Hawaii. The Island of Kauai: Canyons, Mountains, Waterfalls (Hawaii, Kauai)
Kauai is our favorite island in Hawaii. It’s small, cozy, sparsely populated, very green, and yet the nature is very diverse: there are canyons, waterfalls, mountains and beaches.
Here we flew a cessna over the island, saw unreal beautiful nature and walked a piece of the Kalalau Trail.
Many movies have been shot on Kauai, including the acclaimed Avatar, King Kong, and Jurassic Park.
Things to do on Kauai
Fly over the island
We flew over Kauai in a small Cessna airplane. It had two seats for pilots and two for passengers.
Taking pictures before the flight.
From the plane we could see things you can’t see from the ground from any track, we loved it!
Just took off. View of the cruise terminal.
Flying over the coast.
Approaching the mountains.
Na Pali Coast – Just breathtaking! These mountains are incredible! Of course, no photo can not convey all their spectacularness:) You can see it on the very first photo.
North shore of Kauai and the beginning of Kalalau Trail.
From the ground it’s like a single one!
The finish (we were given headphones for the time of the flight, so we could listen to the pilot’s story and ask him questions).
All flights of this kind take off near Lihue airport. They fly Cessna’s, vintage biplanes and helicopters.
Important: When you buy a flight check passenger seating: the main thing is to sit on the right side, because the plane or helicopter circles over the island in a clockwise direction. I’ve seen helicopters where some of the passengers sit in the middle – they won’t see much either. Better to pay a little extra and have a 100% unforgettable experience
We flew with Wings Over Kauaui – it’s a small family business (father and son pilots, daughter at the front desk, mother on hand, two huge dogs for the niceties))), everything is super friendly. The tour for two was $270 and lasted just over an hour. In case of inclement weather, they reschedule the tour to a free time convenient to the customers or cancel it for free. They also have a bigger cessna.
Kokee National Park.
Kokee National Park is the Wimea Road with adjacent overlooks, tracks, a campground, and a hotel with a restaurant.
There is a fairly smooth, wide serpentine uphill, which is easy to drive in by any car. There is parking at each lookout. If there is no parking, then 99.99999%, there is nothing to see there
There is red-brown soil everywhere due to excess iron.
The Wimea Canyon Lookout is the coolest place ever! We looked and just couldn’t tear ourselves away!
This is the Grand Canyon of Hawaii.
There’s a track that leads from it, and we followed it, hoping to skip over the ridge that’s in the photo on the right and look at the other valleys. It turned out that it doesn’t go over the ridge, there’s nothing to see, you can only climb on the mud (I was wearing sandals and miraculously didn’t fall down there).
Went to the track Awaawapuhi (in general, it is combined with the track Nualolo, and gets a circular route, but Nualolo was closed because of a landslide).
The trek itself is boring because it goes through the forest, but at the end there are amazing views of the Na Pali Coast.
This fellow we baited to take pictures. And in general, there are a lot of them there.
There are many endemic plants and animals in Hawaii, such as the nene goose (nene).
But it is Kauai – it’s a paradise for chickens They are not allowed to be hunted unless they wander onto private property on their own. Chickens and roosters are everywhere (did you notice the rooster in the first photo of Waimea Canyon?), chickens lead or hatch their young, roosters fight all the time.
Even if it’s sunny and there’s not a cloud in the sky, jackets are better to bring, because the walk back and forth is 4 hours, and the track is near one of the wettest places on earth, and it rains almost every day
We were just “happy” to spend two nights camping there. This is typical “sunny Hawaii” – we found a table with a roof, dressed warmer and cook dinner on a burner (the green pipe is a karemat for windshields), and it rains at the same time.
By the way, it’s popular in Hawaii, as on the U.S. mainland, to rent campervans – motor homes – and combine comfort with proximity to nature.
The flat part of Kauai
The flat part of the island of Kauai is also interesting, and it rains much less often and in lesser amounts. We got around all of this without a rush in one day, you can stretch it into two.
Spouting Horn – a hole in the rock through which the waves push water, like a geyser.
