Top 10 Activities You Must Do
(From Kauai Podcast: Episode 4)
10. Hike the shoreline from Shipwreck Beach: Located at the eastern end of Poipu Road fronting the Hyatt, this is an awesome place to go for a short hike. An easy stroll to the east along the edge of the brush where it meets the beach takes you up to an awesome view at the end of Makawehi Point, a popular fishing spot. From there you can hike back along rocky cliffs at the shoreline for some surreal coastline hiking. The area here is dry and rocky, with a brambly, sagebrush type feel. The shoreline is rugged with birds flying everywhere. Hiking along this coast, watching the waves crash into the short cliffs below you is amazing.
9. Waimea Canyon and Pu’u o Kila lookout: Drive Hwy 550 to the Pu’u o Kila lookout, stopping at he Waimea Canyon lookout to take some pics and look around. The drive is the enjoyment here, so have fun with it and stop to take pics along the way. The Pu’u o Kila lookout offers a breathtaking view (but stay away from the edge) down the mountain ridges of the Napali coast. This is a great place to watch a sunset and is also the beginning of the trail to Alakai Swamp (not recommended to do after watching the sunset).
8. Hideaways Beach and Queens Bath: Both of these activities can be done in half a day because of their proximity to each other. Both are located inside the Princeville resort area, on Kauai’s north side. Hideaways is a tiny beach which would have a secret spot feel if not for the fact that there are often others there. It is located via a short hike on a steep trail immediately outside the entrance to the parking lot for the Princeville Hotel. The hike to the beach is part of the adventure, and when you arrive at Hideaways, you are treated to a tiny but picturesque beach, outlined by rocky walls with large leaf, tropical trees hanging overhead giving plenty of shade. Queens Bath isn’t a beach at all, rather a pool formed in the lava rock which provides a cool experience in calm waters. You will be treated to warnings of drownings in high waters on your way to the pools. Heed them. Like Hideaways, the hike to Queens Bath is short, steep, and part of the adventure. On the way down the roughly 15 minute hike, you will surely want to stop and take pictures when you pass a gorgeous waterfall on your right. When you get to the bottom, hike along the shoreline to your left. The first “kind of a pool” you will see at the immediate bottom of the trail is not it. The trail head to Queens Bath is marked and located on Kapiolani Road. Parking is severely limited.
7. Hanalei: The home of the mythical “Puff the Magic Dragon”, Hanalei really does seem like it was taken right out of a fairy tale. Set smack in the middle of upscale paradise, Hanalei gives you that away from everything, small town, tropical island feel without the stress of feeling like a cartel of drug lords could kidnap you any minute. Whether shopping the stores on it’s main street, strolling along Hanalei Bay and out on Hanalei Pier, or relaxing and grabbing a bite to eat, stopping here is a must. If you are traveling towards Haena Beach Park or Ke’e Beach at the end of the road, be sure to stop here and stock up on food or drink, because it is also basically your last chance. For an additional experience, try renting a kayak at Kayak Kauai for the day and paddling the Hanalei River to the mouth of the bay.
6. Hike the Kalalau Trail: Rated a 9 out of 10 in difficulty by the Sierra Club, this trail which starts at Ke’e Beach (the end of the road on the north side) extends for 11 miles along the rugged Na Pali coast and ends at Kalalau Beach. Many people simply (or not so simply) hike in two miles to Hanakapi’ai Beach, and then take a two mile side trail inland to Hanakapi’ai Falls if they feel up for it.
5. Burger, Beer, and Hula Pie at Dukes – Kalapaki Beach: An awesome place to grab a bite and enjoy paradise. Grabbing a burger and a drink at the bar downstairs and looking out on Nawiliwilli Bay will give you memories you will never forget. It truly feels like paradise. The food is great and the Hula Pie is more addicting than crack. Be careful, one slice and you’ll find yourself selling your HDTV for more.
4. Watch the sunset at Ke’e Beach: The road to the north side ends at Ke’e Beach, which is both the end of the road and the beginning of the Na Pali Coastline. A gorgeous beach, long and slender, backed by trees and bordered on the south by tall cliffs with all sorts of tropical trees growing from them, this is the ideal place to watch a sunset. Walk about 1/8 mile (half a lap) to the north for an amazing view down the Na Pali Coast. Sitting here relaxing, listening to the sounds of the surf and smelling a gentle sea breeze is the best! As you watch the waves crash against the cliffs of Na Pali with the sunset’s inspiring colors dancing off them, you can’t help but think, “Life doesn’t get any better than this.”.
3. Na Pali by Water: It would be a tragedy to take a trip to Kauai and not take some sort of boat trip down the Na Pali coastline. There is a reason that this amazing coastline, with tall cliffs and valleys that plummet right into the ocean, has been featured in so many movies, and the only way to truly experience it and admire its beauty is by water. I would recommend leaving from the north side of the island rather than the south. You will get to view much more of the lusher side of the coastline. I would also recommend taking the trip via a smaller boat that offers to go into the sea caves should water conditions allow it. If you are in decent shape (You don’t have to be in Olympic athlete shape, but it is strenuous.) a trip kayaking the coastline is one you will remember forever.
2. Kayak the Wailua River and hike to Secret Falls: This is a very popular guided tour on Kauai and you will see promotions for this tour everywhere. Don’t do the guided tour. Reserve a kayak well ahead of time (they only allow a set number of unguided kayaks on the Wailua River) and do it solo. My favorite place to rent a kayak is at Wailua Kayak Adventures. Paddle up the river approximately two miles and take the fork to the right just after passing the old Hawaiian village. Follow this smaller fork to the end, staying right when it forks again, and pull ashore when you cant paddle any more. You can’t miss it as there will plenty of other kayaks parked here from guided tours. From here the hike is about a mile (rough guess) along a mostly well marked and easy to follow trail. (If you have any questions, someone will likely come along to ask) The trail is beautiful, taking you through lush tropical vegetation, crossing over several streams and running along side a river for a part of it. (see the pic on my “about” page) At the end you will be treated to a beautiful lunch spot at Secret Falls …which is about the most un-secret fall on the island. Nevertheless, this kayak and hike is one I never tire of when I visit Kauai. When you get back to your kayak, paddle north to see the fern grotto (not really worth it as a trip of it’s own, but since you’re here its a nice stop) and onward up the river through some gorgeous spots, and maybe even a rope swing. If you are thinking of paddling Na Pali, but haven’t kayaked before with your partner, do this first as a warm up …and a test of whether you and your significant other can paddle together without killing each other.
1. Snorkeling at Tunnels Beach: This is my favorite snorkeling spot on all the islands in the summer months when the surf is calm. It’s wide variety of sea life which is present in astounding numbers and it’s gorgeous underwater channels make it an absolute heaven. You can even get an eyeful by merely snorkeling 15 feet offshore. Adding to the amazing snorkeling conditions is the incomparable beauty of the beach, long and picturesque, crescent shaped, and backed by tall jungle cliffs with vines hanging down and palm trees and money trees growing right out of them. A day spent here is one you will never forget.