If I were planning a trip to Kaua’i, it would involve backpacking, cycling, stand-up paddle boarding, and non-stop adventure. If The Parents were planning a trip, there would be lots of sightseeing and some short hikes. If The Hillfolk were planning a trip, it would involve relaxing at the beach during the day and hitting the town at night. The challenge was, how to piece these vacation types together and come up with a family vacation. At least we all agreed on one thing – all of the seafood!
Our first adventure was tunnel tubing with Kaua’i Backcountry Adventures. The tubing I’ve done back on the mainland typically involves more rapids and/or more beer, but they’ve also never been this lush! The trip down the irrigation system was through tunnels and fern-lined channels. I typically like more active pursuits, but this adventure may float your tube.
Welcome to the jungle, we’ve got decomposing fruit. Seriously, I couldn’t even smell a ripe guava for the rest of the trip after our hike to Hanakapi’ai Falls. But power through, because the Hanakapi’ai Trail is just amazing, this is actually the first two miles of the Kalalau Trail. However, if you want to go further along the coast than two miles, you’ll need a permit. No permit required to head inland from Hanakapi’ai Beach though.
Enough about logistics; the turquoise ocean, bright green jungle, and clay soil caking shoes is a vivid backdrop for this adventure. Give yourself plenty of time, the initial mile has a decent amount of elevation gain for the humidity, then the trail levels out until it plunges down to the beach. From there, the two miles to the falls is slick with clay and guava on a good day – on a rainy day…I can’t even image. All that heart pumping and sweating is totally worth the jump into the pool below the waterfall. Then you get to turn around and do that all in reverse. Factor in time to jump in the ocean once you return to the parking lot so you aren’t caked in clay and sweat for dinner in Hanalei.
While booking adventures, we had a debate on which company to zip line with, more scenic or more adventurous. We booked with Outfitters Kauai, specifically their Lele ‘Eono tour. The scenery of Kipu Ranch was straight from a movie. Literally, there’s a long list of movies with scenes filmed here including Raiders of the Lost Ark, Outbreak, Tropic Thunder, Jurassic Park, and more. This tour did offer one upside down zip, so I got a taste of the adventure, but wanted more! The rest of our group was satisfied with just the one bite though. There are a ton of options in Kaua’i; I don’t think it’s really possible to go wrong.
Kokee Road has views on views on views! Which unfortunately for those faint of stomach, comes with curves on curves on curves through Waimea Canyon. Any of the vista points along the Grand Canyon of the Pacific are worth a stop, but definitely enjoy the view from Waimea Canyon Lookout and grab some fresh fruit from the local stand.
Please excuse this brief intermission for a Leave No Trace vent. If I see one more heart-shaped lock at a beautiful vista, I can’t guarantee that I’ll be able to contain the vomit to the back of my throat. What does it say about your relationship when you feel the need to lock a piece of garbage (let’s be honest here, this is litter) onto a fence or bridge for all to see? This article from The Guardian, “The Lock Of Love: Padlocks On Bridges” states my argument much more eloquently than I am able to, so have a read, I’ll wait here…I LOVED Venice’s Unlock Your Love campaign leaflets stating: “Your love doesn’t need chains. Venice doesn’t need your garbage.” Did you see the safety aspects of this declaration of amour? The weight of all of this love is collapsing bridges. If you insist on locking your love do it in a place that is meant for this devotion, oh sayyy Lovelock, Nevada! Now, I have a fondness for Nevada, but based on the amount of times I’ve had to come to its defense, I don’t think many others share this sentiment. My point being, if you and your love are willing to venture into the heart of Nevada’s high desert, that may say more about your bond than a silly lock. But, if you still want to lock your love, they have a place for that!
Farther along Kokee Road, Kalalau Lookout has an amazing view that left me craving more. If you want to earn you vista, explore one of the trails in Kokee State Park.
I don’t care the adventure level of your trip, there must be at least a partial day at the beach when visiting Kaua’i. There’s so many to chose from, the trick is to find the one that best fits you. We opted for family-friendly Lydgate Beach Park that has two rock-enclosed ponds. Bring your snorkel gear because there are schools of tropical fish swimming around in the big pool. Bob in the ocean or relax on the beach.
A jog or bike ride are great ways to explore a local area, even better when you don’t have to worry about getting hit by a car looking at the beautiful shore line. Our condo was conveniently located along the Kapa’a Bike Path. Be forewarned, if you’re not used to running in humid environments you may look like you have a horrid sunburn and your glasses won’t stay in place atop your nose. A bike ride may be a better option for us fair-skinned arid lovers. There are lots of bike rental options in Kapa’a, but I want to find the tandem rentals if Route and I ever make it to Kaua’i!
One last piece of insight, whether it’s a strenuous hike, core-testing SUP journey, or a wade through the meandering river at the resort – soak in the mist of a waterfall. While the later might be the easiest, it’s also the most chemically potent…