All of Hawaii is breathtakingly beautiful, but there is something magical about Kauai. It feels much more wild and exciting; a natural kind of beauty. We tried to soak in as much of Kauai's scenery as possible during our trip. As I've said before, my husband is the adventurous one, but I too love finding unique ways to appreciate new destinations.
On our first full day in Kauai, we drove less than a mile and a half to a small parking area near the trail head for Queen's Bath. I am not joking when I say the parking area is small. There is room for maybe seven cars. We arrived at 10am and got the last spot by some miracle. I highly recommend arriving earlier that that or just walking from the St. Regis.
Queen's Bath is an incredible natural wonder in Kauai. It is a tide pool surrounded by lava rocks that captures ocean water and creatures at high tide.
The hike to the water is very quick and easy, it took maybe ten minutes. We spent at least an hour walking around the lava rocks and enjoying the views.
However, Queen's Bath is extremely controversial. Most tour guides do not recommend going there. Our hotel concierge strongly discouraged us from going. Due to the unpredictable nature of high tide and the lava rocks lending a false sense of security, there have been some deaths from drowning associated with this tide pool. There is a rather menacing sign that warns that 25+ people died. We decided to go and hike but not swim. I think this was a good decision. There were swimmers when we were there, but it does look quite dangerous and I do not consider myself a strong swimmer.
Fresh from a quiet evening and invigorated by the beauty of Queen's Bath, we tackled the world-famous Na Pali coast the next day. Several months in advance, we booked a seventeen mile kayak tour with Napali Kayak. Yes, seventeen miles. We only brought a disposable waterproof camera, so the photos are very poor quality. This would have been the perfect time for a Go-Pro camera!
The Kayak trip started bright and early. We met in Hanalei at 6:00am to check in. Hanalei is only about ten minutes from the St. Regis. We waited about a half hour for the group to arrive, but we didn't wait around too long! In fact, our group ended up leaving without one couple. While were waiting, we packed dry bags with our supplies. Here is what I recommend bringing:
- Waterproof shoes: the sand gets HOT and there were a few occasions where we were dragging our kayak to and from the trailer
- Water: so much water. At least 3 liters. We each brought two 1.5 liter bottles. That was about the perfect amount.
- Sunglasses: it is so bright on the water. Bring one of those nerdy sunglass straps too so you don't lose them in the ocean.
- Rash guard with SPF: this saved me. It is nearly impossible to apply enough sunscreen. Plus, as strange as it sounds, there were times I was cold.
- Towel: I used it to dry off during lunch of course, and I sat on it during the ride home, but I also used it to cover my feet when I noticed they were getting too much sun.
- Dry clothes: I did not bring dry clothes to change into. This was a mistake. I had to ride an hour in my wet and sandy swimsuit. It was not fun.
- Sunscreen: bring the highest SPF you can find. Bathe in it.
- Cap: to shade your face.
- Protein bars: Kayaking works up a serious appetite.
- Seasickness meds: I took non-drowsy Drammamine before I started, I had a sticky patch behind my ear, and I STILL got sea sick for about a thirty minute period. The open ocean is rough, and if your stomach is at all inclined to sensitivity, BRING THE MEDS.
- Camera: don't just bring a waterproof disposable camera. Bring a Go-Pro or similar waterproof camera. The views are breathtaking and once-in-a-lifetime.
Next, we all loaded into a shuttle bus to Haena Beach Park, about fifteen minutes away. They oriented us to the kayak and gave us tips on piloting them. The stronger person goes in the back, so I of course dove for the front of the kayak.
After one mile of kayaking, there is a place to bail out. This is the last chance go to back for the entire seventeen miles. I made sure to take a moment and truly access how I was feeling. Thankfully, I felt good, so I pressed onward, and I'm so glad! I am a fairly fit person who works out at the gym around five days a week, but I am not a pro kayaker. In fact, this was the first time I had ever kayaked. My husband, however, is an experienced kayaker. He was a lifesaver in steering the boat for us. It was a tough day! We got back to our car at around 7:00pm. But I did it and was able to keep up with the others. If you are determined enough and in descent physical shape, you can complete the trip. It was about five hours to paddle to the sandbar for lunch and another three or so to the end from there. The guides provided a picnic lunch, pointed out dolphins and sea turtles and took us through sea caves. It was by far the most memorable days of our trip!
The next day, our muscles ached, but thankfully we had a plan to see Kauai without exerting any physical energy: helicopter ride!
There really is no way to compare seeing the mountains and waterfalls by air. We loved having an experienced guide who pointed out all of the attractions and shared interesting tidbits about the island. However, zipping down Na Pali coast so soon after slogging the seventeen miles in a kayak left me with some mixed feelings. Especially since I was still sore!
The helicopter ride was a short one hour, but it was so worth it. We rode on a Robinson R44 with the doors off to maximize the pretty views. Our tour company was Muana Loa Helicopters because they offered a private helicopter ride.
There are so many incredible hikes in Kauai, but I'm going to end our adventures post here. There are better sources for discovering good hiking trails, and I wanted to focus on three somewhat different activities. Stay tuned for Part III!