A must-see for anyone visiting Kauai, especially if you are a bird or whale lover, is the Kilauea Lighthouse. It is a photographer’s dream location. Sweeping, panoramic, whitewater views, with sea birds circling above and burrowing on land, one can not help but get an impressive shot of the beauty that makes Kauai so special. Even more exciting are the humpback whales that cruise by in their pods during whale season (November to April). It is not uncommon to witness humpback whales breaching or pounding their fins on the surface of the ocean at this north shore whale sanctuary.
If you are staying at Honu Point, the Kilauea Lighthouse can be seen from the house. It sits 180 feet above sea level on the most northern piece of property on Kauai. The original lighthouse (circa 1913) is no longer in use but it is an historical landmark. Today a modern light shines out to sea. Here is an early morning winter view from Honu Point.
I had heard that Captain Andy’s Na Pali Coast Sunset Dinner Sail is a great way to celebrate any occasion. So Tom and I decided to give it a go for our wedding anniversary. We had been on a two hour sunset sail off the coast of Poipu with Captain Andy’s many years ago but this was a four hour excursion and it went down the Na Pali coast.
There are three of Andy’s boats that go down the Na Pali coast for a sunset dinner cruise. The two custom 65′ Star Class luxury catamarans are the best. We were on the Southern Star which is a sister ship to the Northern Star (pictured above). There were about 50 people on board along with the crew who were ready to serve.
There is seating in the front of the boat, inside a cabin and in the rear. In order to avoid a lot of wind and water spray we found some extremely comfortable seats around a table in the back of the boat.
Last week I ran across an article by Jefferson Graham in the USA Today newspaper called, “Photo Tour: Kauai, Hawaii’s Magical Garden Island.” Apparently Mr. Graham has a blog where he shares photo tips from all over the world. Sounds to me like a pretty good excuse to travel! Within the article there is a video called “Photowalk” which shows where and how to get the best shots on Kauai. Despite the fact that he mispronounced Na Pali, I thought it was worth sharing.
Of all the reasons to love Kauai, Mr. Graham narrowed it down to five.
Lots of visitors who come to Kauai want to hike to a waterfall and I have just the one for you. In fact, on this hike you get two falls for the price of one hike and it is free. Ho’opi’i Falls is on the Kapa’a Stream.
The trail can be very muddy with lots of mosquitoes if there has been a lot of rainfall. The two times that I went to the falls were in the middle of summer and it was dry and pleasant. This video, taken in July 2017, by Clifton Passow, will give you an idea of what the trail is like:
Anini Beach, on the north shore of Kauai, is one of my favorite beaches. It is a long stretch of coastline protected from the breaking waves by a shallow lagoon, perfect for snorkeling. The trade winds blow directly onshore making the environment very comfortable for sunbathing. Choose from the boat launch and wind surfing beach where there are public bathrooms and picnic tables
When I woke up this morning and saw clear skies and sunshine I knew I needed to step away from the computer for awhile and go on a much needed walk. What better place than Hanalei Bay; where the lush, green mountains meet the sea!
Arriving at the bay around 9:00, or so, I found a few people who had the same idea. There was a soft breeze and the sun was slightly veiled by the clouds – perfect for sun bathing. Warning: Don’t let the clouds fool you. I got my worst sunburn on a day just like this.
I felt rather conspicuous carrying my iPhone with me but I wanted to take photos so you could vicariously walk with me. Enjoy.
Wailua Falls and ‘Opaeka’a Falls are two of the most accessible falls you are able to view on Kauai, Hawaii. They are both breathtakingly beautiful in their own way, especially after heavy rains in the mountains. This week I decided to drive a few miles out of our way to check out both falls. We have had an exceptional amount of rain this week and so we knew the falls would be especially impressive. We were not disappointed.
This is a photo of what Wailua Falls typically looks like. It often has two streams overflowing the ridge. In fact, years ago our grandkids walked out to the top of it and looked over. A real Kodak moment.
This week, however, was a different view all together. Wailua Falls was putting on quite a show. This time when I picked up the kids from the airport and took them out to see it, their only comment was, “That’s a lot of water!” Indeed.
Wailua Falls is about 173 feet tall; taller than Niagara Falls! The pool is 33 feet deep. There used to be trails down to the base of the falls but unfortunately the paths have not been maintained and have been fenced off by the State for liability purposes.
To get to Wailua Falls, take highway 56 through the town of Hanama’lulu (just outside of Lihue). Watch for the signs and turn north onto Ma’alo Road. Wailua Falls is a short four miles from the turnoff. There is a small parking lot where you may park and then walk a short distance back to the railing with a view looking right down at the falls. It is a great stop to or from the airport or on your way from one side of the island to the other.
‘Opaeka’a Falls is a little further from the viewing area but definitely worth a stop. These 151-foot falls flow year round. Even with the rain they seemed to be flowing much like normal this week.
To view ‘Opaeka’a Falls turn toward the mountains from Highway 56 on the north side of the Wailua River (Kuamo’o Road). Drive about 3 miles until you reach the large parking lot on the right hand side of the road. Walk a short distance to view the falls. Across the road is a lookout for the Wailua River.
Up this same road, on the left hand side, before you reach ‘Opaeka’a Falls, you will find a heiau (sacred temple) called Poli’ahu. Legend states that it was built by Menehune, the legendary people of small stature, and was devoted to the interests and activities of the gods, demigods and high ali’i. There are lots of native and Polynesian-introduced plant species in the area, as well as a Wailua River Lookout.
Past the falls is the entrance to Kamokila Hawaiian Village, a 4 1/2 acre plot with numerous huts depicting early Hawaiian life. There is a small entrance fee.
So, if you want to see a waterfall up close and personal, be sure to check out these two sites before leaving the Garden Island. Your photos will be worth a thousand words!
If you are ready to experience Kauai as the ancient Hawaiians did, be sure to visit Limahuli Valley on the north shore of Kauai. This beautiful valley looks much like it did 1,500 years ago when the Hawaiians called it home. Limahuli Valley is one of of the last easily-accessible valleys with intact archaeological complexes, native forest, pristine stream, and the presence of the descendants of the valley’s original inhabitants caring for it. It is one of the five gardens of the non-profit National Tropical Botanical Garden.
I got to play tourist for a day on Monday as my niece came to visit and we decided to take that long drive to Waimea Canyon and Koke’e State Park on the westside of Kauai. I know, it is hard to leave the north shore, even for a few hours, but on a clear, sunny day the reward is worth it.
The drive is over two hours long. After leaving the highway in Waimea and heading toward the interior of the island one starts to wonder if you are still on a tropical island. Gone are the palm trees as the elevation begins to climb. Scrub brush turns into trees and pretty soon you are in a forest with hiking trails galore. As you drive the 20 miles from sea level to the last lookout you climb 4,000 feet in elevation. The temperature is 10 – 15 degrees cooler, but on our hot, Hawaiian day it was perfect.
If you are wondering what to do when it is a little too rainy on the north shore, why not take a 30 minute drive from Honu Point where you may walk or bike ride the Kapa’a Coastal Path. We do provide four bikes at our home but you most likely won’t have a vehicle that can carry them. Not to worry. There are several inexpensive bike rental facilities right in the heart of Kapa’a. They rent up-right, cruiser style bikes for a casual ride along the ocean’s edge.
After choosing your bikes, find the Kapa’a Coastal Path running along the coastline. At first you will ride by a neighborhood, just a block from the main road running through Kapa’a. Then, heading north, you will quickly find Kealia Beach, a beautiful stretch of sand along the highway where tourists and locals alike share the ocean swells.