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Taking the Kids: Visiting the end of the road in Kauai

Eileen Ogintz, Tribune Content Agency on

Have you ever reached the end of the road? Literally. We’re nearly there at the Hanalei Colony Resort on Kauai’s pristine North Shore, famous for the drop-dead gorgeous Na Pali Coast. We’ve crossed several one-lane bridges and passed the tiny town of Hanalei with its mix of surf shops, shave ice stands, food trucks and restaurants. It’s a little more than an hour’s scenic drive from Lihue Airport, with mountains and taro fields on one side; the coast on the other. (The literal end of the road is just a mile or so past here at the world-famous Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park).

I came upon this secluded 52-unit condo resort more than a decade ago when my daughters were hiking a portion of the famous Kalalau Trail. (These days, you need reservations to enter the park.) I’m glad I’ve had the chance to return.

“I love that you can basically disappear from reality here and have no stress,” said Kendal Naughton, a singer in her early 30s from Lake Tahoe, California, here with her mom who owns a unit here.

We were hanging out at the newly renovated pool and grill area set within a beautifully planted tropical garden, birds flitting around.

I think about what Naughton had said as I sat on our condo deck overlooking the beach and the wild, crashing surf. It is as unspoiled as it gets, the only oceanfront resort to the Kalalau Trail at Ke’e Beach. Many come out to experience the sunrise — and the rainbows after the rain.

This place obviously isn’t for everyone. It’s exceedingly remote, requiring a drive on the narrow roads over those same one-lane bridges to get groceries. The resort does run shuttles into Hanalei for shopping and dinner (it isn’t fun driving these roads after dark. Kilauea and posh Princeville with its famous golf courses are about 20 minutes away.)


“This is really a place for those who like to do for themselves,” explained Sue Grinnell, here from Olympia, Washington, with her husband, daughter, and 8-year-old grandson, Jalen, 8, who has been having a blast hunting for crabs, exploring tidepools, the koi pond, and the turtles in the creek. He’s also become a big fan of shave ice, especially raspberry and vanilla. For the uninitiated, shave Ice is a Hawaiian treat where different flavored syrups are drizzled over ice chips and served in a paper cone.

Kauai is alternately called the garden isle, or the adventure island. Actually, it’s both with 113 miles of shoreline, almost half with white sand beaches. Paddle board, or paddle an outrigger canoe, surf, snorkel, dive, sail (perhaps along the Na Pali Coast ) or sea kayak. Picnic at sunset, laze on your beach of choice or head to Lumahai Beach, the long, white-sand stretch where Mitzi Gaynor so famously sang about washing that man right out of her hair in the classic film “South Pacific.” You’ve likely seen other films made here, including “Jurassic Park” and “Jurassic World” (Kauai stood in for a fictional Central American island), “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (a South American jungle) and the “Descendants” with George Clooney (set here and on Oahu).

Play golf – there are nine courses to choose from.

A burgeoning food scene offers everything from food trucks to farm stands (Hanalei Colony Resort even offers an $100 credit for those staying more than four nights and who shop local) to gourmet restaurants (in tiny Hanalei Bar Acuda is so popular it books up months in advance for tapas).


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