The Great Eight: ‘cuz Top-Ten lists are tacky
It’s where Hawaiians go to retreat from Waikiki; great for honeymooners who aren’t looking for social ‘over-action’; movie buffs go here to tremble at the thought of a raptor lurking on the opposite side of the palm fronds. Kaua’i was my first island explored in the Hawaiian chain, and as such holds a special place in my heart. Kaua’i=the Hawai’i your imagination conjures.
Great Eight listology
for the Garden Isle:
1. See the Nāpali Coast by boat or by air.
By air: Jack Harter Helicopters – do the chopper with NO doors (it’s worth any and all terror that might ensue)
By boat: Holo Holo Boat Tours – Nāpali and Niʻihau Super Tour
2. Hanalei Bay
The best of both worlds; where the mountains meet the beach in a magical way.
3. Kalalau Trail (if you can’t do the whole shebang, at least make it to Hanakāpīʻai Beach)
11 miles each way. Treacherous terrain. Hawaiian history. Hippies, body aches and a beach at the end worth every drop of blood, sweat and tears. Bring it on! Be sure to get a permit to camp if you’re going the distance (Hawaii Camping Permits). For those that can’t do the complete holy grail of Hawaiian hikes, be sure to do the first two miles, do-able for most skill levels. There you’ll uncover Hanakāpīʻai beach, complete with sea caves, boulder hopping and a freshwater stream. Here you’ll feel a connection to the ancients as you stand agape at the majesty of the landscape.
4. Kipu Falls
Cowabunga! If you’ve ever dreamed of waterfall cliff jumping, this is the spot. Plenty of depth and cheering supporters to witness your ultimate leap. There’s even a ladder to make your way back to the top. There’s a rope swing, but be aware and make sure your halter top string isn’t tangled up with the rope… it will come off at the same time you do. Trust me, it may have happened to someone I know. Or me. I won’t confirm nor deny it. Just go jump off the falls, will ya?
5. Queen’s Bath
Volcanic cliffs form a fantastic landscape for climbing around the coastline in Princeville. A tough spot to find (the hike down originates in a residential neighborhood), Queen’s Bath is a swimming hole fit for royalty. A must see!
6. Waimea Canyon
Mark Twain called it the Pacific Grand Canyon. The landscape is so unique you might have to check yourself that you didn’t travel to some other planet. Don’t forget to keep going past the Canyon however… you’ve got to make it all the way to the end of the road to get the view atop the northwest mountains of the Napali Coast. Breathtaking.
7. Wailua Falls
A quick view from the top is stunning enough, but if you’ve got the gall, climb the slippery slope trail down to the base of this powerful waterfall for the real experience. The water’s cold and the trail is muddy but it’s an experience that will leave you feeling like a true explorer. For an added thrill, climb ’round the backside to feel the ultimate rush. You won’t be able to get all the way behind the falls (too dangerous), but close enough to feel the sting of the spray and remind you how water always wins.
8. Polihale Beach.
The beach at the edge of the world. It takes work to get here, but the scarcity of others and the uniqueness of this beach makes it a must-do for a true adventurer. Don’t forget your slippers though; we didn’t nickname it ‘hot foot beach’ for nothing.
Hey Go Kaua’i!