Tag Archives: Kauai

Hiking the Napali Coast in Kauai, Hawaii

There is hiking. And, then, there is hiking the Kalalau Trail along the Napali Coast in Kauai.

As hiking trails go – there are smooth, flat lanes all the way to rugged, steep and rocky pathways. There are hikes along river beds and valleys, and those along mountain crests with 360 degrees views.

The Kalalau Trail in Kauai is popular and scenic, so we assumed it would be an easy, smooth hike. WRONG!

The trail is rugged. The trail is rocky. The trail is up and down.

That being said, I did the hike in Chaco sandals and Mike was prepared enough to have both, Chacos and his shoes. I wish I had closed toes, but I was thankful for sturdy Vibram soles. Mike liked the protection from pebbles in his shoes, but hated that be slipped around. Put our shoes together and we would be golden. Put our shoes together and you’ve got a decent pair of hiking shoes … go figure!

Even though you are at the beach and in a tropical paradise, pack and wear your hiking boots/shoes. The trail can get muddy, so slipping is a concern. The trail is rocky, so twisting your ankle is a concern. The trail has loose gravel in places, so small stones in your shoes is a concern. The terrain’s elevation often undulatedĀ and uneven, so blisters are a concern.

Pack plenty of food and water as the trail is long – even to the first major stopping point. If you’re on the trail, you might as well hike to Hanakapi’ia beach. Mike and I stopped here, drank water, ate our snacks, swam and then headed back. This took us almost 6 hours. It is a long day; be ready with nutrition and hydration.

Plan for a hike that takes the entire day. The earlier you arrive the better for a few reasons. First, you might find a parking spot. Parking is extremely scarce, so arrive before the sun comes up to make sure your spot. The trail runs along the western coast of the island which means it is in the shade until noon. The afternoons are brutally hot and little shade is found along the trail certain times of year. Bring hat, sunglasses and sunscreen, for sure!

Our hike time was not the best given our poor shoe choice and 500 stops for photos (it is that scenic), but we were not in a rush. Hiking Kalalau was one of our favorite adventures while on Kauai. In fact, I’d like to return to hike the entire trail, camping and everything. I know, I know. You probably don’t believe me. I barely believe me.Who knows, maybe they have a glamping option! šŸ™‚

Beaches in Kauai, Hawaii

Going to the beach is an obvious activity in Hawaii. But, all beaches have ups and downs – and not just the waves and tides. Here are our favorites of Kauai and why (or why not).

Polihale Beach – I’ll start with this beach because it was my absolute favorite on the island. It is secluded and picturesque and the perfect venue to watch the sun sink into the water. It is secluded and a local favorite because you MUST have 4 wheel drive to access this beach. The roads leading into the beach and state park are sugar sand, or very deep sand, that a car with front wheel drive only just cannot make it through. Michael and I even helped a car who took the risk (and failed). We helped the couple to push their car out of sand. Meanwhile, the locals drove past and shook their heads. You can’t blame them though; there are signs posted in multiple locations along the road; so proceed at your own risk. Not to mention that they’ve likely helped their fair share of clueless tourists. So, the need for a 4-wheel drive vehicle is both a blessing and a curse, depending on how you look at it for this beach. A pitfall of Polihale Beach areĀ that the waters are very rough. Polihale Beach is not a swimming beach, but the fact that it is not busy and so scenic made it our favorite.

Brennecke’s Beach – Brennecke’s Beach is the opposite of Polihale in that it is very busy and easy to get to from a busy road in Poipu. But, on the flip side, you can easily swim. Another plus is that you have the chance to see turtles nesting. This is a common occurrence on other beaches on the island, but this is the only place we saw a turtle on the beach while on Kauai. You also have the option of sipping a cocktail at Brennecke’s Beach Bar while watching the waves if you want. This kind of option is always good when you’re fed up with other tourists stepping over you and screaming children. Sorry! (Not really!)

