American Airlines has launched a winter seasonal nonstop route from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport to Kaua'i, Hawaii, just in time for whale watching season.
The new route runs daily from December 2017 to March 2018, and the shorter flight leaves more time for visitors to discover Hawaii's oldest and least crowded island. With only 3 percent of the island developed for commercial and residential use, where no structure can be built more than four stories high — the height of a mature coconut tree — Kaua'i has been predominantly left untouched.
"Travelers who come to Kaua'i seek a new island experience," says Sue Kanoho, executive director of the Kaua'i Visitors Bureau. "From remarkable natural beauty to romantic escapes and thrilling adventures, our destination offers something for everyone."
Take an air tour and soar over the Napali Coast to marvel at the jagged cliffs, sparkling waterfalls, and lush tropical rainforest. The aerial view of the 3,467-foot-deep Waimea Canyon, known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, is spectacularly mind-bending. For the adventurous, hike the Waimea Canyon to get up-close-and-personal with the arid terrain or explore the thundering waters of Wailua or Opaekaa Falls. There is, of course, surfing all along the coastline. Hawaiians invented surfing after all.
But if you want to catch a smooth ride, try kayaking the Huleia River. Glide along the idyllic tree-lined stretches of silky water to the sounds of native birds. Take a gander through the National Tropical Botanical Gardens — Limahuli Garden in the North Shore and McBride & Allerton Gardens on the South Shore — which presents stellar examples of tropical flora. If you're a Jurassic Park fan, don't leave without a selfie in front of the giant Morton Bay fig trees, which were featured in the scene where the children found the dinosaur eggs.
Farm-to-table food hounds should time their trip to the Westin Princeville Resort Villa's twice-monthly He 'Aina Ola event. Held in partnership with the Waipa Foundation, the "Nourishing Feast" highlights local culture, history, and Kaua'i bounty. The epicurean journey begins with a tour of Waipa’s orchard and gardens and continues at Waipa’s Laukupu Hale Imu for a three-course meal with wine pairings prepared by the Westin's culinary team.
For a taste of Pacific-Rim cuisine, celebrity chef Sam Choy's newly opened Holoholo Grill features signature poke with a side of locally grown taro chips, and fish tacos with pineapple cabbage slaw and Sriracha mayo. And every day should include a big bowl of Hawaii's iconic staple, shaved ice. Snag one from Wailua Shave Ice, made with fresh local fruit, like the "Lava Flow," a colorful concoction of pineapple juice, coconut foam, and strawberry purée topped with fresh pineapple and strawberry.
For accommodations, Kaua'i runs the gamut of options. Budget travelers should stick to the East Side with lots of motel and vacation rentals. The restored workers cottages on a former sugar plantation at Waimea Plantation Cottages on the West Side features great value and charm in a lush tropical setting. Pricey North Shore offers the most dramatic topography and luxury options, like the St. Regis Princeville, which is surrounded by gorgeous scenery. Families should opt for South Side, where they'll find resorts like the newly finished Koloa Landing Resort, which offers roomy villas, children's swim areas, and close proximity to the beach.