From maui we flew over to our final island, Kauai’i. I had been eagerly anticipating this island and it did not disappoint. It is one of the most beautiful and abundant places i’ve ever been. It is one of the oldest Hawaiian islands and only 10% of it is accessible by car!
We stayed in the sleepy little town of Ka’pa, it was once named one of americas prettiest towns, we can totally see why. We stayed at one of only two hostels on the island, the honu’ea internatinal hostel. The hostel is in a great location only a five minute walk to the shops and beach. We found it was a great base for our adventures on the north and south shores.
Nā Pali Coast
The Nā Pali Coast is one of the most famous places in Kauai’i well known for it’s intense 11 mile hike and beautiful cliff faces. There are only three ways to actually see the dramatic mountains, by boat, by hiking or by helicopter. We chose to go by helicopter, and oh boy, we had such a great time!
We flew with Mauna Loa helicopters after lots and lots of research. This was one of the more expensive companies, but it ensured we were in a helicopter by ourselves. A lot of the companies on the island use big helicopters which fit more people, and so somebody has to sit in the middle. For that much money we weren’t about to risk a middle seat, we wanted front row! We chose to fly with the doors off (it costs the same on or off) and highly recommend that you do to if you ever get the option, it stopped us from getting glare from the windows as we flew. Words can’t even describe how amazing the tour was and the pictures give it no where near the justice it deserves!
We drove up to Ke’e beach and found ourselves a parking spot, but be warned they are few and far between. We saw a police officer coming around giving out tickets to cars parked on the road and in dangerous places, so be aware! Unfortunately we didn’t get chance to do the full 11 mile Kalalau trail but did chose to do the first two miles of which took us to Hanakapi’ai beach. The walk was breathtakingly amazing and gave us some seriously stunning views! You can’t go into the ocean at the end of the walk because there dangerous rip currents that have claimed peoples lives, but it is a lovely end to a great hike! Things to keep in mind on this hike are the fact that its so muddy and can be slippy if you don’t pay attention to where you’re putting your feet!
If you decide to do the full trail takes it will take you all the way into the valleys and give you amazing views. The hike takes about 6-8 hours to complete, most people set off at sunrise and arrive before the sunsets. There are a few campsites to chose from to rest your weary head and tired legs!
Waimea Canyon is the largest island in the whole of the pacific! We were absolutely amazed at how vast it is, it stretches a whopping 14 miles and offering stunning panoramic views. There are some wonderful lookouts which allow you to take in it’s beauty and also some great day hikes!
We did a hike called the Canyon trail and highly recommend it. The walk is pretty intense but it takes you out into the middle of the canyon where you get a different angle of the stunning orange cliffs.
Be sure to drive to the end of the road where you will find the Pu’u O Kila lookout. If you’re lucky then you will get great weather and a clear day, but as one of the wettest places on earth don’t be disappointed if you are greeted by a blanket of cloud! Thankful we got a gorgeous blue sky and views of the gorgeous mountains which gives you proof that it’s good to wait for a nice day.
This is a very beautiful river which weaves it’s way through kauai’i and is 20 metres long! There are lots of companies who offer tours of the river which take you on an adventure to some great waterfalls. You can also do a self guided tour of the river and hire your own kayak. We looking into doing just that and were horrified by the prices! We decided that the $70 price tag wasn’t worth the activity and that hopefully we will see much better rivers in our lifetime for a lot less money! One thing to be aware of in Hawaii is tourist traps. This is when the tourism companies pay on unsuspecting tourists and put the prices up way way way higher than they should be because the know people will pay it!
Be sure to take a drive through the tunnel of trees on the drive to or from Waimea, it is a really unique collection of trees that grow, you guessed it… in the shape of a tunnel!
If you carry on the road down to Poipu beach you will find signposts for Sprouting Horn, a blow hole that squirts water high up into the air! This is apparently one of the most photographed spots in the whole of Kauai and is a great place to spot whales at certain times of the year!
