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Kauai: Canyons and ancient forests

Welcome to Kauai, the Garden Island of Hawaii! This island will blow your mind as it did for us. There’s everything for nature lovers. You can hike, trek or just lay on the beaches if you wish so. I’m going to share a few places for you to see and hike.

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THE SOUTHERN SIDE OF KAUAI

The island is pretty small, and almost every single corner is easy to reach with a car. We rented a car for two day from the airport. And we also got this amazing app called Shaka Guide to give us the perfect tour in Kauai’s top locations. It was awesome and worked perfectly! You just choose a tour you want and the GPS tells the app where you’re driving at the moment. You have your own personal tour guide informing you the best spots to pull over to catch a nice view or the trails that you can take, and then shares interesting stories about the places and Hawaiian culture. Totally recommending that!

We started our car tour on the Southern side of the island, driving through the coffee plantations and headed to the Waimea Canyon, up to the mountains. I didn’t expect anything like that. It was like going to Grand Canyon (I’ve never been there but that feeling I got). The canyon seemed so deep and I’m a bit afraid of heights so I couldn’t go too near the edge. But the views! OMG!

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While we continued the serpentine road to even higher there were lots of view points and stops where you can get some fresh fruit and drinks and there’s also restrooms. In the canyon there’s also lots of trails to take but we just drove all the way to the end of the road to Na Pali overlook. As you get higher the weather gets rainier and chillier, really unstable. At the overlook you are literally up in the clouds.

So I think all of you have seen Na Pali coast. In Jurassic Park movies!!! Yes, you have. Remember the scene in the first movie when they come to the island with a helicopter and they look at the lush valley as they start to land? That valley was this one! So the Na Pali overlook trail is at the top of that valley.

The trail itself is again quite easy and you can decide how long you want it to be. We hiked about 2 miles and then headed back but you can continue even further or even descend to the valley other side of seashore. I’m not sure but I think you even might end up walking the Kalalau trail if you continued this one (more about that trail later). If it has been raining heavy this trail will also be really muddy and make it more difficult but when we headed there it was dry and nice to walk.

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The Na Pali coast from the sea. You can hike on top of that coastal mountain range.

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Sometimes the winds blow clouds away and you get to see the Na Pali coast.

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THE NORTHERN SIDE OF KAUAI

The next day we conquered the Northern side of the island. That’s definitely more garden-like, full of big plants going everywhere, taro-fields and rainforest. There’s again only one road that you can follow and it goes again to the Na Pali coast. This time only to the other side where the Kalalau trail starts.

On this tour there’s not so many magnificent nature views but you get to see a lot of beaches and little towns and the green everywhere is overwhelming. So just relax and enjoy the sceneries where King Kong, Jurassic Park and Indiana Jones movies have been filmed.

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The mountain of King Kong (that’s not its real name).

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Moloa’a Beach, where the TV-series Gilligan’s Island was filmed.

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At the end of the road there’s this beautiful beach and here you can start the Kalalau trail.

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The Kalalau trail was our main plan for our second day in Kauai but unfortunately the trail was closed due to heavy rains in the area. The whole trail is an overnight trip (which we hadn’t planned to do) but you can just walk again few miles and then turn back. The trail supposedly goes through the rainforest and beaches right next to the shore. There are no roads to these valleys so they are almost untouchable. Would have been amazing to see that trail. Maybe next time…

CHECKLIST FOR KAUAI

  • rent a car (it’s a must)
  • tour guide app (like Shaka guide)
  • light clothes if it’s a hot day
  • warm clothes and rainproof jacket (and pants if you want), it’s going to rain at some point anyway
  • extra shirts and pants because you might get muddy and wet
  • good trekking shoes
  • water
  • snacks
  • camera

 

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