I recently returned from a trip to the Hawaiian island of Kauai. Populated with far more chickens that humans, this is definitely the most authentic look at Hawaii I have seen and truly the most laid back of the islands I have visited. In our time on the island of Kauai, we managed to sample a wide variety of Mai Tai cocktails and throughout our travels on the island came up with the list below chronicling the tastiness, price and location of some of the Mai Tais we threw down our drink holes. Use this guide as you plan for your vacation to Kauai as this is the definitive guide to the best Mai Tain on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.
Fruity but definitely not watered down. Two of these will sneak up on you and remind you that you are, in fact, drinking a tropical cocktail that is laden with alcohol. The 9th Island Bar and Grill is located in a strip mall adjacent to the Safeway grocery store in Kapa’a. If you ever get a hankering for a slice of the mainland while on the island of Kauai, this is the bar and grill for you. It doesn’t hurt that it’s owned by a guy with Minnesota roots who is originally from White Bear Lake, MN.
Smith's Family Luau
Free with admission
The food was the best of the three luaus I have attended in Hawaii and the Mai Tais were the second best of my entire trip to Kauai. You can grab two at a time from the open bar during dinner and it’s entirely possible to drink a dozen cocktails while you eat. While they may be a bit weaker than those which you pay for out of your own pocket at other bars and restaurants, the sheer quantity you can consume in a short amount of time will make up for the somewhat weak mix. They definitely do not lack in the flavor department, though. The show at the Smith Family Luau isn’t bad but not stellar either. I got a hearty laugh out of one of the cultures portrayed whose supposed claim to fame was being able to stroke a chicken to sleep.
Outrigger restaurant/bar - Oasis on the Beach
Tall and tasty. Mixed with a different blend of tropical juices than I had come to expect, possibly a bit heavy on pineapple. The setting is nice as the Outrigger Waipouli in Kapa’a sits just feet from the beach on the Pacific Ocean. This just so happens to be the very hotel/condo which we stayed at and I would definitely go back again as the Outrigger properties are definitely top notch (we honeymooned at Outrigger Reef on the Beach in Waikiki).
Rob’s Good Times Grill
Definitely tops as far as Mai Tai drinking is concerned on Kauai. A little sports bar tucked away next to a bowling alley in Lihue, an ad for Rob’s Good Times Grill ironically played on the radio as we pulled into the parking lot. A buddy of mine boasted about how these were the best Mai Tais he had had during his vacation and he should know as he was rarely seen without a Mai Tai in his hand.
Strong Mai Tais. Little if any juice. Good if you want to get rip-roaring drunk in paradise but not flavorful at all. A bit lacking in atmosphere as well as this bar, owned by Todd Rundgren, is located towards the back of a cute little shopping center in the north shore enclave of Princeville. The service was a bit slow at Tiki Iniki and a friend of mine discovered a little paper umbrella smashed in the bottom of one of his green ceramic Mai Tai glasses. That leads even the slowest person to believe that the glass had not been washed. A bit of a disgusting vision to be sure but, like I said, the Mai Tai from Tiki Iniki in Princeville on the island of Kauai was strong and full of alcohol. One short swig and I knew that this outing would be interesting.