I am a bit of an adrenaline junkie, so when booking my upcoming trip to the Hawaiian island of Kauai, I was determined to dig up the islands best adventures. The Hawaiian islands are known for their beautiful beaches and fine dining but there are also many hikes, sailing, surfing and scuba diving opportunities to keep adventure lovers busy.
Here are some of the best adventures to have on Kauai:
Waterfall Repelling & Kayaking
I found an outfitter on the island of Kauai who offered kayaking and waterfall repelling trips, and I was sold! Repelling down a gushing waterfall was exactly what I was looking for.
We started off with a several kilometre kayak trip up a gentle river, a short jungle walk and then orientation and practice repel before heading into the jungle to find our waterfall. There were three routes down and each participant got to try two routes. One was an easier route, with even flow and rock placement. The other two were more ‘intermediate’ with heavier water flow and a slight overhang.
What a rush! Not a lot beats water gushing in your face as you struggle to find out footing and repelling down into a waist-deep pool of water. Exhilarating! And highly recommended to spice up your vacation! Contact Island Adventures for a variety of adventure sports options on Kauai.
Take a Doors-off Helicopter Tour
The islands are full of helicopter tours, but if you want to take it to the next level, opt for doors off! Feeling the mist and wind against you as you tour right up to waterfalls, sail over canyons and explore coastal inlets is incredible and ensures your photos are free from window glare!
Taking the helicopter tour around Kauai is a great option to explore areas of the island that aren’t accessible by roads and the scenery over the Napali Coast is some of the most dramatic and beautiful in all of North America. I was very happy with the tour I took with Mauna Loa Helicopters and would highly recommend them.
Hiking Napali the Coast & Swimming in a Waterfall
I have wanted to hike the Napali coast for a long time, and it definitely lived up to my high expectations. The trail begins at Ha’ena State Park, on the north-west side of the island, and follows the coastline for 2 miles before stopping at Hanakapi’ai Beach, which makes a great spot to sit and enjoy some scenery and lunch. Don’t swim in the water however, as the rough waves and strong undercurrent take the lives of several tourists each year.
For those wanting more, follow the path into the jungle another 2 miles until you reach the Hanakapi’ai waterfall. The 300-foot high waterfall pours into a lovely pool, perfect for a brisk swim! Make sure to check trail conditions and permit requirements before heading out. There are frequent floods in the area and the trail sometimes closes.
Learning to Surf
Surfing is one of the hardest things I’ve ever tried, but a small group lesson with Hanalei Surf School at Hanalei Bay certainly helped! This area is known for having one the most beautiful beaches on the island of Kauai, and the warm, shallow water and excellent beginner-level surf makes it an ideal spot to try the sport for the first time. I definitely recommend a lesson for your first time out, I was able to stand numerous times the first day and really enjoyed the beautiful beach and exploring the area after the lessons were over.
Given more time in the area, I would also recommend researching into Scuba diving and snorkelling options. There are some lava tubes on the south end of the island that sound really interesting. I would however, stay away from things like ATV tours, and the environmental impact is high and protecting the islands fragile eco-system means we can all enjoy them now and in the future.
Attend a Luau
Although not particularly adventurous, it’s hard not to fall for some tourist activities and cliches, like attending a Hawaiian luau. While the event isn’t particularly ‘realistic’ or historic, one can take pleasure in a few mai-tai’s, good food and amazing fire dancers. After a bit of research, we chose Luau Kalamaku, because of its high rating and gluten free dinner options.
The luau offered free transport from our hotel to the plantation, and we arrived about 90 minutes before the show was set to start. The evening began with a train tour of the property, which although lovely and scenic, I would recommend skipping unless you have kids. Instead, opt for a rum tasting in the Kōloa Rum Company Store which is also located on the property. I bought a fantastic bottle of spiced rum, with lots of vanilla notes. If rum tasting doesn’t interest you, you can explore the plantation houses and there are some nice shops on the property as well.
The show began with an Imu Ceremony, the unearthing of the Kahlua pig, which is a pig traditionally cooked in an earth oven. The dinner consisted of a nice buffet meal, with quite a lot of variety and clearly marked gluten free options, plus lots of mai tias. During the meal, traditional hula and music is performed, followed by the official show. The show was part theater, part visual spectacle. It was a loosely based story of the Polynesian discovery of Hawaii and had lots of drumming, fire and fantastic costumes. Overall, it was very well done and lots of fun. I would highly recommend Luau Kalamaku if you are looking to attend a luau.