The fourth largest and the oldest of the Hawaiian islands, Kauai is about 888kilometres square in area, formed from one massive volcano of which Mt Waialeale forms the eastern rim.
The main road circles the coastline with the exception of a 24-kilometre stretch at the north shore cliffs which is inaccessible. When Captain Cook came ashore in January 1778 he was received as a god. Today, visitors to this beautiful island of gardens and rainbows are greeted in much the same friendly way.
Lihue, the capital of Kauai, still has few buildings taller than a coconut tree. Yet the island offers visitors all the ingredients for a perfect holiday including luxury accommodation, gourmet cuisine, a host of watersports and activities including world-class golf.
Po`ipu, a leisurely 30 minutes by car south of Lihue, has been called Kauai’s playground, with its pristine beaches protected by a necklace of offshore reefs.
Just one kilometre from the resort area is sailing, diving, deep-sea fishing and daily boat tours from Kukuiula Harbour. At nearby Spouting Horn, a turbulent wave action causes surf to shoot through a lava tube and out a hole in the coastal rock. This geyser sometimes reaches heights of 18 metres and more.
On the west side of Kauai you’ll find what Mark Twain called the ‘Grand Canyon of the Pacific’—Waimea Canyon, 1097 metres deep in parts, with red and green vistas punctuated by waterfalls.
North from Lihue you can stop off to take a ride on one of the flat-bottom river boats that takes you to the Fern Grotto. Further north past the Coconut Coast you pass by the turnoff to The Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge which shelters thousands of seabirds.
Near Princeville and Hanalei, made famous by the song Puff the Magic Dragon, is Ke`e Beach. Close by are the wet and dry caves, prominent in ancient Hawaiian myth and the start of the 17kilometres Kalalau hiking trail. Further south is Lumahai Beach the famous nurse’s beach in the movie South Pacific.
On the island’s north shore the scenery runs riot—grey mists hang over the sheer Napali cliffs, waterfalls tumble into deep valleys.
Much of this region and the island’s interior cannot be reached by road, so a helicopter or fixed wing plane tour can give you a perspective otherwise unobtainable.
Kauai is called the Garden Island with good reason. The National Tropical Botanical Gardens in Lawai Valley and the Allerton Estate Gardens, as well as the Limahuli Gardens in the north, are among the major attractions that showcase nature at her best. Kauai’s diverse scenery has lured filmmakers to her shores for decades and such classics as Jurassic Park, Raiders of the Lost Ark and of course, South Pacific mean visitors can occasionally experience déjà vu.
Also Kauai is popular with practitioners of the healing arts giving it the reputation of being a special place for those seeking rejuvenation and relaxation combined with a taste of traditional local culture.
Explore Kauai by visiting some of its top tourist sights and other beautiful attractions. The historic natural wonders such as the Na Pali Coast and Waimea Canyon cannot be missed during a visit to Kauai. At the same time, there is a lot of excitement in exploring native small towns such as Hanapepe and Hanalei. These are the unique places which make Kauai absolutely unforgettable.
You can taste the authentic Hawaiian cuisine at different restaurants in Kauai including Roy’s Poipu Bar & Grill (South Shore) or Merriman’s Poipu. Menus include fresh fish such as ahi, ono, mahimahi, opakapaka and wahoo among several others. Explore fresh island produce at the Sunshine Markets in Kauai.
Gaylord’s (Kilohana) is a beautiful setting for a lunch, dinner or even a Sunday brunch in Kauai. You will find it in the ancient Kilohana Plantation house where diners can sit in the outdoor courtyard with the plantation grounds in sight. Lunch typically consists of tacos made with fresh fish and roasted chicken crepes. At dinner, guests can savor some of the island favorites like Cioppino, Sesame Seared Ono, the Grilled NY Strip or the Hoisin Glazed Spare Ribs. Each Friday and Saturday night, guests are served the in-house specialty, i.e. Kiawe Smoked Prime Rib.
You must also try the popular shaved ice-cream on Kauai Island on Kalapaki beach.
Activities in Kauai
While majority of the attention in Kauai is centered on the rainforests and flourishing gardens, the island also offers an array of scuba and snorkeling spots for tourists to explore. Some brilliant snorkeling beaches on Kauai’s north shore include Haena Beach Park, Anini Beach and Kee Beach. Make sure you make a visit to all of these beaches while at Kauai.
Kauai also offers a range of opportunities for ziplining, You can get a distinct aerial view of the diverse landscapes of the Kauai Island in every ziplining experience. Ziplining courses are available at Kauai Backcountry Adventures, Princeville Ranch Adventures, Just Live and Outfitters Kauai.
You can also see the surfers take on the waves at places like Nawiliwili Harbor (Lihue), Poipu Beach (South Shore) as well as Hanalei Bay and Makua Beach (North Shore). There is plenty of exciting activities to take up on Kauai Island!