The Hawaiian Islands – Kauai
Known as the Garden Island or Island of Discovery, Kaua’i invites you to renew your connection with nature. Its residents are fiercely independent and ardently guard the island’s small –town charm. In fact, county ordinance states that no building exceed the height of a coconut tree. The oldest and northernmost of the Hawaiian Islands, it has a population of only 55,000.
Kauai’s south shore is best known for Po’ipu Beach. Poipu Beach is a series of three white crescents curving beside turquoise waters. It offers excellent swimming, surfing, snorkeling and just relaxing. At the eastern end is Poipu Beach Park, where a lifeguard is on duty and shallow near-shore waters make the area great for families. Here there are showers, restrooms and picnic tables, making a day-long excursion possible. From December to May it’s not uncommon to spot humpback whales spouting off shore. Large Honu – Hawaiian green turtles – also swim in these waters. But Poipu Beach is most famous for the endangered Hawaiian monk seals that sometime sunbathe on the shore.
On the eastern shore, you’ll find some of Kauai’s most popular landmarks. First, there is Opaekaa Falls – a convenient stop just off Highway 56, Opaekaa is one of Kauai’s most accessible major waterfalls. The Fern Grotto – one of Kauai’s signature attractions – is also in this area. The grotto is a natural lava-rock grotto, lush with hanging ferns and tropical foliage, cooled by the mists of a waterfall. There was a time when the Grotto was off-limits to all but Hawaiian royalty. It’s accessible by a short boat ride up the Wailua River.
On Kauai’s West Side is the “can’t miss” Waimea Canyon. Known as "The Grand Canyon of the Pacific." Stretching 14 miles long, one mile wide and more than 3,600 feet deep, the Canyon provides panoramic views of crested buttes, rugged crags and deep valley gorges.
And finally, there is the spectacular Na Pali Coast on the northwest flank of Kauai. This 15-mile stretch of mountains and sea features emerald green pinnacles towering along the shoreline, panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean, velvet green cliffs and cascading waterfalls plummeting into deep, narrow valleys. This rugged terrain appears much as it did centuries ago.
Access by land is limited to a single 11-mile trail, but non-hikers can see the area via boat tours that depart from Port Allen, guided kayaking trips and helicopter and small plane tours.
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