Kauai hands down has been one of my favourite destinations to date, purely for the fact there is a touch of beauty around every corner and with heavenly beaches and lush rainforests, it’s really the perfect haven for outdoor and adventure lovers. The island is home to some of the world’s most magnificent natural scenery, best hiking trails than anywhere in the world and wildlife that wonder aimlessly through the entire island…and the best bit is that it can be explored for the price of nothing.
During my recent stay here, I was astounded how peaceful and quiet it really was here…the island definitely does remain far less crowded than Oahu, and even still noticeably less than Maui, so it was a great change. My only regret is that I didn’t stay long enough… I will definitely be coming back here sooner rather than later!
Here is a little bit of what I got up to on the island (besides the helicopter flight…I did have to save something for next time 😉 ha ha!)
The Napali Coast is absolutely stunning! The rugged mountains run for 24km (15 mils) off Kauai’s North West coast and feature stunning white beaches, rocky shores and beautiful blue sea below.
They are no roads to Napali though and it is only assessable by foot, helicopter or boats/kayaks (kayaks in summer months only as the sea is rough in winter). There are long and strenuous hikes for keen trekkers to see Napali by foot and with available camping grounds to stay in various selected locations along the way (at a price), you certainly can break the trip up over a few days if you have the time.
Hanalei is a small town along the North Shore of Kauai and surrounds many taro fields, lush mountains, great beaches but also is home to little shops, cafes and restaurants and art galleries. It was here that I actually found a really cool health food and mini salad bar to stock up on healthy snacks and buy some lunch!
It’s also worth stopping or driving through the other surrounds towns along the North Shore such as Kilauea, Princeville, Wainiha and Hanena.
Opaekaa falls run into the Wailua River and are very assessable to get to. There are some picturesque views and lush rainforest around here, not to mention the fern grotto nearby also (along the river). You don’t need to hike any trails or walk far to see Opakekaa falls if you don’t wish too, as they are viewable simply from the road.
Fern Grotto Wailua River
A short boat or kayak trip along Wailua River and you can see an amazing fern grotto with lush green vines and tropical foliage. The Wailua river runs for about 32 kilometres and through beautiful lush rainforest and waterfalls. You can hire kayaks cheap enough and spend half a day paddling along the river.
Kipu Kai Beach
Kipi Kai Beach is very secluded and remote as it is so difficult for many to access. It’s located on the south – east coast of Kauai between Lihue and Poipu and to get here does require a fair bit of off roading on bumpy dirt tracks. Once you reach the beach however, it is stunningly beautiful – and quiet!
Poipu ‘the sunny south’ of Kauai is a friendly little area with beautiful sandy beaches, restaurants/cafes and plentiful of accommodation. The small bays and beaches in this area make perfect snorkel spots to swim in which are full of fish and marine life. While some of the little bays can sometimes be rough and rocky, there are plenty of alternative beaches to head to only a short distance away. You could easily spend a day down in Poipu just lazing around the beaches in this area.
A definite highlight of Kauai and a must see is the Canyon – also known as the canyon of the Pacific! The enchanting purplely, green and red tones that have been etched into the canyons walls are from thousands of years’ worth of erosion and flooding (from Wai’ale’ale summit) and is the wettest part of the island. There are 3 general lookouts along the drive up, all with walking trails and hikes available. The lookout views are beyond amazing, with breathtaking panoramic views of the canyons gorges and valleys.
Tip: Make sure you take plenty of water and snacks on your way up, as the drive can take a while and there isn’t many food or drink stops along the way.
Ke’e Beach is a gorgeous little beach spot and the last assessable beach long the North Shore. Parking fills up quick here so if you plan to head here, leave nice and early! It is also the starting point to the long and strenuous Napali Coast and Kalalau hiking trails which run along the rugged Napali coast line.
The beach however is beautiful, with crystal clear water and lush rainforest and coconut palms that surrounds it’s hard not to fall in love with this beach (I did!). The swimming conditions are generally pretty calm due to the reefs that protected the area, making it ideal for a relaxing swim or to snorkel through the reefs.
I stayed on the East Coast of Kauai in Kapaa (also known as the coconut coast), and I loved this location so much! I stayed at the Aston Islander and it was only a few minute drive to a few large shopping villages plus lots of restaurants a little further up – with plenty of food choice too. There seem to be a lot of accommodation along this area and at very affordable prices in comparison to some down south in Poipu or north in Princeville.
That aside, Kapaa in general is lovely and does have some pretty heavenly looking beaches and loads of coconut palms due to the coconut palm plantations along here!!!
This is a pretty cool thing to stop for if you have never seen a spouting horn before. The spouting horn occurs when waves are plunged underneath the lava tube here and up through a narrow opening in the rocks that the water sprays high in the air due to the force. Depending on the tide and ocean conditions, the water may spout higher and lower making for spectacular performance.
Watch a sunrise or sunset
There are AMAZING sunsets and sunrises in Kauai that produces beautiful colours. I got up early one morning to catch this sunrise and was blown away by the colour tones of the sky! Was definitely worth it.
A very valuable experience is to take a flight around the island and see things from the air! There are many reasonable priced deals around if that is what you fancy.
I highly recommend hiring a car in Kauai. This is a magnificent island full of natural beauty and spectacular scenery…and the only way to really get out there and experience it, is to drive it yourself! In comparison to the busier Hawaiian islands, Kauai is far more quiet, resulting to less congested roads, lower speed limits and no road rage, so really, it is the perfect island to cruise about in and get off the beaten track and scope out secret hideouts.
Things to know & fun facts
– Once it gets dark, it’s dark! Streets lights in Kauai are either non existent in many places throughout the island or are very dim, making it very difficult to see much.
– There are supposedly no snakes in Kauai!
– It’s the oldest Hawaiian Island
– Although some beaches are patrolled here, some aren’t, so be extra careful and cautious if heading out for a swim in a no patrolled area. The currents can be quite strong for the average swimmer and a lot of Kauai’s shoreline have rocks and reef.