Hawaii: Is the Garden Isle of Kauai your next vacation destination?
Updated: Oct 5, 2018
The islands of Hawaii have summoned you as your next vacation destination have they?
Now the hard part, choosing one island to spend time relaxing or adventuring in arguably the most beautiful place on earth. After being wowed by the remarkably engaging island of Oahu in our last blog, come with us to a quieter island, known as the Garden Isle; Magical Kauai.
KAUA’I - The Garden Isle
The oldest island of the great Hawaiian archipelago is also the rainiest of the bunch and one of the wettest places on earth. Mother Nature has had time to perfect her miraculous artwork here after 6 million years.
Compared to the close to one million residents that live in the "Gathering Place" of Oahu, Kaua’i's population of roughly 65,000 will leave you charmed with a genuine small town feeling that will have you day dreaming for years to come.
Culture and History
With the largest city population of about 11,000 you will find a truly authentic Polynesian island vibe in Kaua’i.
Kayak or take a tour up the Wailua River where you will plunge into ancient sacred history, including temples, and two royal centers home to the high chief of the ancient Hawaiians.
The Maha'ulepu Heritage Trail will take you on a gorgeous coastal 10-mile reflection of the last 10,000 years starting with the Maha’ulepu voyagers through the rich plantation era to the current culture of the island. Hike, bike or drive through this jungle paradise and experience some of the most phenomenal coastal views on the island.
Experience more of the great history of the ancient Hawaiians at the Kaua’i Museum that also takes visitors from the ancient Kaua’ians to the plantation era.
With only two 5-star resorts on the north and southern coast, you will be saturated with the remarkable Kaua’ian culture during your entire stay.
To truly enjoy the entire culture and beauty of the island, we highly recommend renting a car, don’t be fooled into thinking renting a Jeep will get you to the secret places, be sure to check the contract of where you can and cannot drive before setting out for an off road adventure.
Enjoy the most beautiful turquoise and golden jewels on the stunning beaches available on Kaua’i.
One of the most incredible views you may ever see in your entire life is waiting for you at Han’alei Bay. This is the largest bay on Kauai and is recognized as one of the best beaches in all of Hawaii. The cliffs and mountains that surround this giant 2-mile beach of golden sand, along with the charm of the quaint small town of Han’alei will leave you feeling as if you were dreaming.
Break away from the popular beach destinations and from all the hype at the remote Polihale Beach. Though a little more difficult to access, the largest beach in Kauai will leave you breathless with it’s 100-foot sand dunes that you don’t have to share with many other people. Take caution to heed the warnings about swimming in this area. The Queens pool is the only placed deemed safe for swimming as there are strong currents and rip currents on Polihale beach. Camping is another adventure you can have while visiting the Polihale State Park, though a permit is required.
Tunnels Beach (Makua) with lava tubes that have developed underwater caverns is known as one of the best spots to snorkel and scuba dive on the island of Kaua’i. Accessible from the Haena Beach Park, make sure you catch a sunset while visiting this beautiful beach embellished with Ironwood trees and swaying Palms. Thanks to the great winds here, this beach is loved by many surfers, kite boarders and wind surfers.
For current reports of the best surf breaks on Kaua’i check www.surfline.com
While adventuring and hiking on the Na Pali Coast, a dip in the incredible turquoise waters of Ke’e beach will surely be a highlight of your trip on the Northern Shore. Starting at Ke’e Beach enjoy a flat 2-mile hike along the beach to Hanakapi’ai Beach, from there you can adventure along the strenuous trail to the 300’ water falls. Although swimming at Hanakapi’ai Beach is NOT advisable, you can take a dip in the cooling pool under the falls.
If you are looking to learn how to surf, or searching for some calmer waters to swim, boogie board or stand up paddleboard while on your trip, Kalapaki bay near Lihue has perfect waters protected by a break wall. While here make sure to join the locals for their long-time favorite lunch at the Kalapaki Beach Hut.
