We visited many beautiful places on the island of Kauai. If your heading to the Garden Isle of Hawaii, check out our list of the three we thought were the most memorable (listed in no particular order).
Kalalau Trail (Na Pali Coast)
Kalalau Trail is one of the best hikes in Kauai. We attempted to find parking at Ke’e Beach, which is where the trailhead for the Kalalau Trail starts. That lot was full, so we ended up parking at a pot-hole-and-rock-filled parking lot a few hundred yards down. (Tip: Arrive early and get a good parking spot!) The hike starts with a pretty steep incline that gets your heart racing! You climb pretty high pretty quickly, so within the first quarter mile, you are overlooking beautiful Ke’e Beach. (To read our post about the best beaches in Kauai, click here.) The water was so clear! We could see the reefs below and could even see turtles swimming! The hiking trail evened out a little, but there were still a few steep parts. Eventually, we had views of the Na Pali coastline, which made for incredible pictures! The first 2 miles of the Kalalau Trail is the most popular hike on the island. After the two-mile mark, hikers have to have a permit to continue on. We had hoped to do the entire two miles, but decided to turn back at about the one mile mark and head to the beach!
Renting a car is essential for your time on Kauai. Without your own wheels, it may be a little difficult getting to and from these gorgeous places! We found a great deal on a convertible with Hertz.
Mahaulepu Heritage Trail
Little did we know, we’d have to drive down a pot-hole-filled 2.5 mile dirt road to get to this hidden gem! We were actually in search of tidepools at Mahaulepu Beach when we stumbled across what ended upon being one of our favorites places on the entire island! It was pretty windy out on the beach, so we decided to head back and see what else we could find. We drove the car a little down another road leading off the parking lot and hit a gold mine! There was a trail that ran along the coast, passing cliffs and rocks leading to the crystal clear water below. Funny Story: Since we thought we were just going to another beach to look quickly at tide pools and didn’t really know what we were getting ourselves into with the long-drive down the dirt road, we both really had to pee. I thought I could hold it, but as the landscape kept getting more and more beautiful as we walked, I didn’t want to just turn around and leave. Obviously Sam had it a little easier, but we both stopped and took turns peeing in the bushes, while the other person served as the lookout. Fortunately, there weren’t too many other travelers along this path and luckily I was wearing a skirt! Hey, when you gotta go, you gotta go! We got to one point on the trail, where we felt like we had been transported to Ireland! There were green mountains and beautiful coastal cliffs culminating into crashing waves below. It couldn’t get more beautiful and scenic than this! And the best part is that we only saw four or five other people the whole time!
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On the way to Waimea Canyon, we stopped to take pictures of the beautiful valley at the Hanapepe Overlook and finished the nearly 2 hour drive from Princeville. Tip for future travelers to Waimea Canyon: regardless of what your GPS says, turn off at Waimea Canyon Road (Highway 550), NOT Kokee Road. The views are much better! There were so many scenic views from the road. We probably pulled over at least 7 times before reaching the Waimea Canyon Lookout just after the 10-mile marker. This place is appropriately nicknamed the ‘Grand Canyon of the Pacific’, and I truly did feel as if we were back at the Grand Canyon in Arizona! The views were absolutely breathtaking! We set up our GoPro to take a time lapse video while we took our obligatory tourist pictures in front of the canyon.
We continued on down the road to the very end (18-mile marker) to the Kalalau Lookout. We were getting nervous as we were reaching the end of the road, because as the elevation climbed to 4,000 feet, not only did the temperature drop, but the ever-present clouds rolled in! When we finally reached the lookout, you could barely see the Na Pali coast below. Just as we walked up to the ridge, there was a small clearing in the clouds and I snapped a few pictures before the clouds completely covered the vista. We sat on the ground and waited for a good 25 minutes before leaving. The clouds never did clear again, but we were getting hungry, so I forced myself to be satisfied with the pictures I snapped when we first got there and were on our way!
These are just three of many beautiful places on the island of Kauai. If you’re dreaming of your own trip to the Garden Isle, check out our other Kauai Travel Blogs for inspiration. Also, for less than a buck ($1 USD), you can download our printable Kauai Destination Guide that includes information on: Transportation | Best Time to Visit | Weather | Recommended Lodgings and Restaurants | Suggested Activities Based on Interest | Money Saving Tips | Kauai Facts | Sample One Week in Kauai Itinerary
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