Poipu Beach is one of the few swimmable beaches on the island. There are changing rooms, toilets, tables with and without awnings, showers, garbage cans, lifeguards and of course a lot of people.
Warning. Some beaches in Hawaii are not suitable for swimming! There are either big waves, or dangerous currents, or sea urchins, or jellyfish, or a combination of the above.
For example, we were told about one beautiful wild beach, where a strong current carries people into a nearby cave. It’s good if somebody saw it and called the lifeguards, and they swam tethered by a rope to the boat and pulled you out, but otherwise you can stay in that cave
Then we went to the waterfalls: the already mentioned Opaekaa Falls and another one Wailua Falls (24 m).
Kilauea Lighthouse (Kilauea Lughthouse) is in a picturesque place. The observation deck further away from the lighthouse is open all the time, closer to the lighthouse only on Tues-Sat from 10 to 16.
In the parking lot we met a couple on scooters and asked about their prices. The prices turned out to be more than renting a car – 45cc for $60/day each!
The Kalalau Trail is considered one of the most beautiful hiking trails in the world, so everyone wants to get there.
To keep the crowds there, the state has limited the number of passes-permits (permits) to only 60 per day, and you can take it up to 5 days in a row (which is what some smart people take advantage of, even if they’re only going to spend 1-2 nights on the trail).
Even if you don’t go camping, but go there by kayak, in the summer (from mid-May to early September) you can’t go ashore without a permit, or there’s a fine, etc., etc.! In general, a complete idiocy.
Now they only let you in without a permit for the first 2 miles (3.2 km), before they let you in for 6 miles (10 km). We found out about the uninteresting after we passed that section There was barely one cute view.
Since we had planned everything 2-3 weeks in advance, and the permits are snapped up 2-3 months in advance, we of course didn’t get them, but we saw that part of Kauai from the plane and from the track, so we weren’t too disappointed.
The locals say that they check the permits maybe once or twice a year, and that some people just live there, and no one fines them, but we did not check, especially since we had not booked time for a two-day trek of 11 miles (18 km) one way. They wrote that those first two miles were terribly difficult, but if you’ve hiked at least once, there’s nothing extraordinary for you there
Important: Regular policies do not cover mountain hikes of any difficulty category. You need a separate sports insurance. The best option – is to buy for active days of insurance from Worldnomads – it’s an international insurance, takes out online, even if you’re already on the trip, and covers hiking up to 6,000 meters.
Unfortunately, for Ukrainians and Belarusians Worldnomads is not sold (but you can buy if you are a resident of another country that is on their list).
For Ukraine there is a site with different insurance – you can pick up a policy with a sports option there. Just do not take Providna and insurance companies with Balt Assistance – we had a very bad experience with them!
Close to the Kalalau trail there’s a nice beach Kee Beach with the sandy bottom, protected from the waves by the reef. But it’s not more than 1 meter deep
Other places of interest on Kauai
1. Beaches :
- For swimming: Poipu, Ke’e, Salt Pond, Kalapaki, Anini, Pali Ke Kua (Hideaways), Lumaha’i.
- Snorkeling: Tunnels Beach.
- Surfing: Kalihiwai, Waioli.
2. The famous Honopu Beach with its arch. You can get here only by boat.
In New Zealand, there is a similar place – Cathedral Cove on the North Island.
3. Glass Beach Eleele: Instead of sand there are just small round glass pieces. In our opinion this place is not so good, but if you are going to come here you should come 1-2 hours before low tide – this is the time when the glass is the biggest.
4. Diving at Ni’ihau . They say it is very cool, but also very expensive. One day with three dives can easily be more expensive than $300. Coolness, as is often the case in diving, is determined by luck: you can get on a lot of wildlife, you can not catch anything interesting. The season from April to September (the rest of the time big waves).
5. Cycling along the sea to the north of Kapaa village. There is no elevation difference, the path is concrete, rather wide, goes along the sea for some kilometers. Actually, it was built so that the ambulance and firemen could bypass traffic jams, but everyone thinks it’s just for bikes
- flying over the island,
- snorkeling, kayaking, rafting, surfing, yachting,
- hiking, jeep and bike rides,
- ziplines, yoga, photo shoots, and more.
