Kauai - A Tropical Island of Dreams
Fields of sugar cane rise up from the red earth, waving in the trade winds to one side of the road, while off to the other you can see the azure blue of the Pacific beckoning you to explore the white sand beaches.
Tan and swim on the sunny south shore, or hike deep into the red earth gorges of the Waimea Canyon on the west side of the island. Explore the "Fantasy Island" falls on the east side, or head north for a tropical paradise that you've only seen in your dreams.
Come visit Kauai with me -- a magical island that has captured my heart and captivated my soul. I'll share with you my favorite hikes and fun adventures. You can follow my footsteps along the cliff sides overlooking the oceans on the north shore or head inland where you will trek into the tropics and watch the waterfalls cascade into the heart of the island. Learn about helicopter rides, boat trips along the coast and other adventures that you are sure to enjoy.
I'll let you know where you can eat -- both in the upscale resorts and in the yummy local dives, and I'll even link you to sites where you can plan your accommodations and travel. I love Kauai and I think you will too!
Ke'e Beach - Journey to the far north of the island for a crescent of soft sand and a beautiful reef where you can snorkel in the calm summer months. You'll see a variety of tropical fish and sometimes even a turtle or two. This is a perfect spot for a very lazy day!
Tunnels Beach - Tunnels is a snorkeler's paradise. A long reef borders the beach offering shallow areas where you can actually stand, put your face in the water, and see the fish! Scuba divers love this beach, and if you're landlocked you can daydream about owning one of those fantastic houses along the beach.
Hanakapia Beach - A two mile hike past Ke'e brings you to Hanakapia Beach. Sandy in the summer months, it offers a beautiful spot for sunning but beware of the heavy, tricky surf. Hanakapia stream empties into the ocean here creating outstanding photo opportunities. In the winter the ocean steals the sand and you must be wary of the beautiful but treacherous surf.
Lumahai Beach - If you've seen the film "South Pacific" you might recognize Lumahai as "nurses beach." Far more beautiful in reality than in the film, this long stretch of white sand is practically deserted on all but the busiest days. Swim and snorkel in the calm summer months, or take some awesome photos when the surf kicks up in the winter.
Hanalei Bay - Hanalei Bay is so beautiful and its long stretch of beach offers the perfect spot for a walk or a place to sun yourself. Swimming is usually safe in the protected bay and you might just see a whale or two off in the distance during the early spring.
Poipu Beach Park - On the south side of the island you can almost always find sun at Poipu Beach park. This beach is crowded but when you arrive you'll know why. You'll find great snorkeling, plenty of sand, showers, facilities and many restaurants nearby. In the spring, you may be lucky enough to see one of the endangered monk seals swim ashore.
Poipu Beach / Sheraton Beach - The stretch of Poipu beach in front of the Sheraton resort is simply gorgeous. Although it is often crowded you can still find a place to feel your connection with the sand and sun. Swim, body surf, or simply enjoy the gorgeous view this beach affords you.
Shipwreck Beach - For a resort beach with peace and quiet, try walking through the Hyatt to find a perfect stretch of white sand. If you're a lounge lizard who likes to be near the nearest bar, this is a place you can't go wrong!
Polihale Beach - Polihale is on the extreme southwestern end of the road. The sand stretches on forever, and the sea seems endless. You'll have to drive on several miles of bumpy sand road to get here, but if you want isolation you've got it! Bring some shoes. . . the sand here is very hot!
Queen's Bath - Queen's Bath is a hidden gem on the north shore. In the calm summer months you can snorkel in this natural pool but in the winter you'll have to settle for some gorgeous views of heavy surf crashing over the lava rocks.
The Kalalau Trail - This is the hike on Kauai. For twelve miles you'll snake in and out of tropical vegetation along the cliff side over the ocean, often enjoying incredible views. The trail offers several stops for hikers of all skill-levels. If you want an outstanding day hike, try going two miles to Hanakapia beach and two more miles inland through steamy jungle to the picturesque falls. Breathtaking!
Hanakapia Falls - A two mile hike along the Kalalau trail past Ke'e brings you to Hanakapia Beach. Hike two miles further in and you will be rewarded with a breathtaking 300 foot waterfall. Don't miss this one!
Sleeping Giant / Nonou Mountain - This is a comfortable uphill hike through the woods. You'll emerge on the face of the Sleeping Giant with a scenic view of the ocean and the Wailua river down below.
Kuilau Ridge Trail - You'll love this winding trail through the tropical interior of the island. On most days the air is moist and the jungle seems to be breathing. You'll see birds, butterflies, and many waterfalls along the way.
Awaawapuhi Trail - This is quite the jungle trek but what a wonderful reward when you emerge high on the cliff side looking down of the ocean and deserted valleys down below. Look for ripe wild berries along the trail and start early. This is a long one!
Pihea Trail - Pihea Trail is one you can take as far or as short as you like. I like to bring a picnic lunch up here, hike a very short distance, and eat overlooking the beautiful Kalalau valley down below. Often, the clouds roll in and obscure the view; however if you're lucky enough to catch a sunny moment, the vistas are outstanding!
Kukui Trail - On the Kukui trail you descend deep into the Waimea canyon. For two miles you'll travel down along a narrow, winding trail that can be rather intimidating certain places. Once you enter into the forest you'll feel comfortable and you'll be delighted to swim in the river at the bottom of the canyon. Leave lots of time. . . this is a long and beautiful hike!
Wailua Falls - If you've seen on the old television series "Fantasy Island," you've seen these twin falls. The water cascades over the cliff side often forming rainbows that dance above the falls. You can take a short but steep trail down to the pool, and swim near the falls if you like. If you want a real sight, drive here in the moonlight and watch the silver falls drop into the blackness down below!
Wailua River - Drive up along the Wailua river for picturesque overlooks and stops at the ruins of ancient temples. This is a scenic detour if you're driving around the island. If you want to see more adventure, rent a kayak, or take one of the boat tours to the famous "Fern Grotto".
Hanalei Valley Overlook - This is a must stop overlook on the north shore, just after you pass Princeville and before you descend into the Hanalei valley. You'll see the taro farms below crisscrossing in front of green mountains with cascading falls. Breathtaking!
Maniholo Dry Cave - Right across from Haena Beach, you'll find a large dry cave where vendors sell all sorts of wares, if you're lucky, and where you can explore as far back as you dare. An interesting stop on the north shore.
Wet Caves - One of the wet caves is easy to find, and a quick stop alongside the road. The other requires a short hike, but rewards you with peaceful solitude.
Limahouli Stream - Limahouli stream is a wonderful spot to stop and take a quick dip, or just a few gorgeous pictures when you're driving along the north shore. Check out the nearby Limahouli gardens if botany is one of your interests. Soothing and beautiful.
Spouting Horn - Legends say a giant mo'o or lizard once guarded this cliff until a brave fisherman named Liko chased the lizard into this blow hole with a spear. You can still hear the mythical lizard moaning when the waves crash into the lava tube and froth up in a beautiful display of power.
Waimea Canyon - Visit the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific". Koke'e State Park offers incredible views of the Waimea Canyon, wonderful hiking and scenic overlooks. Take a day and take a glorious drive!