HAWAII – St. Regis Princeville Resort, Kaua’i Island (2015)

After six days at The Kahala in Oahu we were ready for the second part of our vacation in Hawaii: eight days at St. Regis Princeville Resort on the island of Kaua'i.

But just as the first part of our vacation had its own share of having a not easily forgettable dialogue --- if you've read my previous post you know what I am talking about -- it looks like the second part of our vacation had it's own memorable, arresting conversation too, and that happened even before getting there.

This conversation -- I'm relating it below -- preceded our arrival in Kaua'i as I just said, and it happened on our last day at The Kahala in Oahu:

Me: "Oh, are you leaving today?" (the conversation was in the hotel lobby, luggage were present...)
My conversation partner, not a hotel staff member this time, obviously: "Yes, but we are not going directly home, we are going to Maui for a few more days... (the sentence continued with some details)"
Me: "We are leaving tomorrow too, we are going to Kaua'i."
My conversation partner (looking almost as stupefied as if an alien would have just landed in front of us): "WHY are you going to Kaua'i?!"
Me: (in return, feeling very taken by surprise by such a question and reaction) "What do you mean? It's a beautiful island!"
My conversation partner: "Yes... well... I suppose... but it's said that it's a place where only newlyweds and people close to dying are going to."

OH, NO!!
Now I was wondering if there were going to be more odd/highly comical/mind gripping conversation encounters to spice up the rest of our vacation.
...
...

Kaua'i is the oldest of the Hawaiian islands, and the most beautiful of all, the most lush, and the most untouched.

If we loved The Kahala in Oahu from the first few moments, I fell head over heels in love with St. Regis Princeville in Kaua'i. THE VIEW!
The magnificent Hanalei Bay view!
That fantastic view was present with us during our entire stay, at all times -- from the hotel's public spaces (everywhere floor-to-ceiling glass windows, or no windows at all), from our room, at the beach and at the pool.
That view captivated my eyes, that view acted like a natural tranquilizer, I couldn't get enough of that view...
And then the sunsets...
And then the rainbows...
I could go on and on, attempting to describe the beauty that surrounded us...
All these images became part of me.

Yes, we had great food, we had luxury spa treatments, we went on an amazing off-road adventure, we went on a helicopter tour... but what I recall most vividly are two images: the Hanalei Bay view from our room/beach/pool/Makana terrace where we had breakfast every day (I know, I'm repeating myself), and the Na Pali coast view from the Kalalau lookout -- an astonishing, surreal raw splendor.

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St. Regis Princeville - The Lobby
(Photo via St. Regis website)

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St. Regis Princeville - The Lobby
(Photo via St. Regis website)

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St. Regis Princeville - The Makana Terrace 
(Photo via St. Regis website)

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St. Regis Princeville - The view from our room

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St. Regis Princeville - The view from our room

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St. Regis Princeville - The rainbows (one fading in the back) that greeted me on the very first morning after we arrived when I went for a run on the beach

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St. Regis Princeville

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St. Regis Princeville

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St. Regis Princeville

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St. Regis Princeville - The pool

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St. Regis Princeville - The pool

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St. Regis Princeville - Sunset
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St. Regis Princeville - Sunset

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St. Regis Princeville - Sunset

EATING

Breakfasts at Makana Terrace were a truly one of a kind experience every morning -- the views!!! -- I could have stayed on that terrace for hours forgetting about my breakfast.

The daily breakfast buffet was very good, and there was a large selection of seafood, wonderful to try; and on Sunday we had an excellent brunch.

But what was indeed very special was the A la carte menu, everything we tried -- and after starting trying their a la carte signature dishes we didn't want to eat the buffet again -- was superb (my favorite: St. Regis Lobster Omelet with Coconut Lobster Bisque, and my husband's favorite: Makana Terrace Eggs Benedict with Smoked Salmon).

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St. Regis Princeville - Makana Terrace, where we had breakfast every morning
(photo via St. Regis website)

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St. Regis Princeville - Makana Terrace, where we had breakfast every morning


For diner we ate at Kauai Grill (at the St. Regis hotel), which is an upscale restaurant serving a French and Asian inspired cuisine. 
The food was just OK, nothing exceptional. 
But then, again, the view, the sunset... this was certainly the most spectacular feature.

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St. Regis Princeville - Kauai Grill, one of the restaurants where he had dinner. 
Although this is an upscale restaurant the food was OK, nothing special, but with such sunset views I really couldn't even care what food was in my plate or what wine was in my glass


We enjoyed a very good time at the St. Regis Bar and Lounge (Coco Mai Tai was very good).

At the suggestion of our concierge we tried a small place in the charming little coastal town of Kapa'a -- which Forbes magazine calls it "one of America's prettiest" -- and here, at the Country Kitchen, a quaint little eatery serving simple food, I tried the traditional Hawaiian Loco Moco that consists of white rice, topped with a hamburger patty, a fried egg, and brown gravy. Very good food. 

And by the way, it was very special afterwards to have the same Loco Moco at our hotel too and to see the twist a chef can give to an unpretentious dish: the Kauai North Shore Loco Moco at St.Regis was prepared with crab patty and shrimp gravy, and it was a wonderful take on the traditional Hawaiian meal.

And when we were too tired to leave the room (see the off-road adventure), or after our sight-seeing tours, we had room service.


HALELE'A SPA at ST. REGIS PRINCEVILLE

We started our stay at St. Regis Princeville with a couples massage at Halele'a Spa on the first day after we arrived, and a few days later we had another massage.

