This 10-mile-long canyon, 3,567 feet
down at its deepest point, offers a rainbow of changing colors as the sun arcs
through the sky. Named "the Grand Canyon of the Pacific" by Mark Twain, the
valley offers spectacular scenery and is one of Hawaii's most photographed
Created by a massive earthquake that
sent all the streams flowing into a single river, the canyon was carved out by
water erosion. Today the Waimea River still flows along the
bottom on its way to the sea. You can hike inside the canyon, ride a horse along
the rim, fly into it in a helicopter, mountain bike, or drive to a lookout and
peer into the depths.
Polihale Beach, on Kauai's
western side, is Hawaii's longest beach. It's 17 miles long and 300 yards wide.
It's often sunny here, since it's on the dry, arid leeward side of the island.
Spouting Horn Park
As the waves of Kauai's south side
powerfully break against the shoreline, seawater is forced through a lava tube
which throws spray 10 feet high or more, up to six stories in winter. The
spouting is sometimes accompanied by a low moaning sound as air moves through
the tube. Legend has it that the moaning was from a giant lizard, called a moo,
which would try to eat anyone who wanted to fish or swim in the area. One day
the moo attacked a fisherman who swam into the lava tube. He escaped, but the
moo got caught, and the moaning sounds that can be heard coming from the tube
are said to be from the moo, still trapped inside.
Hanalei Bay is a picturesque arc of
sand backed by the cliffs made famous as the setting for "Bali Hai."
Hanalei, a quaint, old Hawai'i town, has resisted growth and development
and still retains much of its charm. The weight restriction on the old one-lane
bridge leading into town ensures that tour buses won't be around.
Hanalei Bay is great for all types
of water sports, including diving and snorkeling among its coral reefs.
Nearby Lumahai Beach
was where Mitzi Gaynor tried to "wash that man right out of her hair" in the
old, classic movie South Pacific. This palm-lined, golden-sand beach, with the
towering cliffs and waterfalls of Bali Hai behind it, is one of Hawaii's most
Just beyond Hanalei begins the
Napali Coast, a remote wilderness of cliffs, caves and beaches
that's only accessible by air, by sea, or on foot. 22 miles of scenic coastline,
bounded on one side by the ocean and on the other by spectacular 3,000-foot
cliffs, offer magnificent views.
Imported from Wyoming, buffaloes
roam the Hanalei River Valley on Kaua'i. You can try a buffalo burger there. You
might also see a "beefalo," which is a crossbreed between a buffalo and a cow.
Situated on the northern end of
Kaua'i, this lighthouse sits on a bluff that's the northernmost point of the main
Hawaiian Island chain. Built in 1913, the Kilauea Lighthouse has the world's
largest "clamshell" lens and was a working lighthouse until it was shut down in
The 200-acre Kilauea Point
National Wildlife Refuge nearby provides nesting grounds for albatross,
frigate birds, red and white tail tropical birds and red-footed boobies.
The charming little town of
Kilauea is a wonderful place to stroll through the farmer's markets on
Thursdays and Saturdays, and browse through the 1892 Kong Lung Company, Kauai's
oldest general store.
The Fern Grotto
The Fern Grotto is
one of Kauai's oldest (since 1947) and most popular tourist attractions. It's a
ride up the Wailua River in flat-bottomed boats (or you can also rent kayaks),
accompanied by Hawaiian tunes and dancing, to a natural amphitheater. When the
boats land, there's a short walk through jungle to an impressive cave-like
recess filled with giant cascading ferns, which even hang from the ceiling.
very popular site for weddings or for the renewal of vows, this grotto offers
tales of Hawaiian legends and traditional music.
The Wailua River,
the best-known river in Hawai'i, was known to the ancients as "the river of the
great sacred spirit." The only navigable river in Hawai'i can be explored in
kayaks or by boat. A sacred place, there are no less than seven
along its banks, including the well-preserved Poliahu
Roads enter the park for those who wish to drive.
Wailua Falls, a
double waterfall ("Wailua" means "twin waters") tumbling down an 80-foot cliff,
might be recognized as the cascades seen at the opening of the 1970's "Fantasy
Island" TV show.
Opaekaa Falls, located on the Wailua
River, means "rolling shrimp." In ancient days, shrimp could be seen churning at
the bottom of the falls. The shrimp are gone; the name stuck.
National Tropical Botanical Garden
This organization runs five gardens
(three on Kaua'i) whose aim is to preserve native species of flora and increase
their numbers. The three gardens on Kaua'i are:
An extraordinary collection of
Hawaiian plants, flowers, fruit and spice trees, this 252-acre garden preserve
boasts the largest collection of rare and endangered plants in the world.
This site of the royal home of
Queen Emma, wife of Kamehameha IV, is known for its formal gardens, containing
fountains, waterfalls and European statuary.
A botanical sanctuary protecting
both indigenous Hawaiian plants and those brought to the islands by early
There are no roads through the
middle of the island of Kaua'i and none that circle the entire island. There are
two major highways, each beginning in Lihue and running around the perimeter,
and dead-ending at the impassible Na Pali Coast.
Kalalau Valley Lookout & Hanalei Valley Lookout
In Kokee State Park, the Kalalau
Valley Lookout, at 4,000 feet, offers a panoramic view. The Hanalei Valley
Lookout affords a dramatic view of the 917-acre Hanalei River Valley.
At Wailua River State Park, these
40-foot falls are quite scenic. There's a restored Hawaiian village on its
The island's most popular beach
resort, Poipu Beach offers white sand, swimming, tide-pools, diving, snorkeling
and lots of sun.
Poipu Beach and nearby Maha ulepu
Beach are perfect places for offshore whale watching in Winter. From December to
April, all you have to do is look out to sea.
Wet And Dry Caves
At Haena Beach Park are three sets
of lava-tube caves, one dry and two wet, that you can explore.
Built in 1816 in the shape of a
six-pointed star, this fort, now mostly in ruins, was built by a German doctor
who was a spy for Russia.
Grove Farm/Homestead Museum
You can experience an 1860s sugar
plantation environment at the homestead built by George Wilcox. The preserved
estate looks very much as it did when he lived here.
For experienced hikers only, the
Kalalau Trail is a narrow, 11-mile path on Kauai's rugged northwestern side.
It's one of the most dramatic and beautiful hikes in the world, but you will
need a permit to attempt this grueling trek.