Top Things to do in Kauai
Kauai is my favourite Hawaiian island. Is has less tourists, is less populated and has a charm that is not found in the other islands. The Big Island is still touted as the best for scuba diving but for overall nature, geography, food and culture – they don’t come close to touching the garden isle.
#1 NaPali Coast
Obviously the first the NUMBER ONE thing to do is the Na Pali Coast. Na Pali – the Cliffs in Hawaiian – is one of the most beautiful and remote areas on Kaua‘i. There are many options for taking in this beautiful coastline and given its awesomeness I wanted to experience it from every viewpoint. There are three ways to do this.
Taking the Kalalau Trail which takes you in to a beach about 2miles in. This is where many people turn around after enjoying the beach (the waves here are very dangerous so going in the water is not advised). This is a nice 4 mile hike and can get you back to Hanalei in time for a late lunch.
From here you will see many people continue west and wonder beyond this point carrying large backpacks to tackle the remaining 9 miles of the Kalalau Trail and camp overnight. The trail and facilities are rugged; some eroded areas are very narrow over cliffs that are hundreds of feet high. To do this you need to secure a camping permit, which can sell out months in advance.
The fork that takes you south is the start of another 2 miles trail down to the Hanakapiai Falls. I think the biggest mistake people make is they don’t realize the Hanakapiai Falls is connected to the Kalalau Trail. I recommend do the hike to the falls, but this is often very muddy, and you need to hop over or wonder through the creek / river a couple of times. This trail to the falls is more difficult to navigate and takes longer to hike, but does not have some of the steep inclines that are found on the first two miles of the Kalalau Trail. Then you can enjoy a swim in the waterfalls and make the return trip back. This is a total of 8 miles and will take most people the better part of the day to complete. Pack a lunch, bring your bathing suit and bring plenty of water. The hike to the waterfalls is well worth it!
The Kauai Explorer provides great information on this hike and many more
I know what you’re thinking, but just do it. These book up fast and if you do it, make sure you do one with the helicopter doors off. A couple of tips: Make sure you don’t wear any loose items and bring something warm, even a hoodie under a windbreaker should be ok. Also things happen fast and the light changes quickly so if you are a photographer I would set your camera to auto – but if you are using an SLR make sure you limit your auto ISO to 800. Also if you are taking photographs you will want to consider where you sit in the helicopter. The front is a three seater. There is a small seat next to the pilot and one next to the open door. Then two seats in the back – both are open doors. Your seat is determined on your weight so getting seats is based on weight distribution. If you are going as a foursome and someone is feeling less adventurous they should take the seat next to the pilot. The photographers should take the back seats for the most unobstructed shots and the person looking for the best view and experience should take the front seat near the open door.
I had a wonderful experience with Jack Harter Helicopter Tours when I was there. I highly recommend them.
Most Na Pali sunset cruises launch either from Hanalei or port Allen. They are a nice casual way to travel up the coast and get amazing up close pictures of these beautiful coastlines that was made famous by Jurassic Park. Drinks, dinner and often a whale encounter are apart of the package.