Summer on Kauai; Waimea town, Canyon & surrounding areas

As you may know if you have visited my blog before, I don’t need much excuse to re-visit Hawaii (or in particular, my current favourite of the islands, Kauai)!  So after a small amount of deliberation, we decided to take a 2-week summer trip last month for our (slightly belated) honeymoon 😀

Sadly, due to severe flooding and mud slides in the North of Kauai in April this year, the resort where we would normally stay (Hanalei Colony Resort) , was still completely blocked off and unable to accept guests (Still not re-opened as of spring 2019).  I wrote about this part of the island in my previous post,  In a land called Hanalei

After doing some research on other parts of the island, we settled on the Waimea area, on the West coast of the Island – the town where Captain Cook first set foot on the islands in 1778.  exactly 240 years later, another intrepid British explorer arrived (only this time, very jet lagged, in a Jeep from Avis and with many shopping bags from Safeway)..

Where we stayed 

Waimea Plantation Cottages

Back to nature at Waimea Plantation Cottages

The resort, as its name suggests, consists of old plantation cottages from the late 19th century to the 1940s, which would have been home to the workers in the nearby sugar mill (which ceased operations in 1969).  Apparently some cottages were also moved from a town further North called Mana, which no longer exists.

The mix of cottages gives the resort an eclectic feel, and no two buildings are the same.  We booked a two bedroom cottage with a “garden view”, which turned out to actually be two separate buildings.  It took us a while to find the second bedroom & bathroom!  Each cottage is named after the worker who would have lived there.  You can find all the information in the folder inside.

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I’ll start by saying that this is not your usual 5* resort (and it doesn’t claim to be).  You won’t find daily housekeeping, fancy restaurants, or a poolside bar.  As with the Hanalei Colony Resort, what you will find is that you’re completely removed from the hustle and bustle, very close to nature, and have complete peace and quiet (apart from the local roosters which start around 5am each morning!).   The backdrop of palm trees, deserted beaches and balmy weather is luxury in itself.

When visiting Kauai, I think it’s nicer to stay in a more rustic place, to really feel the wildness and beauty of the island around you, and to relax properly

Having said that, there are luxurious touches, such as the gorgeous swimming pool area, and hammocks slung between the palms.

Our cottage was basic, but had everything we needed, with a full kitchen, large fridge, microwave, kitchenware etc. There was also a TV and DVD player, and wifi available.  There are very good BBQ areas around the resort, and a guest laundry.  We chose to self-cater for the week, but there is also a casual restaurant onsite, serving BBQ type food, snacks, and alcohol.  It’s really nice to sit on the “breezeway” in the afternoon with a cold beer, taking in the incredible views down to the ocean.

There are several eateries in Waimea itself, and many restaurants within driving distance around the island.

Stunning views around the resort and of course, champagne time on the private lanai!

Housekeeping is offered every 4th day, and you can pay extra to have it more often.  I thought there were areas of the cottage that should have been cleaned more thoroughly, and I gave that feedback when I left.  Especially because there are a lot of insects around (and you will definitely be sharing your house with a gecko or two!).

Hawaii is very much a “sunrise and sunset” culture, and, with that and the jet lag, we find that we’ll sleep earlier in the night than we would do at home, and some of us (not me!) get up at 6am for a morning run.. We had some nice relaxing morning walks along the black sand beach with a cup of coffee in hand 🙂

A morning coffee walk along the stunning black/olive sand beach. The colour comes from the semi-precious gem, Olivine, carried by the nearby Waimea River

Waimea & the surrounding area

Situated on the West of Kauai, around a 40 minute drive from Lihue Airport, Waimea town itself is an ancient settlement, and has a long history of being a centre of commerce and government.  For the modern tourist, there isn’t a lot there –  but there are a few casual restaurants, a very useful Big Save supermarket, and some souvenir shops, which also sell t-shirts, flip flops etc.   It’s very much walkable from the Plantation cottages, and less than a 5 minute drive if you need to stock up.

The statue to Captain Cook can be found just past the supermarket.  There is a visitor’s centre, which we didn’t visit on this occasion, but is probably a good first port of call to find out more about the town and the area!

from Waimea town, it’s not too far to Waimea Canyon State Park, and Kōke’e State Park, which offer stunning canyon views, some pretty dicey roads, and some interesting hikes!  I’ll talk more about the hiking in my next post 🙂

Even if you don’t have the time or inclination to do any hiking around the canyon area, it’s a must to take a drive North on Waimea Canyon Drive for breathtaking views and some good lookout points.

I’ve been lucky enough to see both the Grand Canyon in Arizona, and Waimea Canyon, and if you listen long enough at the look-out spot, you’ll hear people attempting to compare the two.  In my opinion, they are things that can’t be compared; two very different, equally vast and beautiful acts of nature.

If you have the time, it’s also a great idea to take in the canyon from above by helicopter.  I’ve detailed this in my previous post Come fly with me! Magical Kauai from the air (doors optional)

Another beautiful view from the Kalalau Lookout

We really enjoyed staying in the Waimea area of Kauai.  For incredible hiking, total relaxation and escapism, it’s hard to beat.  The North of the island is still probably my favourite part, but we will definitely return to this area.

I hope you have been inspired to check out this area of Kauai if your travels are taking you in that direction (lucky you!)

For the next week of our Honeymoon, we left our secluded plantation and headed to the bright lights of Waikiki, on Oahu;  I’ll talk about that part of our trip in one of my next posts..

Until then, travel safe 


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