Kauai was one of those places that the second you see it, you know you need to go visit there. I had been dying to go to this island ever since I can remember. My husband and I went to Maui two years ago for our honeymoon and we chose Maui because we had heard the weather was more predictable and there was more to do, whereas Kauai is a little more remote. I made it a goal to get to Kauai before I turned thirty and this winter that dream came true. My main draw to the island was the Na Pali Coast as it just fascinated me. I made sure we saw it at every angle possible. We saw it on the water by boat, from above by helicopter, and on land by two hiking trails (one of the trails brings you above on the ridge line and the other trail runs along the coast). We stayed on the North Shore of the island in Princeville.
Our first day there was rainy, so we went to Waimea Canyon State Park and Kokee State Park which has some great lookout points and is where majority of the hikes are located. Since it was raining, we saw some beautiful rainbows over Waimea Canyon, but unfortunately the fog at the very end of the road at the Kalalau and Puu Hina Hina lookouts was so thick you couldn’t see more than a few feet in front of you. I was pretty bummed I didn’t get to see the Kalalau Valley from above at the lookout point, but did get to see it by sea and air later on during the trip.
The trail that brought us up on the Na Pali Coast ridge line is the Honopu Trail. The trail is an unmarked trail, so it’s not as clear when trying to find it. It is just over four miles, but they are some very strenuous miles that bring you through deep, thick brush and the trail is very unclear at many points which can be nerve wrecking. I love ridge trails as they always give you a great elevated view and the narrow trail is always exciting. There are a lot of tight areas before it elevates up above the ridge line where its extremely thick branches and brush that can cut up your legs and arms. It was by far one of the most strenuous shorter hikes I have done. Once you get up on the ridge though, it all becomes worth it as the view opens up to the mountains along the Na Pali Coast and you can see endless views of the Pacific ocean and down into the Honopu Valley. When we reached the top and I saw the Na Pali Coast for the first time, I cried. It was so beautiful to me, and I started to tear up again while editing photos of it.
The trail that runs along the coast is the famous Kalalau Trail, which stretches along the Na Pali Coast from Kee Beach. We did the hike to Hanakapiai Beach and then to Hanakapiai Falls which is four miles in and four miles out for an eight mile round trip. The first two miles in brings you to the Hanakapiai Beach and then two more miles from there brings you to the Hanakapiai Waterfall. The Kalalau Trail is very rocky and the hike to the waterfall is very strenuous as the entire way is covered in rocks and you have to cross streams often. The waterfall is a beautiful hidden gem when you get to it and made for a refreshing stop.
Since our last few days there were rainy, we hung around the town of Hanalei since it is very close to Princeville. Although it was constantly raining, we visited Hanalei Bay and Tunnels Beach. We were hoping to snorkel at Tunnels Beach, but couldn’t due to the severe weather. As per usual we ate mostly acai bowls and ice cream and hot tubbed as much as possible.
The island is absolutely beautiful, but being one of the wettest spots on earth the unpredictable weather challenged my planning personality. About half of our week on the island, it was raining and when it is sunny, it can turn to rain in the blink of an eye. This makes planning very hard, especially if you have a lot you want to accomplish in a short time there. Luckily we had two days that were consistently sunny and we spent those two days doing the two hikes and the boat and helicopter tour. However, at least all the rain brought rainbows. I am so happy to cross this gorgeous place off my bucket list.