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Trip Report Kathie & Cheryl's notes from Kauai 2017

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We spend a month on the south shore of Kauai every year now that we are both retired. Here are notes from our 2017 trip.


Joselin’s is truly gone. Last year it was closed but there were some rumors that it would re-open as another tapas place. That space is currently empty.

The Beach House has long been the place with the best views on the island. Unfortunately, their food was inconsistent – sometimes very good, sometimes mediocre, occasionally truly bad. Merriman’s has taken over the kitchen there so I expect the food has improved. We didn’t get there this time, but reviews have improved and several people we met had good things to say about the food.

There is a new restaurant in the Kulai’lai shopping center. Called Lanai, it is a project of Living Foods. The menu is limited, but the food is very good. They offer a number of small plates for tapas lovers. Try their deviled eggs with jalapeno and bacon.

Pizzeta, located in Old Koloa, is a place we hadn’t tried previously. Of course, they have pizza, but they have a wide variety of other foods as well. Cheryl is gluten-free and said their pizza is the best gluten-free pizza she has had.

Our favorites continue to be:

Brenneke’s right at Poipu Park. If you haven’t been there in a few years, it is time to go back. They have a number of excellent salads, which are all large enough to share. And their fish is always cooked perfectly. My one complaint has been their wine list, though it has been expanded and improved since last year. But we always bring our own wine, as their corkage fee is just $15.

Plantation Gardens is lovely, located in private botanical garden. Sit outside on the veranda and enjoy the warm tropical breezes. We usually order one of their fish dishes : Cheryl loves the Quinoa – crusted fish, while I typically choose a grilled preparation. The fish used in these preparations varies from day to day, depending on the catch. They often have interesting specials. Also, for meat-lovers they do a pot roast that gets rave reviews and they do ribs as well. If you buy a bottle of wine form The Wine Shop in Koloa, they will serve it to you for free – no corkage fee.

Red Salt located in the Koa Kea hotel is very good. We eat there every year, but our meal there this year was the best we’ve had. They have a new chef and an expanded menu. All of the dishes we tried were excellent. This is another place where you can buy a bottle of wine from The Wine Shop in Koloa and get free corkage.

There are a number of good restaurants in the Kulai’lai Shopping Center:

Roy’s 1849 Eating House is excellent with a good variety of offerings. Everything I have eaten there has been excellent. While they have a good wine list, I took a bottle of champagne with us for Valentine’s Day and was surprised to discover that their corkage fee is a reasonable $18.

Merriman’s is well-known and is very good. I’ve had some inconsistent experiences there, and their prices have gone up again, so we didn’t eat there this time. I’m sure we will go back next year. They do have an excellent happy hour with some very good food.

Tortilla Republic – Mexican Food on Kauai? Yes, and it is very good. Their margaritas are excellent and they have a wide variety of foods to choose from, both very traditional and more unusual. We prefer to eat in the upstairs section – better service, and more food options including tableside guacamole.

There are also some casual places to eat, including Savage Shrimp, Bubba’s Burgers. Merriman’s has a downstairs section with Salads, Pizzas and Burgers. The food quality is excellent.


February is the month with the most whales, and we watched a whale breach from our balcony in the first few days of our stay. While we had been on a trip to the Na Pali coast a few years ago, Cheryl wanted to try something new. She found a tour that uses a Zodiac (the vessels used for Coast Guard rescues) which puts you right at water level. This trip leaves from the Poipu area, another plus. The marine biologist, Tara, who owns the company, is excellent. Cheryl writes about her experience: “I went on the late afternoon whale watching tour on Thurs, 2/16/17. I took a lot of pictures; I was in picture taking heaven. The captain kept warning me that my camera was going to get wet (but not to worry, we were all given excellent dry bags), but at some point on that tour there was no point in putting it away. First some dolphins greeted us, soon followed by spouting whales and then we saw 2 to 5 whales all at once where they’re swimming together above water and others are seen about them by their spouts.” Tara referred to the area as “whale soup.” The company is Kauai Sea Riders Snorkeling and Whale watching tours. It is highly recommended!

As Cheryl says “It was amazing, it was fun, everyone on the boat was enthralled. There were 2 little girls who were having the time of their lives. I look forward to going on another tour when I return to Kauai again next year! I’ve posted some photos from the day (and a Photoshop painting I did in commemoration of WHALES!!!.).”

You can see a few of her photos at https://cherylmarlandphotography.smugmug.com/Kauai/Kauai-2017-humpback-whales/

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