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Posted on Oct 6, 2013 | 10 comments

5 Things to Do When You Land on Kauai

5 Things to Do When You Land on Kauai

You’ve just landed on Kauai and may be wondering what to do first. With so much to do on Kauai, it can be easy to get pulled in many different directions as soon as you get there. Instead, give yourself some time to get situated, gather supplies, and adjust to island time. To help you get comfortable to being on the islands here are 5 Things to Do When You Land on Kauai.

Land on Kauai

Welcome to Kauai!

Get into Island Time

As soon as you land on Kauai, everything moves a bit slower. For starters, it’s going to take a while to get off the plane. Embrace the aloha spirit of the islands by not pushing your way off the plane. It’s not like getting off the plane first is going to make your luggage come up any faster. You’ll be moving slower during your time on Kauai and this is the perfect time to start getting use to island time. You’ve got plenty to do once you land on Kauai, don’t rush it.

Land on Kauai

Get a fresh flower lei when you land on Kauai.

Pre-order Beautiful Flower Leis for an Aloha Greeting at the Airport

When we arrived on Kauai, we were happy to be greeted with orchid leis provided by Hawaii Discount. Our fresh orchid leis quickly got us into the aloha spirit as soon as we walked through the sliding glass doors to the outside baggage claim. The lei greeters are also a wealth of information and will help you get to the right carousal to pick up your luggage, point you in the right direction for picking up your rental vehicle or getting on a shuttle bus, and even help you with directions. It’s the perfect way to welcome yourself (or another) once you land on Kauai.

Land on Kauai

You will love Hamura Saimin!

Get Some Local Grindz at Hamura’s Saimin

Once we have our rental car we always head out for some local grindz since we are hungry when we land on Kauai. I’m guessing you will be, too. Hamura’s Saimin Stand is close to the airport and is one of those places all of the locals go.

The saimin with homemade noodles and teriyaki barbecue sticks attract a constant flow of hungry costumers from morning until late-night. The noodles come topped with vegetables, fish cake, wontons, hard-boiled eggs, pork in more ways than one, and condiments on the side. We share an ex-large and it’s more than enough for two. Get a couple barbecue sticks on the side and a piece of lilikoi chiffon pie for dessert. Trust us, you must leave room for that pie.

A word to the wise, this place is always packed. Even with more than one U-shaped lunch counter, there isn’t usually much free seating. Because of this, it can be a good idea to call in your order while waiting for your luggage to come up. Also, don’t be surprised that the staff always seems to be grumpy. It’s just how they are. It’s a lot of work to get so many bowls of steaming saimin out to a constant stream of customers.

Go Shopping at Kauai Costco

We aren’t kidding when we say that Costco is one of the best places to pick up supplies for your time on Kauai. If you’ve never been to a Costco in Hawaii, you will quickly see why they are the best Costcos in the world.

We always head there right after we have a bite to eat after landing. The fish and seafood selection is incredible with a plentiful variety of seafood; ahi tuna, mahi mahi, ono, squid, wahoo, and so much more. Everything we have gotten here, including poke kits, have all been fresher than anything we’ve gotten at home. They’ve got tons of produce that comes from local Hawaii farms, as well as meats for grilling, kalua pork all made up in buckets, and packets of Hawaiian sweet rolls.

The liquor section is equally impressive with a wide range of prices, quality, flavors, and local distilleries that will be a welcome stock up item for your visit. Make sure to grab a bottle of their Koloa Rum Mai Tai pre-mix for easy drinks while on Kauai. Koloa Rum is based on Kauai and manufactures the rum and mix locally.

It’s also a great place to stock up on all of your favorite island treats to eat while on Kauai and bring home with you for yourself and others. They have all the best Hawaiian treats from macadamia nut Kisses to Hawaiian shortbread to chocolate covered coconut candies. Even if you aren’t staying at a place with a kitchen, it’s still worth the stop for snacks, drinks, alcohol, and souvenir foods. On the way back to the airport, don’t forget to stop here for gas to fill up your rental vehicle.

Land on Kauai

Jump into the pool the first chance you get!

Jump into the Pool

Of course, this comes after you get to where you are staying, have unloaded your vehicle, put away your food, and had a bite to eat. Usually it’s too late in the day to head to the beach, but it’s not too late to jump in the pool. Change into your suit, grab a Mai Tai, and get yourself down to the pool. Aren’t care-free nights one of the reasons you came to Kauai in the first place? Now that you are all settled in, you might as well get started on them the first night after you land on Kauai. You’ll be happy you did.

Have you ever been to Kauai? What tips do you have for once you land on Kauai?

All photography by Kimmy Hayes © 2013.

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About Kimmy Hayes

Kimmy Hayes is the founder and editor-in-chief of AfterGlobe; a site on becoming debt free and traveling the world as a married couple. In 2012, she planned and coordinated her own do-it-yourself destination wedding on the beautiful island of Maui while serving as a moderator for the on-line community, The Knot. She is passionate about traveling to experience new cultures, snorkeling the waters of the world and reading with her toes in the sand.


  1. Great tips! Of course I love to tip to pre order lei greetings but a stop at Costco for supplies is a great idea too! I have never eaten at Hamura’s Saimin Stand but I am putting it on my list for next time – sounds delicious!
    Elizabeth recently posted…Wailua Falls – Kauai WaterfallsMy Profile

  2. Kauai is a beautiful island indeed. I had to laugh when you suggested shopping at Costco because it reminded me of the Costco in Cabo San Lucas, which has the best parking lot view ever – looks out at the Sea of Cortez where the cruise ships dock. Quite something!

  3. A great dinner the first night, while still in Lihue, is Dukes. There is the fancier dining upstairs and the casual lounge and dining, which opens onto a bay. (Don’t know the name.)

    Another great place for beautiful outside dining another day is Keoki’s Paradise (southern island), and plan to snorkel at Poipu Beach that day. We forgot where that great snorkeling was on our second trip and missed it entirely. I had to check my journal from the first trip (after we got home) to find out where it was!

    I love the ancient sites, but Kauai does not really advertise such places. History lovers, be sure to get a AAA book on Kauai before going there so you can find things like the Birthing Rock (where kings had to be born), the ancient Japanese graveyard on the hill above, the temple foundations and actual slab for human sacrifice, 700 year old carvings in a rock on a beach, etc.

    Don’t hurry off this island to see other islands. Stay as long as you can. There is too much to miss!

    • Hi, Debra. Thanks for visiting AfterGlobe and all of the Kauai tips. We have LOTS more coming on Kauai from where to eat like a local to what to do and more. This was our very first Kauai post and we are only scratching the surface. Keep an eye out for more!
      Kimmy Hayes recently posted…Interesting Facts about KauaiMy Profile

      • Hi Kimmy,

        I’m replying so I can check the box “Notify me of new posts”. I love to reminisce about Kauai, and would love to know what you have found there that we have not. Thanks!

        Debra Brown recently posted…My PinterestMy Profile

  4. This makes me so excited for my first trip to Kauai in January 2014!
    We haven’t planned a thing yet, just booked flights and a portion of our accommodations. I will be checking back to see if you have updated any new info about the island before we go – I definitely will be planning a lei greeting, what a great idea!



  1. Eat Like a Local on Kauai - AfterGlobe - […] right by the airport, Hamura Saimin is our first stop to eat once we land on Kauai. No matter the …

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