Kaua’i Island – is 32 miles long and 24 miles wide and is said to be the oldest island in Hawaii, some six million years old.
They call Kaua’i ‘The Garden Island” or “The Island of Discovery” – and certainly there is a lot of greenery, places to see and a large number of resort hotels, with all the swimming pools, spas, gyms, fitness centers, restaurants, gardens and palm trees that you expect to find in a tropical island paradise.
Here on the island you can swim in the ocean, rivers and sometimes next to waterfalls, snorkel, go scuba diving, river and sea kayak, zipline, canoe, play golf, tennis, mountain bike, hike on one the short or longer day trails, fish, sail board, windsurf, paddle board, whale watch in season, horse ride, take on a cruise, 4WD into the mountains, catch a helicopter ride or just go shopping, lie around the pool in your hotel or on one of the many beaches, see shows, have a “lomi-lomi” massage, or just chill out. The island attracts a lot of wedding and honeymooners, but also film crews too to shoot on location.
Kaua’i Island is the most northerly island in Hawaii and is a short 35 minutes flight away from Honolulu Airport to Lihue Airport on Kaua’I, which is just outside of Lihue, the main city.
The island has a movie location feel with the big resort hotels along the coastline, 80 miles of white sandy beaches, lush tropical rainforest and volcanic valleys and mountainous areas some that can only be accessed by helicopter. The northern Na Pali Coastline is also quite special with high cliff sides that almost plunge into the ocean below them and this part of the coastline is best seen from the ocean and there are many other parts of the island that are also special.
Things and places to see include –
- Lihue- located on the east coast with the Kuhia Highway running north to Kapaa and beyond and the Kaumualii Highway running south. Besides the hotels, pools and ocean beaches, take a look at the Kauai Museum at 4428 Rice Street (See kauaimuseum.org ) and nearby the Grove Farm Homestead Museum at 4050 Nawiliwili Rd (See www.grosefarm.org) an original sugarcane plantation. The big Kukai Grove Shopping Center nearby is just off Nawiliwili Highway 58, and Kilohana Estate is located at 3-2087 Kaumualili Highway 50. Here you can catch an original sugarcane train or take a hike to see around the 36 acres of gardens and grounds, visit the Estate main house, where there are spas and a restaurant, and even the Koloa Rum tasting room and company store.(See www.kilohanakauai.com Tel: (808) 246 8900) Also See www.koloarum.com .
- Nawiliwili – just south of Lilue is where you will find the Alekoko Menehune Fishpond – a long low wall of coral built to trap fish in the pond. It is said to have been built by the Menuhune little people – legendary people who built it in secretly one night in ancient times. You can see it if you stop at the Lookout on Hulemalu Road. It is also close to the Huleia National Wildlife Refuge – a restricted wetland area on the river for birds and wildlife.
- Wailua River – is a quarter of an hour north of Lihue, the river flowing about 25 miles from Mount Waialeale in the center of the island to the coast. There are two waterfalls on the river – the Opaekaa Falls and the Wailua Falls and guided tours can take you on the river to the Fern Grotto, a natural amphitheatre with massive fern trails hanging from its sides. If you have a car, drive along the northern side of the river as it heads inland to see the countryside and also see to the Keahua Arboretum. Also look for Poliahu Heiau Temple in the Wailua State Park on Kuamoo Rd, one of the 7 temples in the park, this one dedicated to the War God, ‘Ku’.
- Princeville- in the north is home to the Princeville Ranch, just off the Kuhio Highway 56. Here you will be able to ride horses, zipline, take an off road tour, kayak or hike to see waterfalls and experience the beauty of the surrounds. (See princevilleranch.com Tel: (808) 826 7669.
- Hiking – in the north there is the 11 mile long walk called the ‘Kalalau Trail’ along the sides of the Na Poli Cliff tops. This is a strenuous trail to walk, but you can go part of the distance just to Hanakapiai Beach and the Hanakapiai Falls – which is still a long 2 mile walk, but also spectacular. The falls drop about 900 feet to the water below. There are also other trails on the island to look out for too.
- Lighthouses – on the most northern point is the Kilauea Lighthouse surrounded by red cliffs and the Pacific Ocean below it. This is a great place to feel the wind coming off the ocean and to see birds like Frigate Birds, boobies and even albatross landing and nesting here. Another lighthouse is at Nawiliwili at Ninini Point.
- Beaches – there are many great beaches to visit and spend time getting to know – some of the best known ones being Poipu in the south, where the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort is also located; Kekaha and Salt Pond in the South West; Lydgate, Kalapaki and Kealia in the East and Anini, Kee, Lumaahai and Hanalei Bay beaches in the North. Kee Beach is a great place to snorkel and see turtles, parrotfish and many other tropical fish up close.
- Gardens – Kauai lives up to its description as the Garden Island – and you can see lots of plant life all over the island. In the north look for Limahuli Garden and Na’Aina Kai Botanical Garden, and in the south McBryde and Allergan Gardens at 4425 Lawai Rd in Koloa. Allergan gardens has a number of Moreton Bay fig trees that were featured in the Jurassic Park movie.
- Poipu – in the south east of the island has the resorts and here you will also find the Sprouting Horn – a lava tube blowhole that allows the ocean water to shoot high in the air like a geyser. The best time to see it is when the ocean water is rough. Also at Koloa if you enjoy horse riding, head to CJM Stables at the end of Poipu Road (See cjmstables.com Tel: (808 742 6096)
- Waimea – on the west side of the island is where there is a Captain Cook monument erected in his honour. He landed here in what he called the ‘Sandwich Islands’ in 1778. Also nearby is the Waimea Canyon State Park – the canyon being around 10 miles long and a three thousand feet deep.
- Manawaiopuna Falls – otherwise known as Jurassic Falls, featured in the movie have a drop of about 400 feet and to get there you fly in by helicopter – which also adds to the drama of just being there. Book with Island Helicopters – See islandhelicopters.com Tel: (808) 245 8588.
- Russian Fort Elizabeth (Elizabety) (Pa’ula’ula o Hipo)– When people generally think of Alaska they may recall it being bought by the United States from Russia, but they don’t usually think of Hawaii as having a Russian connection. Fort Elizabeth was built in an octagon shape in 1817 on the banks of the Waimea River overlooking Waimea Bay by the Russian-American Company. Today, it is possible to see over the ruins of the Fort and hear its amazing story.
The island is most certainly beautiful and there are some great resorts and hotels to stay during your time here. Often the best way to see the island is by tours, and if you have the chance take a helicopter trip too – see www.bluehawaiian.com, www.helicopters-kauai.com, www.holoholokauai.com – and try and pick a day with good weather.