Nicknamed “The Garden Isle,” Kauai is known for lush, tropical foliage and beaches. It’s a great destination to have a relaxing vacation of doing nothing. That said, if you’ve got a sense of adventure, you can have a lot of fun seeing the best Kauai has to offer.
Stretching 17 miles on Kauai’s North Shore, most people first see the towering cliffs of the Napali Coast by boat. Along with sightseeing, Capt. Andy’s offers tours that also allow time for snorkeling (watch for turtles) and sailing (watch for humpback whales).
You can’t drive to the Napali Coast. There are only three ways to get to there – by sea, hiking an 11 mile (each way) strenuous trail or by air.
Once you’ve seen the Napali Coast from the water, you’ll want to see it from above. Helicopter tours run seven days a week, making them easy to fit into a packed vacation schedule. I went flying with Island Helicopters, and along with the Napali Coast, I got to see so many other of Kauai’s sights like Waimea Canyon and Manawaiopuna Falls (better known as Jurassic Falls).
It’s probably the closest you can get to being Superman. Eight ziplines equals about four hours of flying with Koloa Zipline. (Kah-low-ah) If you’re truly the adventuresome type you can fly just like the Man of Steel or even upside down.
Kauai has the only navigable rivers in Hawaii, and kayakers take full advantage on the Wailua River. If you’re interested in a workout with a view, Kayak Kauai guides folks on a scenic four mile roundtrip paddle and a two mile roundtrip hike to Uluwehi waterfall, where folks have a tough time not plunging into the very cold water.
You can’t leave Kauai without spending time on the beach. Kauai has more than 50 miles of beaches. That’s more beach per coastline mile than the other Hawaiian islands.
My vote is for Poipu Beach Park for a variety of reasons. There’s a lifeguard on duty seven days a week.
The beach is also a favorite spot for Hawaiian monk seals to sunbathe on the warm sand. Endangered, there are believed to be less than 50 monk seals on Kauai, but a few seem to be regulars on this stretch of sand. Along with sharing with people, they often have to share the crescent-shaped beach with honu or Hawaiian green sea turtles seeking sun.
In both cases, admire and watch from a distance. Volunteers try to rope off sections of the beach when animals come ashore, but they can’t be everywhere, so use common sense. Hawaii has strict laws prohibiting harassing marine wildlife.
Dana’s trip was organized by the Kauai Visitors Bureau.