We visit luxury spas most of the time during our vacations, and I can only say that this experience was a good one, but not much more.
First time I had the Deep Tissue massage, and actually I was very disappointed, nothing was more than average really.
I would have not tried the Spa for the second time if it wasn't for my husband who enjoyed his first massage, which was the traditional Lomi Lomi.

Second time both my husband and I had the Lomi Lomi massage (or "Hawaiian" massage) and it was better, although the techniques, and the amount of time that was very wrongly allocated for the different parts of the body were far from what is to be expected in a place like St. Regis.

The waiting/relaxation room was very pleasant however.

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Halele'a Spa at St. Regis Princeville - the waiting/relaxation room
(photo via St. Regis website)


SIGHT-SEEING and ADVENTURES

The Off Road Adventure with Princeville Ranch Adventures was amazing.

It was an exhilarating off road ATV drive on their private ranch, plenty of exciting dips, turns and climbs, we got super muddy within the first few minutes...
... We enjoyed beautiful views of mountains and valleys...
... Then it started raining and now we started getting splashed by both mud and rain, and so the mud starting dripping on our faces and clothes, and this was not a two minute quick shower, but the rain lasted for about twenty minutes, we got soaking wet, and we starting being cold...
... Finally the skies started clearing up...
... We took two fast ziplines (450 feet /137 m long, we did them both twice) and here we were zipping over a pristine twin waterfall...
... We hiked thorough narrow rainforest paths, we crossed several streams where the water was knee-high, and then we reached a beautiful place with a waterfall and here we had a swim and a picnic.

After four hours we left super dirty and exhausted, but thrilled.

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The off-road adventure at Princeville Ranch - 
Our daughter is not happy that she has to wear a helmet, goggles, and bandana (how helpful these proved to be when we started getting splashed with mud in our faces, eyes, and mouths)

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The off-road adventure at Princeville Ranch -
One of our two guides explaining what we actually signed up for
(besides us two other ATV participated in the adventure) 

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The off-road adventure at Princeville Ranch -
Ready to get started

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The off-road adventure at Princeville Ranch - the ATV drive
(photo via Princeville Ranch website)

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The off-road adventure at Princeville Ranch - the ATV drive
(photo via Princeville Ranch website)


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The off-road adventure at Princeville Ranch - a stop to admire the scenery (and just starting to getting muddy)
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The off-road adventure at Princeville Ranch - a stop to admire the scenery

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The off-road adventure at Princeville Ranch - getting ready for ziplining

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The off-road adventure at Princeville Ranch - ziplining over a valley with a pristine waterfall

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The off-road adventure at Princeville Ranch - ziplining 

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The off-road adventure at Princeville Ranch - a stop for a swimming next to a waterfall

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The off-road adventure at Princeville Ranch - a stop for swimming


MORE of KAUA'I NATURAL BEAUTY

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Kaua'i natural beauty

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Kaua'i natural beauty

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Kaua'i natural beauty

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Kaua'i natural beauty

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Kaua'i natural beauty

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Kaua'i natural beauty

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Kaua'i natural beauty

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Kaua'i natural beauty


We allocated a full day for seeing Waimea Canyon (the Grand Canyon of the Pacific).

There are many small stops along the way from where the canyon can be enjoyed, and there are four main lookouts -- we drove up to the end and stopped at all of them -- each has unique, spectacular views.

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Waimea Canyon

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Waimea Canyon


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Waimea Canyon

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Waimea Canyon


The NaPali coast view from the Kalalau lookout... I have seen many beautiful places but this scenery simply left me in awe, it's the most majestic thing I have ever seen.
"There is no other place like this on Earth."


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NaPali Coast from the Kalalau lookout

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Napali Coast captured by the award-winning photographer Aaron Feinberg


AERIAL TOUR OF KAUA'I

A few days after seeing the Waimea Canyon we wanted to see more of the impressive natural beauty of Kaua'i and we took a helicopter tour with Sunshine Helicopters.

The tour took about an hour, and although the weather wasn't too good this time -- it was overcast, and it also rained for the first part of our tour -- more fantastic and unforgettable images of the island of Kaua'i that could be seen only from the helicopter, and more lush vegetation impressed on our memory.

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Helicopter Tour of Kaua'i with Sunshine Helicopters

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Helicopter Tour of Kaua'i

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Helicopter Tour of Kaua'i - getting ready for taking off

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Helicopter Tour of Kaua'i - my husband and I sat in front next to the pilot while our daughter sat behind us

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Helicopter Tour of Kaua'i

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Helicopter Tour of Kaua'i

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Helicopter Tour of Kaua'i

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Helicopter Tour of Kaua'i

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Helicopter Tour of Kaua'i

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Helicopter Tour of Kaua'i

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Helicopter Tour of Kaua'i

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Helicopter Tour of Kaua'i - the final loop before getting back


And at the end a few more personal photos from the time we spent at and around St. Regis Princeville...


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St. Regis Princeville

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St. Regis Princeville

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St. Regis Princeville

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St. Regis Princeville

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St. Regis Princeville - As with our stay at The Kahala in Oahu, I started each day with an hour of exercising in the morning (30 minutes running on the beach and 30 minutes swimming in the pool)

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St. Regis Princeville

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St. Regis Princeville

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St. Regis Princeville

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Very hard to say good-bye to St. Regis Princeville and Kaua'i,
"a place blessed with so much beauty you would only think it's possible in your fantastical imagination"

***