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My Trip To Kauai

As we embarked on our Hawaiian escapade in January, Oahu was our first port of call. In a previous post, I shared my thrilling experience of shark diving sans cage, the breathtaking coastal views and island vistas discovered via scenic hiking trails, and other unforgettable moments from our time on Oahu. Our next destination was Kauai, an island that had me practically bursting with excitement! As we explored this tropical gem, I found myself immersed in a world of lush landscapes, crystal-clear waters, and breathtaking natural wonders. Whether you’re looking to lace up your hiking boots, slip on your snorkeling gear, or simply bask in the beauty of Kauai’s waterfalls, there’s an abundance of activities to keep you enthralled. And for me, it was a trip that culminated in nothing short of perfection. While I may not have had the pleasure of visiting all the Hawaiian Islands just yet, Kauai holds a special place in my heart – and I wouldn’t be surprised if it remained my go-to destination. The reasons are twofold: firstly, the island’s stunning beauty is simply awe-inspiring; everywhere you look, the scenery is nothing short of picturesque. And secondly, Kauai’s waterfalls are truly a sight to behold – worth going out of your way for, if I do say so myself.

Things to do in Kauai

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With a limited amount of time in Kauai, my husband Joel and I strategically planned our activities to ensure we made the most of our three-day stay. We decided to focus on the Nā Pali Coast, which was a must-see for us. Additionally, we wanted to experience a doors-off helicopter ride, snorkel with sea turtles, and discover as many waterfalls as possible. Fortunately, our schedule allowed for all these adventures and more. Let’s take a look at how it all unfolded! I’d like to extend my gratitude to Joel Schat for capturing the memories and joining me on this trip.

The Nā Pali Coast

Hawaiian culture on Kauai’s Na Pali coast has deep roots. According to Nā Pali, early Polynesians used constellations to navigate their canoes to the coast around 1,200 AD. This migration was followed by Tahitians, who significantly influenced the island’s culture, religion, and customs. Their presence dominated the cultural landscape, leaving a lasting impact on Kauai. The coastline’s remoteness, surrounded by water in every direction, has naturally protected it over time, earning the nickname ‘natural fortress’. This unique combination of historical and geographical factors has shaped the Na Pali coast into what it is today.

The Nā Pali Trail

Kauai offers a diverse range of hiking trails, but one of its most iconic and challenging routes is the Na Pali Trail. Spanning over 35 kilometres in length, this trail typically takes three to five days to complete, making it a significant undertaking even for experienced hikers. Given our limited time on the island, we decided to hike a portion of the trail to take in the breathtaking views at sunrise. The experience was nothing short of stunning, and I’m already planning a future trip to Kauai to tackle the entire trail. In fact, the Na Pali Trail is now firmly planted on my hiking bucket list.The journey along the Na Pali Trail begins in the lush jungle, where you’ll quickly understand why Kauai is affectionately known as the Garden Isle. The path starts at Ke’e beach, located near the end of the road on Kauai’s North shore, and features uneven paving stones that can become slippery with wear. As a result, it’s essential to don sturdy hiking boots to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.As you make your way along the trail, you’ll be treated to spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, as well as stunning jungle mountain scenery. The combination of these elements makes for an unforgettable hike that will leave you in awe of Kauai’s natural beauty.

Waterfalls in Kauai

Kauai’s lush landscape is teeming with breathtaking waterfalls, making it an ideal destination for nature enthusiasts like myself. In fact, I’ve lost count of how many stunning cascades this island has to offer! If you’re as waterfall-obsessed as I am, you might consider dedicating your entire trip to exploring Kauai’s hidden gems. To help you plan your adventure, I’ve compiled a list of the most impressive waterfalls to visit on the island. Don’t forget to capture some remarkable photos along the way – you’ll surely want to display your favorite shots as beautiful Hawaiian-inspired art prints in your home.

Uluwehi Falls

Tucked away from prying eyes, Uluwehi Falls, or Secret Falls, is an elusive gem that requires some effort to reach. The journey begins with an hour-long kayak ride, followed by a 30-minute hike, making it a thrilling adventure for those willing to put in the work. Alternatively, you can opt for a helicopter tour and still experience the breathtaking views of this natural wonder without breaking a sweat. While some might view this as laziness, others will see it as efficiency, ensuring an unforgettable experience with minimal physical exertion.

Opaekaa Falls

Located along the Wailua River, Opaekaa Falls offers an effortless drive up via Highway 580. As the most easily accessible falls on the island, this natural wonder is just a short journey away. The waterfall itself is a breathtaking sight to behold, plunging 150 feet down in a misty veil that often forms tiny rainbows before flowing into a serene pool below.

Ho’opii Falls

Tucked away on Kauai’s eastern shore, near the town of Kapaa and situated on the Kapaa Stream, lies the secluded Ho’opii Falls. This natural wonder is a lesser-known gem that has even been featured in the iconic filming locations of Jurassic Park back in the 1990s. As it’s not a well-trodden path, visitors can expect a peaceful experience with minimal crowds. However, finding this hidden gem requires a bit more effort, as it’s located at least two miles down an unmarked trail. To ensure you don’t get lost, be sure to ask for detailed directions before embarking on your adventure.

