A six-hour nonstop flight between (LAX) and Lihue Airport (LIH) is all that stands in between you and Hawaii’s Garden Isle, Kauai. Kauai is the oldest and northernmost island in the main Hawaiian chain and is known for its white sand beaches, charming towns, and breathtaking scenery.
While smoking regulations will make enjoying a cigar anywhere in Hawaii a challenge, there’s plenty more to do and see around Kauai that makes it a great summer getaway. Between its amazing beaches, posh resorts, spas, and iconic golf courses, now’s the time to see what the lush garden island has to offer.
Kauai is for those who love warm temperatures. Year-round, the average temperatures range between 69 and 84 degrees Fahrenheit. Those who’ve frequented Hawaii can attest to the islands’ humidity, but the light winds in Kauai keep the humidity down and temperatures cool for travelers. It’s easy to get to the island, as many airlines offer nonstop service to Kauai, including Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, and WestJet Airlines. LIH is Kauai’s main airport. While the island has shuttles and taxis, renting a car will enable you to explore more of the island at your leisure.
What to Do
OK, so you can’t light up a cigar with ease on the island. Big deal—there’s plenty more to do that will keep you busy and entertained throughout your stay on Kauai. Experience the beauty of the island from the water. Snorkeling, diving, surfing, and mountain tubing—Kauai doesn’t disappoint for those who are fond of stunning beaches and rivers. Kauai is popular among surfers of all levels. Kiahuna Beach is great for beginners, while more advanced surfers should head to Polihale Beach, though beware of its powerful currents and big waves.
If you want to stick to land activities, the island is your playground. Go off-road aboard an all-terrain vehicle or on horseback. Take in the island’s splendor on foot. Explore over 40 miles of paths and scenic views of the island at Kōkeʻe State Park. For those looking for a great workout, take on the Kalalau Trail, an 11-mile trek along the Nāpali Coast.
Where to Stay
Kauai has five major resort areas: North Shore (Princeville), East Side (Kapaa/Coconut Coast), Lihue (Kalapaki), South Shore (Po’ipū), and West Side (Waimea). Experience the best of the island at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa. Stunning views of the ocean, great dining, and a championship golf course—everything you need for a memorable stay is on hand at the Grand Hyatt. A can’t-miss experience while you’re staying at the hotel is the Grand Hyatt Kauai Luau, which takes place on Sundays and Thursdays. This show will give you an authentic Polynesian revue including a dinner buffet, musical entertainment, and cocktails.
Located on the northern shore of Kauai, St. Regis Princeville brings sophistication and serene luxury to Kauai. Guests can partake in a wide range of activities, from kayaking down the Hanalei River to horseback riding through the Na Molokama mountain range. While staying at the St. Regis, try one of the resort’s five-star restaurants. Many attest to the quality of the tasting menu at the island-inspired eatery, the Kauai Grill. Enjoy a cocktail at sunset at the St. Regis Bar, where local artists entertain the guests nightly. The Napali Café can prepare a custom picnic lunch for you to take with you while you explore the island.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Kauai is April to June or September to November due to pleasant weather and lower airfare and accommodation rates. Expect higher rates from December to March, as well as higher travel rates.
No Passport Required
Since Hawaii is part of the United States, U.S. citizens will not need a passport to travel to Kauai. If you’re visiting the island from outside of the U.S. or traveling to another country after your trip to the island, a passport should be packed.
Kauai is warm year-round, so pack clothes that are fit for summer. A light, waterproof jacket or sweater for the evenings is recommended. Casual dress clothes are all you will need for any fine dining experiences—suits and ties are rarely worn on Kauai. If you plan to do any hiking, pack a rain poncho.
Kauai’s waterfalls, mountains, and rain forests have attracted the eye of Hollywood over the years. Several big films have been filmed on the island, including South Pacific, Jurassic World, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.
Cigars in Kauai
Due to smoking bans and regulations, smoking anywhere in Hawaii, including Kauai, is difficult. Despite the challenges, there’s the Kauai Cigar Company owned by Les Drent. We asked Drent about his company and what cigar enthusiasts can expect when visiting Kauai.
Cigars & Leisure: Many people traveling to Kauai are not aware of how strict the anti-smoking laws are in Kauai and other Hawaiian islands. For those traveling to Kauai, what should they expect if they’re looking to smoke?
Drent: Smoking is prohibited within 20 feet of any public building. Most hotels accommodate an outdoor smoking area with seating for cigars. Those staying at private rentals and condominiums have a bit more freedom. I mostly observe people smoking cigars along beach walks at hotels. The Grand Hyatt Kauai in Po’ipū is the best for designated smoking accommodations.