Where to Stay on Kauai
Hotels, Inns, and Apartments
The best place to settle on the coast: it often rains in the mountains, and there may not be a single cloud on the coast.
To see all the sights without driving an extra mile, it’s best to book lodging in the south or southeast of Kauai. Considering the prices of food in U.S. restaurants, look for kitchen options.
The best hotels on the island of Kauai according to tourist reviews:
Campgrounds on Kauai
Upon arrival we took the rental car and went to book the campsites, it turned out that the office had moved and they were only open Mon-Fri from 1 to 4 p.m. And it was already 3:40 p.m.! Barely had time. Good thing it was a weekday, too!
There are free cockfights at the campsites (no schedule, it all depends on what the wild roosters want ).
There is a separate article about Hawaii’s campgrounds, with a detailed review of the places we slept in, prices, where to book, etc, etc.
How to get there
The island has one airport, Lihue (IATA code: LIH). Flights from other Hawaiian islands and some cities on the U.S. mainland fly here.
How to find the cheapest flights to Kauai from any country
To find cheap airfare, I usually compare prices using aggregators. They all have the same principle – they look for tickets from the databases of hundreds of airlines, but their databases may vary, so the price will be better in one or the other – check everything at once.
– unrealistically flexible search, and there is a guarantee of a connection, even if you fly low-cost airlines and the first flight was delayed! – the best ticket prices from Russia and Kazakhstan, and a convenient low-fare calendar.
Lowest Airfare Calendar:
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Read more about USA:
Read about other interesting islands:
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The Island of Kauai. Hawaii
The magnificent Hawaiian archipelago is located in the heart of the North Pacific. The tropical charm of volcanic islands will not leave anyone indifferent. But now the subject of our attention is the island of Kauai, the oldest of the main Hawaiian islands.
The Island of Kauai
A general description of the island of Kauai
The size of the island is approximately 52 by 40 kilometers. It is the 4th largest island in Hawaii (area 1,456.5 km2). According to the census, more than 70,000 people live here. Kapaa is the largest city on the island. It is home to more than 10,000 people. The administrative center is the town of Lihue with a population of just over 6,500 people. The highest point of the island (1598 meters above sea level) is Mount Kawaikini.
The origin of the name of the island
There is no unequivocal answer to the question “where did the name Kauai come from? But there are several suggestions. One of the dialects of the Hawaiian language, translates Kauai as “season of food. Perhaps it is related to the abundant vegetation on the island, which provides sustenance for the natives.
One Hawaiian legend says that the first Polynesian discovered the island after his son was born and named it with the word kaya’i, which translated means “place on the neck.” What is meant here is that the happy father would carry his son around his neck, and this would be one of the best and safest places for the child.
These versions can hardly be considered credible.
The coast of the island of Kaua’i
The island is located in tropical latitudes. It is characterized by high humidity and fairly comfortable temperatures. Storms and storms occasionally occur. The average temperature along the coast ranges from 26 o C in winter to 29 o C in summer. In the mountainous areas, closer to the center of the island, the temperatures are lower and can range from 7 o C to 20 o C. This creates a kind of contrast for visitors to the island. According to unconfirmed data, the minimum temperature of -2 o C was registered in February 1986 in Kanaloahuluhulu area in the northwestern part of the island.
Due to abundant rainfall and extremely comfortable conditions for tropical vegetation, the island has unusually lush vegetation. The land is extremely fertile and suitable for growing many exotic tropical crops (pineapple, mango, bananas, avocados, and more). For this, Kaua’i is often called the “garden island.
The rainiest place on earth
Because of its geographic location, Kaua’i is the first island in the archipelago to lie in the path of the region’s humid tropical air masses. Mount Kawaikini, as you may recall, is more than one and a half kilometers high. That’s why its eastern slope receives heavy rainfall.
