Looking for outdoor Hawaiian adventures? From canyon hikes to helicopter rides (and a few waterfalls thrown in the mix) Kauai is the place for you.
After 5 glorious days in Maui, we headed to Kauai for a more laid-back Aloha spirit. Kauai is lush, green, and wet. Really, really wet. Somehow I missed (in all my research) that Kauai is one of the wettest places on earth. This is clear by the gorgeous greenery and rainforest vibes, however, this impeded our trip a little because we were planning all outdoor activities. But, the awesome thing about Kauai is that there are so many micro-climates. Meaning, if it was raining in one town, you could drive 30 min north or south to a spot where it was sunny and 10 degrees warmer. The other awesome thing is that most of the activities are free! But you will need to rent a car.
1 – Zipline in Poipu
There are 3 Skyline Eco Adventures 3 locations in Hawaii. There’s no better way to take in the lush greenery of Kauai than by whipping across cable lines 200 ft above the ground. A few minutes outside of Poipu, the home base is a very bright and clean storefront in lovely the Shops at Kukui’ula. So first you get fitted for your harness before hopping on the bus which takes you to the course (about 10 minutes away). The guides are hilarious, and keep you safe and entertained. We went through the 8-line course (which took about 2 hours) and were able to complete all but one of the lines due to the wind. Instead, we repeated a line. Zip lining is awesome – you feel like you’re floating across the sky 🙂 Tickets start at $125 per adult for the 2 hour tour, but there are amazing deals to be had when you book online. Check out my full post here!
2- Hike the Kalalau Trail
The Kalalau Trail is a section of the Na Pali coast that is an 11 mile (17.7 km) long that leads from Ke’e Beach to Kalalau Beach. The Na Pali coast may look familiar to some from featured films (Jurassic Park, anyone?) and one of the best ways to see it is on foot. Because we were only in the area for the day – and we are not super serious hikers – we chose the shorter part of the hike which is 4 miles roundtrip.
There is so much information out there on the trail, and I highly urge you to do your research if you plan on hiking past the 2-mile mark, but for those who are looking for a great activity to do in a morning or afternoon, the 2-mile hike is for you.
There were so many families and kids along the trail, even a baby-wearing hiking mama! Not that I would totally recommend that, but, power to her. We trekked from Keʻe Beach to Hanakapiai stream and beach. It took us just over 3 hours including a 15 minute sit-down at the turnaround mark. This section is moderate difficulty and you don’t need a permit.
3- Visit the Waimea Canyon
Located on the West side of the island, the Waimea Canyon is touted as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. It is 14 miles long, 1 mile wide and over 3,600 feet deep. We drove from the base of the canyon road to the Waimea Canyon Overlook, stopping at a few turnouts for photos or a nature walk.
Unfortunately, the weather was not on our side that day. The temperature dropped 20 degrees F and turned cloudy and rainy by the time we reached the top. We started the drive with our convertible top down, dressed in tank tops and shorts. By the time we were at the lookout point the top was up, the heat was blasting, and we had layered on literally every piece of clothing or fabric we had on hand. I fashioned our beach towels in a pretty amazing pair of pants, lol. Though the weather was slightly tumultuous, the view was still stunning.
4. Visit a Waterfall, or Two, or Three
Do a simple web search for waterfalls + kauai and you’ll have no limit of options for “must-see places”. My favorites are the Wailua Falls (pictured above), and the Opaeka’a Falls. Again, due to the weather, we weren’t able to get to as many falls as we hoped, and we certainly weren’t able to walk down under or swim in them. The one major falls we are bummed we missed are the Manawaiopuna Falls, also called the Jurassic Falls.
5. Hit the Beach
In this case, it really doesn’t matter which one. You’re in Hawaii, after all. That being said, Kauai isn’t the island with the renowned beaches (like Maui or Oahu), but I love the smaller sand areas for reading, relaxing, and drinking my fave Kona beer. We spent a lot of time at Poipu Beach and also Keālia Beach. Secret Beach is very popular also. Because we were only on Kauai for a few days, the beach stops were infrequent and therefore almost sacred.
6. Take a Helicopter Ride
This is the one major regret we have from our trip. We waited too long to book our Helicopter tour over the Na’ Pali coast, and it was canceled due to weather. My tip to you would be book this as early on in your vacation as possible because more often than not the rides are canceled or rescheduled due to rain, wind, or capacity issues. These trips are also not cheap, so do your research beforehand. Some companies to check out are Blue Hawaiian, Safari Tours, and Jack Harter. Rides start around $160 per person for a 60-minute tour.
These are just a few of the things we got up to on Kauai, but definitely the most memorable. What other activities would you love to do in Hawaii? If zip lining is your thing, be sure to check out my full post here. Don’t miss my Top 5 Activities on Maui!