A natural blowhole with a Hawaiian legend. This thing can spit water nearly 50 feet on a good day. This free attraction sits just off Lawai Rd on the South Shore. There are nearly always vendor booths set up to buy local trinkets (some of which are made in China) so if you are looking for authentic, ask and inspect before you buy. A related stop nearby is the Botanical Gardens. Last I was there tickets were $12. Some of those giant root trees from Jurassic Park are located in these gardens. The flowers are an Instagram jackpot.
This is the swimming beach to beat on the Island. The weather is great, the sand is soft, and in the early morning hours (7-10) you can practically have the place to yourself. I do recommend water shoes as the lava rocks in some places are pretty rough on your feet. While on this beach you will likely see a seal or turtle at some point during your stay. Use your zoom and don’t get too close. There are almost always active groups taping off the areas to help protect these cuties but in case you didn’t know, seals can weigh half as much as a cow and move very quickly. You really don’t want to be between them and the water when they decide they’re headed back in.
Over a mile of Eucalyptus trees that have withstood two hurricanes and are flourishing better than ever. This tunnel is rumored to be 120-150 years old. If you forget to turn off of Hwy 50, you’ll miss this little gem. During the day it’s kind of hard to miss because you can see the beginning of the tunnel as you are headed south on Hwy 50, just remember to turn left onto 520. There is a huge turnout right at the beginning for pulling over to get a photo. Waiting for a traffic-free shot might take you 5-10 mins on average.
The beginning of the Napali Coast
I took this photo from the back of my charter boat. Captain Andy’s was worth every cent. Just before this shot, we had stopped to snorkel at the edge of a wonderful underwater bank. The fish were so colorful. We also saw dolphins, whales, and one turtle. FYI: If the water is too choppy or murky, they will cancel and try to reschedule you or fully refund you. They will not go if the conditions are not safe.
Kalapaki Beach Hut
YUM! Hands down the best and most affordable breakfast on the Island. Hawaiian sweet bread french toast, bacon, scrambled eggs, and pineapple for $7.50!!!! Yes they have other breakfasts too and you can find a sample menu here (http://www.kauai.com/kalapakibeachhut). I will say there is usually a bit of a wait, as this is a popular spot for locals but so worth it. The hamburger line in the evenings is just as long. Within a five-minute walk of here, you will also find Mariachi’s, Duke’s, and JJ’s Broiler. All of these are a little more expensive but the food is good.
The Grand Canyon of the Pacific. This drive is steep and winding. There are more than a dozen places to pull over and take a photo so please don’t stop on the skinny roadway. They put the pullouts in great viewing places. If you make it all the way to the top there is an amazing view to the West overlooking Napali cliffs. You can hear the waves crashing even from the top of the Mountain. Strongly recommend you take a rain jacket or umbrella. Even on the nicest of days, it’s common for a “surprise dump” of rain and then right back to sunny again. I’d also pack snacks. The one restaurant and gift shop up top is pretty spendy and crowded.
The Lithified Cliffs
If you are looking for some quiet time, this is your walk. We parked at Shipwreck beach and started our walk there, picnic backpack in tow. We chose to go about two miles in. We saw tons of fossils, crabs, and dry blow holes that make an eerie whistling sound. This is sacred land to the locals- DO NOT remove fossils as keepsakes. While the trail is well marked I do not recommend taking children that tend to wander. There are drop-offs and the water is not safe for swimming, EVER. There is a very neat circular tribute to someone local when you get in a way. I cannot remember what it is called. The circle spans at least 100 feet in diameter. On the way back we diverted to another trail to check out a “wet cave”.
These are common among many of the hotels and condos. Plumeria is also so beautiful. Because of increasing tourism, real flower leis are getting a little pricey. You can sign up for classes to make one, buy them pre-made in a few places. Getting one home preserved, another story entirely.
South Shore Sunset
So remember when I said the beach is pretty desolate between 7-10am. Well not so much in the wee or later hours. Kids here get up to surf before school and come back before sunset. Hanalei bay seems to be more popular for surfers and Poipu for body boards, paddleboards, etc. The sunsets on the South Shore on a clear day are breathtaking and usually unobstructed. We also saw several dolphins playing just to the left of all these kids catching the waves.
You’ll notice in my first pic of the Napali Coast the clear skies, well as we went on toward the towering cliffs we hit a little sprinkle and lots of fog. Even so the vast, plunging, and rugged terrain was something to see. There were some goats on the hillside, though it’s so steep I’m not even sure how they got there. Helicopters would fly over but because of the surf crashing the shore, we couldn’t even hear them. We saw a group of whales less than 150 feet from our boat. The water here was a little rough (because of the short storm) and my son didn’t look like he was feeling quite himself, but all of my girls were having a blast. If ocean motion gets you, or you’re not sure, get some tabs or the bracelet just in case. Both are sold at the gift shop where you dock but can be sold out. Come prepared!