Kauai is the Hawaiian Island known for it’s unspoiled, natural beauty. As a result, it attracts active nature enthusiasts. I have several friends and regular readers who have never been to Kauai because they don’t care to hike to a waterfall or paddle a sea kayak. There is still a lot to do and see – much of it only a few steps from your car so plan a trip and here are the highlights:
Spouting Horn Blow Hole – It’s clearly signed and right in the middle of the Poipu Beach area on the southern part of Kauai. There’s a parking lot and it’s an easy walk over to the viewing area. Bring your camera and watch the incoming waves, when you see a “big one” get ready! There are holes in the lava rock shelf and the waves come up through them spraying an up to 50′ geyser making an interesting sound at the same time, like a native blowing in a conch shell.
Locals have set up booths with jewelry, woven and wood crafts along the walkway so go enjoy the natural wonder then do some souvenir shopping on the way back to the car.
Wailua Falls – This is the most accessible of the Kauai waterfalls. It’s a short drive north of Lihue (where the airport is) and again, easy parking, easy stroll over to the viewpoint. The 80 foot waterfall flows year round.
Waimea Canyon – Known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” this is a great day trip even for all ages and fitness levels. Sure there are a TON of hiking trails but there is no need to hike to enjoy the natural beauty of this 10 mile long, mile wide, 3000 foot deep canyon. There is a paved road and a half dozen “viewpoints” along the way, most with restroom facilities.
It’s on the west side of the island and though not far in distance, there are no “highways” in Kauai so from the Poipu resorts, it will take an hour to get there. The drive through the park (no admission fee) is 20 miles each way and there are no gas stations so be sure you have enough fuel for the drive. You can take a lunch or there is a lodge about 2/3 of the way in where you can have lunch. We brought our own so I can’t vouch for the quality of the restaurant – just that there is one.
Each viewpoint is signed. There is a parking lot and it’s an easy walk to the viewpoint. Try to pick a clear day. We turned around after the lodge and went to a trailhead to hike because the last 2 viewpoints were in the clouds and we wanted to have time to hike.
Sunset Dinner Cruise – We opted for the Southern Star which is operated by Capt. Andy’s. It’s a beautiful catamaran and they not only serve, but prepare and cook dinner on board. They offer snorkeling trips on this boat as well but the sunset dinner cruise is best for those who really don’t care to get wet. Book on line 7 days in advance to save a little.
Some things you should know: they sail “barefoot” and actually have you take off and leave your shoes on shore. If you have orthopedic issues, just tell them and they will let you wear yours. Sit in the back of the boat or inside the air conditioned salon if you want to stay dry. Even on the more elegant outing such as this, the front of the catamaran rides the waves and you will get sprayed up front. There are cushy seats in back and you will be very comfortable (and dry) there. Bring a sweater or jacket, it gets cool in the ocean breeze once the sun begins to set. You also walk about a block from where you check in and get your boarding pass to where you actually board the vessel, not a hard walk, just a walk.
You’ll find nice restrooms on board (down a few stairs but use the handrails) and the food was a generous steak and grilled shrimp meal with salad, veggies and dessert. The dinner cruise includes wine and tropical drinks too as well as a great views of the remote Na Pali coast and the sunset!
With all those outings, you may find yourself short on time to just spend sitting by the pool! Kauai has a lot to offer for the more active as well. Next week I’ll share some of our favorite activities that were more physically demanding.