About Rachel H
Lives in San Francisco, California
Since Sep 2010
25-34 year old female
I’m a San Francisco native, writer, and travel hound who has spent the last several years living, working, studying, and traveling through California, Hawaii, France, and beyond. My travel style? Going local, and delving deeper.
Hiking Trails, Lookouts
Nature & Wildlife Areas, State Parks
Points of Interest & Landmarks
Canyons, State Parks, Lookouts
Beaches, State Parks
Start your day with a sunrise hike up Sleeping Giant (Kapaa, East Side). Even if you’re not an early bird, you won’t regret this experience. Three different trail heads of varying difficulties lead from the town of Kapaa to the peak of Nounou Mountain. Watch the sun inch its way above the Pacific horizon and cast its first rays over the island—an awe-inspiring panorama.
Golf player or not, it’s hard to deny the beauty of the Prince Golf Course (Princeville, North Shore). It’s been rated one of the most beautiful golf courses in the world by Golf Digest. Located in the ritzy resort town of Princeville—crowned by the impressive St. Regis—this 18-hole championship course is a pristine sprawl, with mountains and the ocean beyond. Check out the multi-story clubhouse while you're here.
Hanalei (North Shore) has it all: a huge beach with a pretty backdrop, calm waters perfect for swimming, a farmers market, art galleries, and lots of great restaurants and cafes in Hanalei Town. Stop for coffee at Hanalei Coffee Roasters, grab some fresh juice at Java Kai, or enjoy a quick lunch at Postcards Café, Bubba Burgers, or Sushigirl Kauai. On the beach, you can rent surfboards and paddleboards or simply stretch out on the powdery white sand.
The crown jewel of Kauai, the Na Pali Coast (North Shore/West Side) offers some of the most jaw-dropping scenery you'll ever see. Rugged, rippled mountains edge their way along the deep-blue Pacific, and wild, mysterious jungles creep inland, with waterfalls tucked away amidst the lush vegetation. It's no wonder Na Pali Coast State Park won star status as the filming location of 'Jurassic Park.' The Kalalau trailhead starts at Ke'e beach, and the first 2 miles to Hanakapi'ai beach is a must-do. Fitter adventurers can continue venturing further to the waterfall (8 miles round-trip). Or skip the hike altogether and appreciate the Na Pali Coast from a different angle on a helicopter tour or catamaran cruise.
In its heyday, Hawaii reined the sugarcane industry, until the decline of plantations in the early 1900s. You can get a glimpse into Kauai’s agricultural heritage at the Kilohana Plantation, a National Historic Landmark and one of the best examples of plantation architecture in Hawaii. Take a train ride through the estate, tour the rum factory, and enjoy an elegant meal at Gaylord's Restaurant. The luaus here are wonderful, too.
Just 15 minutes from Lihue (East Side) is the most easily accessible waterfall on Kauai—most others you can only see by helicopter. Drive 15 minutes off the main road to the Wailua Falls lookout point. From the roadside, you’ll get an up-close view of the 113-foot waterfall, which feeds into the Wailua River.
Nestled in the Poipu resort area, this lively beach is one of the most popular for tourists, and is especially great for families. A break wall makes for calmer waters, perfect for wading, swimming, snorkeling, and stand-up paddleboarding. Hotel restaurants and bars line the beachfront and are great for afternoon cocktails and appetizers too.
The small town of Hanapepe (South Shore) lights up on Friday nights with the beloved Friday Night Art Walk, during which local artists open up their galleries and studios for an evening street festival, with live music, food, and shopping. If you’re visiting on another day, Hanapepe is still worth a visit, with its many cute art galleries, artisan boutiques, old plantation buildings, and cafes. This small town has a lot of character, and served as the model for the Disney film 'Lilo and Stitch.'
Dubbed the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, Waimea Canyon (West Side) is absolutely stunning. Colorful, ridged canyons expand as far as the eye can see, and the red-sand landscapes make you feel as if you’re on another planet. Drive up to the main lookout point, or continue up to Koke'e State Park to hit a hiking trail for even more phenomenal views.
A 4-mile rugged dirt road delivers you to a vast, secluded beach right next to the start of the Na Pali Coast (West Side). Totally remote and backed by towering mountains, Polihale is the island’s most westerly point. Get some picnic goodies at Ishihara Market in Waimea on the way in, then spread out on Polihale beach to watch the sunset—a perfect end to your day.