9 reasons to visit Kauai, Hawaii

By: Doug O'Neil

Author: Canadian Living


9 reasons to visit Kauai, Hawaii

By: Doug O'Neil
1. The hammocks at Waimea Plantation Cottages
Hugging the shores of the Pacific Ocean, on the less hectic western coast of Kauai, are the historic Waimea Plantation Cottages. The settlement-turned-resort is a reconstructed sugar plantation with guests occupying their own historically preserved cottage. While amenities abound, the 'lost in a bygone era' feel is one of the resort's strongest draws. Strung between palm trees at the ocean's shores are the best hammocks you'll ever cozy up in. Enjoy a siesta in a hammock as the rhythm of the waves lull you to sleep.

2. Horseback riding through the dunes at Mahaulepu Beach
CJM Stables leads scenic rides that cut through Mahaulepu Beach, which is known for its sandy dunes, blue ocean bays and mountain vistas. Just imagine a leisurely trot over a sand bar with a balmy trade wind breeze at your back.

3. Shave ice
A signature treat throughout the Hawaiian Islands is shave ice, which is made by shaving a block of ice with an ultra-sharp blade. This produces ice as thin as frozen powder, which is then saturated with exotically flavoured sweet syrups ranging from old-fashioned strawberry to sweet Japanese azuki bean-flavour. Check out Wishing Well Shave Ice at the east end of Hanalei or Joe-Jo's Clubhouse in Waimea, which boasts 50-plus favours. If you’re in the mood for something decadent, ask for a rainbow shave ice atop macadamia nut ice cream.

4. Secret, secluded beaches
White sand beaches abound on the island. The Princeville Hotel beach at Hanalei Bay is great for swimming and snorkeling. From this beach you can also hop aboard a traditional Hawaiian canoe and head out for a sunset sail. The shorelines stretches almost three kilometres from the mouth of Hanalei River to Waikoko Reef so you never feel crowded. Kalihiwai Beach is great for surfing and Anini Beach has wonderful family-friendly appeal.

5. Filming sites of Kauai
Don't be surprised if you experience a sense of déjà vu in Kauai. There's a good chance you've seen its landmarks and landscapes on the big and small screen.

Parts of "The Thorn Birds" and "South Pacific" were filmed on the Napali coast of Kauai, and the island's north coast has surfaced in blockbusters such "Jurassic Park" and "Raiders of the Lost Ark." Locales eagerly point out where Elvis Presley stayed when shooting flicks such as "Blue Hawaii" and "Girls! Girls! Girls!" The three-tiered Wailua Falls, about 10 minutes from Lihue Airport, was famously featured in the TV series "Fantasy Island." Other popular movies filmed on the island include "Jurassic Park 3," "The Lost World,"  "Lord of the Flies," "Throw Mama from the Train," "Uncommon Valor" and "King Kong."

Page 1 of 26. Spectacular gardens
It's no surprise Kauai is known as the Garden Isle. The climate, soil and topography make for ideal, and idyllic, plant life. Whether you're a green thumb or simply love exotic plants, you must allow plenty of time for the National Tropical Botanical Garden. Located in the south part of the island, this attraction is actually five gardens in one. Two of the most popular are the 100-hectare McBryde Gardens and the 40-acre Allerton Gardens. The latter is home to the famous Moreton Bay fig trees that were featured in the movie "Jurassic Park." The McBryde Gardens are renowned for being home to various threatened and endangered tropical plants. On the north side of the island, at Kilauea, you'll find Na 'Aina Kai Botanical Gardens, which offer a sculpture collection, a wild garden and even a children's garden. Expect to see an array of stunning red hibiscus, ixora, blue marble trees, firecracker flowers and shaggy-barked fiddlewood trees.

7. Invigorating waterfalls
Imagine the sounds of cascading water, the calls of tropical birds and the squeals of excitement as people plunge into ice-cold pools at the foot of waterfalls. That's exactly what you'll encounter at Kipu Falls, near Puhi, east Kauai. There's also the spectacular Hanakapi'ai Falls on the north shore and the Wailua Falls, immortalized in "Fantasy Island".

8. Exploring the Sea Caves of Napali Coast
Na Pali Coast, an 11-mile stretch of wild coastline on the north side of Kauai, is an absolute must-see. It is accessible by watercraft or via the Kalalau Trail. The incredible sea caves along the Na Pali Coast were formed from the harsh wave action of the Pacific Ocean slamming into the porous lava. Some watercrafts are actually able to enter certain sea caves, making for a truly up close and personal experience. Tours are easy to arrange (with such options as snorkeling, whale watching and diving) and vessels vary from sailboats to catamarans. Visit for details.

9. Lomi lomi massage
The traditional Hawaiian lomi lomi massage is a terrific reward after a bout of snorkeling, hiking or diving. Lomi lomi means 'to touch with loving hands'. Two massage therapists massage your body, typically in rooms within earshot of the ocean's soothing sounds. Try the lomi lomi massage at the ANARA Spa at the Grand Hyatt Kaua'i Resort & Spa.
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9 reasons to visit Kauai, Hawaii