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Things to Do in Kauai

Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge

Address: 3500 Kilauea Rd, Kilauea, HI 96754
Phone: (808) 828-0384

We finally were able to visit the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge! On our last trip we did not know that the park is closed on Sunday and Monday. Boo hoo! Just remember that the refuge is open Tuesday Through Saturday 10am to 4pm. It’s generally more crowded in the morning than in the afternoon. It is well worth the $5 entry fee and you will spend at least 30 to 45 minutes taking in the scenery and snapping those selfies! Most important, the refuge has a clean bathroom.

The Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge has been operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service since 1985. Even when the lands were in possession of the Coast Guard, the area was already a natural habitat for different species of sea birds such as the red-footed boobies (‘ā), the white-tailed tropicbird (koa‘e kea) and the wedge-tailed shearwater (‘ua‘u kani).

The refuge staff re-introduced the nēnē (Hawaiian goose) which was on the brink of extinction. Thankfully, the sate bird population has been growing steadily. The Laysan Albatross (mōlī) returned to Kauai’s north shore in the mid 1970’s. Refuge management created a safe nesting environment protecting the laysan albatross from predators.

Short Kine History

Since Kauai was the first landfall for vessels coming from the west, the U.S. government searched for a location to build a lighthouse to aid navigation. After discussions and consultation with experts, Kilauea Point was chosen. Since the elevation of the peninsula was 180 feet, the lighthouse need not be tall and at only 52 feet is one of the shorter lighthouses in the U.S.

Constuction of the lighthouse began on July 8, 1912. Kilauea was one of the first towers that used reinforced concrete technique. Metal fabrication was constructed in Ohio. The Fresnel lens (invented by Augustin-Jean Fresnel) was shipped from Fance. Remember, Kilauea Point is 180 feet above sea level so it was difficult to offload materials from ships and haul them up the steep incline.

Kilauea Lighthouse, while important to marine traffic, also aided aviation from the late 1920’s forward since its beam was visible for up to 90 miles. In 1930, radio towers were added to broadcast directional signals for ships and airplanes. After the attack, on Pearl Harbor, by Japan on December 7, 1941, the lighthouse went dark for the remainder of World War 2.

Hanalei Bay Pizzeria – Greatest of All Time?

Hanalaei Bay Pizzeria
5-5190 Kuhio Hwy Hanalei, HI 96714
(808) 827-8000

We drove all the way to Hanalei, from our hotel in Lihue, for this pizza and we were not disappointed. Disputed the dreary, rainy weather, our salivary glands drove us on. Located in Ching Young Village, the front lot was packed but there is parking in the rear and a back entrance into the shopping center.

There is a 1 large table inside but we decided to dine outside. It was pouring rain but there was an overhang protecting us and the temperature. We enjoyed watching other shoppers deal with the monsoon…torrential rain (okay it wasn’t that bad!).

The staff was kind enough to keep us updated on the level of Hanalei River which was rising. Once it reaches 8 feet, the bridge usually closes which means you will be stuck and dependent on the rain god…Lono. There’s only one way in and one way out of Hanalei. So if there is a rain storm, you might want to think twice about visiting Hanalei and it’s seven famous one-lane bridges.
We ordered a large pizza (leftovers for later). The dough includes organic Hawaiian honey and organic extra virgin olive oil which gives it a slightly sweet taste. The dough is allowed to slow rise for 2 days to develop flavor.

Toppings are local and organic, whenever possible, so expect your ingredients to be fresh and healthy. For ours, we decided on pepperoni, bacon and double pineapple. Without fail we are shorted on pineapples so we always double up!

The difference maker was the sauce…Pinapple BBQ (best sauce of all time!). Yes, it packed a punch (popped our palates!) and we all turned into savages while devouring our Kauai style pizza.

All in all, this is some of the best dakine pizza ever, rain or no rain! It’s definitely on par with Big Kahuna’s “Sumo Special” and Round Table’s “Maui Zaui”. If we return to Kauai, we’re coming back here, bang!

Kountry Kitchen – Old Kapaa Town, Kauai

Kountry Style Kitchen Restaurant
4-1485 Kuhio Hwy
Kapaa, HI 96746

If you’re visiting Kauai, wake up hungry and are near Old Town Kapaa, then stop on by Kountry Style Kitchen Restaurant. You won’t be disappointed as the food is excellent and the portions large and I mean LARGE! There will be leftovers and if you’re old enough to remember, you will need a “doggie bag”!

