With so many beaches, mountains, and canyons to explore it’s hard to get everything into one trip. Kaua’i is lush, tropical, mountainous and quite the paradise, all of which inspired Expert Traveller, Chantal Kerr of Vancouver, to keep healthy even while on vacation.
Chantal shares her top 5 active experiences on the north and eastern shores of Kaua’i (and why she keeps returning to this island again and again).
1. Running & Swimming in Princeville
One of the most striking things about Princeville is how it inspires locals and visitors alike to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. You can’t go very far in this neighbourhood without seeing joggers and walkers enjoying the great outdoors.
There’s a picturesque trail that hugs the edges of the Princeville Makai Golf Course and several nearby beaches you can run to as well. Running to a new beach every morning was one of my favourite parts of staying in Princeville, but Sealodge Beach and Hideaway Beach were real standouts.
At Sealodge Beach, I was able to cool off from my run with a swim alongside some friendly sea turtles. I also enjoyed running from the heart of Princeville to Hideaway Beach where I took in the views while taking a whirl on a homemade swing made from repurposed marine debris. These beaches were nearly empty when I visited them in the mornings and taking a mid-run swim made for an excellent recharge before my run back to my accommodations.
Expert Traveller Tip: Be careful of currents though, especially on the north shore of Kaua’i in the winter. The waves can be large, and the current can be strong. Pay attention to your high and low tide times as well as your wave size forecast each day.
2. Mountain Hiking in Wailua
There are some amazing mountain hikes to choose from in Kaua’i, and it can be hard to decide which ones to explore. I highly recommend Sleeping Giant Trail in Wailua, a well-marked, wide trail with enough challenging sections to make it fun. The views of the mountains and ocean from the top were breathtaking and well worth the 2.7-kilometre and 211 meters of elevation gain.
There is a heart-pounding, narrow trail at the very top of the mountain where you can see a sheer drop from the mountain below you. Don’t look down if you’re afraid of heights! This hike had so much to offer and it was a great way to get some exercise while also being fully immersed in the beauty of Kaua’i, the Garden Isle.
Expert Traveller Tip: Just behind the peak of the mountain, there is a secret cave (luckily a friendly local told us about it, and we were able to check it out).
3. Waterfall Hiking in Kapa’a
What better way to get the full tropical experience than to take a dip in a fresh waterfall on the lush island of Kaua’i? Hiking to hidden waterfalls is without a doubt a must-do!
The 3.2-kilometre Hoopii Falls Trail gives you the quintessential Kaua’i views. There are many different waterfalls to enjoy along the way, however, the most magnificent waterfall is at the very end of the trail, complete with a rope swing to swing into the river below it.
Lucky for us, when we arrived at these waterfalls, there was only one other couple there, so it was very serene and peaceful, however that may not always be the case.
4. Riding Bikes to Ke’e Beach
Spending time in Ha’ena State Park and Ke’e Beach is something I cannot recommend enough.
Ke’e beach boasts little coves and secluded areas to enjoy, and it’s one of the best spots on the island to watch the sunset. There is also a calm swimming area protected by a large outer reef. It’s magical to see large waves crashing on the mountains just meters away from you while swimming in a sheltered area of the ocean.
If you’re staying in the Ha’ena State Park area and you can find some bikes to rent, I highly recommend biking to Ke’e Beach. It’s a lot of fun to ride bikes down this road and take in all the views of the ocean, cliffs, mountains and explore some caves along the way.
Expert Traveller Tip; Due to the high number of visitors wanting to visit Ke’e Beach, you do need a permit to enter. Don’t let this discourage you though, because implementing this permit has regulated the number of visitors, which is wonderful news for such a pristine area.
5. Surfing in Hanalei Bay
Surfing in Hanalei Bay was the highlight of my trip! The waves can be large on the north shore of Kaua’i in the winter but depending on the swell direction, swell size and wind, Hanalei Bay can also be perfect for beginner to intermediate surfers. You’ll especially see many surf schools by the Hanalei Pier.
More experienced surfers take to a surf spot known as Pine Trees, where waves are bigger. World Champion surfers Bruce and Andy Irons grew up surfing this surf spot and they are local surfing icons, so Pine Trees Beach is well-known in the surfing community.
Keep your eyes out in this area for some talented, professional, female surfers that call Kaua’i home, such as Bethany Hamilton, Alana Blanchard, Malia Manuel and Tatiana Weston Webb. You’ll certainly be inspired to improve your surfing after watching some of the talented locals make it look so easy surfing in Hanalei Bay.
Active travellers have so much to discover in Kaua’i! Start designing an outdoor adventure as unique as you are, with the help of our Expert Travellers or browse our Better Beach Hawaii holidays online.