Kauai Activities and Kauai Rentals
Things to do on the
Hawaiian Island of Kauai
When you are ready to explore the island of Kauai, assuming
you want to venture away from the Hale Kilo I'a Kauai
vacation rental beach house, there is a wider and even
more beautiful Kauai beach about a mile down the road, nicknamed “Tunnels,” where
the snorkeling and diving are excellent, with a different colony of colorful
fish. From the beach you will have a wonderful view of jagged cliffs
resembling the islands of Tahiti. At the end of the road lies Ke’e beach,
especially beloved by families because of its quiet water. Some prefer the
snorkeling here, and giant sea turtles are often spotted just outside the reef. It is
hard to decide which of the beaches is the most spectacular.
The town of Hanalei is nestled against one of the most
beautiful bays in the world, Hanalei Bay. Its beach is clean, and
rarely crowded. If you're looking for things to do on Kauai, Hanalei Bay is
the place to begin your Kauai activities.
Are you a canoer? The Hanalei Canoe club parks its boats on
the Hanalei River. A kayaker? Rent a kayak and paddle in the bay or up the
Hanalei River. The pier is a favorite spot for local children, who love to
jump and dive into the water and climb back on a handy ladder. Local
families picnic in the park by the pier and sometimes take out
their guitars and ukuleles to sing Hawaiian songs together.
Anini beach, not
far beyond Hanalei, is also popular with local families and specializes in
polo matches on Sundays. Just beyond Anini, across the river, is Kalihiwai,
a beach popular with body surfers and body-boarders. During the winter
months, excellent surf on several North shore beaches draws adventurers from
all over the world.
Snorkeling, beachcombing and diving are not the only water
sports on the North Shore of Kauai. You can take lessons in windsurfing and perhaps,
even more exciting, kite-surfing, or rent equipment if you are already an
expert. Kayak tours can take you all the way along the spectacular Napali
Coast to Polihali, where you will be met and driven back. There are also
numerous dive shops that offer equipment and lessons.
Kauai, because it is the oldest island, has more beaches
than any other island, too many to describe. Some are on the way to Lihue
and others, like Poipu, are beyond it. All the beaches in the state of
Hawaii are public, and most have easy access by trail or road.
In addition to water sports, the North Shore offers
adventures on foot. If you love beauty, don’t miss the easy nature walk in
Garden, which winds through one of the loveliest spots you could
ever hope to see. From the top of one of the cliffs, the Hawaiians used to
fling lighted torches far out to sea.
There are many wonderful hikes on the island. From Ke’e, at
the end of the road, begins a two-mile hike to Hanakapiai Beach, where
you can turn inland and continue for another two miles to a spectacular
waterfall. With camping equipment and a permit, you can hike from Hanakapiai for another nine miles to Kalalau Valley, where Koolau, the
leper, hid from the authorities in the 19th century and where hippies
dwelled in the nude during the 1960’s.
Another hike rises behind Hanalei Valley and ends with a
panoramic view of the entire North Shore. Others are scattered throughout
the island, several in Koke’e, at the opposite end of the road.
If you are not a hiker, don’t despair. Boats leave from
both Hanalei and from Eleele on the other side of the island to cruise down the Napali coast, one of the most remote, mysterious and beautiful
spots in the Hawaiian islands.
Your rental car can take you to many wonderful places you
cannot reach on foot. You may recognize, as you drive, scenes from movies
like South Pacific, Blue Lagoon, and Jurassic Park. In Hanalei you can
explore the Waioli Mission, with a guide to describe the lives of the
missionaries who came by ship during the 19th century to convert the
Hawaiians to Christianity. The first church no longer exists, but you can’t
miss the charming, old-fashioned green church in Hanalei and you might like
to hear the local choir singing during Sunday services. The pond near the
church is shaded by a weeping willow that has its own story: many years ago
a traveler cut a twig from a tree by Napoleon’s grave and carried it to
Kauai in his shaving mug. It was planted near the pond where it stands to
Past Hanalei and Princeville, turn off the highway at
Kilauea, an old pineapple plantation town which lies about ten miles from
Hale Kilo I’a, and follow the road to the Kilauea Lighthouse, a national
monument. The small lighthouse saved at least two of the earliest airplanes
to cross the Pacific Ocean from crashing into the sea after the navigators
lost their way. The cliffs and skies around the lighthouse swarm with
albatross, booby birds and frigate birds, and sometimes you may see baby
birds on their nests in the underbrush. Looking down from the cliffs, you
may glimpse a Hawaiian seal lolling on the beach in a little cove. Kilauea
also has two medical clinics if you need them, and one doesn’t require
appointments in advance.
