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“Unbelievable adventure in paradise”
Review of Kayak Wailua

Kayak Wailua
Ranked #1 of 50 Tours in Kapaa
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Our kayaking/hiking guided tour adventure is one of the few activities which can be enjoyed by all members of your family including grandma and grandpa. We invite you to read our 2000+ reviews; then check availability and reserve space at our website linked here on Trip Advisor.
Reviewed December 9, 2013 via mobile

My husband and I booked the night before and they were so accommodating. Our guide Lisa was amazing. Seriously. So full of information. The kayak portion is beautiful and tranquil. She tried very hard to keep us off the beaten path. The walk to the falls was challenging but well worth the effort to see the falls. Make sure you swim right up to it. So exhilarating. Then we had a little snack and were serenaded by a beautiful drum that Lisa brought in with her. As far as I am concerned this is one of the best experiences for the money imaginable.

1  Thank RubyDo1956
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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1,752 - 1,756 of 2,405 reviews

Reviewed December 7, 2013

Lisa is amazing!! She taught us how to kayak and made the whole experience full of excitement! Her knowledge of flora and fauna is incredible and very educational. We went all the way up to the falls bare feet like Lisa. Thank you Kayak Wailua for making us happy on our trip : )

Thank Shota B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 5, 2013

Our kayak tour was absolutely amazing! My husand and my 2 children, 5 and 7, recently went on a tour with Lisa and couldn't have had a better experience. Definitely ask for Lisa when booking your trip! She was sooo nice and helpful and a walking encylcopedia of Hawaiin culture and customs. She knew the names of every plant and tree we walked by and it's heritage as well as many old Hawaiin traditions to go with it! It was like hearing a Hawaiin Story book! She was full of energy and had a great sense of humor to keep the kids laughing. The hike itself was wonderful and perfect for ourselves and our children and the waterfall was beautiful! On the whole the staff was extremely friendly and courteous to our needs and we felt very well taken care of! We would definitely book again and of course with Lisa!

1  Thank ginabutler88
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 2, 2013

The trip is exciting, enjoyable, and beautiful. I'd still book with caution if you are not someone who hikes regularly, if you are looking for something that isn't so adventurous, or if you have more young kids than you have experienced adults to help them.

We originally booked for my wife and I, three kids (7, 6, & 4), and their grandparents. We were reassured by the webpage (http://kayakwailua.com/adventure.html) which says "This activity is safe for all ages. Most of our kayakers are 1st timers."

We arrived during an intense rainstorm. The tour guides looked at my kids and my wife's parents, and they encouraged us to go another day. We agreed. The weather was so bad that two minutes later they cancelled the rest of the day's tours. We sure would have appreciated a call 60 minutes earlier to discuss the situation, and giving us the option to reschedule then, to avoid making a two-hour round trip.

We arrived the second attempt without my wife's parents (which turned out to be a good thing), but with the three kids. My wife and I had wanted to split up and each take kids with us. The staff encouraged my eldest daughter to ride with the guide and my wife and I to paddle the younger two girls. They didn't want us to slow down the group, and so only my eldest daughter would get to paddle.

My wife and I got into the water with the two younger kids first. When the guide and my eldest daughter appear, my daughter did not have a paddle. I asked why and the guide said my daughter had declined the paddle twice (she was apparently worried she'd tip the boat.) The guide seemed annoyed that I'd second guess her decision. A guide who has worked with kids should know that kids are likely to change their mind at least once during a 4-5 hour trip. We had paid for a trip in which we thought we'd get to paddle with our kids (and paid the full adult price for each kid) and now not even the eldest one had a paddle.

While the kayaking was easy, and the occasional motor boat was not a problem, the hike involved crossing a river with water 3-4 feet high (above the kids' heads) and walking through knee-deep high mud. This may not be true most trips, but it had just poured heavily two days before (when our trip was cancelled). I understand the webpage isn't designed to reflect the latest conditions, but I would hope that if there is a significant difference between what is advertised and what the weather has to offer the tour company would make us aware of this when we called to reschedule the booking the day before the tour.

The hiking also included areas where a careless kid taking a wrong step could fall 15-20 feet onto rocks. We were OK with such hiking conditions, but didn't feel they don't match with "safe for all ages." Rather, we'd have made sure we had a one-to-one adult to kid ratio if we had understood the conditions better.

