After the holiday celebrations and before the rush of summer visitors, spring is one of the best times to visit Kauai's South Shore.
One of the biggest misconceptions about Hawaii—and more specifically Kauai—is that the best time to visit is in winter or summer. If you're coming from mainland areas of the U.S., that might be true, but it would also mean missing out on Kauai's best-kept secret.
One of the best times to experience Hawaii's Garden Isle is in the spring.
Yes, the weather in Kauai is fantastic year-round. It's hard to beat—average highs in the low 80s and average lows in the high 60s. But starting in early April and lasting until late June, it's as close to perfect as one can get. But it's also shoulder season, and when the weather is perfect and the crowds are small, there's no better time to get out and experience Kauai's South Shore.
So let's journey along what's affectionately known as Kauai's sunny side. Along the way, we'll visit six beaches, five activities, four restaurants, three golf courses, two historical towns, and one enormous canyon.
Add it up, and you get 21 springtime things to do and see on Kauai's South Shore.
Six Incredible Beaches
While there's plenty to do on the South Shore, the main attractions are the beaches. And upon visiting each sandy shore, it's easy to see how southern Kauai earned its reputation as the sunnier side of the equation.
No matter what else you have planned for spring, a visit to 1. Poipu Beach should be at the top of your list. Hailed as one of America's top beaches (The Travel Channel named it the best in the nation), Poipu Beach is, in fact, two beaches divided by a tombolo—a small stretch of land snaking out from the coast.
The two distinct, shallow bays form a popular gathering place for both families and adventurers, with one side perfect for swimming and the other a favorite for bodyboarders and snorkelers. The beach is also an outstanding spot for observing nature, as the tombolo is a preferred haunt for endangered Hawaiian monk seals.
One of the South Shore's hidden gems is 2. Kukui'ula Harbor Beach, a small stretch of sand 10 minutes west of Poipu. The bay is protected by a small-boat harbor, which makes for calm waters and a great place to swim or launch a kayak. Though small, Kukui'ula is rarely crowded and proves an excellent spot for watching the sunset over the Pacific.
A mile and half to the east of Poipu Beach is 3. Shipwrecks Beach. Named for, of course, a shipwreck once buried in the sand (it may or may not still be there), this area is a favorite of surfers and bodyboarders thanks to the consistently strong currents. Less popular with swimmers, the beach still offers excellent sunbathing and, given its proximity to the Grand Hyatt Kauai and Poipu Kai Resort, plenty to do after leaving the sand. Hike up the Maha'ulepu Heritage Trail for stunning views 40 feet above the water.
Rounding out our beach tour along the southern coast is a trifecta of smaller swatches of sun-drenched sand. 4. Brennecke Beach is a well-regarded spot for body surfing and watching sunsets. Aptly named 5. Baby Beach is the perfect sandbox for families with small kids. The cove is well protected, and the waters are very shallow, making for a stress-free family outing.
Finally, we'll give a mention to 6. Keiki Cove Beach, which is less of a beach and more of an oddity—a sandy little splash pad, if you will. Almost always deserted, if you have small children or are looking for a unique photo op, it's a neat little alcove in which to spend an hour or two.
Five Amazing Activities
Traveling to or living near the beach doesn't mean you always have to sit idly by watching the waves crash ashore (not that there's anything wrong with that).
For the adventurous and outgoing, though, the slower spring season doesn't lack things to do. Those that want to be in the water should snorkel along 7. Lawai Beach. Prefer to be on the water instead of under it? 8. Outfitters Kauai offers both inland and ocean kayak tours that put you in the middle of the action.
It wasn't invented on Kauai, but zip lining was undoubtedly designed with the island in mind. Home to over 10 different zip line operators, the South Shore's 9. Koloa Zipline offers two of the top experiences—the longest zipline tour on Kauai and a sublime sunset/nighttime zip tour at the end of the day.
