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What's There to Do in Kauai???

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As some of you know, in August I’ll be marrying my partner of 20 years in an intimate ceremony on the shores of Hanalei Bay. We’ll be hosting twelve family members and friends in four North Shore condos – three at Orchid Point (one 3-bedroom and (2) two-bedrooms), and one 2-bedroom unit next door at Sealodge. We’ll have a little dinner reception at the Westin Hotel.

Everyone will stay at least 8 days, but they’ll arrive at different times—some arriving ten days before the wedding, and leaving right afterwards—others arriving right before the wedding and staying for a week afterwards. Only one of our guests has ever visited Kauai, so we’ve decided to rent minivans and provide optional guided tours for those who want to see our favorite places.

I thought these might help others with their planning.

TOUR #1: Waterfalls, Coffee, and Waimea Canyon
(8 AM departure)

• The early start is so we can stop at Kountry Kitchen in Kapa’a for breakfast. Portions are huge & the fruit salads are wonderful. But the star attraction here is the pancakes. My fave is a combo of banana & macadamia nuts. One pancake is my limit—they’re that big.
• Kauai Coffee plantation for tasting and a quick walking tour of the plantation (Great gift shop!!!)
• Waimea Canyon/Kokee State Park—“the Grand Canyon of the Pacific” (the lookouts are easily accessed)
• From Koke’e Park you’ll see the spectacular Kalalau Lookout

-- Those who wish can hike the spectacular “Canyon Trail.” The 90-minute hike is rated “moderate” (which means it’s not flat, and includes a few slightly steep spots, but it’s no “difficult.” It goes along the rim of the canyon and ends with breathtaking views.
-- Those not wanting to hike can sit and wait at the lodge. (Sneakers are necessary for this hike—no flip-flops for the hikers.)

• We’ll stop for dinner on the way back—Hamura’s Saimin or the Shrimp Station. This will be a long, full day.


You’ll cross seven one-lane bridges and see some of Kauai’s most lush scenery. The first stop will be Lumahai Beach—where Mitzi Gaynor washed that man right out of her hair in the movie “South Pacific.” This is a perfect spot for swimming or sitting under a shady palm tree.

The next stop will be Ke’e Beach. This is literally the end of the road—it’s as far as you can travel by car. A five-minute walk along the surf at Ke’e will afford magnificent views of the Napali cliffs. The snorkeling in summer is typically quite good here, as is the swimming.

Ke’e Beach is the start of the world-famous Kalalau Trail. The trail is extremely demanding and not recommended for novice hikers. Those who wish to can hike the first mile, which will bring you to spectacular views. It will take close to an hour—and involves climbing over boulders and large tree limbs. (If you want to do the hike to the beach it will take all day. That would be an “on-your-own” activity.)

Tour #3: Hindu Temple and Optional Kuilau Trail Hike

The Hindu Temple and its setting are stunning. It is being meticulously hand-carved using only techniques that would have been available in ancient times, and it’s almost finished. Tours are offered once a week—typically Wednesday mornings at 9—but that will have to be confirmed. I’LL NEED TO KNOW AT LEAST TWO WEEKS IN ADVANCE IF YOU WANT TO DO THIS.

Note: some basic information about Hinduism will be provided, but there’s no proselytizing. Donations are accepted, but there’s no pressure to contribute.

The Kuilaui Trail (not to be confused with the much-more-demanding Kalalau Trail) is rated “moderate difficulty.” It has a few somewhat steep areas—but you are rewarded with spectacular views of lush, verdant mountains and valleys.

Tour #4: Waterfalls and Menehune Fishpond Overlook

Note: This tour requires little or no walking

• Opeaka’a Falls and the ancient sacred site across the road, overlooking Wailua River
• Wailua Falls (featured on the opening of the TV show “Fantasy Island”)
• Menehune Fishpond (beautiful views of a pond built in a stunning setting by ancient Hawaiians)
• Anini Lighthouse and bird sanctuary

Tour #5 Shopping Trip

You’ll stop to browse the shops in quaint Kapa’a then continue on to the best shopping on island: Walmart & Costco!!! They have the same souvenirs, T-shirts, aloha shirts, coffees, candies, etc. as everywhere else—but at much better prices.


Take a boat to see the magnificent Napali Coast (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED)

Captain Sundown
(no snorkeling, 3 hours)
(with snorkeling, 6 hours)

Napali Tours
(with snorkeling, 3 – 4 hours):

or sightseeing at sunset (no snorkeling, 2 hours):
http://www.napalitours.com/adventure-tours/na-pali-sunset- tours

Napali Catamaran
(tour only)

(Note: depending on ocean conditions this is usually more of an “adventure” than a relaxing sail. You WILL get wet. You’ll see other boat tours advertised—but these are the only ones that leave from the North Shore. The others are more than an hour drive each way. ADVANCE RESERVATIONS ARE MANDATORY. They always sell out. FYI, I went with Captain Sundown and they were great.)

Rent a bike in Kapa’a and ride the path that passes Kealia Beach

Take a helicopter ride

Go to the Smith Family Luau (you can go for the dinner & show—or just the show—but reservations are a must) www.smithskauai.com/luau.html


Horseback Riding

Kayak the Wailua River to Secret Falls – where you can swim beneath a waterfall.

Kayak (or stand on a surfboard) to explore the Hanalei River into the bay

Cruise the Wailua River to the Fern Grotto
This is a pleasant, relaxing trip with live traditional music and hula. The fern grotto was damaged in a storm and is slowly growing back. It’s not spectacular, but the point of this excursion is a laid-back relaxing 80-minute boat ride.

Kauai Museum – for those interested in the island’s history

Farmer’s Markets (fun to browse & buy produce sold from the back of the farmers’ trucks) http://realkauai.com/FarmersMarkets/

I especially like Saturday morning in Hanalei and Thursday morning in Kilauea, and Saturday (9:30-1PM) at Kauai Community College (lots of crafts and prepared food, in addition to produce) http://www.kauaicommunitymarket.org

And … 
• Watch the sunset at Bali Hai and Hanalei Bay
• Tour Rum Factory
• Golf – or Putt Putt Golf
• The Grove Homestead (http://grovefarm.org) 2-hour guided tours (M, W, Th @ 10am & 1pm) the turn-of-the-centure home of a sugar plantation owner; learn about Kauai history
• Kauai Museum
• Nani Kai Botanic/Sculpture Garden
• Limahuli Botanic Gardens (North Shore)
• Allerton Gardens (South Shore)
• Check out the historic info @ the gazebo at St. Regis Hotel (great views, too)

Views/Scenic Overlooks:
• Spouting Horn
• Menehune Fish Ponds
• Hanalei Overlook

Favorite North Shore Beaches:
• Haena
• Tunnels (Makua)
• Lumahai
• Ke’e
• Hanalei Bay
• Anini
• Kealia

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