Romantic Kauai, Hawaii’s garden isle

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Story by Lee Daley. Photos by Lee Daley and John Sundsmo

More than five million years ago, Mother Nature swept over the Pacific Ocean and in a burst of hormonal ecstasy. created the first of the Hawaiian Islands, that green pearl of paradise called Kauai. Caressed by warm tropical breezes, Kauai’s idyllic beaches and its ageless, majestic canyons and cliffs seem tailor-made for lovers. Romantic Kauai is small enough to explore over a long weekend while still leaving space for coveted cuddle time. Locals cherish the beauty and serenity of Kauai; that feeling of calm and kindness permeates the island, setting the stage for romance.

Romantic Kauai, Hawaii's Garden Isle, Mountain Mist near Poipu

Mountain Mist near Poipu, photo: John Sundsmo

Beaches: Some of my favorites:  Poipu Beach: Named America’s best beach by the Travel Channel, Poipu Beach is actually a series of golden-sand crescents fronted by Poipu Beach Park. Tide pools to the east have been created by lava formations where tiny fish and hermit crabs abide. Protected by off-shore reefs and centrally located, it is an ideal spot to swim, surf, snorkel, sunbathe.

Romantic Kaua, Hawaii's Garden Isle, surfers love Kauai beaches.

Surfers love Kauai beaches, photo: John Sundsmo

Shipwreck Beach: Carry a camera to capture snapshots of surfers climbing waves at this local favorite. While pounding surf makes swimming a challenge, the trailhead for Mahaulepu Trail starts here. If you are adventurous, this is a great hike with an opportunity to photograph and explore otherwise inaccessible coastline views.

Romantic Kauai, Hawaii's Garden Isle, chasing rainbows.

Chasing rainbows at the beach, photo: John Sundsmo

Baby Beach: Small, secluded and calm, this protected cove lends itself to tide-pooling and snorkeling. A rocky reef absorbs the energy of breaking surf before reaching the calm, crystal clear waters near the shoreline. Keep an eye out for monk seals and sea turtles. Romantics are welcome.

Where to Dine: Beach House Restaurant: Make it a very romantic Kauai by watching the sun set from your beach-front table at the Beach House Restaurant overlooking spectacular Lawai Beach. This south shore favorite matches its romantic setting with generous Hawaiian hospitality and exquisite Pacific Rim cuisine. Be there before sunset where you will sit out on the open patio or at a cozy table and feel as though you are on the beach. The dining room is beautifully set with open full-length windows affording unparalleled sunset views and warm ocean breezes. This time of year you might bear witness to the mating migration of singing humpback whales who often pass by within sight of diners.

Romantic Kauai, Hawaii's Garden Isle

Seafood dinner, Beach House

Chef Bio: A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park, New York, Executive Chef Marshall Blanchard brings to his stewardship of the Beach House’s kitchen a commitment to high quality food and locally sourced ingredients. His credentials include a teaching stint as well as host of a monthly television cooking show and a collaboration with Bon Appetit and Food & Wine Magazines. Before moving his family to Kauai, Marshall spent 11 years as Executive Chef at Restaurant D’Oro and The Golden Eagle in the Vail/Beaver Creek area. Marshall sources fish directly from Island fishermen. On the menu, local fruits and vegetables emphasize the bounty of neighboring farms as does its beef and coffee. The open-air bar and patio is another favorite way to sample a signature Mai Tai or light fare.

Often the sunset watching at Beach House is so attention-grabbing that it seems as though everyone is holding their breath. Silence prevails as the blue of the sky and sea slowly warms to flame and clouds frame their edges in gold. Call it a “being in the moment” experience. Beach House Restaurant, 5022 Lawai Rd., Koloa, tel: 808-742-1424. Dinner reservations are recommended.

Romantic Kauai, Hawaii's Garden Isle. Sunset as seen from Lawai Beach

Sunset at Lawai Beach

Where to Stay. Say goodbye to your winter blues on Poipu’s sunny South Shore. Wherever you stay here, you are merely a stroll from the area’s mile-long stretch of glittering sand beaches. Grand resorts, boutique hotels and more modestly priced bed and breakfast type accommodations are plentiful. Island cuisine is fresh and flavorful with farm-to-fork menus, freshly baked goodies and a plethora of eateries that run the gamut from roadside shacks to five-star white-tablecloth dining.
The Lanai Restaurant and Bar has recently opened in Poipu with a classic Hawaiian decor in an open-air setting.  Executive Chef JP Filion’s creative menu reflects a commitment to sustainably grown and locally harvested Kauai foods. Stop by for Happy Hour from 3 to 5 p.m. daily or plan ahead for dinner served from 5 p.m. until 10 p.m. For reservations, call 808-378-4359.



Romantic Kauai, Hawaii's Garden Isle, The Lanai Restaurant and Bar, Kauai, Hawaii, food and win

The Lanai Restaurant and Bar

Art: For a keepsake of your Kauai visit, bring a piece of the island home. Inviting you into a world of wonder, local watercolor artist Patrice Pendarvis tells the stories of Hawaii in her collection of watercolor paintings. An artist for over 40 years, Pendarvis depicts Hawaii’s beauty, charm and diversity in her pictorial compositions.

Update 9/29/20: Hawaiian Airlines has implemented a Keeping You Safe program and is now offering 36 hour and same-day drive-up Covid-19 testing (for a fee) at Worksite Labs locations near LAX and SFO. United Airlines followed suit with onsite testing at SFO for $250. Oakland airport (OAK) has announced that starting October 15, 2020, it will offer a free test for passengers bound to Hawaii. A negative test result gives tourists a way to escape the mandatory 14 day quarantine in Hawaii.

Kauai, art, Patrice Pendarvis, fine art, island

Patrice Pendarvis, Kauai artist

The island of Kauai is home to some of the best food truck eateries in all of Hawaii. Read this update on the best and most creative here: In Kauai, a bumper crop of food trucks

Kauai embraces the senses like no other island. Be sure and visit the official Kauai Travelers site at for information on planning your trip. From the USA’s West Coast and many other departure gates, Hawaiian Airlines specializes in flights to all the Hawaiian Islands.


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About Author

Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Lee Daley has been producing award-winning travel articles and photographs since the early 1990s. With print and radio media experience, she contributes features on local and international travel destinations to a wide variety of publications, from in-flight magazines to lifestyle and travel periodicals to internet travel sites and radio travel shows.