Aloha! Kauai, also known as “The Garden Isle” is the oldest of the Hawaiian Islands. It’s famous for its pristine beaches, dramatic cliffs, dense tropical foliage, awe-inspiring canyons, and majestic mountain ranges. For those that have seen the movies Jurassic Park, Raiders of the Lost Arc, Tropic Thunder, or Pirates of the Caribbean you have seen Kauai. These landscapes can be enjoyed in activities such as hiking, surfing, scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking, deep-sea fishing, wind surfing, whale watching, golfing, horseback riding, camping, or just basking in the Pacific sun. The island’s relatively small size makes most activities accessibly by car within one to two hours.
Personal Concierge: There is so much to do on the Garden Island of Kauai that it’s hard to know where to begin. Why not let Kauai Vacation Helpers assist you? Over the past 14 years the staff of Kauai Vacation Helpers have personally experienced all of these activities so they can advise first hand on what to expect. You can call them at 1-800-427-5996 from 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. Hawaii time, seven days a week, or at 808-635-6909 after hours or check things out at www.kauaivacationhelpers.com. There’s a multitude of activities with something to do for everyone from the most sedentary to the most active.
Beaches: Deciding which beach to visit might be your most challenging daily task. There are swimming beaches, shelling beaches, sunset beaches, surfing beaches, kite surfing beaches and solitary beaches where you can be totally alone. Brennecke’s Beach and Poipu Beach Park are only steps from Beachside Poipu Hale. This is one of Kauai’s safest beaches, with natural breakwater and shallows perfect for young children. The Park has bathrooms, picnic tables, pavilions, showers, lifeguards, and a playground with bars, swings all on padded turf.
Boating: To help you explore Kauai’s off shore waters and the magical Napali Coast there are various companies that offer a variety of boating adventures. Whale watching, snorkeling, scuba diving, deep-sea fishing and wonderful sunset cruises are all a part of the boating adventures. Most boating activities depart from Port Allen or harbors on the south and west shore of Kauai.
Fishing: Deep sea fishing charter boats offer half and full day charters, with all fishing gear included, and are available at Kukui’ula Harbor in Lawai, Port Allen, and on the north shore in Hanalei. All companies offer private and group charters to offshore areas that are teeming with exciting game fish such as sailfish, marlin, and yellow fin tuna.
Golfing: There are 7 world-class golf courses on Kauai. In Poipu, we have Kiahuna Golf Club and the Championship Poipu Bay Resort course on the grounds of the Grand Hyatt resort. Both are testy 18 hole course with Poipu Bay being home to the Grand Slam of Golf for 13 years. Nearby in Kalaheo, you will find Kukiolono Golf Course, a beautiful 9 hole municipal course that is a favorite with locals. In Lihue, the Kauai Lagoons sports a 27 hole, Jack Nicklaus designed, championship course and Robin Nelson’s newly completed 18 hole Puakea Golf Course. Wailua is home to several Hawaii State amateur events and is a challenging 18-hole links style course. On the North Shore at Princeville, there are 2 courses. The Makai course is 27 holes which include The Lakes, The Ocean and The Woods. The Prince course is an 18 hole course which is rated #1 in the State of Hawaii by Golf Digest. Very challenging!
Helicopter Tours: A helicopter tour is the only way to see the magnificent beauty of Kauai’s remote interior. Tours leave from Hanapepe at salt pond airstrip and Lihue general aviation terminal. There are few experiences that can match a helicopter flight over the most beautiful island in the world.
Hiking: On the north shore at the end of the road at Ke’e Beach is the trailhead for the Kalalau trail. This is the granddaddy of Kauai hiking. You hike along the Napali coast eleven miles into the Kalalau Valley, which is breathtakingly beautiful. This hike is for experienced hikers and takes a full day each way so you need a pass to camp. This hike must be planned in advance. The same trail can be enjoyed as a day hike to Hanakapiai Valley and Falls. Other short hikes can be enjoyed from trails beginning above Opaekaa Falls lookout in Wailua .
The most popular hiking area is Koke’e at the far west end of the island. It’s 10 miles from Waimea on winding roads (Highway 520) with spectacular views of the Waimea valley to reach the Koke’e Lodge. From there you can buy a hiking map that will instruct you on difficulty, distance and views of the various trails. It’s well worth the investment. The flora and fauna are incredible and in many cases indigenous to Koke’e… not to be seen anywhere else on this planet.
Horses: There are 3 excellent horseback riding stables on Kauai. CJM Stables in Poipu offers daily trail rides along the shores of the remote Mahaulepu coastline. On the North Shore at Princeville both Silver Falls Ranch and Princeville Stables offer 3-hour trail rides through Kauai’s backcountry to a private waterfall, for a picnic and a swim.
Kayaking: Whether you prefer river or open water kayaking they are both available on island. For do-it-yourselfers, both ocean and fresh water kayaks can be rented in several locations in Koloa Town and Poipu. However we would recommend using a tour company as its easier, safer and not much more expensive.