These latitudes are famous for tropical downpours, but on the island of Kauai near Kauaikini, their duration is off the charts. You could say it’s raining almost constantly here. The average annual rainfall on the eastern slopes of the mountain is around 12,000 mm (which is a 12-meter-thick layer of water). This corner of the island even made it into the Guinness Book of World Records as the place with the longest rainfall in the world. Imagine, it rained here non-stop for 247 days. It began in late August 1993 and stopped in late April 1994. Not without reason, Kawaikini means “plenty of water” in the local dialect.
In 1982, the maximum level of precipitation was recorded here. The index of 16916 mm (this is almost 17 meters of water) is also included in the Guinness Book of Records.
During the storm of January 24-25, 1956, a record 30 cm of rainfall was recorded in just 1 hour.
The slopes of Mount Kawaiqini
Not far from Kawaikini there is another interesting peak. It is called Vaialealeale. Its height is 1569 meters. This is the second highest mountain on the island of Kauai. It receives as much rainfall as Kawaikini.
Paul Simons, author of Weird Weather, claims that on the slopes of Waialeale in 1996 it rained for 335 days without a break. The name Waialeale can be translated as “overflowing water. During periods of heavy rainfall the slopes of the mountain are covered with abundant water in the form of waterfalls.
Water running on the slopes of Mt.
Landscape and features of Kauai
The island is volcanic and was formed about 6 million years ago. Because of its age, Kauai has the longest sandy coast in the entire archipelago.
It has a convex shape. Heavy downpours and torrents of rain have brought unmatched beauty to the island for centuries. For centuries, cutting deep canyons, water has created a wonderful landscape.
On the west side of the island a beautiful canyon, about 16 kilometers long, was formed. The beautiful Na Pali-Kona Forest Reserve lies to the east of the canyon. At the north end of the island you can see the stunning Napali Coast.
Kauai Island Attractions
The island itself is an incredible attraction. It has everything you need for a paradisiacal vacation and paradise life. Still, it’s worth telling about the island’s individual attractions.
This is the same 16-kilometer canyon, often called “Grand Canyon in Miniature” or “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” It was formed by the flow of the Waimea River. The depth of the canyon sometimes reaches 900 meters. On its western edge runs trail number 550 with observation decks.
26 kilometers of the northern coast of the island is designated as a separate national park. These are mountains up to 1,200 meters high, riddled with numerous ravines. If you look at the coast of Napali, you get a feeling that a dinosaur is about to jump out of there, so pristine does it look.
The Russian fort is a National Monument to the history of the island of Kauai. In 1815, a ship of the Russian-American Company arrived on the island. In 1816, the last independent ruler of the island allowed the fort to be built there. By doing so, the chief wanted to attract Russian sailors to his side to fight other tribes.
Construction of the fort was begun in 1817, but in July of that year, due to the resistance of Native Hawaiians and American traders, the Russians left the island.
Today, only small hills remotely resembling the contours of the former fort remain at this site.
This is what Fort Elizabeth Fort looks like now. Reconstruction
To the east of Mount Kawaikini is the Alakai Preserve, an area where wildlife is preserved in maximum pristine condition. This area is often shrouded in fog and clouds and is one of the few places on Kauai where you can walk through them.
On the northern part of the island there is not the most famous, but interesting attraction, called the Queen’s Bathtub. It is a natural tidal pool, which is advisable to visit in the summer. In winter, during high tide, swimming here can be dangerous to health and even life.
The Queen’s Bath.
There is a 45 meter high waterfall on the east side of the island. This impressive waterfall is one of the few waterfalls on the island that can be seen from the road. It is independent of the season and “works” year-round. Most of the time it is a double waterfall. But after a heavy rainfall, Opayeka Falls can be one continuous stream.
About 3 kilometers southwest of Opayeka Falls another remarkable waterfall is Wailua. Its height is 26 meters. In ancient times, Hawaiian men jumped from its top to prove their manhood. Some still do, even though it’s dangerous and illegal.
A lava grotto located on the Wailua River in the eastern part of the island not far from the waterfalls described above. Heavy rains in 2006 collapsed part of the rock on the lower observation deck. Since then, it has been forbidden to go inside the grotto. Now it can be viewed only from the upper observation deck.
But this is not all the interesting places of the island of Kauai. You can see the rest during your hikes around the island.