Chasing rainbows and crashing surf on Hawaii’s Kauai Island.

Kauai: A Romantic Escape on the Garden Isle

Story and Photos by Lee Daley.

More than five million years ago, Mother Nature swept over the Pacific Ocean and — in a burst of hormonal ecstasy — created the first of the Hawaiian Islands, that green pearl of paradise called Kauai. Caressed by warm tropical breezes, Kauai’s idyllic beaches and its ageless, majestic canyons and cliffs seem tailor-made for lovers. Romantic Kauai is small enough to explore over a long weekend while still leaving space for coveted cuddle time. Locals cherish the beauty and serenity of the Garden Isle; a feeling of calm and kindness permeates the island, setting the stage for a romantic escape.

Endless views reward hikers at Daniel K. Inouye Kilauea Point Lighthouse.

Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, in fact, any day is a perfect day for a beach visit on romantic Kauai. Here are some of my favorites:

Poipu Beach: Named America’s best beach by the Travel Channel, Poipu Beach is actually a series of golden-sand crescents fronted by Poipu Beach Park. Tide pools to the east have been created by lava formations where tiny fish and hermit crabs abide. Protected by off-shore reefs and centrally located, it is an ideal spot to swim, surf, snorkel, sunbathe.

Surfers love many of Kauai’s beaches, (photo: John Sundsmo)

Shipwreck Beach: Another favorite, you’ll want to carry a camera to capture snapshots of surfers climbing waves at this local favorite. While pounding surf makes swimming a challenge, the trailhead for Mahaulepu Trail starts here. If you are adventurous, this is a great hike with an opportunity to photograph and explore otherwise inaccessible coastline views.

Having a secluded beach to yourselves is a treat often found on Kauai.

Baby Beach: Small, secluded and calm, this protected cove lends itself to tide-pooling and snorkeling. A rocky reef absorbs the energy of breaking surf before reaching the calm, crystal clear waters near the shoreline. Keep an eye out for monk seals and sea turtles. Romantics are welcome.

Mountain Mist near Poipu (photo: John Sundsmo)

Garden Isle Dining: Beach House Restaurant: Make it a very romantic Kauai by watching the sun set from your beach-front table at the Beach House Restaurant overlooking spectacular Lawai Beach. This south shore favorite matches its romantic setting with generous Hawaiian hospitality and exquisite Pacific Rim cuisine. Be there before sunset where you will sit out on the open patio or at a cozy table and feel as though you are on the beach. The dining room is beautifully set with open full-length windows affording unparalleled views and warm ocean breezes. This time of year you might bear witness to the mating migration of singing humpback whales who often pass by within sight of diners.

Romantic Kauai sunsets are an evening ritual on the Garden Isle.
Seafood dinner, Beach House

Romantic sunsets: Often the sunset-watching at Beach House is so attention-grabbing that it seems as though everyone is holding their breath. Silence prevails as the blue of the sky and sea slowly warms to flame and clouds frame their edges in gold. Call it a “being in the moment” experience. Beach House Restaurant, 5022 Lawai Rd., Koloa, tel: 808–742–1424. Dinner reservations are recommended.

Beachcombing is a favorite pastime on the island.

Where to Stay on the Garden Isle : Say goodbye to your winter blues on Poipu’s sunny South Shore. Wherever you stay here, you are merely a stroll from the area’s mile-long stretch of glittering sand beaches. Grand resorts, boutique hotels and more modestly priced bed and breakfast type accommodations are plentiful. Island cuisine is fresh and flavorful with farm-to-fork menus, freshly baked goodies and a plethora of eateries that run the gamut from roadside shacks to five-star white-tablecloth dining. Here are two of my favorites. Many more abound.

Princeville Botanical Gardens is just one of five floral havens open to the public on the Garden Isle.

A stay at the Princeville Ocean Resort Villas is the ultimate in luxury. Perched atop emerald cliffs, the villas offer spectacular ocean and mountain views. Because Princeville borders the Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge, visitors can often observe an infinite variety of birds right from their personal lanai, often while watching a dramatic sunset or sunrise over the blue Pacific. Staff, dining options and location are all superb. Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas, 3838 Wyllie Road, Princeville, Kauai. Tel: 808–827–8700.

The Sheraton Kauai Resort: Another choice option, Sheraton Kauai Resort on Kauai’s South Shore offers wide ocean-view rooms, with private balconies. Cabanas line the white sand beach mere inches from the shore break giving the feeling of being one with nature. Enjoy the resort’s Hawaiian Rainforest Spa, water sports, two pools, and a weekly Auli’i Luau. Sheraton Kauai Resort, 2440 Hoonani Road, Poipu Beach, Kauai. Tel: 844–631–0595.

Follow your heart on the Garden Isle.

Kauai embraces the senses like no other island. Be sure and visit the official Kauai Travelers site at for more information on planning your trip and up-to-date travel conditions.

A review of more island’s eateries can be found at

A version of this article also appeared at Epicurean Destinations where you will find in-depth travel articles from local and international destinations along with award-winning photography.



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Lee Daley

Travel writer, photographer, editor, I cover travel, culture, art & architecture. Featured in NY Times. Share the journey at