Are there any clubs, lounges, bars, or social clubs for cigar smokers in Kauai?
For the most part, no. Cigar smoking is permitted in cigar shops in Hawaii. My company has an additional farm that we purchased a year ago that we’ve been discussing the possibility of developing into our agriculture processing center that would include a cigar lounge.
Despite the laws, you started the Kauai Cigar Company. What inspired you to start the company, and what’s been the response so far?
It’s been 12 years since we first started, and 10 years since our cigars have been in the market. I started it on a whim because of my own personal enjoyment. The business has now grown into five farms and a business that includes around 175 stores in Hawaii that sell our cigars.
Tell us about Kauai Cigar Company’s cigar lines.
We have four brands: Island Prince, Makaleha, Hawaiian Vintage Series, and the Grand Alii, all available in various sizes and shapes. All are comprised of proprietary blends that feature Kauai-grown tobacco as binders and filler. We do not produce enough wrapper tobacco for production, but that is our intention with the Grand Alii. The Grand Alii, which was first produced and sold in 2006, is a line that will eventually feature 100 percent Kauai-grown and -made cigars. We’ve temporarily ended the production of this cigar and will not reintroduce it until we are fully satisfied with its quality. The Island Prince is sold exclusively in Hawaii and direct from us.
You also produce some great coffee, another passion for many cigar enthusiasts. Do you see any similarities between producing quality, premium coffee and cigars?
Besides pairing a latte made with our coffee with one of our cigars at 10 in the morning, there’s not much similarity between the two. The cost of labor, land, and the government makes producing cigars in Hawaii costly. Outside of hand-picking, the coffee process is more automated and much simpler.
Producing quality tobacco and making cigars is a hands-on labor of love. We are very fortunate to have a great relationship with our factory in Estelí. While we grow, cure, and first-ferment, they handle everything from the second sweat to the final boxed and packaged cigar. Without that side, Kauai Cigar Company would not exist.
And where can cigar enthusiasts find these cigars?
Pretty much everywhere in Hawaii. There’s a list on our website (kauaicigar.com/retailers) that really needs updating because we’ve added a ton of stores.
For those visiting Kauai, do you have one overall travel tip or recommendation of something to do or experience while on the island?
Enjoy the beautiful outdoors and the scenery. We have great hiking and kayaking opportunities here. Our beaches and golfing are obviously world-class. In my mind, the best place to enjoy a cigar in the outdoors is up in Kōkeʻe. The air is typically moist and cool, with very little wind. Smoking in Hawaii’s state parks is prohibited, but nothing gives me more pleasure than breaking their ridiculous rules.
I also operate a lobbying arm in hawaiicigarassociation.org. After 25 years in the islands I still refuse to shed my New Hampshire “Live Free or Die” roots.
If you’re traveling to Kauai and want to visit the Kauai Cigar Company farm, call (800) 750-5662 ahead of time to arrange for a tour. For more information, visit kauaicigar.com.
Kauai Golf Courses
Kauai is home to some of the world’s best golf courses. Whether you’re looking to play on beautiful resort courses or at more affordable independent ones, each course on Kauai offers unforgettable views of the beautiful Garden Isle. Tee off at these Kauai golf destinations:
Makai Golf Club
St. Regis Princeville
4080 Lei O Papa Road
Princeville, Kauai, HI 96722
Considered one of Hawaii’s premier golf destinations, the Makai course has topped many top 100 lists and has been ranked highly by publications such as Golf Digest. The course’s layout capitalizes on the spectacular views of Kauai’s north shore and was extensively renovated in 2010. Take advantage of one of the travel packages offered at makaigolf.com.
Poipu Bay Golf Course
Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa
2250 Ainako St.
Koloa, HI 96756
Prepare yourself for a unique golfing adventure at this stunning golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. Lush, emerald mountains and rolling plateaus serve as a breathtaking backdrop to this golf course, where the best of the best golfers in the PGA Grand Slam of Golf have played in the past. For more information on this award-winning course, visit poipubaygolf.com.
Prince Golf Course at Princeville at Hanalei
5-3900 Kuhio Highway
Princeville, HI 96722
Wailua Golf Course
3-5350 Kuhio Highway
Lihue, HI 96756
Kiahuna Golf Club
2545 Kiahuna Plantation Drive
Koloa, HI 96756
Kukuiolono Golf Course
854 Puu Road
Kalaheo, HI 96741
Puakea Golf Course
4150 Nuhou St.
Lihue, HI 96766
You’ve been to Hawaii, how about Ibiza?