel miserable at a much higher temperature (even though it isn’t life threatening). Anything in the 60s here feels bone chilling – we used to see people wearing shorts when the temp would reach 60 in Portland!

    We’re really excited about going to see Volcanoes NP, even if it is just for one night. We both want to see Haleakala, but don’t have a strong desire to visit Maui so it will just have to wait. Besides, it’s another great reason for returning to Hawai’i in the future (we may come back to Kaua’i anyway though – we still have no plans for where or if we’ll settle at the end of our adventure).


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