Situated in the vast Pacific Ocean is a 2,400 km chain of islands better known as Hawaii. Hawaii is unlike no other; every island, atoll, and islet have once been a monstrous volcano making each one of these places unique in every way possible.
When most people hear Hawaii what usually comes to mind are the beautiful beaches of Waikiki – Oahu to the oasis of Maui, yet many people haven't explored the garden isle of Kauai, or the volcanic hot spot of Hawaii.
Oahu and Maui are only the beginning to what is ready for exploration on the beautiful islands of Kauai, and Hawaii. Having been to all 4 major islands, I decided to post my top ten favorite spots to visit and explore on each island.
Being the oldest (and smallest) of the four major islands, Kauai has a lot to offer for visiting tourists. Dubbed the "Garden Isle", it really does live up to its name. Mount Waialeale at the center of the island receives over 452 inches of precipitation a year, making it one of the rainiest spots on this planet. I have carefully put together a top 10 to-do list while visiting Kauai.
1. Na Pali Coast
This scenic area on the island's north west coast is one of the most breathtaking naturally made coast lines in the world. It offers some of the most beautiful beaches. The Pali (cliffs) rise as high as 4,000 feet (1200m) above the beautiful pacific ocean. The coast can be enjoyed by hiking, boating (kayaks), and by air (either helicopter or small airplane). A definite must see!
2. Waimea Canyon
Dubbed "The Grand Canyon of the Pacific," Waimea Canyon is 10 miles long and 3,600 feet deep. The canyon has a unique geologic history; it was formed not only by the steady process of erosion, but also by a catastrophic collapse of the volcano that created Kauai. If you've been to the Grand Canyon this is extremely beautiful and definitely comparable!
3. Kalalau Trail
This beautiful trail snakes along the spectacular Na Pali coast. The trail extends for 11 miles (18km) from Ke'e beach to Kalalau Valley. Hiking the Kalalau Trail is one of life's most spiritual adventures, full of wonder and awe at nature's beauty. It takes roughly one day trip if you're in tip top shape.
4. Polihale State Park
Polihale state park is a historical state beach park that offers breathtaking views and landscape. The state park is also home to the famous "Whistling Sand Dunes." These dunes actually whistle when you slide down them, each whistle being unique to your body figure. The only way to the park is via a dirt road which has many ruts and potholes; this makes it difficult for non-4WD vehicles to access the area. The park is located to the north of the Pacific Missile Range Facility.
5. Limahuli Garden and Preserve
Limahuli is a botanical garden and nature preserve on the north shore of Kauai. The name comes from Lima Huli which means "turned hand" in the Hawaiian language. Limahuli lies within a tropical valley covering three distinct ecological zones. The garden contains a wide range of native and Polynesian-introduced plants as well as taro terraces that originate back to the early Polynesian settlers. Voted America's best natural botanical garden, it definitely will awe you and your close ones.
The highlight of Hanakapial Falls is a very tall 300 ft waterfall nestled deep in the back of Hanakapiai Valley. This breathtaking tour will take you on a 4 mile round trip through the beautiful valley, crossing numerous streams and experiencing the plant life these falls have to offer. Definitely worth the hike!
7. Poipu Beach Park
Head to the south shore of Kauai and see why the "Travel Channel" once named Poipu Beach America's Best Beach. Poipu Beach Park is one of the most popular and safest beaches on the island.
The inviting waters of Poipu make it very popular with visitors, locals and even local marine life. It’s not uncommon to spot humpback whales spouting off shore. Large honu (Hawaiian green sea turtles) also swim in these waters. But Poipu Beach is most famous for the endangered Hawaiian monk seals that sometimes sunbathe on the shore.
8. Kauai Coffee Company
The warm Pacific sun, rich volcanic earth, abundant mountain rain and cool trade winds of Kauai create ideal conditions for growing outstanding coffee. Kauai Coffee Company is Hawaii's largest coffee grower, and the largest grower in the United States, with over 4 million coffee trees grown on 3,100 acres. Kauai Coffee Company is a true coffee estate. From roasting to packaging, this coffee estate always has tasting going on. Enjoy a fresh cup of one of Hawaii's best!
9. Luau Kalamaku
This Luau is offered in the island's capital of Lihue. Each island has a different take on the authentic traditional Hawaiian party and feast. Every other Luau has a wide variety of native Hawaiian cuisine and entertainment. From hula dances to fire breathers, this Luau is a definitely a night well spent.
10. Kilohana Plantation
This authentic sugar plantation dates back to the early 1930's and offers a unique look into the sugar cane industry. Seeing everything involved in sugar industry – from antique equipment to modern day equipment – this tour really opens your eyes to how much effort it takes to make sugar.