Surfing: Kauai’s north shore is home to some of the best surfers in the world including Bruce and Andy Irons. Needless to say we have some of the best surfing on the planet. During the winter months, the North Shore of Kauai is a winter surfing mecca, but in the summer, Poipu receives the south swell which makes for great surfing. Among the many surf spots around Poipu, perhaps the most famous is Brennecke’s Beach known for it’s boogey boarding and body surfing. Shipwrecks Beach at the Grand Hyatt is also a favorite for body surfing. Waiohai beach (between the Sheraton Hotel and Poipu Beach) and PK’s on the road to Spouting Horn are two local favorites on the south shore.
In any case, surfing is available everywhere on Kauai. Daily group lessons are available at Nukumoi Surf Shop (next door) which is the authorized agent for The Kauai Surf School. Charlie Smith at Blue Seas Surf School has been a favorite with Beachside Poipu guests. Call at 808-634-6979 orwww.blueseassurfingschool.com.
Scuba Diving: Kauai’s pristine waters, great visibility and diverse aquatic life attract scuba divers from all over the world. There is a dive shop in almost every town on the island, so rental gear, air, and instruction can be easily found. Fathom Five Divers is in Koloa Town and SeaSport Divers is located on Poipu Road at the Kukui’ula Shopping center.
Shopping: GROCERIES: Koloa town has Big Save, Suekoa’s and Kukui’ula local markets. On Mondays at noon there is a Farmers Market at the Koloa Baseball field which is on the Tree Tunnel road (Malahia) just outside of Koloa Town toward Lihue. This is a must, you can load up on flowers and fresh island grown produce at reasonable prices. Kukui’ula has a wonderful farmers market on Wednesday afternoon from 3:30pm to 6:00pm with live music and food demo’s plus local farmer stands. Kauai has a Costco now! It’s located at Kukui Grove in Lihue along with Home Depot, Star market. K-Mart, Sports Authority and Longs. Walmart is located in Lihue on the way to the airport.
Friday Night is art walk night in Hanapepe Town from 6pm to 9pm: A fun evening for the whole family, something for everyone, where they have art, food, and live entertainment. Our personal favorite is the Angela Headley Gallery, you can visit her website at www.angelaheadley.com.
GIFTS: Kauai abounds with fun places to shop! Koloa Town, Kukui’ula and Poipu Beach Shopping center have great restaurants, art galleries, clothing stores and unique gift shops. The island has an abundance of small shops that sell items which are hand crafted by local artists. One such area is Spouting Horn Park, where you can find some great bargains and see the beauty of a blow hole at the same time. Another great spot is the Hawaiian Trading Post at the intersection of Kaumualii Highway and Koloa Road. They have the largest collection of Niihau Shell necklaces and some of the most beautiful pearls you will see anywhere.
Snorkeling: The waters and tidepools of Poipu Beach are home to wide variety of fish, turtles and the monk seal. Snorkeling is a favorite pastime of our guests. Inexpensive equipment can be purchased at K-mart, Walmart or Costco. However, a good mask, fins and snorkel can be rented reasonably at Nukumoi’s next door or Snorkel Bob’s, a couple minutes away on Poipu Road at the traffic circle. Outfitters Kauai, in Poipu offers scuba and snorkeling equipment rental, as well as bicycles and kayaks.
Virtually every beach in Poipu has at least one excellent snorkeling spot. Just to the right of the sand outcropping at Poipu Beach Park there is a great novice area to snorkel. If you get to the north shore, Anini Beach offers very good diving along a 3-mile coastline enclosed by a long outer reef. Inside the reef, you will encounter a myriad of colorful tropical fish and several species of coral. At the road’s end you will find Ke’e Beach, and Tunnels Beach, both known for their good water clarity. For the more adventurous, several boat tour companies offer snorkeling trips to the offshore reef areas of Poipu and the Napali Coast.
Tennis: In Poipu you will find several private courts available, which offer daily clinics, round robins and excellent Pro Shops. Within 3 minutes walking distance from Beachside Poipu is Poipu Kai Tennis Club (Tel: 808/742-8706) with 9 courts. A 10-minute walk or 2-minute drive away is Kiahuna Tennis & Swimming Club (Tel: 808/742-9533) with 10 courts. The Sheraton Hotel and Grand Hyatt Resort & Spa are open to the public at a fee. There are also 20 public lighted courts on the island listed at www.kauai.gov.
Waterskiing: Wake boarding and water skiing are offered by several activities companies along the Wailua River on Kauai’s East side. This is the only navigable river in the State of Hawaii. Equipment rentals, boats for towing skiers, and ski instruction are available.
Windsurfing: Anini Beach on the North Shore is one of the most popular and safest beaches for beginners to learn windsurfing. An offshore reef creates a peaceful lagoon in most winds and on most days. For the more experienced windsurfers, Tunnels on the North Shore is a good bet. On the south side, windsurfing is found at Shipwreck and Mahaulepu Beach in Poipu… but it is for experienced windsurfers as both winds and ocean conditions are challenging to say the least.
Yoga: A yoga class and group session is offered every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at Poipu Beach (at the end of Kuai Road) under one of the hala trees. The session begins at 9:00AM and ends at 10:30AM. This is a wonderful class geared from beginners to advanced, locals and visitors alike. All are welcome!