Kaua'i is beautiful. That's about all there is to it. It's crazy to think that this small island has such a diverse ecosystem. The north shore is home to lush, forested mountains; just a few miles west is the jaw dropping Waimea Canyons; to the south you have year-round sun and sweeping mile-long beaches along the coast; and right in the middle is Mount Waialeale - one of the wettest places on earth.
There are plenty of ways to explore the island (more about that later), but the best way to truly enjoy the breathtaking views of Kaua'i is by helicopter. Yes, it's a bit pricey. However, if there's one place in the world to see by helicopter, this has to be it. We opted for a one-hour ride in one of Jack Harter's doors-off aircrafts. If you can get past your fear of heights, get ready for an exhilarating experience.
To see what our flight was like, check out a few of my photos below as well as this awesome video filmed and created by Kurt!
Kaua'i By Foot
For those who prefer to stay grounded, don't worry. There are plenty of other ways to enjoy Kaua'i. A few can't-miss experiences include:
- Hiking the Nā Pali Coast: There are various distances to choose from. If you're the adventurous type, you can get a camping permit and hike all the way down the 11 mile Kalalau Trail. We opted for a shorter day hike to Hanakapiai Falls. Hidden in the mountains, this is something you can't experience by helicopter. Be prepared for an arduous hike, especially if it's raining. When you arrive, don't leave without jumping in and swimming under the waterfall.
Waimea Canyon State Park: Often called the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, it's hard to believe Waimea resides on the same island as the pristine beaches to the east. As you drive up 550, you can stop at various look outs to get some spectacular views of the canyons.
Beach Hunting: You don't go to Hawaii without getting some sun and sand. Kaua'i has its fair share of beautiful beaches. Along the north shore, there are tons of tiny, hidden spots. Although not technically a beach, check out Queen's Bath. If the tides are low, you can take a quick dip. We also loved Poipu Beach in the south. It's a bit more commercial but a gorgeous beach to see the sun set.
Coffee: Kauai Coffee Co. is the largest coffee farm in the US. Even if it's not the best coffee you will ever have, visiting the farm and taking the self guided tour is kinda fun. Make sure to also check out some awesome coffee shops and brunch spots. Our favorites were Ha Coffee Bar, Art Cafe Hemingway and Kalaheo Cafe. While we're talking about food, make sure to hit up Al Pastor Tacos in Kapaa. Best fish tacos on the island!
There is obviously a ton of other stuff to do, but we just didn't have enough time for it all. To find all the best spots on the island, make sure to pick up the aptly named Ultimate Kauai Guidebook. If you want to see more from our trip, you can read about Jonas & Jen's island wedding and also check out the full Kauai gallery.