Remember last post when I said we like to unplug and relax when we visit Kauai? Yeah….turns out maybe we don’t relax a whole lot on vacation! We do, however, have a great time wherever we go. It’s tough to just sit still when there’s so much beauty to explore. In our eyes, the islands are an experience, not just a place to visit.
For the past 3 years we’ve traveled to Hawaii with our best friends, Wade and Hope King. Our kids LOVE the Kings. Most of our trips consist of trying to convince them to move to Texas, tear down our fence, and share a backyard. Weird….maybe….but that’s us!
Kauai has a ton of outdoor activities. There are so many different hiking trails if you’re into that. Turns out… we aren’t! But, we have found quite a few things we do love. Honestly, we’d love just about anything we experienced as a big family together; but these are things we really have experienced, and fully believe you’ll enjoy too. Here is our list of things we’ve done (over both of our trips), and loved, in Kauai (no particular order):
1. Kauai ATV (kauaiatv.com) – We did this trip this past Summer and had an absolute blast! Kauai ATV is right outside of Poipu Beach so it was quick to get to, and they made the trip super simple and lots of fun. Prepare to get DIRTY. There is a ton of red dirt and mud, but they’ll hand you a handkerchief, shorts, and a t-shirt to keep your clothes clean if you want. Some people chose to use their clothes (Hence Amy and Wade’s awesome outfits in this picture). They also have showers for your post-trip if you’d like to wash off before heading back to wherever you came from. I’m going to be honest: we were in the rental car so we just jumped in and drove off like we weren’t even dirty! We ran straight to the ocean once getting back to the condo and jumped in with all our clothes on! It was a HOOT! No need to get into all of the looks we received from people when six of us ran screaming into the ocean fully clothed (when we’re together we don’t much care what people think about us).
Kauai ATV takes you up and down their coastline, through mountains, and to numerous movie scenes, all while giving you the history of the land. There were so many movies filmed on the roads you’ll drive on including numerous Jurassic movies (we love the dinosaurs….especially Boogie aka Israel). We would definitely recommend doing this one day. The tour is about 3-4 hours so, while it’s pricey, you really do get a lot for your money!
2. Niihau Helicopters (http://niihau.us/heli.html) – This may have been an all time favorite for both of our families. The Robinson family owns a HUGE portion of Kauai, and years and years ago, they purchased the island of Niihau from the King Kamehameha IV and have preserved everything about the island, including all of the culture. This island is not accessible to anyone, other than those invited by the Robinson family. You can charter a helicopter from the Robinson family to spend a half day at the beach in Niihau, and after hearing about it’s history last year, we had to save up and make this trip happen!
There are no guns or alcohol allowed on the island. The people are all expected to attend church in their village each week, and they live in a tight-knit community. We did not visit the village, as the people of Niihau deserve their privacy, but we learned so much and truly enjoyed an incredible half day on our own private island!
3. Waimea Canyon – Like I said, we are NOT a hiking family. We thought we might be, and then Hope starting whining halfway down a paved street that we walked. We weren’t even to the hike yet! However, we did go check out Waimea Canyon this year and the views are breathtaking! It’s a very simple hike. Israel and Joelle both did it very easily. The drive up the mountain is actually the longest part. If you type in Waimea Cliff trail into Google Maps you’ll find the parking area pretty easily. Park on the road and hike down….you do not want to drive a rental car down near the trail!
We only did the Cliff trail because the Canyon was going to take another hour or so. We have heard it really is beautiful along this trail, but we were hungry and we already had our perfect ‘do it for the gram’ shot. Check out Hope and Wade’s VLOG for a peek into our hike (and other adventures)!
4. Napali Coast Tour (http://www.goblueadventure.com) – If you have ever wondered what it would feel like to boat next to Jurassic Park, this is a tour that’s sure to give you a glimpse. The Napali Coastline is unmatched in beauty. There are a ton of tours that do this trip, but we really enjoyed Go Blue! They are on a retired Coast Guard Zodiac… so it’s fast. The waves in the afternoon get really big and the trip can be super choppy. Because of this, the best time to go is early morning. If you get motion sick, take Dramamine (eat green apples before your trip) because the waters get rough, but I promise, it’s BEAUTIFUL! Both of our kids did great on the trip, but most of those riding will have to ride on the zodiac floats so be prepared for a thrill ride. If fast and furious isn’t for you, there are plenty of catamaran boats that take it easy, but they don’t wrap around the coast as far because the zodiac boats can cover a ton of ground before the waves gets crazy!
5. Scuba Diving (https://fathomfive.com) – Last year Joelle and I dove Tunnels Beach on the North Side. It has a ton of lava formations under the water and it is such a cool experience. While diving we met the owner of Fathom Five, Janette, and she was a fantastic instructor. She can even offer an introductory course for beginners near Poipu, and that’s exactly what Wade and Hope did. I’d HIGHLY recommend this company if you enjoy diving. They are reasonably priced, have great equipment and are SO good!
6. Tubing (Kauai Backcountry Adventures) – The old sugar cane fields had water channels built to irrigate the land. Kauai Backcountry has found a way to put those tunnels to use! They’ll drive you up their property and drop you, your group, a few guides, and a lot of tubes into the channels and let you float down the sugar cane fields in a tube. This was actually a lot of fun. They’ll give you headlamp helmets to light up during the caves. We were taught to say the water is…..’refreshing.’ It was refreshing, to say the least. That junk was cold! The kids loved this tour and people of all ages and abilities were on it. It’s a slow moving current, and you’ll learn a lot about the history of Kauai on it. Check them out!
7. Luau (https://www.luaukalamaku.com) – The Kalamaku Luau is a big production. They do a great job story telling, and their outfits are so well designed. It’s under a huge roof so they can run rain or shine! This luau seemed a little longer than others, but that’s not at all a bad thing when you see the price tag on some luaus. Check for online discounts before you just haul off and book. Hawaiidiscount.com should be your friend by now! The Lemons/King crew loves a good luau and that’s exactly what you get with Kalamaku. Good food, a great show, a few good pics….what else do ya need in life?
8. Fly over the canyon (https://www.wingsoverkauai.com) – We took a plane because Wade wasn’t very keen on taking a helicopter (turns out he’s ever worse on small airplanes). This flight circles the island and heads into the canyon so you can see the coast from the sky. I know I keep saying it, but it was incredible! If you get motion sick, the plane does move quite a bit so take your meds. Did you know that green apples and ginger candy are actually both really good if you have an uneasy stomach? The green apples have acid in them that help calm your stomach. I’d say everyone should take a flight over the island of Kauai. If we do it again, we’ll probably take a helicopter, but Wings Over Kauai really does do an incredible job and they are very professional and safe!