On the eastern shore of Kauai is Nawiliwili Harbor, where cruise ships come in and dock in front of Lihue, Kauai's busiest and largest town. While long white sand beaches decorate the coast, an abundance of shops, restaurants and attractions come together to create a hip and fun town with plenty to do.
Since most cruise ships dock for a day of land exploration after breakfast and leave before dark, this itinerary will provide those on the cruise with advice on what to see and do and where to eat from mid-morning through mid-afternoon.
Surf lessons at Kalapaki Bay — Photo courtesy of Paul Brockmeyer
For ocean lovers and thrill-seekers, mid-morning is the best time to catch a surf lesson at Kalapaki Bay, just minutes away from the port. Each day Kalapaki Beach Boys, a surf school right at the bay, begins lessons around 10 a.m.
With mornings usually offering calm winds and ocean conditions, this is the ideal time to take a lesson. Lessons include all the gear a novice surfer could need. Just bring your suit when leaving the ship.
If you're not in the mood to get in the water and catch waves, just walking the long beach and beachcombing in the morning sun is a delightful experience.
Up the street is the Kauai Museum. Holding within its walls the rich history of Kauai, the museum is a perfect place to gain an understanding of the island, both past and present.
As you browse exhibits dedicated to the sugar plantation days and traditional Hawaiian times, you'll gain insight into the current state of Kauai. In addition to historical exhibits, art, shell jewelry and Hawaiian crafts are also on display. The museum also provides other educational programs such as classes and workshops that share Hawaiian culture.
From the museum, head over to historic Kilohana Plantation, where unique shops, galleries and restaurants all make a home in the plantation mansion that once served as home to the plantation owner.
Kilohana Plantation — Photo courtesy of Jade Eckardt
For lunch enjoy a locally sourced meal at Gaylord's, a beautiful, open-air restaurant on the grounds of the plantation. A meal of locally produced meats, vegetables, sandwiches and salads can be eaten in the courtyard.
After lunch, go to the tasting room at the Koloa Rum Company, and sample their award-winning rums while browsing locally produced crafts and souvenirs. While here, catch a ride on the old-school train. It weaves guests through 35 acres of fruit trees and pastures, where much of the food served at the plantation is grown.