Have you reached the end of the road yet? Literally.
We are almost there Hanalei Colony Resort on kauaiThe pristine north coast of , famous for the stunning Na Pali Coast. We crossed several one-lane bridges and passed through the small town of Hanalei with its mix of surf shops, shaved ice stands, food trucks and restaurants. It’s just over an hour’s scenic drive from Lihue Airport, with mountains and taro fields to one side; the coast on the other. (The literal end of the road is just a mile or more past here at the famous Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park).
I came across this secluded 52 unit condo complex over a decade ago when my daughters were hiking part of the famous Kalalau Trail. (These days you need Reservations to enter the park.) Glad I had the chance to return.
“I love that you can practically disappear from reality here and have no stress,” Kendal Naughton, a singer in her 30s from Lake Tahoe, Calif., said here with her mother, who owns a unit here.
We were hanging out at the newly renovated pool and grill, set in a beautifully planted tropical garden, birds fluttering.
I think back to what Naughton told me as I sat on the deck of our condo overlooking the beach and the crashing waves. It’s as unspoiled as it gets, the only resort on the Kalalau Trail at Ke’e Beach. Many come to see the sunrise and the rainbows after the rain.
This place is obviously not for everyone. It’s extremely remote, requiring a drive over the narrow roads over those same one-lane bridges to get groceries. The resort offers shuttles to Hanalei for shopping and dining (it’s no fun driving those roads after dark. Kilauea and posh Princeville with its famous golf courses are about 20 minutes away.)
“It’s definitely a place for people who like to do for themselves,” said Sue Grinnell, here from Olympia, Wash., with her husband, daughter and 8-year-old grandson Jalen, 8, who had a blast chasing crabs, exploring the tidal pools, koi pond, and turtles in the creek. He has also become a big fan of shaved ice, especially raspberry and vanilla. For the uninitiated, Shave Ice is a Hawaiian treat where different flavored syrups are drizzled over ice cubes and served in a paper cone.
kauai is alternately called the garden island or the adventure island. In fact, it’s both with 113 miles of shoreline, nearly half with white sand beaches. Paddleboarding or canoe paddling, surfing, snorkeling, diving, sailing (perhaps along the Na Pali coast) or sea kayaking. Picnic at sunset, lounge on the beach at your choice or head to Lumahai Beach, the long stretch of white sand where Mitzi Gaynor sang so well he washed that man off his hair in the classic movie “South Pacific.” You’ve probably seen other movies filmed here, including “Jurassic Park” and “Jurassic World” (Kauai was a fictional Central American island), “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (a South American jungle) and the ” Descendants” with George Clooney (set here and on Oahu).
Play golf – there are nine courses to choose from.
A burgeoning foodie scene offers everything from food trucks to farm stands (Hanalei Colony Resort even offers a $100 credit for those staying more than four nights and buying locally) to gourmet restaurants (in the tiny Hanalei Bar Acuda is so popular that he books out months in advance for tapas).
Go hiking. Waimea Canyon, known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific on Kauai’s west side, is known for its scenic lookout points and hiking trails, including the popular 3.4-mile Canyon Trail that includes Waipo’o Falls, an 800 foot waterfall. (Unfortunately, it was raining when we visited.)
Enjoy spectacular botanical gardens – three of the five National Tropical Gardens are on Kauai; Allerton Garden and McBryde Garden on the South Bank and Limahuli Garden in Haena. There are volunteering programs that can offer hotel savings, as well as the satisfaction of giving back. At the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa, for example, the Malama package offers a fifth night free to guests who clean the beach.
I was thinking about different shots for different people when we spent a few days after our stay at the Hanalei Colony Resort on the sunny South Shore of Kauai at luxury Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa. It spans 52 acres with tiered lava rocks bordering a lazy river pool, with waterfalls and a 150-foot waterslide. There is a 1.5 acre saltwater lagoon with a sandy beach and numerous white sand beaches. The thatched-roof Tidepools is considered one of the best restaurants on the island, and a new Hawaiian cultural center offers classes (lei making anyone?) while local artisans display their wares in the lobby. Obviously, there is no need to cook your own Mai Tai or cook your own lunch here.
“This is the best hotel I’ve ever been to,” said Baylee Cain, 27, here with her blended family. “My dad and his wife honeymooned here, and he wanted us all to see it,” she explained.
Families not only have all the amenities, but are most likely to pay extra to access the Grand Lounge for a free breakfast, snacks, and appetizers that are hearty enough for dinner.
At Hanalei Colony Resort, there is no air conditioning (we didn’t need it), no TV or telephone. Either you want to arrive with a car full of groceries, or you arrange for the resort to stock your refrigerator.
At the Hyatt, of course, room service is a phone call away, and you have a choice of where and what to eat (poolside fish tacos, perhaps, or sushi?) not to mention all of the restaurants in Poipu Beach.
“Weren’t you bored at Hanalei?” asked a friend from Honolulu. Absolutely not.
“There’s something about this place (the ocean on one side, the misty mountains on the other accessed by one-lane bridges) that is spiritual,” Kendal Naughton said. “You feel the energy and a lot of peace that you don’t have on the mainland.”