Hanakoa Falls

Located roughly at the midpoint of the Kalalau Trail, Hanakoa Falls presents itself as a breathtaking destination amidst the majestic mountains that define the Nā Pali Coast. As you make your way along this scenic trail, the lush greenery and rugged terrain will undoubtedly leave you in awe.

Wailua Falls

I was thrilled to visit Wailua Falls, which is the top-recommended waterfall to see on the island if you only have time for one. This falls must be truly special to earn that distinction, and it did not disappoint. The hike is easy and the scenery is stunning. We arrived around midday, but I would recommend going early in the morning if you want to avoid crowds and capture some great photos without other tourists getting in your shots. In fact, the best part about Wailua Falls is that you can even explore behind it. Joel and I didn’t have the proper gear to do so on our trip, but we’re already planning a return visit to Kauai with the right equipment.

Kipu Falls

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Joel and I embarked on an exciting adventure one day, stumbling upon a breathtaking waterfall that left us in awe. Although we’re unsure of the exact location, we believe it might have been Kipu Falls, situated upstream from the Huleia National Wildlife Refuge as mentioned by The Crazy Tourist. If our suspicions are correct, this spot is a popular swimming hole among locals. However, it’s essential to exercise caution when visiting during the rainy season, as the waterfall can become quite intense and hazardous. Our exploration of the area was marked by a thrilling moment when Joel captured stunning footage of a whale soaring through the skies with his drone. You can catch the incredible video on my vlog linked below.

Queen’s Bath

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Queen’s Bath is a natural tide pool carved into a lava shelf, where gentle waves from the ocean flow in and out, accompanied by a soothing waterfall. The hike down to this therapeutic spot takes about twenty minutes, but be cautious – it can be tricky, and the steep climb can lead to ankle sprains if you’re not wearing the right shoes, especially after recent rainfall. Additionally, ensure that the tide isn’t high during your visit, as there have been safety concerns for tourists nearly drowning. Before heading out, check the surf report to guarantee safe conditions: waves should be 4ft high or less. If predicted waves exceed this height, it’s best to avoid visiting altogether. While exploring, steer clear of rocks between the bath and ocean, refrain from jumping into the pool, and only swim within the designated area – not in the ocean. When the waters are calm, you can fully appreciate the warm, vibrant colors of the pool.

Spotting Sea Turtles

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As I prepared for my trip to Hawaii, one thing that really caught my attention was the opportunity to spot sea turtles in their natural habitat. In Kauai, these incredible creatures can be found swimming and feeding, but only if you’re willing to respect their space and let them come to you. Snorkeling in Kauai’s crystal-clear waters is an excellent way to catch a glimpse of these magnificent animals, and I was determined to do just that.Did you know that sea turtles have been inhabiting Kauai for thousands of years? Despite their long history on the island, they’ve unfortunately become endangered. According to Koloa Landing Resort, sea turtles were officially listed as an endangered species in 1978, and it’s a designation that has stuck to this day.Locals affectionately refer to these incredible creatures as Honu, and they’re often seen as symbols of good luck. Perhaps this is because of their tenacity and resilience in the face of adversity. From the moment they hatch from eggs, sea turtles face an uphill battle just to survive – only about 1 in 1000 eggs will make it to adulthood.During my snorkeling adventure at Koloa Landing (also known as Turtle Cove), I was thrilled when a turtle suddenly appeared before me. Joel and I were about to pack up and head back for dinner when this incredible creature swam by, giving us the chance to capture some amazing photos. It was an experience I’ll never forget.As you plan your own snorkeling adventure in Kauai, please remember to respect these incredible creatures and their habitat. Keep a safe distance and let them come to you – it’s the best way to ensure that both you and the turtles have a memorable experience.

Things to do in Kauai

Kauai offers an abundance of activities to keep you engaged and entertained throughout your trip. In fact, our experience on the island led us to discover a plethora of things to do in Kauai, including exploring the breathtaking Nā Pali Coast, seeking out picturesque waterfalls such as Wailua and Kipu Falls, relaxing in the iconic Queen’s Bath (optimal when it’s not crowded), taking an exhilarating helicopter tour with doors off for a unique perspective on the coast (in my opinion, this is the best view possible), and embarking on a thrilling sea turtle search at Koloa Landing. There’s always more to uncover and experience, making it difficult to feel like you’ve accomplished everything you set out to do within one trip. I’ve already begun mentally planning my next visit to Kauai, with a desire to spend more time admiring the waterfalls and uncovering hidden gems on the island, as well as tackling more hikes for added adventure. Kauai has truly left me yearning for another return visit. As for your favorite Hawaiian Island, I’d love to hear your thoughts. This guide aims to provide valuable insights to help plan your trip to Kauai, whether you’re interested in hiking, snorkeling, or simply taking in the island’s stunning natural beauty.