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Kauai’s south shore: Best eight-day itinerary, part 5

Indulge your south seas dreams at Tunnels Beach
Indulge your south seas dreams at Tunnels BeachPhoto by Jeff/Flickr

Day 6: Day trip to north shore

Re-creating the bar scene from the movie "The Descendants" at the Tahiti Nui
Re-creating the bar scene from the movie "The Descendants" at the Tahiti NuiPhoto by Michele Ann McCarthy

The drumbeat of old Hawaii still pulses on the windward side of Kauai where the country road snakes along the shore and through the jungle and over one-lane bridges. No matter which way you turn, nature’s beauty delights the eye. Intermittent waterfalls cascade down the sheer cliffs of the Pali. Unspoiled beaches dot the coast.

Sure, it can be rainy here. But patches of sunshine often pierce the rain, creating one rainbow after another. The north shore of Kauai is a magical place and not to be missed. Plan your excursion here for whichever day of your holiday the weather forecast is best.

Approaching the north shore, Kilauea Lighthouse is worth a detour for the views from the bluff and of all the wildlife from the bird sanctuary nearby, soaring in the wind.

Next head to one of the most beautiful beaches in all of Hawaii for swimming, snorkeling and scenery at Tunnels Beach. Green jagged peaks ring the beach. The wide-fringing reef offshore makes for some superb snorkeling. You could easily spend the whole day in this tranquil setting.

But get there as early as possible for one of the few parking spots. Look for the 8 mile marker on Hwy 560. Two short dirt roads provide access to the beach, one at 4/10 mile and the other almost 6/10 mile past the 8 mile marker. The first is better for snorkelers; the second is closer to the sand.

Another great beach to check out is Ke’e Beach, right at the end of the road and where the Na Pali coast begins. The famous Kalalau Trail starts here for 11 miles of often narrow, hazardous switchbacks to Kalalau Beach, in the same valley you look down on from the end of the road on the other side of the island. But even a casual hiker can enjoy the first bit, hiking up to the first lookout for a sweeping view back over Ke’e Beach.

As you drive back toward civilization, take your time to enjoy the plentiful sights along the way including caves and overlooks. Stop in the frontier-feeling town of Hanalei to shop at Yellowfish Trading Co. for vintage Hawaiiana and pick up famous coconut cream pie at Village Snack & Bakery Shop in Ching Young Village.

The funky, yet fun restaurant Tahiti Nui has served up local color for decades in Hanalei. Dinner here is a real native scene. The chef may come out to play a song with the band. The bar scene from the movie “The Descendants” was filmed here. On Wednesday nights, they offer a luau starting at 5. On Fridays, Hawaiian slack key guitar starts at 4:30 p.m. Other nights, live music entertains 6:30-9.

Continue reading this itinerary with days 7-8.

Check out day 1, day 2, days 3-4 and day 5 of this itinerary.

More information:

Recommended dining:
Tahiti Nui

Hiking:
Kalalau Trail

Sights:
Kilauea Lighthouse

Snorkeling:
Ke'e Beach
Tunnels Beach

Shops:
Kong Lung Trading
(near Kilauea Lighthouse)

Village Snack & Bakery Shop in Ching Young Village
55519 Kuhio Hwy
Hanalei, HI 96714
Phone: (808) 826-6841
Map
Open 6:30 a.m.-3 p.m.

Yellowfish Trading Co.
5-5161 Kuhio Hwy
Hanalei, HI 96714
Phone: (808) 826-1227
Map
Open 10 a.m.-8 p.m.

Want to learn more about the north shore of Kauai? Check out the Kasey Buick/One Girl Talks blog.

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