Kauai, also known as the ‘Garden Isle’, is the fourth largest island of the Hawaii Islands. The highest mountain is the Kawaikini, which towers almost 1,600 metres above sea level. One of the wettest places in the world is on this island, just east of Waiʻaleale, 1,593 metres high. Because of the rainfall, the island has many beautiful deep, green valleys. But don’t be deterred by the high humidity from visiting the island. When we were there in May we had some rain but mostly sun. Moreover, we found the island to be one of the most beautiful, if not the most beautiful Hawaiian island!
Kauai is especially known for its nature, beautiful (botanical) gardens and natural parks, as well as the amazingly beautiful, rugged Na Pali coast that you can admire both from the water by boat (as we did) and walking. Interesting fact: parts of Kauai were used in the films Jurassic Park and Jurassic World, as well as in the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean film, On Stranger Tides.
For us divers, a visit to the nearby island of Ni’ihau is particularly worthwhile. You are not allowed onto the island itself because it is privately owned by the Robinson family. Some dive centres on Kauai do have a licence to dive in the waters around the small island. There are many sharks and dolphins, but for us the encounter with some Hawaiian monk seals was the most special.
Our main desire when we flew from O’ahu to Kauai was to hike in the beautiful nature. Here are some of the most magnificent hikes.
Kauai’s Airplane hike
For the most spectacular views of the Napali coast and the Kalalau Valley, take the Airplane hike of about 1.5 kilometres in length. After 45 minutes, you are already at the top where you have an abyss of one kilometre. Very steep and therefore not great for people with vertigo. The way back is on the same path.
Kalalau trail in Kauai
This is the most famous hike in Hawaii. Most people do only 3 kilometres to Hawaii and 3 kilometres back to see some of the nearby waterfalls. Some people go on a three-day hike and camp on the beach of Napali. You need a permit for this. On the second day, you can explore the valley and its surroundings. On the third day you go back by the same route. In total the trip is about 22 kilometres one way. It is quite steep at some points.
Just like the Airplane hike, this hike leads to an amazing view of the Napali coast of Kauai. Yet this hike is different. You walk down for 1.5 hours (and back up again later!) while you see almost nothing spectacular. The reward however, is insane! The Airplane hike is easier and you always have a view. Yet the Awa’awapuhi trail is particularly worthwhile!
Canyon trail to the Waipo’o falls in Kauai
Beautiful hike of 2 to 3 hours along the Waimea Canyon. There are more walks you can do in this area but this is the simplest.
Weeping Wall/Blue Hole
One of Hawaii’s most beautiful walks through one of the wettest places on earth. This hike that takes a whole day often leads through the river water place for that reason. In principle, you can walk it without a guide but it will take (even) longer. The highlights are the many waterfalls and the beautiful nature. Depending on the season, this hike can be quite tough.