Experience the unsung king of the Hawaiian island chain.
Kauai, most appropriately nicknamed the Garden Isle, is the Hawaiian vacation destination treasured for its lush tropical greenery and sparkling sand beaches. The tropical paradise of Kauai basks amidst the sparkling blue waters of the Pacific Ocean, about 20 minutes by air from Honolulu. Formed some six million years ago, the island encompasses roughly 550 square miles and is the oldest and northernmost of the eight major islands of the Hawaiian chain.
For vacationers who want to avoid the crowds of Oahu and Maui and see Hawaii in a much more natural setting, Kauai is the perfect alternative. Visitors to the island worship not only its postcard-perfect beauty, but Kauai’s diversity of cultures, activities, shopping, and dining.
If ever an island was made for adventure, it’s the Hawaiian island of Kauai, owing to its extraordinary and diverse natural environment. Verdant rainforests, sparkling sand beaches, impressive golf courses, vibrant scenery, friendly faces, blissful breezes, and striking waterfalls are just a few of Kauai’s spectacular offerings to its guests.
Here are just a few of our star-studded recommendations:
1. Port Allen
The busy harbor at Port Allen is the launch pad for a fleet of pleasure boats that take to the seas for whale watching, dinner sails, dolphin encounters, charter fishing, snorkel and picnic trips and cruising beneath the stunning green palisades of the Napali Coast.
2. The Napali Coast
Hiking trails head into Waimea, the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” or along the Napali Coast to breathtaking valleys unreachable by road. There are coastal hikes across high sand dunes and rainforest treks among the oldest flora in Hawaii. Ferns reach up to eye level and tropical hibiscus and ginger blossoms measure the size of one’s fist. Waterfalls and cool plunge pools, hidden shoreline coves and glorious mountain vistas heighten the whole experience.
The only navigable rivers in Hawaii flow through Kauai. Paddlers can explore placid river reaches by kayak, gliding silently through sanctuaries for the rarest birds on planet Earth.
4. Horseback Riding
Real horseback riding will take one into forests, canyons, and mountains for picnics, waterfall swims, and glorious ocean vistas.
5. Movie Tours
Kauai’s award-winning and highly popular movie tours offer visitors the opportunity to visit the places of breathtaking scenery where some of the most popular motion pictures and television series have been filmed. These hits include Jurassic Park, Raiders of the Lost Ark, South Pacific, Blue Hawaii, Gilligan’s Island, Fantasy Island, and about 30 others.
6. Na ‘Aina Kai Botanical Gardens
Kauai is known as the Garden Isle because it’s so green and the flora and fauna so profligate. One can wander through botanical gardens chartered by the U.S. Congress and encounter some of the rarest living things on Earth. The scenery is dramatic, the air tranquil. Ninety percent of Hawaii’s native plants are unique to the Islands and half are endangered.
At Na ‘Aina Kai Botanical Gardens, the Garden Isle’s newest garden, whimsical sculptures and a maze full of surprises are woven into a landscape of ponds, gardens, waterfalls, lagoons and streams. Kauai’s glorious weather provides the just right amount of sun and rain to nurture kiawe trees, blackberries, java plum, guava, eucalyptus, bamboo, sandalwood, pineapple, and sugarcane, to name just a few.
7. Water and Leisure Sports
Kauai is a great place to learn a new sport or hobby, one that may light up a lifetime. There are schools for surfing, scuba diving, tennis, and golf. Golfers can tee off at one of nine golf courses, many of them championship links set amidst spectacular scenery. There are also several tennis courts.
Some of the most authentic lu’au in Hawaii happen on Kauai. No one should go home without enjoying this traditional feast with Hawaiian food, hula, and fun.