So, it is your last day on Kauai. You have had a fabulous time swimming, snorkeling, hiking and exploring Paradise. But check-out time is 10:00 and you have a red-eye flight. What to do all day without needing a shower before boarding the plane? Here are eight ideas for making that last day count, especially if you have been staying on the North Shore.
Your Last Day on Kauai #1
Save your trip to the Waimea Canyon and Kokee State Park for your last day. From the North Shore it is a LONG day. Depending on traffic it will take you about two hours to reach your goal. Once there stop at all the pull-outs for some fabulous sights and photo opportunities. Wonder through the small Kokee Natural History Museum (open daily, 9:00 – 4:00) and have lunch at the Kokee Lodge Restaurant. Do not miss the final lookout where, if you have clear skies, your view will be straight down the Kalalau Valley to the sea. Driving back, stop and take a short walk into the mountains or relax on the big meadow in front of the lodge.
After coming down the mountain, stop at Waimea town and wander through the shops. Have a shave ice or an ice cream cone and enjoy the sunny, dry west side of the island. Hanapepe and Poipu are on your way back to the airport so there are plenty of places to stop if you have more time. End your day at Duke’s in Lihue where you will be close to your airport departure and may toast a perfect ending to your Kauai vacation. Not having to drive back to the North Shore shaves an hour off the trip.
To read more about the last time I drove to the Waimea Canyon and Kokee, check out this blog post.
Your Last Day on Kauai #2
Plan a garden tour. There are some fabulous gardens on Kauai. Princeville Gardens, Na Aina Kai and Limahuli Gardens are all on the North Shore. Since the April 2018 floods, Limahuli Gardens has been closed due to the road closure, but as soon as the road opens up again the gardens will be ready for visitors. Each of these gardens is unique and offers something different. At Na Aina Kai, besides incredible park-like settings, you will have the pleasure of seeing many life-size bronze statues throughout the property. Click on each garden name for more information.
Since you have the whole day and are heading toward the airport, another outstanding garden choice would be Allerton Gardens on the South Shore. Like Limahuli Gardens, this beautiful setting on the coast in Poipu is part of the National Tropical Botanical Gardens.
Tour the garden to see towering rainforest trees with tall curving roots that grow near bronze mermaids, a grove of swaying golden bamboo, a cut-flower garden, and tropical fruit trees. Allerton Garden also has a rich history as a Hollywood film location for many notable movies and TV shows. It is fun to sit for a photo in the towering roots of the famous Moreton Bay fig trees featured in blockbusters like Jurassic Park and Pirates of the Caribbean. Allerton Gardens has been named one of the ’50 Places of a Lifetime’ by National Geographic Traveler.
Your Last Day on Kauai #3
Go on a Food Tasting Tour. From Tuesday through Saturday, this company leads you (in your own car) to various food outlets around the island. The day determines what section of the island is visited (North Shore, East Shore, Lihue, South Shore and West Shore). At each stop someone intimately involved with the food production sets aside special time to talk with, and answer questions from, the group. Because there is a maximum of 14 people on the food tours, participants are given personal attention at each stop. Tasting Kauai calls it a “culinary romp through paradise.”
Your Last Day on Kauai #4
Visit the Kauai Museum or Grove Farm. Both of these interesting places are in Lihue. You may visit the Kauai Museum at any time they are open. For a Grove Farm tour you will need a reservation. Both sites are filled with artifacts of Kauai’s history and culture. Knowledgeable docents will fill your ears with stories and legends representing the indigenous people and immigrants who have lived on the Garden Island for centuries.
Your Last Day on Kauai #5
Over 150 films have been shot on the Garden Island spanning an eighty year period. In my movie blog I have listed 46 movie locations around Kauai. So, how about a personal movie location treasure hunt? How many big screen locations can you find? Take my list and start driving! Perhaps you will want to end your hunt at the Kukui Grove Cinemas and watch a new release on the big screen before your flight.
Your Last Day on Kauai #6
Go on a bicycle ride on the East Side of the island. There are plenty of places to rent bikes and the Kapaa Coastal Bike Path will give you a bit of exercise without causing too much sweat. The path is mostly level (Yay!) and wide enough that passing other bicyclists is not a problem at all. There are covered picnic tables along the way where you may stop and have a bite to eat or simply watch the waves roll in. During the winter, when it is whale season, you may spot a blow or, if you are lucky, see a humpback whale breach right out of the water causing quite a splash.
After returning the bikes there are so many places to eat in Kapaa. Try Cafe Hemingway, Street Burger, Coconut’s Fish Cafe, Hukilau or Lava Lava Beach Club located at the Kauai Shores Hotel where you may dine with your toes in the sand overlooking the Pacific. Your tummy will be happy as you board the flight.
Your Last Day on Kauai #7
Have a spa day! There are many spas on the island of Kauai. A day at the Halele’a Spa, located in the Princeville Resort, “revitalizes your every sense. Here, a menu of exotic treatments promise blissful diversions, enhanced by essences of local fruit and flora. Guests are attended to by a trained consultant, who will develop a customized wellness regime to ensure optimal healing and restoration while in residence, and well beyond.” Perhaps even over a LONG airplane ride.
Another spa option would be the Anara Spa at the Grand Hyatt in Poipu. “Honoring a culture rooted in the balance and wisdom of nature, Anara Spa in Kauai weaves traditional healing customs to inspire “lokahi”- balance and harmony of body and spirit. Enjoy one of our blissful massage, facial, or body treatments and experience complete serenity and rejuvenation”
Of course, there are many other spas on Kauai. Spending a few hours at any of them sounds like a blissful way to end a vacation.
Your Last Day on Kauai #8
And finally, you can always go shopping, assuming you still have room in your luggage. You know you are going to want to bring some goodies and souvenirs home with you. So, spend at least part of your last day going to one or more of the three major shopping areas on Kauai. The Coconut Marketplace is in Kapaa and it just went through a huge remodel. There are 32 shops and restaurants, along with hula shows at specific times. On Fridays at 5:00 catch some free live Hawaiian music with Larry Rivera.
Just past Lihue, look for the stately, brown plantation house sitting back from the highway. This is Kilohana, a historical building used during the plantation era. Inside find eleven unique shops and Gaylord’s Restaurant. Make a reservation to take “any of the three Conductor Narrated Authentic Train Tours of the historic 105 acre Kilohana Plantation. Sit back and relax in the elegant mahogany passenger cars as you tour and see the tropical beauty and bounty of Kilohana.”
At The Shops At Kukuliulu in Poipu you will find plenty of classy stores and exquisite dining. There is a Living Foods Gourmet Market & Cafe which is a popular and thriving foodie hub. Longs Drugs has a huge section of candies, coffee and Hawaiian souvenirs. Check The Shops At Kukuliulu’s website for special art, music and food events.
For quantity and best prices, of course, head to Costco and Walmart, both in Lihue, very close to the airport.
So, there you have it. When your vacation rental or hotel check-out is early and your flight is late, make your last day on Kauai count by trying out one of these suggestions. One thing to keep in mind is that all of your luggage will be in the car with you so that may determine what you can or want to do. Whatever you decide, make sure you enjoy every minute because who knows when you will be back in Paradise again.
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