If you're training for September's Kauai Marathon and Half Marathon or looking for a scenic, competitive way to take in a morning run, head to the 10. Sixth Annual Roots ‘n Shoots Fun Run and Walk on Saturday, April 11th, 2020. The 5K takes place at the beautiful Allerton and McBryde Gardens in Koloa, where the course winds its way amongst bamboo, fruit and rainforest trees, and a stretch along the Pacific Ocean. Even if you're not fleet of foot, it’s a fun way to spend a spring Saturday morning
Though sunsets are a daily occurrence across the globe, on Kauai, they are indeed something spectacular. Although many South Shore beaches and oceanfront restaurants offer superb vistas, for the perfect sunset in spring, 11. Salt Pond Park tops them all.
Four Delicious Dining Experiences
No matter where you chose to eat, South Shore dining is exceptional. If you're looking for the best of the best, there are four establishments near Poipu Beach that should be part of every itinerary.
Head to the Koa Kea Resort and 12. Red Salt, the place many consider the absolute best dining on Kauai. For some literal surf and turf, 13. Brennecke's Beach Broiler is the quintessential beachside restaurant serving up bar food, fresh catches, and upscale plates and cocktails.
Another upscale favorite with outstanding food and superb ocean views is the Sheraton Kauai's 14. RumFire Poipu Beach. And, to sample two Hawaiian specialties in one setting, grab an Ahi poke bowl or a famed lunch plate at the 15. Koloa Fish Market—arguably the best such market in all of Hawaii.
Three Must-Play Golf Courses
If you're a golfer, every Hawaiian island offers its own unique links experience, and the three courses on Kauai's South Shore might be the best of the bunch. 16. Kiahuna Golf Club is part nature preserve (excellent birdwatching), historical site (ruins of a Hawaiian village appear in the routing), and thrilling test of your skills.
The Tom Weiskopf-designed 17. Kukui'ula Golf Course consistently ranks as one of the top courses in the state. And it's not just the excellent playability and immaculate course conditions that generate attention—the breathtaking ocean views are also a major highlight. It's not uncommon to catch sight of a humpback whale during early spring rounds. (Note that this is a semi-private course, so you’ll need to get an invite from a member in order to experience its magnificence.)
Designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., 18. Poipu Bay Golf Course provides a stunning backdrop for your springtime round. Once home to the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, the course's championship pedigree and tough (but fair!) layout will challenge players of all skill levels.
Two Historical Towns
Curious what life was like back in 19th-century Kauai? The present-day shopping village of 19. Old Koloa Town is a collection of restored historic buildings detailing the history of Koloa's sugar trade, which was home to Hawaii's first successful sugar plantation. Enter along a stretch of Maluhia Road, and you'll travel through a canopy of century-old eucalyptus trees referred to as the Tree Tunnel. Just a few minutes east, you can also visit the ruins of the Old Sugar Mill of Koloa.
One of the few communities not developed out of a sugar plantation, 20. Hanapepe Town, located midway between Koloa and Waimea, is the charming, artistic heart of Kauai. Numerous art galleries, shops, and restaurants dot the quaint downtown streets. Unique sites include the Hanapepe Swinging Bridge and the Talk Story Bookstore, the nation's westernmost bookstore.
One Giant Canyon
Imagine if the mainland's Grand Canyon had carved its way into an island in the middle of the Pacific. While 21. Waimea Canyon isn't technically in the South Shore (it makes up the western heart of the island) its gateway city, Waimea, is along Kauai's southern coast.
The 3,600 foot deep, 14-mile long and mile-wide "Grand Canyon of the Pacific" is a natural wonder of epic proportions. The nearly 2,000-acre Waimea Canyon State Park features a wilderness area, a number of scenic lookouts, and nearly 50 miles of hiking trails.
As a bonus, Koke'e State Park sits adjacent to Waimea Canyon and provides an entirely different ecosystem—deep island rainforest versus dry, open canyon—and over 30 more miles of hiking opportunities.
Ready to experience all that the island of Kauai has to offer? Let the team of Sean Ahearn and Jim Karlovsky be your guide to the Kauai real estate market. Whether it's the South Shore and Poipu or the North Shore enclaves of Hanalei and Princeville, their expertise ensures you'll find your piece of paradise.