If you want a little adventure on your Kauai vacation, you have come to the right place. From backpacking the beautiful Na Pali coast and being able to look down into the clear blue water, to swimming under a waterfall, your vacation will be one you will always remember.
1. Hike the Na Pali coast, Kalalau Trail
- If you are up for an adventure and you are relatively fit, this should be on your list of things to do in Kauai. Coming from Wyoming and Idaho hikes, which are relatively smooth, this trail is rigorous. The quick elevation changes, mud, and lava rock throughout make for slow going. The 11 mile trail from Ke’e Beach to Kalalau Beach may take a day or two depending on physical ability of the hikers or you can plan a day trip to the beach and back.
- Hanakapi’ai Beach is two miles into the trail and swimming is not permited but allows for a nice place to rest, get some shade and dig your feet in the sand. Hanakapi’ai falls is two more miles past the beach and is an out and back low-maintained trail. If you are wanting to hike more of the trail than to the falls and back, you will need to purchase a permit. You can find the information at kalalautrail.com.
- You can also rent hiking gear via the website listed above.
- We took our three young children with us, 4, 2, and 6 months, which was quite difficult but we took it slow, stopped for snacks and were able to soak up the majestic views. We figured crawlers ledge at mile 7 might be a little much for our children so our plan was to hike and hammock at Hanakoa overnight and then hike back out to Ke’e Beach. Due to the terrain, we only made it in about 2.5 miles before our girls were tired and we turned around.
- Tip: Hiking poles and snow-traks (yes you read right, snow traks) would be very helpful on this hike due to the terrain and slippery mud. (affiliate link)
2. Po’ipu Beach
- This is a great place to soak in the sun and allow the little ones to play in the water. There is a shallow ‘wading’ pool with lava rocks which protect the area from crashing waves that is ideal for small children. There is also grass and plenty of sand. When we went there, we built a sand alligator and two mermaid tails. Farther down the beach there is an island that is fun for older kids and parents to explore.
- There is a rental shop, Boss Frog’s, across the street for paddle boards, etc.
3. Body surfing at Brennecke’s beach
- Just on the adjacent beach from Poipu, there is a small beach that is great for body surfing. When we went, there were three turtles catching the waves with us! Be careful though, there are some rocks to each side that could cause bodily damage.
4. Tour an Old Sugar plantation at Kilohana and ride the train.
- This train tour takes you around the old sugar plantation where there are animals, growing fruits and vegetables, and a very knowledgeable tour guide. You may even be able to stop and feed the animals that are kept on the grounds.
- There are shops at the plantation so you can also pick up souvenirs, authentic Hawaiian jewelry, and even apparel.
- Ask the souvenir shop about the Luau they hold there on the plantation.
5. Snuba Dive
- Snuba diving is the perfect balance between snorkeling and scuba diving. No certification necessary. You will be able to see beautiful fish without needing to come up for air and you do not have to heft around the weight of an oxygen tank on your back. The instructor goes over the basic safety of how to breathe and how the respirator works. Then when you go down to the water, you have a floatation device that holds the oxygen tank. There are two people who breathe off the same tank, but with separate respirators.
- 5020 Lawai Road is a great place to snuba or snorkel.
6. Waimei Grand Canyon
- This canyon is absolutely amazing! There is a drive up a windy corridor but when you reach the lookout the view is incredible. Bring a jacket because it can be a little chilly and windy from the viewpoint. You will be able to see a waterfall, some goats, and possibly some helicopters below you carrying tourists. In the parking lot of the lookout, there is a little farmer’s market where you can purchase local produce.
- There is a second lookout if you keep driving up the mountain. At the second lookout, there is a trailhead that is roughly 4 miles from the 800-foot waterfall. We did not do this hike because we had our small children with us but we want to go back and experience it for ourselves.
7. Kayak the Wailua River to Secret Falls
- Rent a kayak and paddle yourself (4 miles) to where the Secret Falls hike (1.5 miles) begins. The rental will include the kayak, paddles, and a waterproof bag to put your belongings in. We were also able to get a map of the area. Wear good hiking shoes that can get since there is a river crossing (with rope) and some stream crossings along the way to the falls. At the end of the hike, you can jump in the pool for a swim.
- You can rent your own kayaks or hire a tour guide.
If you need a babysitter while you are on Kauai, plan ahead, do a google search and you will be able to find a person that will come to your accommodations and watch your children. We stayed on Kauai for a week and were able to fill our days with adventure and still have time to sleep in and relax by the pool. It was so fun, my four-year-old keeps asking if we can go back. We were able to see so many things the average person would not see while they are on the island. Be brave, get out there and explore!