Poipu Beach is the most popular beach on the Southern Coast and has been named one of the top ten beaches nationwide by the Travel Channel. Every possible water adventure you can think of is enjoyed on this amazing beach bustling with people and napping Hawaiian monk seals. Some of the best snorkeling on the island is the Po’ipu Beach Park teeming with schools of tropical fish, eels, and sea turtles.
Make sure to check out the Spouting Horn a blow hole created in the lava formation over 50’ high.
· Han’alei Bay Beach
· Polihale Beach
· Tunnels Beach
· Ke’e beach
· Hanakapi’ai Beach
· Poipu Beaches
Hiking & Adventures
A trip to Kauai wouldn’t be complete without a helicopter flight over the Waimea Canyon. Explore hidden secrets only seen by helicopter, lush valleys dotted with waterfalls, the colorful canyon and razor sharp Na Pali coast.
After your flight we still would recommend the drive down Highway 550 through Waimea Canyon to gain a different perspective on this magical 3,000’ deep canyon known as the Grand of the Pacific. Don’t turn around at the look-out point like everyone else, venture on and gain one of the most magnificent viewpoints available on the island at the Koke’e State Park. Here you may see one of the best sunsets you have seen in your entire life, with the Na Pali coast as the backdrop and commanding views of The Kalalau Valley.
The Sleeping Giant or Nounou Mountain offers 3 different hiking trails that converge together near the top where after this 1,000’ foot elevation gain, you are rewarded with panoramic views of Wailua Bay and the Hoary Head Mountains, among the thick hillside jungle.
Proceed with caution as 100’ drop offs on each side require close attention on this narrow trail to gain the very top of the Giant’s head where you will have 360-degree views of the surrounding area.
Outside of the Hanakapiai Falls adventure, one of the best hikes in Northern Kaua’i is The Okolehao Trail which leads to phenomenal views of the Han’alei Bay and has a nice bench for you to take it all in two and half miles up the trail, which is a great turn around. As you can imagine hiking in the wettest place on earth is extremely muddy and can be extremely bothersome or comical, you get to choose your perspective.
Be sure to make time for the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge if Humpback whales, Spinner dolphins, Red-footed boobies, Pacific golden plovers and Laysan albatross sound like a gaggle of interesting creatures to you. While here on a clear day you may catch a glimpse of Moku’ae’ae Island.
If you are adventuring to Kaua'i during the winter and early spring months December through April, your chances of catching the migration of the humpback whales are pretty good. Jump aboard a catamaran or boat tour to be sure to see the majestic Kohola as the locals call them. If you are wondering if it is safe for the whales, don’t worry there are regulations in place that keep the tours and boats at bay to leave these gentle giants to play and put on a spectacle sure to leave life long memories.
Hiking & Adventure Highlights
Kauai Helicopter Tour
Nounou Mountain (The Sleeping Giant)
The Okolehao Trail
Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge
Humpback Whale Migration
Before we go any further…it is Hawaii after all.
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With the smell of fresh roasted coffee beans filling the air, the sound of waves crashing against the cliffs, the shaka being thrown by all of the friendly locals and tourists alike, the calm and majestic island of Kaua’i patiently awaits your arrival. If you can’t wait to pack your bags and are anxiously awaiting this trip of a life time, here are a few crucial things that must make your bag to help you have the best adventures on this incredible island.
Extra must haves in your luggage
Hiking shoes ready for mud (maybe an extra pair)
UV Protection Sunglasses
Sunscreen & Adventuring/Beach hat
Rash guard for surfing
Binoculars (for marine life)
Looking for an opportunity to give back to the island and its amazing people? Spend a half day on multiple volunteer opportunities restoring native plants or participating in a public beach cleanup, or you could do it on your own time. Check out https://kauai.surfrider.org for more volunteer opportunities.
The hardest part of traveling to Kaua’i is leaving. You will want to experience this magical “Garden Isle” with its unbelievable Na Pali Coast time and again. From the aloha culture, lengthy history, incredibly beautiful beaches, endless hikes, enchanting mountains, adventures and new discoveries, Kaua’i will quickly be added to the data bank of the best memories of your life.
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