Shipwreck’s Beach – Like Polihale, Shipwreck’s Beach is not good for swimming, but it is great for watching surfers and boggy boarders. The waves crash violently at the shore, making for dramatic wipe outs and impressive rides. Parking is also very close. The beach is next to a large resort, so you will not have the place to yourself, but it was not as busy as Brennecke’s when we were there around sunset.

TunnelsĀ Beach– Tunnels beach is a long, curved shoreline, offering beach goers space to spread out and feel like you have a place to relax without hearing other’s conversations or music. It is also great for snorkeling, a long stroll on the beach and shell/rock hunting. The large black lava rocks against the bright turquoise water make for a beautiful view when on land too. We also saw a monk seal bathing on the beach, the only sighting during our week on the island.

Ke’e Beach – Ke’e Beach is known for its snorkeling, calm waters and sunset views. We experienced all 3 and agree with its reputation. The biggest downfall of this beach is the parking problem, and it is a problem. The beach is also at theĀ trail head for the Hanakapi’ai Trail; the most popular trail on the island. Arrive early, or wait until just before sunset and hope you find a spot. Expect to walk at least a half a mile once parked. It’s a hike; before the hike.

Hanakapi’ai Beach – Speaking of hiking, Hanakapi’ai Beach is only accessible by boat or a couple of hours of hiking. But, oh man! It is so worth it! Pack plenty of water, hiking boots and snacks and enjoy a pristine beach while eating, re-hydrating and cooling off in the water. But, again, parking is an issue as you park in the same area for this hike and beach as you do for Ke’e Beach. So, again, get there early, really early.

All beaches are not created equally, but Kauai’s beaches are known around the world for a reason. Kauai is the perfect destination for beach lovers and for outdoor lovers in general.Ā 

Waimea Canyon – Kauai, HI

We spent a day at the Western Rim of the Grand Canyon during a whirlwind road trip from San Diego to Las Vegas. It was an out of the way “pit stop” and made us realize canyons are dramatic, colorful and beautiful land forms to explore and adore. We treated Waimea Canyon in Kauai with more “respect” and admired her from more than one angle!

waimea-canyon-kauai

Waimea Canyon is located on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. It is an easy day trip from Lihue or Poipu and lives up to its name “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” It is not quite as big as The Grand Canyon, but seeing the canyon from as many different angles as you can is bound to satisfy your thirst for nature and beauty, adventure and exploration.

We drove the rim and flew over; both were a great way to experience a canyon. We also hiked, some, but saved our energy for hiking the Napali Coastline Trail a few days later.

Our first day on the island started with a helicopter ride around the island, focusing on the canyon. What an incredible way to start our trip. We flew with Mauna Loa and splurged for the private “doors off” tour.

doors-off-mauna-loa-kauai

One might balk at the price ($287 USD per person). However, after reading reviews that mentioned middle seats and horrible views on the larger helicopter, we agreed the money was well worth it. We were so right! Mike and I had unobstructed views the entire time. The wind hitting your skin and the sound of the routers and propeller, coupled with the views, was an incredible visceral experience.

mauna-loa-helicopter-tour-kauai helicopter-flight-over-waimea-canyon

Two days later we found ourselves back at Waimea Canyon, but this time we were on solid ground. The place is just as beautiful though!

driving-waimea-canyon-kauai jeep-wrangler-rental-kauai

waimea-canyon-small-waterfall-uluru

We drove, stopped for photo ops and even hiked at Kalalau Lookout. Although there wasn’t much of a view as the peak was heavily shrouded in a dense cloud. It was an eerie feeling to not be able to see more than about a hundred meters ahead, even though you should have been able to see for miles!

kalalau-lookout-cloud kalalau-lookout-standing-in-a-cloud wettest-place-on-earth-kauai hiking-near-kalalau-lokout-kauai

From up above or ground level, either way you look at it (pun intended), Waimea Canyon is impressive. Thousands of years of wind and water have carved pathways through rock. Our world is an amazing place. I’m so happy I was able to explore this little corner of it.