Hi everyone, I am looking for the top five things to see and do in Kauai, any suggestions?
Go to the north shore, for sure. And also take a drive up to Koke'e. The views of the Alakai swamp and Waimea are beautiful. On the way there make sure to stop and see the Waimea Canyon. If you're an artsy person, take a walk around Hanapepe town; lots of galleries there. Take a catamaran ride if you can along the Napali coast, or any other sort of fun activity. I recommend zip lining in Princeville.
Definitely take a flightseeing tour. It is the most incredible scenery in the world. The airplane tours are half the cost of the helicopter tours and you see the same stuff.
here's 5 north shore freebies.
1) Hike Ke'e to Hanakapiai (beach or falls) if the trail's dry. It can get crowded, so be at the trailhead by 7 at the latest. Bring water & maybe lunch if you're going to the falls. Don't do it if it's muddy.
2) Snorkel at Tunnels. Again, best early. Park at Haena beach park and walk over as it gets crowded along the street. Swim across the lagoon to the outside reef in the summer when it's calm and current is friendly.
3) Morning walk on the beach. Hanalei Bay or Secret Beach are two of my favorites. Hanalei Bay is open and about a 2 miles end to end. For Secret Beach in the summer, I like to walk to the lighthouse end of the beach and float or wade back.
4) Jumping off the little rock ledge at Lumahai and swimming across the bay. Again, only do this in the summer. People get swept out in the winter. The water is so pretty at the Hanalei side of Lumahai and the setting may be the most photographed beach.
5) Snorkel from Hideaways around the point to the Princeville Hotel Beach. From the hotel beach, walk back up the access path to your car.
Lumahai is called luma-die locally. Jumping off ledges there in any kind of surf is a risk you should take with your eyes wide open. And your insurance paid up.
For me, the hikes in Kokee are more spectacular than the first 2 miles of the Kalalau to Hanakapia beach. Try either the Nualolo or Awaawapuhi instead. The Kalalau trail is way too crowded, muddy, slippery etc. Though it is nice to wade in the stream when you get there. the beach is another notorious spot for drownings so really watch it. The people watching on that trail can be pretty interesting too.
Napali boat cruise
Snorkelling at any of the good spots.
Day at the Hyatt pool (gotta buy a room)
Day at any of the good beaches
Taste of Hawaii -- but you missed that already as it was today (always first Sunday in June).
1. Helicopter tour
2. Helicopter tour
3. Helicopter tour
4. Helicopter tour
5. Helicopter tour
Did I mention that you really should do a helicopter tour? ;-0 It's pricey but like nothing you've ever seen before.
Aloha from Kaua'i!
I fully SECOND Dave820's remarks about Lumahai Beach -- I believe this beach is the cause for more drownings on the island than any other -- it is very, very dangerous and isolated -- currents come in that carry you out to the deep ocean. People die there every year -- I'd put this one on your "pass up" list for sure!
Okay, now the things that I'd say to do -- I have never been up in a helicopter, so that won't be part of mine just for that reason, I don't have that perspective.
Waimea Canyon -- drive to the lookouts -- hike some of the trails (everything from very easy to difficult) and listen to the birds and wonder at the beauty of it all.
Na Pali Coast -- whether you do this by hiking in (either all the 11 miles to Kalalau Valley or the first 2 to Hanakapiai Beach) or taking a boat tour -- this can't be missed. It is surreal looking and you'll feel that you've seen it before -- that's because you have...in innumerable movies!
Find a "deserted" beach -- this isn't as hard to do as it may seen -- beaches like Kekaha or Polihale are so long that you can easily be the only person that you can see. Neither of these beaches are swimmable, so just go for the beauty of it!
Swim in the ocean -- some of our swimmable beaches are Lydgate, Po'ipu Beach Park, Kalapaki Beach, Ke'e Beach, Hanalei Bay (during the summer).
Find a place to sit by the ocean and watch for the "green flash"as the sun goes down.
You notice that none of the things above have to cost money -- I live here and don't have a lot of extra income to spent on helicopter trips, boat rides, etc. But you can have just as wonderful a time by not spending a ton of money. The beauty of nature here is so strong that you'll find some of your best memories won't necessarily be the ones you paid the most for.
Love that the helpful posts have so much to do with the natural beauty of the island.
Everyone has great tips, and we totally agree with every post.
You will not be able to see everything, or exprience everything that kauai waits to share with you. But, the above will give you a grand introduction to the Garden Island.
You definitely will not get bored, and you will be able to experience the true Kauai. Many do not do the above suggestions, and actually miss out on the spectacular treasures that are the Garden Island.
Probably will be repeating a lot of the suggestions:
1. Air Tour of the island....helo or fixed wing
2. Napali boat tour and snorkel trip
3. Hiking Hanakapiai, and/or one of the marvelous trails up in Kokee. We have hiked Hanakapiai a few times, but continually do many, many of the trails up in Koke'e all the time, as well as some of the Wailua area trails.
