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Travel Hawaii: Kauai

Updated on January 18, 2015
One of Kauai's natural beaches
One of Kauai's natural beaches | Source

The fourth, and last, island on our Romantic Getaway to Hawaii was Kauai, known as the Garden Isle..

Kauai is the fourth largest and oldest of the Hawaiian Islands and many liken it to Maui 20 years ago, before tourism took off. It is an unspoilt paradise from the soaring cliffs of the Napali Coast, to the vast chasms of Waimea Canyon and to the waterfalls and deep gorges of 5,148-foot Mount Waialeale in the uninhabited center of Kauai, which you can only view by helicopter.

Kauai's most striking geographic feature is the Napali Coast, which rivals any of the world’s most spectacular coastlines. The 17-mile coastline took millions of years to form from wind and water erosion. The results are cliffs thousands of feet high, complete with green valleys, towering waterfalls and hidden sea caves. These breathtaking cliffs can only be seen from the sea, by air or by hiking the Kalalau Trail in Kokee State Park.

Kauai - Island Of Discovery

show route and directions
A markerLihue -
Lihue, HI 96766, USA
get directions

B markerPoipu Beach -
Poipu Beach, Poipu, HI 96756, USA
get directions

C markerWaimea Canyon -
Waimea Canyon State Park, Waimea, HI 96796, USA
get directions

D markerKokee State Park -
Kokee State Park, State Highway 550, Waimea, Kauai, HI 96796, USA
get directions

Entertainment on the Wailua River Cruise
Entertainment on the Wailua River Cruise | Source
Waiting for Sunrise At the Kauai Beach Resort
Waiting for Sunrise At the Kauai Beach Resort | Source

Wailua and Fern Grotto

We arrived in Lihue by air from Maui and went straight to Wailua where we visited a botanical garden and had lunch. We then took a leisurely cruise up the tropical Wailua river to Fern Grotto, a natural fern-filled amphitheater. After enjoying the beautiful flowers and jungle vegetation of Wailua, it was easy to see why Kauai is also known as 'The Garden Isle'.

From here, it was just a short drive to the Kauai Beach Hotel and Resort in Lihue, the last of the four fabulous hotels that we stayed in during our four-island tour of Hawaii.

Nestled on 25 acres on Kauai's longest beach, it had beautiful swimming pools, waterfalls and ocean views. And, as it was on Kauai's east coast, we had the dubious pleasure of getting up early to see the sunrise! At least it allowed up to attend the evening happy hour without being distracted by yet another spectacular sunset!

Waimea Canyon

The spectacular Waimea Canyon and Waipoo Falls
The spectacular Waimea Canyon and Waipoo Falls | Source
Spectacular Views from the Canyon Trail
Spectacular Views from the Canyon Trail | Source
On Top of the World in Waimea Canyon
On Top of the World in Waimea Canyon | Source

Waimea Canyon is known locally as "The Grand Canyon of the Pacific." Although not as big or as old as the Arizona Grand Canyon, it stretches 14 miles long, one mile wide and more than 3,600 feet deep.

The Waimea Canyon Lookout provides panoramic views of crested buttes, rugged crags and deep valley gorges. From this lookout you can see the spectacular Waipoo Falls which drops 800 feet to the canyon floor in two tiers.

As we like to hike, we had decided to hike the Canyon Trail to the top of Waipoo Falls. It was a moderately difficult hike around the rim of the canyon with exhilarating views as we traversed narrow ridges with steep drop-offs. The Trail reaches the top of the falls where there are numerous cascades and pools. If you are interested in this hike, you should know that you can't really see the falls from this trail, but the breath-taking scenery more than makes up for this.

After we finished our hike, we continued north to Kokee State Park and the Kalalau Lookout. We had not seen many birds on the other islands so, as a bird lover, I was pleased to see the Nene, the Hawaiian goose in this location.

Cascading waterfalls at  the top of Waipoo Falls, Canyon Trail, Waimea Canyon
Cascading waterfalls at the top of Waipoo Falls, Canyon Trail, Waimea Canyon | Source
Kalalau Lookout with views of the Napali Coast
Kalalau Lookout with views of the Napali Coast | Source

Kalalau Lookout

The Kalalau Lookout offers commanding views of the Kalalau Valley stretching out to the sea. This view offers a glimpse at the towering cliffs of the Napali Coast and is one of the best views of the Kalalau Valley, seacliffs, and the ocean. At 4,000 foot elevation, the air here is much cooler than along the coast or in the valleys.

