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Travel Hawaii: Kauai
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
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 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.
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.
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, 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.
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:
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!