On Kauai we ended our camping experiment prematurely. As on this island camp grounds cannot be booked online, we went to the county office in person. There we received the info that Haena State Park, the only campsite that allowed campervans, was closed because a storm had washed away the street accessing it. As the tent permits for the other camp sites only cost 6 USD a night, we still bought them but were sure to check other options.
As soon as we had checked into the Kauai Shores Hotel for our first night we were overwhelmed by the comfort, kindness and beauty of this hotel and decided to extend our stay by two more nights and to return for the last one. We had to be honest with ourselves and admit that tent camping on super basic campsites is just not for us. Besides the days and nights we spent at the Kauai Shores Hotel were the most relaxing of all our time on Hawaii.
After this was sorted out, we present you the best things to do on Kauai.
Drive up the Waimea Canyon until you reach the Napali Coast
We have already been to the Grand Canyon, Brice Canyon, Fishriver Canyon and some others, but this one was for sure the most beautiful one we have ever seen. Its colors are unreal as there is black, red, yellow and white stone and in between some green bushes and trees that look like they were placed there on purpose.
And the further we drove the more fascinating the canyon became. There were all sorts of waterfalls, from the tiny little Red Dirt Waterfall to the gigantic falls in the center of the canyon. Everything about this canyon fascinated us. Its size, the plants, the colors, the shape of its walls – simply everything.
And when we had reached its highest point, we drove directly into the Napali Coast. From the most beautiful canyon we had ever seen to the most beautiful coastline we had ever seen. The coastline looked like it was wrapped around the island with hundreds of wrinkles, holes, waterfalls and plants. This view made us already so happy and we couldn’t wait to see this unique coastline from the water.
Sunset sail the Napali Coast with whales, dolphins, flying fishs and sea turtles
The same storm that had washed away the street to the Haena Beach Park had also washed away Kalalau Trail which used to be placed right in the steep Napali Coast. And so the only way to access the coast was by boat – but we had planed to do that anyway.
We took off with a 55 feet catamaran and the most service oriented and entertaining crew we could imagine. The weather was perfect and before we had even left the harbor, we saw a sea turtle taking a deep breath before diving down again. And later we had our first interaction with some Humpback Whales. We had been whale watching a lot on big island and even took a whale watching cruise there but never really got close. But that changed on this trip, as we had so much whale action, that we sometimes didn’t know where to look. First there was a baby training his muscles for its long swim to the Antarctic. It did that by repeatedly jumping out of the water and fall to its side – the so-called breaching. And then there was another baby standing vertical in the water with his tail reaching to the sky and smashing it on the surface. They both did that safely guarded by their mother, which was one of the reasons why we didn’t go to close to them. And later on the trip we got lucky again. We were able to see two massive male whales fighting. Everything on them was just way bigger then on the babies and when they fought, we could barely imagine how much power was involved in this conflict. This power got also demonstrated to us by another male whale who did the most massive breaches we had seen during our entire time on Hawaii. This force of nature was simply mind-blowing.
Somewhere in between all this whale action, we saw some flying fish passing some impressive distances through the air and then there were the Spinner Dolphins. When our captain saw them, he changed the direction of the boat in such a way that, they started to swim in front of our catamaran. There were about ten animals swimming so close to the boat, that we could almost touch them. It was so fulfilling to see those magical creatures again from up close while they were joyfully gliding through the water at full speed.
And of course, there was the Napali Coast in his impressive size, shape and beauty. From what we were only able to see a glimpse while standing on top of the coast, we could now enjoy it in all his dimensions. And this view confirmed our verdict, that it was probably the most beautiful coastline we had ever seen.
After dinner and a marvelous sunset we returned safely to the harbor. We were a bit tipsy because of the open bar but mostly because of the beautiful impressions we had gained that day and that will always stay in our minds.
Kayak and mud hike to the Secret Falls
To be honest, they are not that secret anymore, but as they can only be accessed by kayaking and a long muddy walk they are still pretty special. The kayaking was short and easy, but the hike was the tough part. As we didn’t want to spend hours to clean our shoes we decided to go barefoot. On most parts of the trail that was a good decision as the mud reached up to our ankles but on some parts it was either super slippery or we had to be careful not to get insured on the sharp rocks.
But all that was rewarded with an astonishingly beautiful waterfall at the end of the trail. The falls are about 30m high and free falling and you can swim to them and even stand under them. And when doing so you start to realize how much weight all this water has. The scenery was so beautiful that we sat there, had lunch and just starred at them for a long time.
We spent so much time, that we almost got into a hurry to reach the second point on our agenda – the swimming hole. It is a calm area of the river where the water is deep enough to jump into it from the cliffs. And of course we did that before paddling back to the rental station and return our Kanoo right in time.
Fly over the Wailua Falls
No, we didn’t book a helicopter flight, but we had Melvin with us, who is a helicopter carrying a camera. And to properly see the Wailua Falls we absolutely needed him. Because from the view point you can only see a part of the falls. There is also some kind of a trail down there, but it is steep, slippery, not maintained and illegal. And so we decided to send Melvin down there, but the moment he was in position a sudden rain shower began. We managed to get him back without crashing him and left. But we returned on our last day on the island and in perfect conditions Melvin managed to show us those falls in all their beauty. From the air it looked like a big hole in the forest where the water falls down into an almost circular pool.
Snorkel Poipu Beach and learn to relax from a Monk Seal
Poipu Beach is considered one of the best snorkeling spots on the island and it is pretty in the shallow water with all the colorful fishes. But because of the shallow water it is also full of kids, which shouldn’t have surprised us when reading its nickname – baby pool. But there was one guest that helped us to calm down, a member of the rare species of the monk seals. Exhausted from a night of hunting he was resting at the beach. And when one of the kids was getting too annoying he buried his head in the sand.
Hanalei Bay and Farmer Market
Hanalei Bay is the most north you can go since the storm and the bay is definitely worth a visit. When we arrived there was a slight rain, but as the sun was shining at the same time, we had a perfect rainbow expanding over the bay.
Besides the bay Hanalei also hosts the most famous farmers market of the island every Saturday morning. There you can buy all sorts of vegetables and fruits, flowers, handcraft items and food. And there are some local artists performing on their instruments.