4. Snorkeling and exploring the various beaches on the North and South Shores.......read up on them in the UKG, and select what feels good to you......never underestimate the power and moods of our oceans. Even calm looking areas can have dangerous currents so ask around, and study before charging into the water.
5. Attending a Luau, Polynesian Festival, or Hula halau presentation, or the sunset hula and music program on the Terrace at the Hyatt.
You asked for five things and it is difficult to keep the list at five. But, if you have a week, that will pretty well be filled.
Just some other ideas:
HANAPEPE on Friday night: This is really fun, as you can listen to the street musicans, bring your own libations, browse thru the gallerys and stores, and meet the people. Buy something, or not.
Lots of resturants, but we are not into eating our way thru our visits , but we did need nourishment after the adventures. We do go out to dinner, and have been to many of the eateries, from fine dining, to inexpensive and fun local spots.
Also, we like to bbq at the beaches that are set up for that:
Poipu, Lydgate, and our favorite Anini Beach on the north shore.
We keep it simple, main course, and salad, and beverage.
Might consider kayaking one our our rivers, to a water fall, or a great snorkeling beach.
Tailor the visit to what feels good to you and your family, and it is great to see that you are planning to explore the whole island.
Janet's list is great - especially if you don't want to spend much money. However, if you don't mind spending some money then I would recommend these activities - and in this order:
1. Take a zodiac raft tour of Na Pali. There are two or three companies that offer this. I've went with Captain Zodiac in the past and the wife and I thought it was great. If you want something more leisurely then take one of the many catamaran trips to the Na Pali coast. I'm of the opinion that which company you choose doesn't really matter too much - they are all good.
2. Do a zip line tour. I believe there are now 4 companies offering these on the island. We've done two of them - Outfitter's and Princeville Ranch. Of the two Princeville Ranch was more fun.
3. Take a helicopter tour. It is expensive but also well worth it.
That's it - at least for the tours that I'd pay to go on. The other things you really have to do when you are there and that also happen to be free are:
Go to the lookouts at Waimea Canyon. Hike around there as much as possible.
Go to Ke'e beach for some snorkeling and at least do some of the hike from there into the Na Pali coast.
Re: is Lumahai dangerous in the Summer when it's flat?
For my post on 5 north shore freebies, I listed the Hanalei side of Lumahai for summer month swimming in the small cove / bay at the far end and jumping off the rock (maybe 8 feet). I did say not to think about it in the winter.
Maybe I was not descriptive enough in my first post. By the "Hanalei" or East side of Lumahai, I actually mean Kahalahala Beach, (at least it dosen't rhyme with "die") , but a lot of people don't know it by this name. Some refer to this area as "Little Lumahai", "Lumahai Short" or "Tourist Lumahai". To get there, you park at the turnoff and walk down a small path - kind of steep but not too bad at all.
During the summer months when it's calm, the Kahalahala beach section of Lumahai is about as safe as it gets in my opinion. the cove at the end is like a big sandy bottom swimming pool and the water is so clear. But like Dave said, you should keep your eyes open whenever you jump off a rock into the ocean ANYWHERE and I'd agree you'd want health insuarance WHEREVER you live.
I was just down there yesterday and the cove was like glass. That beach is the prettiest I've ever been to (Ke'e is #2 in my book). One of the great things about Kahalahala side of Lumahai is the shade provided by the tropical trees at the upper egde of the sand. And the texture of the sand is so nice and I feel kind of unique to this beach. Besides me and my girlfriend, there were just two other couples there, each with a baby.
I usually feel that Janet is right on with very helpful and informative posts, but I thought that I'd be doing a disservice not to respond to her post advising people to definitely PASS on Lumahai in the summer. Even if you're not going in the water, it's definitely worth it to walk down the path and see maybe the most beautiful beach in the world. But again I stress that this is a summer beach. I don't even walk down the path much less swim ifthe surf is up in the winter.
Again, probably some of the confusion may have been calling the east end Lumahai rather than Kahalahala. The access to West end known as "Big Lumahai", "Lumahai Long" or "Local Lumahai" is easier than the Kahalahala beach side. Past the turnoff along the road going to Haena are some trees you can pull over to park by just before the bridge. You'll usually see some surfers here near the river. there's no good swimming on this side and no reason for a tourist to get in the water here, even in the summer. The river and beach dynamics can produce some nasty rip currents here.
I don't mean to sound defensive and definitely don't want to promote any sort of dangerous activity, but I'd really hate to keep visitors from having the opportunity of seeing one of the most beautiful beaches in the world during the summer. it's the beach they chose to film "South Pacific' back in the day.
Am I just not being cautious enough? Is it risky to visit and swim at Kahalahala Beach when it's calm in the summer?
The must do's in my book are the "Doors off" Heli tour, Snorkeling at Tunnels and Ke'e and spending at least a day in Hanalei....my favorite place so far in al the islands. If I ever win the lottery, this is where I'd retire.