Kauai will seldom keep you indoors. The garden island is home to a plethora of outdoor adventures and is every adrenaline lover’s dream.
From a simple walk along the coastline to hiking some of the most challenging trails, Kauai is an ideal location serving the needs of beginners and experts alike.
The Kauai weather is conducive to outdoor activities with the average yearly temperature ranging between 70 to 85 degrees.
If you’ve read our blog post on 11 reasons to visit Kauai, you will have a decent idea of what the Garden Island has to offer.
Following is a list of 10 must do outdoor adventures in Kauai to make the most of your Kauai vacation;
1. Fly over the the “Garden Isle”
Imagine flying by the giant cliffs, staring at the craters beneath the valleys and over the pristine coastline of kauai. If you are enthralled, then hop on an air-van and explore kauai by air.
If you are serious about exploring every inch of the beauty of Kauai, then taking a Kauai air tour is mandatory. Most parts of the island are inaccessible by road and can only be explored through the aerial route.
Kauai air tours offer a tour around the entire island within a 60-minute window. The air tours are equipped to offer the best experience to every passenger. The stunning Napali coastline, beautiful waterfalls and valleys that are otherwise inaccessible, and the crescent-shaped Hanalei Bay are a treat to watch from above.
The air-vans are comfortable with suitable windows for sightseeing and noise reduction headsets to communicate with each other.
The pilot and the guide on board will share the history and specifics of the island with you. Do take home a video of your Kauai air tour to preserve the memories of your exciting Kauai adventure.
2. Hike the Kalalau Trail
Out of all the hiking trails in Kauai, the Kalalau Trail is the most challenging one. The trail is 11 miles long and is filled with ups and downs taking you through sea cliffs and five lush valleys. It connects the ke’e beach to the Kalalau beach and is the only available land route to the NaPali coast.
Hiking till the end of the trail requires a permit and the hike cannot be completed in a day. However if you have experience and manage to get a permit, hiking till the end of the trail will prove to be immensely rewarding. The isolated beaches, intriguing caves and the stunning views are mesmerizing.
You can choose to go on a 4-mile hike starting at the Haena state park, to the 300-foot Hanakapi’ai waterfall and take a refreshing break at the pool. The hike gets challenging beyond this point and is ideal to return back if you do not intend on camping.
3. Explore the Waimea Canyon
The credit for the beauty of this canyon goes to thousands of years of volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and erosion due to rainfall and the Waimea River.
Referred to as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, the red cliffs of the Waimea Canyon are in stark contrast to the lush green valleys of Kauai.
You can explore Waimea canyon either by car or by hike. If you wish to drive, turn up the Waimea Canyon drive, from Waimea town, and stop at the numerous sightseeing spots like the Waimea Canyon Lookout and the Pu’u Hina Hina lookout.
You can also go on a hike a through the forest and witness the beauty of the Grand Canyon at its best. The hike descends to a waterfall, which is a perfect getaway spot for adventure lovers.
4. Pay a Visit to Kokee State Park
You cannot afford to miss a state park spread over 4300 acres, located about 4000 ft above sea level, covered with forests and hiking trails. Located to the north of the Waimea Canyon, this state park falls on the western side of the island.
The different hiking trails lead to splendid views of the Waimea Canyon and the Kalalau Valley. The Kalalau and Pu’u O Hina lookouts offer amazing views of the giant Napali cliffs extending to the sea.
It is ideal to start with the Kokee Natural History Museum to get acquainted with the history of the park and the Waimea Canyon. The museum has historical exhibits and will provide you with good information about the hiking trails, ecology and weather conditions of the island.
5. Get Acquainted with the Island’s History
One among the heritage sites of kauai, the Mahaulepu heritage trail has been protecting the historical significance of the island. The trail extends from Shipwreck beach to the Punaoha point, extending up to 3.7 miles, on the southern shore of the island.
Though the trail starts out messy, it catches up with it’s glory past the 1st mile. Along the trail, you will discover sea cliffs, limestone rocks, small tide pools, lava formations, caves and beaches.
