Nothing says romance like a Kauai vacation . . . And though you and your spouse have been married for years (and years), after a fun day swimming together in the ocean followed by mai tais in the lava rock jacuzzi back at your resort, you both feel young-and-in-love again. Without your 87 kids around, your conversations are deeper, more flirty and less interrupted.
All of this makes you happy . . . and hungry. So later when you’re lazing on the couch in your ocean-view villa and your spouse says, “How about a romantic dinner out tonight?” you are all in.
“Do you have reservations?” you ask.
“No,” he says, straight-faced. “I’m sure I want to have dinner with you.”
You hit him with the pillow.
And before you can laugh it’s an all out pillow fight.
Party of Two
You ask the concierge to suggest some romantic restaurants nearby.
“Trust me,” she says, “with all the honeymooners around here, romantic is not hard to find.”
Here is her list of the most romantic restaurants on the South Shore:
The Beach House
5022 Lawai Rd, Koloa (808) 742-1424 Beach House Website
If you are lucky enough to reserve a table here timed with the sunset, you are lucky enough. A favorite wedding spot, this charming Pacific-Rimmer perched just above Lawai Beach delivers in every category: delicious cuisine, gracious Hawaiian service, and sweeping ocean views over a meadow that lights up with tiki torches at dusk. It almost feels like having your own, well, beach house.
At the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa, 1571 Poipu Rd, Poipu (808) 240-6456 Tidepools website
What is it about a thatched-roof hut over water that feels so romantic? This unique space floats above a koi-filled lagoon just beyond the spray of a waterfall. The only thing as sexy as the digs is the cuisine: a modern take on traditional Hawaiian cooking with gorgeous presentations. And doesn’t their Forbidden Rice sound almost like a dare?
5492 Koloa Road in Old Koloa Town 808 742-8824 La Spezia website
This quaint little corner of Italy is actually quite at home in Old Koloa Town, and it feels like an insider secret. All the pasta is made in house and includes short rib ravioli, a rich lasagne and spaghetti laden with local clams. Vintage chandeliers cast a warm glow and the well-curated wine offerings keep the cozy conversation flowing well into the evening. Romantico!
Merriman’s Fish House
At the Shops at Kukuiula, 2829 Ala Kalanikaumaka Road, Koloa Merriman’s website
Light, airy and elegant, you feel somewhere special at this well-loved, white-cloth seafooder. Creative hand-crafted cocktails set the tone for a culinary adventure as Chef Peter Merriman puts forth an array of palate-pleasers like seasonal ceviche, lobster-and-crab cakes and live raw oysters. Ask for a table on the lanai and after the sun sets on the awe-inspiring view, the candlelight eases you into a fresh new layer of ambiance. More oysters, please.
Eating House 1849
At the Shops at Kukuiula, 2829 Ala Kalanikaumaka Road in Koloa (808) 742-5000 Eating House 1849 website
True foodies will find this Roy Yamaguchi outpost romantic not just because of its cool industrial-meets-tropical interior and wonderful views, but because of the sensual food. An alluring variety of textures, flavors, temperatures and presentations co-exist here. Share a big messy bowl of the unctuous spicy ramen: it may bring to mind the dinner scene from Lady and the Tramp — one of the most romantic film moments ever involving noodles.
At the Ko`a Kea Hotel & Resort: 2251 Poipu Road, Koloa 877-276-0768 Red Salt website
Recently featured on Food Network, this grown-up eatery by Executive Chef and Kauai native Noelani Planas, serves up elevated seafood and local produce. Enjoy modern dishes like vanilla bean-seared mahi mahi, coconut curry bisque and a silky ahi tartare. The vast palm tree-lined ocean view is a marvel, and you may find yourself lingering as you feed each other spoonfuls of caramel glazed passion fruit cheesecake. Mmmmm.
3610 Rice St, Lihue (808) 246-9599 Duke’s Kauai website
With its palm-studded view across Kalapaki Beach and throwback vibe to the Hawaii of yore, you half expect Elvis Presley to pull up a chair here and serenade you while you dine. And as he crooned his Blue Hawaii classic, “I can’t help falling in love with you . . . ” you would find the lyrics oddly applicable to the slow-roasted prime rib and glazed lobster tail you’re enjoying. “Thank you. Thank you very much.”
Honorable Mention: The Holoholo Grill
At Koloa Landing Resort, 2641 Poipu Rd, Koloa (808) 742-2538 Holoholo Grill website
The concierge confides that she loves to come to the Holoholo on her days off with her fiance. They order poke, truffle fries and a couple of Ginger Mint Palomas, and cozy up on the lounge chairs near the grotto waterfall and flickering tiki torches. “What could be more romantic than that?”
Spend some quality time together over delicious food and drink, and then head back to your romantic villa at Koloa Landing Resort. Of course, you could always just stay in and order room service . . .
Erica Karlin — Koloa Landing Resort