With lush rainforests that make up a majority of the island's landscape, toweringly rugged sea cliffs along the Na Pali coast, and pristine stretches of white sand shores, the island of Kauai is a true haven for outdoor enthusiasts.
As the oldest of all Hawaiian islands, Kauai has quite literally had had millions of years to develop the diversity of terrains and scenic vistas it offers visitors today. Here are five of the top outdoor experiences that Kauai has to offer.
Bask With Marine Life Along the White Sand Shores
Kauai's rugged backdrop gives way to over 50 miles of idyllic shoreline like the family-friendly Waipouli Beach, where visitors can sometimes find Hawaii's elusive monk seals and green turtles basking on its white-sand beaches. For a quieter option, head to Anini Beach Park, where the tide pools are teeming with scuttling hermit crabs and colorful starfish. The warm waters off the beach are also protected by Rhe Honoiki, Hawaii's largest coral reef, offering up some of the island's best opportunities for snorkeling.
Hike the Na Pali Coast
With picture-perfect skies almost year-round, there's no better way to experience all the island has to offer than a hike along Kauai's heavenly Na Pali coast. An overnight 11-mile hike along the Kalalau trail will take you past 4,000-foot tall staggering ocean cliffs, hidden lava rock caves and into a narrow verdant valley that makes way to Hanakapiai Falls, a 300-foot cascading waterfall with an enticing swimming hole down below.
Go Canyoning in Waimea Canyon State Park
Commonly referred to by locals at the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, Waimea Canyon State Park is a sheer testament to the diversity in landscapes that Hawaii's oldest island is known for. This 3,600-foot canyon is 14 miles in length and offers visitors panoramic views of craggy facades, deep gorges and plunging waterfalls. For a leisurely hike, head north to Koke'e State Park, spread out over 4,345 acres and home to several native flora and fauna species such as the Hawaiian honeycreeper and wild jungle fowl.
Check Out Hawaii's Largest Limestone Cave
Located off-the-beaten-path in Poipu is the Makauwahi Cave Reserve, a 17-acre archaeological complex that's home to Hawaii's largest limestone cave. While you'll have to crawl on all fours to enter the cave, what awaits on the other side is certainly worthwhile: a sunshine-filled amphitheater complete with ancient rock formations, 10,000-year-old archeological fossils and thriving endemic plant life such as the Pritchardia palm.
Get a Glimpse of Kauai's Native Wildlife
Situated along Kauai's northernmost coast is Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, the largest thriving habitat for Hawaii's native and migratory seabirds such as the nene, the Hawaii state bird, and wedgetail shearwaters. Be sure to look out past the steep cliffs and into the wavy blue waters of the Pacific Ocean for a glimpse of dolphins flipping through the air. And, if you're lucky, a Hawaiian monk seal might be sunning itself on the lava rock down below.
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