Cruise ships are known for romance - sunsets, pool time and romantic dinners are some of the at-sea highlights. But the island of Kauai offers a different type of romantic fun, which includes outdoor activities; unique, locally sourced meals; and under-the-sea exploration.
Since Kauai is one of the smallest of the main Hawaiian islands, much of the island's best is in close proximity to the cruise port. This helps visitors taking a break form the ship experience as much as possible in a short time. From romantic meals to quality time in the ocean, these are the most romantic things to do on Kauai for cruising couples.
There's a local saying that couples who surf together, stay together. Learning to catch waves is a romantic bonding experience. Mid-morning is the best time to catch a surf lesson at Kalapaki Bay, just minutes away from the port.
A couple learning to surf — Photo courtesy of Paul Brockmeyer
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 more of the snorkeling type (rather than a surfer), stop by Lydgate Beach Park in Wailua. This protected natural swimming pool is one of the top places on the island for snorkeling. The calm and protected pool is the ideal place to leisurely swim alongside your other half, while seeing an abundance of tropical fish. A mask and snorkel is all you need to see the colorful crowds.
From there, 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. For a romantic 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 and vegetables, sandwiches and salads can be eaten in the courtyard.
Outdoor romantic dining — Photo courtesy of Gaylord's at Kilohana
After lunch, head over to the Koloa Rum Company's tasting room, and sample their award-winning rums while browsing locally produced crafts and souvenirs.
Take a romantic stroll through the National Tropical Botanical Gardens in Poipu. McBryde Garden is home to over 6,000 tropical plant species on 259 acres. A seemingly endless array of flowers and plants - from delicate orchids to sustainable bamboo - is there for you to explore at length. The garden is divided into sections that separate medicinal plants from nutritional plants, fruits, herbs, spices, endangered species and more.
Most of these activities should be able to be experienced in five or six hours on land. Enjoy your terrestrial time with the most romantic things to do near the cruise port in Lihue.
Couples explore the tree featured in "Jurassic Park" at National Tropical Botanical Gardens — Photo courtesy of National Tropical Botanical Garden