We were pleasantly surprised by this beach, we thought it was going to be ‘just another tourist beach’ but it turned out to be a great place to visit. We were able to see not one, but two beautiful Hawaiian Seals lazing around in the sunshine. This is a really popular place for them to come and sunbathe the day away, they are protected by volunteers who put robes around the area and then sit and enjoy the sunshine happily answering any questions people may have. The beach it’s self is very beautiful, it has gorgeous clear waters which is really popular to snorkel in!
This one is a tricky one to find, to get to the beach you will need to find a spot in a residential estate before going on a bit of a walk through the forest down to the beach. It was really dry when we were there, but I imagine that when it rains the path is very slippery so be prepared for a potential mud bath! The beach it’s self is absolutely stunning but be aware of it’s unpredictable tides. One of the best parts about this beach is that if you get there early enough you might be able to see a large pod of dolphins who come to surf the waves in a morning.
We stopped off for a touristy photo of the lighthouse, because… when in rome! It costs $5 per person to actually go down to the lighthouse it’s self but it is completely free to take photos from the lookout, although I will warn you that it’s pretty far away. If you enjoy history and have a love for lighthouses then the $5 would be totally worth it, but we decided to save some cash instead!
Queens Bath is one of the most famous spots in Hawaii, it is sometimes mistaken for the similar pool nearby, this pool is bonkers and you will know it when you see it! People jump from great heights into the oceans swell and then ride the tide until they can climb back out. We held our breaths for the people brave enough to go in, but with a death toll higher than 25 people it is most certainly not for the inexperienced!
The queens bath it’s self is a pretty calm little rock pool where you can have a nice swim. Some days and at certain times of the day the tide is far too aggressive and so it’s wise not to go in, but on others it is so lovely and peaceful. We were luck enough to catch it on a good day. We recommend going at high tide so that you can see the people jumping into … The walk down is really steep and has lots of exposed tree branches. I imagine that on a rainy/wet day this path would give you endless entertainment and mud slides!
Ke’e beach is a pretty little beach with a crazy parking lot! If you want to visit this beach as the day’s activity then make sure you arrive very early so you can get a space. We saw so many cars that were parked inappropriately with parking fines in their windows, eek! The beach is very beautiful and clean, it’s what a lot of people reward themselves with after a very sweaty walk up on the Kalalau trail.
The main thing to remember about this beach is to get there early! Parking here is an absolute nightmare and gets busier and busier as the day goes on. We were told that it was a great place to snorkel but I can’t say that we saw anything that made it worth snorkelling. If anything it’s just a really nice beach to spend the day basking in the sunshine with gorgeous views of the mountains. We went for a walk up the beach and found a Hawaiian Monk seal, they swim up and take a snooze on the beach for hours at a time.
Wailu & Opakeea falls
These are two very beautiful but inaccessible waterfalls. We were disappointed to find that the closest we could get to them was from a look out that was very very far away… we nearly needed binoculars! They are nice to see if you want a little drive to see mother nature doing her thing.
This is a cute little town that is worth stopping off at on your drive up to the north of Kauai’i, we really loved the vibes here and the great selection of shops and quirky cafes.
Sunset at Hanalei pier
This pier is in on of the most beautiful spots we have ever seen, surrounded by beautiful mountains and panoramic views. The car park is hectic and can be hard to get a spot but if you’re patient eventually you’ll get a space, you will even find locals who drive their cars down onto the beach. If you can plan your visit around sunset you will not be disappointed, the sun lights up the mountains and sky such beautiful colours.
Kauai’i nicely wrapped up our tour of the Hawaiian islands and we can’t believe how much we have been able to experience. Kauai’i is our favourite Hawaiian island, it is the one which we feel has the most to do of all the islands, as well as having truly breathtaking landscapes and scenery.
Kay and Dom
*All views and opinions are our own. We are not sponsored by any company(s), we just want to create great travel guides for people who want to know more about locations around the world.