Kauai combines laid-back old Hawaii with 21st century adventures
Kauai is known as the Garden Isle. Its natural beauty has made it a star in many movies… South Pacific, Blue Hawaii, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Jurassic Park were all filmed here.
You’ll see almost fluorescent green taro fields as you drive down the valley to Hanalei. Kauai’s Mt. Waielele is the wettest and probably greenest spot on earth. Everywhere you’ll see spectacular cliffs, ribbon-like waterfalls and colorful rainbows.
Kauai’s waters are clear and full of playful dolphins and colorful fish with white sand beaches where you can enjoy a lazy stroll.
Here are our recommendations for Kauai’s Top-Ten fun activities:
1. Zip over Kauai — There are several zip-line eco/adventure tours available in the Princeville area of Kauai. This is soooooo fun! Depending on your fear of heights, the first step can be difficult, but once you’ve experienced the exhilerating sensation of flying high above the ground, you can’t get enough of it. The Zip n’ Dip is a fun one that combines the zip-line adventure with a dip in a hidden swimming hole fed by a small waterfall.
2. Look down on Waimea Canyon — Often called Hawaii’s version of the Grand Canyon, Waimea is a spectacular 2,857-foot deep gorge, awash in almost impossible hues of green, orange and gold. The day trip that takes in two Kauai landmarks, Waimea Canyon & Wailua River, is a good idea if you have limited time on Kauai. At the other end of the island, the peaceful Wailua River takes you to the enchanting Fern Grotto that started as an air pocket in a lava tube, the grotto is now laced with delicate ferns.
3. Feast and party at a Kauai Luau — Smith’s Tropical Paradise Luau is our favorite luau on Kauai. It’s located on lush grounds right at the edge of beautiful Wailua River. You can take a narrated tram tour of the gardens or just stroll among the peacocks. The celebration begins with the Imu Ceremony, then on to cocktails, delicious traditional Hawaiian luau food, and non-stop entertainment.
4. Kayak down Wailua River — This wide, calm river was once the center of activity for early Hawaiians and is known as one of Kauai’s two most sacred places. Kayaks are available for rent in Wailua or you can take a guided Kayak Tour that includes a hike into a secret waterfall.
5. Go Horseback Riding in Princeville, Hanalei — We love to go riding whenever we travel! It’s great to get on a horse and see areas that are often not open to the public or are difficult to get to and, everyone knows, horse-people are the nicest around. Princeville has working cattle ranch that offers a Waterfall Picnic Ride, with panoramic views of the Hanalei Mountains and Pacific Ocean. It includes a short off-horse hike to a fern-lined waterfall plunging into a mountain pool where you can swim and have a picnic lunch.
6. Get your hands on an ATV — If you prefer 4-wheels to the 4 legs of a horse, an ATV adventure in Kauai’s mountains is for you! Kipu Ranch, located in east Kauai, is a 3000-acre ranch where movies like Raiders of the Lost Arc, Outbreak, Six Days & Seven Nights, Mighty Joe Young, Hook, Jurassic Park have been filmed. They provide the ATVs, the trails and some knowledgeble guides to make sure you have a good time.
7. See Kauai from the Air — Kauai is my favorite island to view from the air. A helicoptor tour will take to you incredible areas that there is no other way to see. Kauai has the spectacular Na Pali Cliffs, Waimea Canyon, the world’s wettest spot and spectacular beaches. There are quite a few helicopter tour companies on Kauai, we like Will Squyres Helicopter Tour.
8. Step back in time to the Missionary and Plantation days — Visit Kilohana and see how the sugar barons lived at the turn of the century. This beautiful old plantation house has been converted to shops and a restaurant. It’s on the road between Lihui and Poipu. Waioli Mission House Museum in sleepy Hanalei will take you back to life in Hawaii when the first missionaries arrived. Call 808-245-3202 for their hours.
9. Float in an inner-tube through Lihue sugar ditches — An experience worthy of Disneyland — but this is real! These irrigation ditches were hand dug in the 1870s and ushered in the era of big sugar plantations. Float through the waterways and flumes of Lihue’s Old Sugar Cane Plantation Tubing Adventure for breathtaking vistas and spectacular scenery and you even get to float through a tunnel with a headlamp to lead the way!
10. Cruise the Na Pali coast — We’ve seen these dramatic cliffs from a cruise ship, helicoptors and from a small boat… from any vantage point, they are spectacular! Captain Andy’s Na Pali Snorkel Picnic combines a boat tour along the cliffs, snorkling among tropical fish, with a picnic lucnc — what could be finer?