Leaving Kokee and Waimea State Parks on our way home, we took a detour to the south coast to explore some of Kauai's famed beaches.

Spouting Horn Blow Hole, Kauai
Spouting Horn Blow Hole, Kauai | Source

Spouting Horn

On Kauai’s South Shore we visited the spectacular Spouting Horn blowhole, one of the most photographed spots on Kauai. The Poipu surf channels into a natural lava tube here and releases a huge spout of water during large swells. We could clearly hear the hiss and roar of the surf that is the basis of a Hawaiian legend.

Poipu Beach, Kauai
Poipu Beach, Kauai | Source

Poipu Beach

Poipu Beach, once named America's Best Beach by the Travel Channel, is a beautiful beach. Nestled in the Poipu resort area, it is conveniently located near some of Kauai’s best shopping, dining and golf. This is one of the most popular and safest beaches on the island.

We visited Poipu in September and it was quite crowded and not conducive to watching wildlife. However, we have read that from December through May, it’s not uncommon to spot humpback whales spouting off shore. Also, large honu (Hawaiian green sea turtles) swim in these waters as do the endangered Hawaiian monk seals (there are only about 1,200 left).

We had a great time in Kauai but unfortunately we didn't have time to see everything.

Next time we will definitely take a helicopter ride to see the Manawaiopuna Falls located in the Hanapepe Valley which appeared in the movie 'Jurassic Park'.

Also, we'll visit the seaside town of Hanalei on the north coast, home of many famous movies including 'South Pacific' and 'The Descendants', starring George Clooney. It is also a great centre from which to see the Napali Coast by boat.

Bon Voyage!

Thank you for reading Travel Hawaii: Kauai. This was the last island of our Romantic Getaway to Hawaii, a four-island 25th anniversary trip of a lifetime. If you haven't already done so, please join us to explore the other islands:

If you are planning an anniversary trip and would like to consider other destinations, then you might be interested in Romantic Anniversary Trips or other Romantic Getaway Ideas.

And for those of you with a wedding anniversary this year, here are some Wedding Anniversary Ideas that will help you to celebrate in style!

Happy Travels

Geoff

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      Shani 4 years ago

      Low season sartts at the end of the summer and for a short time in the spring, Summers are for families, Spring and fall for romantic less crowded beaches. Winter for old money whale watching and snow birds.Craigslist is a good start as well as searching all travel sites as different results will occur. Don't think about spending so much on a rooma s you will not be spending a lot of time in even when you are there your eyes are shut. You will be able to see the island from side to side and do not miss the canyon. The road around the Island does not connect in a circle so plan on one day at each side. Drive to the end, on each end there are public deserted beaches, caves, small towns, excellent small restaurants and deserted state owned beaches. You will not be resting, you can rest at work. Aloha and good luck.

    • geoffclarke profile image
      Author

      geoffclarke 5 years ago from Canada

      Thanks for the feedback everyone. bdegiulio, I hope you make it to Kauai for your 20th - write a hub when you get back! leahlefler, I'm glad you enjoyed Kauai as much as we did. I'd love to do the hike along the Na Pali Coast - maybe next time! Geoff

    • leahlefler profile image

      Leah Lefler 5 years ago from Western New York

      I absolutely love Kauai. We honeymooned there 10 years ago, and I have a love affair with that island. We stayed in the Kiahuna Plantations on Poipu Beach - we had such a fantastic time! Hiking around Waimea Canyon was incredible, though I never managed to get the red mud out of my sneakers! We also hiked along the Na Pali Coast, and spent a lot of time snorkeling. We actually saw a monk seal resting on the beach at Poipu, which was pretty cool! I really want to get back there someday!

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Beautiful photos! We are considering a 20th anniversary trip back to Hawaii for 2013. We didn't make it to Kauai on our honeymoon, hopefully we'll get there this time. Enjoyed the Hub!

    • nifty@50 profile image

      nifty@50 5 years ago

      Nice hub, beautiful scenery!