Kauai is heaven on Earth. The island is rural, beachy, and beautiful. It was a sharp contrast from our stay on Oahu, and we loved it. We stepped off the plane to see lush forests, huge mountains, and rocky beaches. We stayed in Princeville, but we spent the week driving all around the island. I will say that the food is very different from Oahu, which is much more urban. On Kauai, there are veggie shacks and smoothie bars everywhere, and acai bowls rule the land. We found ourselves spending most of our time in Hanalei and Kapaa, which were beach towns, so the food had that beachy casual flair.
We flew into Kauai mid afternoon, rented a car, and drove to our resort. We didn't want to mess with going out again, and we wanted to relax and enjoy our surroundings. So, we headed to the hotel restaurant, which turned out to be pretty good. We spent most of our time eating off resort, because there was a lot of great and more affordable food on the island, but we ended up having two great meals at Nanea. First was dinner on our first night!
Josh and I were pretty hungry when we got to the resort, so we had a nice, leisurely dinner pool side. We even got to watch a wedding reception! We started off with drinks and bread. The wait staff are incredibly helpful and knowledgeable on vegan items, and they have a vegan menu!
On Sunday, we went down for their brunch. It came with three tropical fruit mimosas and all you could eat. I was hopeful that there would be food for me, and I was OVERWHELMED with all the choices. They had an edemame rice, salad, tons of fruit, roasted veggies, tofu sushi rice wraps, and more. I was stuffed and happy after!
We also did drinks pool side that day, and we ended up trying their hummus plate, which was pretty good. The hummus was made fresh, which is always a plus.
If you're staying in Princeville, or you just want a good vegan dinner by a pretty pool, head to Nanea! I will say that it's pricey, and there are certainly better places to have a fancy dinner on the island, but if it's within walking distance to your room, that's always good!
Next up are places in Hanalei, probably our favorite little area of Kauai. We went here several times throughout the trip, because it was on the way to Ke'e Beach and Tunnels.
Bubba Burgers is a pretty famous little burger shack in the middle of this beach town. The menu is simple, and the walls are plastered with famous people that have visited. I got a taro burger, onion rings, and a root beer. It was a great breakfast before we went snorkeling at the St. Regis.
The taro burger, made from taro root, was really tasty. It was even a little purple on the inside. The only qualm about the Bubba Burgers is they are a little small. Made more room for these crispy onion rings.
We also got Puka Dogs one day after snorkeling at Tunnels Beach , but I wouldn't recommend it. Their veggie dog is fine, but it comes encased in this bun sweater that they inject with gooey toppings. We ordered mango relish, but it ended up being a thick, sweet sauce instead of a dicey relish. It ended up being too bread heavy and too sweet. Skip it, and get a burger.
On the shuttle ride from our Westin to the St. Regis, we noticed this pizza place. It was tucked into another resort, but it was a long walk or short drive from our place. We had a small kitchen in our room, so one night, we headed down to Hideaways to grab some pizza. We knew if we ordered enough, we would have easy dinners for several nights during the week.
I ordered the seared kale salad, which wasn't great. I don't understand why people don't massage their kale. I picked off the tofu and brought the kale home to reheat later. I ordered the Garden Island pizza with no cheese, which was really tasty! I had a couple slices of pizza, but I took all of the rest back to the room. We would get up and have a nice lunch out, then relax by the pool, then have a slice or two of pizza at night. It was heaven.
Parking here kind of sucks, so if you can shuttle or walk, do that. If not, it's do-able.
One night, we were having a really hard time figuring out what we wanted to eat. We ended up popping over to the shopping center next to our resort drive to see what they had. We spotted a Thai food place, but so we headed over to their food court. Then, we saw Tiki Iniki. A quick look at their specials, and I realized they had a yummy looking tofu dish. We were sold!
The decor was super cute, and the beer came in these cool tiki mugs! Talk about fun. We had a really lovely dinner here, and my fire roasted tofu was amazing. I had to ask for rice, but it wasn't a big deal.
This place didn't show up on a google search, but if you're near the Princeville Shopping Center, stop on in for a yummy meal.
There were several places to eat in that area, but we only tried Tiki Iniki. There was a grocery store that we popped into, but groceries were so expensive that we didn't cook much. Josh did make me some mean PB&J's!
One day, we drove two and a half hours to Waimea Canyon, which was breathtaking. I'll tell you more about that tomorrow. On our way down, we were driving through the south part of Kauai when I noticed Kauai Island Brewery on the map. We were hungry, so we stopped for lunch.
This place is pretty good if you like beer and bar food. They had a lot of seafood on the menu, since they were right down on the coast. We had beers and split some onion rings, then I ordered the veggie wrap with a peanut dressing. It hit the spot, but it wasn't anything extraordinary.
The beer was pretty tasty, though, so if you want to try some local brews, you should check it out. There are also a ton of souvenir stands around the area. The mud is super red and rich on Kauai, and there's a whole industry of "mud shirt," which are supposed to be stained with the mud. Every shop you see will say they were the original, which we thought was pretty funny.
This place was probably my favorite restaurant on Kauai. Granted, we didn't even see a quarter of all there is to offer, but this place is easy and tasty. It's a big, open air dining room (see the trend, we love those), right on the main drive. We stopped here for breakfast on our way to the Allerton Garden, and it was so tasty that we hit it again for dinner on the way back north to Princeville!
My favorite thing about Olympic Cafe was you could sub tofu for any egg or chicken in dishes. This was music to my vegan ears!
For breakfast, I got a spinach tofu scramble with rice, and I shared some papaya with Josh. It was a great breakfast, and the protein and carbs kept me full through our 3 hour walk of the gardens and at least that long in the car. I kept spying these huge wraps people were eating, so I knew I wanted to come back.
After the gardens, we looked for a long time on the south side of the island for some grub, but places were packed or too pricey, so back to Olympic Cafe we went. It was perfect, because we had dinner, then we took a sunset walk around the beaches of Kapaa. There are great bike and walking trails in this area, and you can rent bikes at many places. The trail runs for miles, so it makes for a nice afternoon.
Look at our cute little hummus plate! The pita was warm and fluffy, and the hummus was home made and pretty good.
I ordered the curry chicken wrap, but I subbed in tofu. This was incredible! It was filled with curry sauce, raisins, carrrots, and greens. There were so many things on the menu that I wanted to try, so I know when we go back (which we TOTALLY will), we're going to have to come here again.
I already miss this beautiful place. Words really can't capture how beautiful and remote everything is on the island. Hopefully we'll have the chance to go back soon.
Do you like urban or rural places on vacation? Have you ever been to Kauai? Leave me a comment!