Kauai's main attractions
The wettest and least commercial of the principal Hawaiian Islands, the 'Garden Island' of Kauai is
regarded as one of world's most beautiful islands with low-key resorts and a lush nature that has featured in many films. e.g. Jurassic Park. It offers secluded beaches with pristine sands, tropical rainforest vegetation and canyon hiking.
Statistically Kauai gets more rain than other Hawaiian Islands but this is rather misleading as most of the rain tends to fall in the uninhabited central rainforest region around Mt. Waieleale (around 400" per year) and much of the remainder falls at night in quick showers. Coastal regions, especially the drier west side, see as little as 18" a year.
Air temperatures range from 69F - 85F, (20C - 29C) while the ocean is a warm 71F - 81F (22C - 27C).
Napali Coast State Park: These magnificent green cliffs along 16 miles (24 km) of jagged northwest coast are so sheer that it is only accessible by land via the Kalalau Trail. Photo.
This 11 miles (18 kms) of challenging hiking is one of the best walks in Hawaii if not in the world. It begins at Ke'e Beach and ends at Kalalau Valley but can be taken in small sections. Try a popular roundtrip from Ke'e Beach to Hanakapi'ai Beach of 4 miles (6.5 km). More Kalalau Trail.
Alternatively you can explore the stunning coast from the water, taking boat tours year-round or kayaking in the calmer summer months.
Affluent non-econuts could take the ultimate Na Pali scenic tour by helicopter.
Waimea Canyon: an
awesome 3,000ft (900m) deep river canyon with red lava beds resembling the Grand Canyon with added waterfalls, staggering views and great wilderness hiking (though that's not necessary as lookouts, such as Kalalau and Pu'u O Kila, are superb if it's not foggy.
The Canyon Trail is reasonably easy or try Pihea Trail for something more challenging, starting at the Pu'u o Kila overlook (the end of Highway 550), in and out of volcanic craters and through a swamp
before reaching the staggering views at Kilohana Overlook. Located in west of the Island it's at least a half-day drive, more if you stop en route. Various activities are available such as river kayaking and canoeing. Photo.
Things to do in Kauai
Apart from the obvious choices of hanging out on superb beaches or hiking Waimea Canyon or Napali State Park:
- Cycling (along with walking or jogging) became suddenly easier in eastern Kauai in 2009 with the completion of the Ke Ala Hele Makalae trail, a lush and lovely 6 mile stretch of flat, paved track from Kapaa, Kealia and onwards.
- Mountain Tubing down an historic canal and tunnel waterway, the Hanamaulu ditch system, gives tourists a gentle ride with fantastic views.
- Eco-mentalist thrill-seekers enjoy ziplining above and through some of Kauai's rainforest canopies in various locations, North and South Shores as well as inland.
- Horseback riding tours from an hour to five hours can be found, especially around the huge, beautiful Princeville Ranch on the North Shore.
- Kayaking on one of Kauai's three rivers - particularly the Wailua - is safe and scenic while bigger boats or yachts can be found for panoramic open-sea tours of the amazing Napali coast or whale watching trips in winter time.
- Hula dance apparently originated on Kauai, so there are many shows and dance training opportunities around the island, as well as Polynesian celebrations called luaus that include music, festive feasts, hula and other traditional dances.
- Golf is a popular activity on this island for a certain age group, with ten
excellent courses, including two beauties designed by Jack Nicklaus and Robert Trent Jones and one 27 hole resort course fit for masochists.
Lumahai Beach: a dazzling, wild beach
that featured in the 'South Pacific' movie, this is Kauai's most photogenic beach. However, due to its fierce waves and strong currents it is unsafe even for experienced swimmers and surfers.
Ke'e Beach: a classic, azure reef lagoon
washing onto cream sand and backed by molten green mountains; this is a superb snorkelling site. It's at the end of the road on Kauai's North Shore. Photo.
Secret Beach (Kauapea): absolutely stunning but quite tricky to get to (15 minutes walk down a dirt road off 'one' (south or east!) of the Kalihiwai Roads, near Kilauea town) and the surf/sea is VERY powerful and unsafe.
Poipu Beach Park: a large swimmer-friendly beach in Kauai's most popular resort area along the sunny South Shore, with fine facilities, good soft sand and small tidal pools which are great for small children. Offshore reefs make snorkelling, diving and fishing calm while plenty of fish, monk seals and turtles make it interesting; its steady wind is ideal for windsurfing, but it does get crowded.
Hanalei Bay Beach: a 2 mile crescent-moon bay near the Napali Coast in a gorgeous setting and an excellent beach to swim, snorkel and surf from. The town of Hanalei is an enchanting little place and an ideal base for exploring the Na Pali Coast. Photo.
||GAA operate two good value, adventurous 8 day cruises around the Hawaiian Islands, including guided hiking trips, snorkeling, kayaking, paddle-boards and more: Cruise North | Cruise South
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