As for parking, there is limited parking in front and on the street. I found out later that here is a private lot, next to Coconut Coast Gifts where restaurant parking is allowed.

We had a very friendly waitress who told us that there was also a Kountry Kitchen location, in Ewa Beach, on our own island of Oahu. Wow, we were surprised though there are so many eateries, just in Honolulu, Okay, time to order!

Having an affinity for Mexican food, I ordered the Spanish Omelette which is filled with sour cream, onion, tomatoes, cheddar cheese and salsa. The side dishes were hash browns and thick toast which tasted delicious with butter (didn’t try the jelly).

As much as I tried, I could not finish my dish! The omelette hit the spot as I love sour cream and salsa. The hash browns were nice and crunchy, just how I like ’em, but not greasy. Toast is always a good filler but I was stuffed! Looks like I’m taking tomorrow’s breakfast back to the hotel!

Gaylord’s at Kilohana – Kauai Plantation Railway

Gaylord’s at Kilohana
3-2087 Kaumualii Hwy
Lihue, HI 96766
(808) 245-9594

Gaylord’s Restaurant is located at the former plantation house of Gaylord Parke Wilcox. This English Tudor style 16,000 foot mansion was built in 1935. While the restaurant does have a solid 4.0 rating on Yelp, we didn’t come here for food. My son, Gabriel, is a big railway fan so we came here to ride the only train on Kauai!

The tickets are a little pricey at $19 for adults and $14 for children 3 to 12 years of age. You do get a well narrated 45 minute “Signature Train Tour.” If your adventurous or hungry, you can add on a nature walk and lunch or an evening luau.

During the tour, Kimo will point out the more than 50 varieties of fruits and vegetables grown at Kilohana. The train ride will take you back to the plantation days of Kauai. Much of the produce that you see grown, on this working farm, goes to Kilohana’s Gaylord’s Restaurant.

Halfway or so through the plantation, you will disembark and first spend some time with the pigs, goats, sheep, donkeys and horses that comprise the farm and second you will feed them! No worries…there’s plenty of bread to go around!

In addition to Gaylord’s Restaurant, there are many unique little shops, in the mansion, including Cane Field Clothing & Gallery, Zensations, Banana Patch Studio & Aloha Spice Company, Kauai Sweet Shoppe, Clayworks at Kilohana, and Kōloa Rum Tasting Room and Company Store.

See the video below for a sample of the train ride. The scenery is beautiful and the ride, at 45 minutes, is not too long. Below the video is a brief history of the diesel engine used at Kauai plantations.

The fist diesel locomotive in the Territory of Hawaii was introduced in Kauai at the Kehaka Plantation in 1928 and proved to be very efficient. Soon Lihue and other plantations followed although beginning in the mid 30’s trucks began replacing fixed railroads. Hawaiian sugar plantations used trains for transportation until the 1950’s when a switch was made to cane haul trucks.

Best Mexican Restaurant in Kauai? Pacos Tacos!

pacos tacosPaco’s Tacos House
4-1415 Kuhio Highway Kapaa, Hawaii 96746
(808) 822 – 9944

Best Mexican restaurant in Kauai? Well…The fam and I were walking through Old Kapaa Town looking for dinner! We saw House of Noodles but my wife nixed that idea after informing me that the restaurant only had 3 starts (yes, she is a hard core Yelper!). We kept on walking down Kuhio Highway when I noticed Paco’s Tacos across the street and pointed it out to my wife (yes, I looooove Mexican food!). She checked Yelp and said, “4 stars, let’s try it.”

We sauntered out way in, sat down and checked out the menu. I was pleasantly surprised that breakfast is served all day. So the Huevos Rancheros or Huevos con Chorizo were tempting. Being an enchilada guy, I went with the chicken enchiladas covered in special sauce and cheese. My wife tried the beef enchiladas plate.
pacos tacos
The service was fast and friendly. Our waters were kept filled. The enchiladas platters were a little pricey at $14.00 but this is Hawaii and even Taco Bell is expensive. I have to admit that my meal was worth every cent of the $14.00 price. The secret sauce was very tasty and I would have licked my plate if it was socially acceptable. My wife in not a fan of Mexican food but she finished her entire plate (first time that’s happened) and held up 5 fingers (5 Yelp stars!)

Even my son, who is a SUPER picky eater, enjoyed sharing our enchiladas. I will definitely try the tacos next time! So if you’re ever in Kauai, make your way to Kapaa and give Pacos Tacos a try. Your taste buds will be so thankful Protection Status