Joyce Masyga of Endless Travel // © 2015 Joyce Masyga
Feature image (above): First-time Kauai visitors should book a catamaran tour along the Napali Coast. // © 2015 Andy’s Sailing Adventures
Growing up in a small Wisconsin town, Joyce Masyga always liked reading about faraway places. Masyga — who sees travel as the perfect way to explore the mysteries of people and cultures around the world — eventually turned that curiosity into a career, joining forces with other travel specialists to create Endless Travel in Evergreen, Colo.
A Hawaii Destination Specialist, Masyga has also earned her Master Specialist status from Kauai and Hawaii Island. In May 2015, she will return to the islands to earn Master status with Maui, Molokai and Lanai.
We caught up with Masyga in between trips to find out how she creates first-time vacations to Kauai.
Why would you recommend Kauai to clients who have never visited it before?
Kauai is an island blessed with stunning scenery. It’s a laid-back place with four distinctive areas to explore. It features a range of attractions and activities with an emphasis on nature. It’s not as touristy as other destinations. Instead, clients can enjoy exploring the island at the pace they like.
How many days should travelers set aside to visit Kauai?
For clients who have never been to Kauai, I recommend that they devote a minimum of five days. That way, they can spend at least one full day getting to know each of the four regions of the island: the north, south, east and west. It’s the kind of place where you want to take your time getting to know it.
What sorts of travelers are best suited for Kauai?
Kauai is an ideal fit for clients who love nature. It’s also perfect for travelers who like adventure, especially hikers.
I suggest it to travelers who like a slower pace and who enjoy stopping for a view or wandering around a quaint town. For clients who are focused on daytime activities rather than nightlife, it’s a great option.
What hotels do you recommend for first-time visitors to Kauai?
My go-to places are the Sheraton Kauai Resort on the south shore and Kauai Beach Resort on the east side. In each case, I like the location, beautiful grounds, laid-back atmosphere and moderate pricing.
For condominiums, I recommend Waipouli Beach Resort & Spa Kauai by Outrigger on the south shore because of its modern accommodations and proximity to the beach walk.
On the west side, I suggest Waimea Plantation Cottages, a truly unique property that is quiet and peaceful. I also like the affordability and location of Lae Nani Resort Kauai by Outrigger on the east side.
What are some must-do activities and attractions that you suggest for first-time Kauai visitors?
I make sure clients drive to Waimea Canyon State Park and, if they are active, encourage them to explore some of its hiking trails. I always recommend a catamaran sail along the Napali Coast, where you are almost sure to see dolphins and, at certain times of the year, whales.
I also recommend one of the island’s beautiful botanical gardens, each of which has an interesting story, as well as its lush parks and sculpture gardens.
Which Kauai eateries do you recommend?
Kauai’s food trucks are friendly and well-priced. The Shrimp Station, which has roadside stands in Waimea and Kapaa, serves the best coconut shrimp anywhere.
For sit-down restaurants, The Feral Pig Pub & Diner in Lihue serves fresh island food, and Bar Acuda in Hanalei is a lot of fun. When clients want a world-class restaurant, I tell them about Josselin’s Tapas Bar & Grill in Poipu, where they can order lots of small plates.