This undeveloped coastal stretch is home to variety of marine life such as the hawaiian monk seals, and sea turtles. The trail is one of the primary whale watching points during the whale watching season.
6. Drive to Hanalei
Commonly referred to as the gem of north shore, Hanalei does justice to its popularity. Both the city and the drive to the city are amazing. The drive to hanalei from the south shore can prove to be one of your most fulfilling experiences on the island, with many recreational stops in between. Driving past taro fields on one side and a river on the other, is a treat to the eyes.
Enjoy the sunset at Hanalei Bay once you are done exploring the city. The bay is great for a variety of water activities like surfing, snorkeling and diving, preferably when the waters are calm. A walk down the beach to the Hanalei pier will reward you with a splendid view. Hanalei Pier has been famous for being a part of numerous movies, but is mostly associated with the movie “South Pacific”
7. The Historical Kilauea Point lighthouse
A monument that signifies Kauai’s history, this 52-foot tall structure is very popular among tourists. Located on the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, it attracts different varieties of migrating birds during winter. This marks the northernmost point of the island. It is a great experience to stand 180 ft above sea level and watch the waves of the north shore crash against the rocks. Carrying binoculars will help you grasp a clear view of humpback whales swimming during winters.
8. Hike to Secret Falls
Hiking secret falls requires that you follow a form of water transport through the wailua river. Wailua river is a popular destination among kayak lovers because of its navigable waters. The stream passes through an old hawaiian village before you reach the secret falls trail.
Once you reach the trailhead, a humble 30 minute hike through the jungle, leads you to the Uluwehi falls (secret falls). The trail can be muddy and slippery during the wet season.
Contrary to its name, the secret falls is a popular tourist spot and can be crowded at times. This 100-foot waterfall calls for a great picture, which might be difficult to capture in a single frame. The pool below the waterfall is ideal for a refreshing dip and spending fun time with your family. Plan your trip to complete the hike by afternoon, as the winds get stronger through the day, making paddling through the river difficult.
9. Relax in the Uncrowded Kalapaki Beach
This quaint beach located on the eastern side of the island is popular for it’s uniqueness. Although it is popular among locals, with it’s scenic backdrop and fun activities to do, the popularity of this beach is also catching up with tourists. The beach is separated from the ocean waters by a break wall and you can spot cruise ships approaching the Nawiiwii Harbour.
If you prefer a peaceful beach that is not crowded and want to indulge in water activities like swimming, surfing and paddleboarding, this is your go to location. It is a great place for sunning and swimming, as the ocean bottom is gently sloping. The place is very popular among local surfers and bodyboarders. The beach is backed by the Marriott Beach Resort and other shacks and restaurants to relax if you need a break from sunning.
The eastern side of the beach is marked by a freshwater lagoon, also called the Kauai Lagoon. It is a Wildlife Sanctuary and also hosts a Golf Club.
10. Discover the Beautiful Napali Coast
Of all the beautiful locations in Kauai, the NaPali coast wins it hands down, in terms of beauty and experience. A boat tour or a catamaran tour is the best way to explore the ravishing beauty of the Napali coast. Napali coast boat tours take you over the clear blue waters, through the rugged cliffs and sea-caves revealing the otherwise hidden beauty. The boats are usually equipped with snorkelling and flotation equipment to swim in the pristine waters and flirt with different varieties of fish, dolphins and honu.
You will be treated with a deli lunch and soft drinks on the boat. This is an ideal vacation choice that allows you to savour the sunset, amidst the stunning canvas of the Napali coast, sipping a glass of Mai Tai.
Now that you know what adventure in Kauai looks like, it’s time to get busy planning your itinerary. There is a lot of ground to cover if your goal is to explore the island completely and make the most of your vacation.
Did you know that Makana Charters has 3 catamarans that offer an intimate tour of the Napali coast? With closer departure and more time on the coast, Makana Charters can be your best choice for a deeply satisfying experience. Do visit our homepage to know more.