For our last few days in Kauai we decided to explore the island outside of our beautiful resort. One day, we bravely attempted a surfing lesson at a nearby beach (and survived)! The next day we went on a helicopter tour to get a bird’s eye view of the spectacular waterfalls, valleys, canyons, mountains, rain forests and secluded beaches- most only accessible by air. Then we rented a car- highly recommended- to explore the neighbouring towns at our own pace and see some of the helicopter sights at “up-close.” We mapped out a route of must-see places (including the cave where Johnny Depp, a.k.a Captain Jack Sparrow, searched for the ‘Fountain of Youth’ in the Pirates flick, ‘On Stranger Tides’) with our concierge, Holly, along the island’s only highway- a ~2-hour drive that takes you around almost the entire island before you have to turn back (= no driving over the beautiful and rugged NaPali Coast – see photo above right).
Along with my own ‘road trip snacks’ from the hotel gift shop, these are the gluten-free foods I enjoyed (and did not enjoy 😦 ) while exploring the island:
- Sweet Marie’s Hawaii Restaurant & Bakery (3-3204 Kuhio Highway, Lihue): Spinach lasagna with a side of organic greens + snickerdoodles, cookies and muffins to go + the cutest little gingerbread house you have ever seen (see pictures above)! I cannot say enough about how amazing this place it! Sweet Marie is just as her name suggests – sweet! With the 100% gluten-free menu, this is a must-stop for GF peeps traveling to Kauai. Plus, it is the perfect stop after a helicopter tour since it is so close to the airport. (Note: check the hours before going as it is not open every day of the week.)
- Harvest Market Natural Foods & Cafe (5-5161 Kuhio Hwy, Hanalei): Fresh and local fruits and veggies for the road + Surf Sweets organic gummy worms. This place was busy with locals and tourists alike. Inside: a salad and smoothie bar!
- Living Foods Market & Cafe (The Shops at Kukuiula, Koloa): Justin’s organic, dark chocolate peanut butter cups and Herbert’s pink lemonade. This place had a good selection of island-grown, gourmet foods- including a hot-food section and roasted coffee bar, as well as shelves full of goodies. *Spotted: the tropical cousin of Gorilla Munch, called Amazon Flakes (have never seen this in Toronto, have you?)*
- Note: We were excited to find out that “Merriman’s Cafe”, also at The Shops at Kukuiula, had gluten-free options, but when we went there and inquired about the preparation of the GF pizza the waitress (at least honestly) said it would still be contaminated with gluten- no thanks.
- Java Kai (4-1384 Kuhio Hwy, Kapaa): <sigh> Sadly, one bite of a vegetable falafel on a GF wrap. I was reminded of a valuable lesson in GF dining here – always ALWAYS ask about every detail that you are unsure of, even if it seems redundant. Hungry from our travels to the North Shore (and “Johnny Depp’s cave”), we stopped in Kapaa mid-way back ‘home’ to grab a quick bite. Not having ever tried a falafel and unfamiliar with the way it was traditionally prepared, I asked the girl at the front what it consisted of after thoroughly explaining my gluten-free needs. She reassured me that it was “just chickpeas” and that it would “be prepared safely” for me, so I decided it would be okay to try (as my stomach grumbled on). Well, after taking my first bite into the “safe” dish, I realized that the ‘just chickpeas”‘ were also rolled into little fried balls (…and how exactly are they sticking together? I thought). So I went back to the front to confirm that they were indeed GF: “OH NO they’re NOT!” the girl told me with her hand to her head, “…Let’s get you something else to eat.” UMMMMMM, how about ‘let’s get me the hell out of here and back to the resort in case I react NOW!’ Are you kidding me; the day before I am about to fly back to Toronto, ELEVEN hours in the air, and this happens now?! As she voluntarily handed me my money back she added, “I’m so sorry, I’m also gluten intolerant and I know how bad even a small amount of gluten can make people react”… but this was not what I needed to hear. Now I could have reacted to this incident in two ways: calmly and rationally OR freak out! I chose the latter. I did however have the sense to pop three Gluten Defense enzymes immediately as tears streamed down my face with the uneasy anticipation of what was to inevitably come (note: a very good idea to travel with Gluten Defense or a similar digestive enzyme and take right away upon possibly contamination or even for safe-keeping when you think the item you are eating is totally safe). My husband floored it the hour drive back to the resort, my head out the window with thoughts of me holding up the plane the next day because I couldn’t get out of the bathroom for take-off (as I said, I chose the ‘freak out’ option). Thankfully, I made it back to the resort, but stayed curled up in a ball under the sheets the rest of the night with stomach cramps and a killer migraine (damn falafel). Countless hours and bottles of water later, I was ready to try eating something else… which is where the Grand Hyatt Kauai ACTUALLY GF-safe room service came in handy (as I mentioned in Part 3). Thankfully, I did make it back to Toronto without a major reaction, but was violently ill about three days later (…related?)
Minus the last incident, all-in-all, it was an AMAZING honeymoon with lots of delicious and safe gluten-free items to eat. It can be difficult to travel with allergies or intolerances so it is helpful to plan ahead to make sure you will be comfortable while traveling (see previous post, ‘Tips for Safe GF Travel’).
Hope you enjoyed reading about my gluten-free experiences traveling to San Francisco, Waikiki, and Kauai (both at the resort and on-the-road). Feel free to share your gluten-free travel experiences below…