On our ride back, our eldest decided she did indeed want a chance to paddle, and so my wife had to sit out the return section of the rowing. We were thus the slowest boat on the way back and were about ten minutes behind everyone else. When we returned, there were participants from the next hours' tour (which hadn't had any young kids) also ready to go back. We were told (not asked) to squeeze all five of us in the back of a van so that both groups could make the 5 minute trip at the same time. There were only three seat belts and the van crosses over a (very brief) span of (what Kauai calls) a highway. We would have probably volunteered to take the risk if asked, but I didn't appreciate being told to load into a van in a manner that violates safety laws. (I suspect the guide was annoyed we were ten minutes behind. The problem would have never occurred if my daughter had been given a paddle per my request, as we wouldn't have had to reconfigure the boats to give her a chance to row.)

Most of the time, the guide was really nice, flexible, and able to engage both adults and the kids. I suspect the problems we encountered were (1) that the website and phone interactions prioritize filling booking slots over setting good expectations and (2) the tour guides are too quick to try to convince customers that option that is best for their goals for the tour (configurations that align the speeds of the group, or that match the boat selection they've already planned for you) are what's best for that customer, even when it may not be, and (3) that the guide didn't understand that kids are likely to change their minds over the course of a trip and that all kids are going to want to try doing what the adults are doing.

1  Thank TouringComplete
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
GlobalPete2010, Manager at Kayak Wailua, responded to this reviewResponded December 3, 2013

Thank you very much for taking time to comment about your experience with our kayak/hiking tour to Secret Falls. Our polling indicates that more than 90% of our kayakers are first timers. Our website also states that the tour is safe for all ages. This statement is true 98% of the time. November 30 and December 2 were within the 2% of extreme circumstances. The trail conditions are unknown until the first tour arrives at the trailhead and reports back to our base yard. After 16 years of year around experience we know that early heavy rains can subside and conditions can improve very quickly. On November 30 the unpredictable conditions deteriorated and the right decision was made to cancel the remaining tours which had not yet launched. Customers are always permitted to cancel their participation due to inclement weather without penalty....even if the tour is not canceled. As a 39 year resident I have seen the weather change on a dime and therefore we wait until we see which direction Mother Nature has chosen for a particular day. Regarding the paddle for your daughter. She was offered a paddle on two separate occasions and she adamantly declined. We never force a parent's child to paddle. The guide has four young children of her own and did not want to assume the role of this girl's parent. Rejecting the offer to provide a paddle two times seems to be sufficient reason to acquiesce to the young girl's decision. Our guides know which seating configurations are most efficient for paddling young children. When you ignore our guide's advice, the tour will usually be delayed unnecessarily which in this instance caused others in the group to miss commitments which they had previously scheduled. Someone in your family decided to play with a private rope swing which was not part of the tour. Signs were ignored which prohibited use of the rope. As a result, other members of your group missed their sunset dinner cruise. It is especially important that all group members listen carefully to the safety instruction and orientation given before the tour begins. It was noted that some members of your family were inattentive, disinterested, and walking about during the safety demonstration. We do our very best to provide the most enjoyable tour possible under circumstances we cannot always control. There were two other families with young children who raved about their tour. We try to please everyone. We regret that we fell short of your expectations. Mahalo nui loa, Pete PS We disagree about the safety of the shuttle return from the marina to the base yard. School buses do not have seat belts and passengers in the rear of a van are not required by law to wear seat belts. The shuttle is only four minutes from the marina to the base yard. The van driver is always very willing to make two trips if a group or family prefers to wait for the van to return for the second group.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 2, 2013

Make sure you ask for Kyle, he's a great guide and lots of fun to have along for your day out.

They encourage you to go out in double kayaks but if you're athletic and have good arm strength you will be able to keep up with the group in a single kayak. You'll work harder but it will be a fun experience. Spend the extra money on the upgraded seat, it is so much more comfortable and will save you from back pain the next day.

Water shoes are a big plus and a trekking pole is handy. Bring your camera, they give you a waterproof bag to protect your stuff. Don't forget bug spray for this one!

1  Thank PokieM
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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