Travel United States

If You Love Kauai, Tell Your Friends About Maui

I Left My Heart in Hawaii. . .

One of my favorite destinations on the planet is the incredible Hawaiian island of Kauai. As a family, we’ve had the absolute privilege to be able to travel there quite a bit over the years so we’ve become very familiar with it. There are few things I’m more thankful for.

Kauai is the most vegetative and secluded of all the islands. You can still visit without feeling like you’re either strapped for resources or in a big city. Or being kicked off by that one family that owns an entire island out there – does anybody know more about that? Send me a note – I think that’s one of the weirdest things ever. We stopped over in Honolulu once just to say we’d been there. Yet, in our opinion it was honestly just a city. Pretty gentrified, and we weren’t getting the vibe we were looking for.

There are a million parts of Kauai that I could write about here; the volcanos, the adventure tours, the history. Maybe the over saturated tourism of Kauai/Hawaii in general. However, here I choose to highlight a few of my favorite things *que Julie Andrews singing*

ocean air salty hair

Tunnel Beach – where a fresh water river wraps around the side of the beach seemingly out of nowhere and blends into the ocean. The ocean here as some of the biggest waves that you can still swim in without feeling in danger. Though it still takes a bit more skill than the average swimmer.

Dukes – A favorite restaurant on the island named after Duke Kahanamoku. The famous surfer, olympian, and past Sheriff of Honolulu. It’s an absolute staple and I will never have a bad meal here. Recommended dishes are everything, a hula pie, and a dark & stormy.

Extended Ohana – a funny encounter here at Dukes is how we found out there were other ‘Hornsteins’ living on the island. They literally asked us at our table if we were related to the family down the road – so we had to go meet them. I remember they were beyond kind to us. I don’t believe we ever made a distant family tree connection though.


Daily Rain Storms – Given, it’s a tropical location so you should expect this a bit. However, it’s such a unique experience to have to run under a tree for a 15 minute sun shower to pass at least once a day. It’s warm rain, usually still sunny out, and really solidifies the vacation mindset. You’re on an island.

Here is a shot of the rainbow effect of one of those Kauai storms.


Kona Coffee – Honestly, Kona Coffee is a lifestyle, not a beverage. Drink it – live it – love it. Trust me.

Hanalei Bay – The most famous and breathtaking of Kauai beaches where the soft white sand gradually melts into the clearest turquoise ocean. Hanalei Bay’s water is always warm enough that you can run right in but still refreshes every sunbather. Honestly though, the magic isn’t just in the gorgeous water or sand – it’s whats surrounding you. Growing out from the jungle wrapping around the beach is the mighty and awesome dormant volcano of Mt Waialeale. Split by it’s ancient eruption into three peaks, it’s tip consistently covered by rain clouds, the mountain still towers over beachgoers sloping down into the famous peninsula of the bay. It’s a landscape unlike any other.

      hanalai sunset

Kayaking the Waimea river – One of the best views as you fly into the island is the winding Waimea river. A few times as a family, we took a kayaking trip down the river and out into the ocean. The river runs through rice and poi fields, multiple gardens an terrains, and it’s a great workout nonetheless!

Here is a look into my families Kauai vacation. An excerpt from our ritual: ——

Wake up just before the sun was too oppressive, take the short drive down into Hanalei and stop under a shady palm tree. Walk nimbly across fallen palm leaves to the pier on the beach. Put our shoes on, a brief stretch, and find a strip of sand packed enough to go running. Be careful not too get too close to the calm morning waves, they’ll still get you if you’re not paying attention. We would run for as long as we wanted, Mount Waialeale at our side, seemingly not marking our distance at all. Upon making it back to the pier where my mother was reading, we’d take the most refreshing and life affirming swim of our lives. The heat from the sun and sweat instantly washing away in the dewey cool ocean waves.

Once we were thoroughly salty and sandy – we’d pile into the rental to grab a Kona Coffee before heading back. Also, life changing. Your blood would still be pumping keeping you warm from the workout, the remnants of the brisk salty ocean water cool on your skin. Each sip would mix a bit with the most incredible rich island coffee. Most mornings we would try to remember to grab a fresh papaya with lemon over to go with breakfast.

I honestly can’t think of a better way to spend the rest of my life. Apparently, I’m not the only one. My dad, with whom I share my marketing and love of the surf & sand wanted to get in on the action.

The View From Dad

The horseshoe of Hanalei Bay is indeed my favorite spot in the world. Half of that is because of the physical beauty – the spikey peaks rising out of the vegetation and disappearing into the clouds; the beautiful reefed-in cove. The other half is the experience. I’ll call it Dad heaven. We’re all at the beach, the morning run with my daughters, a dip and a Kona coffee.

Three things Rachel forgot to tell you.

The first is that if you run in the morning, you are going to get wet. The winds bring in downpours every few minutes. Big deal. If you’re on the return leg of the run, you can see them coming at you.

The cell service on Hanalei is poor to non-existent, so you actually have to talk, or read, or be here now.

The title of this post comes from a bumper sticker we saw – If You Love Kauai, Tell Your Friends About Maui.




  1. LOL I love that bumper sticker. We’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii but always feel so overwhelmed with the planning. We don’t quite know which islands to go to, what to do, etc. This is great!

  2. Haha a side effect of “my favorite things” part was Julie Andrews kept trying to read this blog post out to me, in my head!
    Also, the bumper sticker is super cool.
    It is such personal details that make a post cooler for me.
    Thanks for sharing your trip with us!

  3. I’m a big fan of secluded islands and I’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii! I’m obsessed with coffee so I’m sure I’d love the Kona Coffee. And the kayaking sounds amazing too!

  4. Oh wow! What a beautiful place! I’ve wanted to visit Hawaii in general but haven’t made it there yet. Your photos just make me want to go there even more!

  5. I was not knowing much about Kauai and after reading your post, it looks beautiful and worth visiting place. Hanalei Beach looks stunning and you have captured beautiful photos.

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