If you continue to Lihue, you come to Wailua. Drive towards
Lihue and take the main road to the right at Wailua, you will come to one of the two most famous and
much-photographed waterfalls on Kauai, Opa’eka’a Falls. The Kauai Historical
Society or the tourist bureau might help you find, on the Wailua road,
sacred birth stones where Hawaiian royals came to give birth so that their
children would be endowed with special powers. The other waterfall is not
far beyond Wailua. Look for a sign on the right, “Wailua Falls” and follow a
long, winding road through jungle and plantations to the falls, which are
narrower, but higher and even more beautiful than Opaeka’a.
In Lihue anyone curious about the old days on Kauai should
visit the Kauai Museum on Rice Street. Exhibits and a movie describe where
the Hawaiians came from, how they reached the islands by canoe, how they
lived and what they ate and wore. There are exhibits of shells, tapa cloth,
and royal feather cloaks. The museum sells books and handicrafts and there
is usually an art exhibit.
Lovers of art will find galleries scattered all over the
island. Lovers of horticulture can visit the
National Tropical Botanical
Gardens in Lawai. Lovers of history can stop in at the Wilcox Museum for
another look at missionary life. While in the Lihue area, visit Kilohana to
have a plantation-style lunch or dinner and ride the carriage or
plantation train. Lovers
of history can tour
Grove Farm Homestead, a beautifully maintained sugar plantation home.
Near the airport a number of small airlines offer
helicopter rides, if you would like to see the island by air, including
views of many places unavailable by car or on foot.
You are now only about halfway between Hale Kilo I’a and
Koke’e, and nobody can see everything in a day. Set aside another day for
Waimea Canyon, which no visitor should miss, and which a Danish guest
described as “better than the Grand Canyon!” There are two views of the
canyon accessible by car and also wonderful hiking along the upper edge of
the canyon. Biking down the mountain is a popular activity, and there are
many trails for mountain biking.
Continue to Koke’e, where you could stop for lunch and a look
into a small museum, or continue to the end of the road and park. If the
lookout isn’t shrouded in clouds, you will get a magnificent view of
the legendary Kalalau Valley and the ocean beyond.
Hikers and bikers who plan ahead can reserve a cabin in Koke’e,
spend a night or so and explore the area. If you stay overnight, be sure to
drive up to the Koke’e Lookout to see the sunset, which goes on and on and
on until you imagine the sun will never slide into the sea! Afterwards you
can return to your cabin, light a fire in the fireplace to keep warm, and
prepare for another day’s adventure. Or you may decide to drive back to Hale Kilo I’a and spend
the rest of your vacation loafing on the beach in Paradise!
The night sky on Kauai can be spectacular. A full
moon is so bright you can see colors--and when conditions are right you might
glimpse a lunar rainbow. On dark nights, the vast starry sky
stretches out on black velvet before your eyes.
During the winter months humpback whales come to Kauai to
frolic in the warm waters. From the beach and the lanai you can see them
leaping into the air and cannonballing down with a big splash. Would you
like to see them close up? Take a whale watching trip and you’ll see them so
close you might get wet! See our links page for more
info on whale watching tours, and many of the other cool things to do on
Kauai that we've mentioned here.
If we haven't mentioned your favorite Hawaiian activity,
please contact us for more information about Kauai
and our private vacation rental. We're more than
happy to help you arrange your Kauai Hawaiian vacation, and we are very
knowledgeable about Kauai rentals and activities.