The Na Pali Coast
The magnificent Na Pali, “cliffs” in Hawaiian, make for a dramatic coastline that encompasses the northwest quarter of Kauai. Some of the Na Pali tower to 3,000 feet high, with fluted peaks, serrated ridge tops, upper valleys, and sea caves.
The Na Pali is one of the most spectacular coastlines in the world. From pitch-black lava rock formations to the turquoise ocean waters to the cascading, silver waterfalls — you’ll witness natural, awe-inspiring beauty and see every imaginable shade of green on the planet.
The Na Pali Coast State Park is a preserved wilderness area, stretching all the way from Polihale State Park on the desertlike West Side to Haena on the lush, tropical North Shore. The Na Pali is only accessible only by foot or from the ocean on calm, summer surf days.
Most boat companies depart from the Westside at Port Allen Marina in Eleele, or further west in Waimea, or (during summer only) from the North Shore. Our advertising partners provide friendly crews that have local knowledge and interesting stories. On day trips, crews may offer food and beverages. Many trips also involve a stop for a snorkel adventure. This is a wonderful opportunity to see the marine flora and fauna of Kauai.
Boat trips are available on comfortable cabin cruisers, powered sailing catamarans, twin-hulled power cats, or inflatable motorized Zodiac rafts. Some smaller boats can actually enter certain sea caves, surf conditions permitting. Medium to larger sized boats have restrooms on-board. Sunset boat tours are usually less expansive and offer dinner, cocktail drinks, and unobstructed views of the sun setting into the sea. Watch for the split-second green flash when the sun hits the horizon line.
Enjoy the ultimate romantic adventure. When you book a tour, mention that you saw our advertisement in Kauai Adventure and Romance Magazine and you may be eligible for a special offer:
Blue Dolphin Charters:
Captain Andy’s Adventures:
Kauai Sea Tours:
Makana & Liko Kauai Charters:
Na Pali Riders:
North Shore Charters:
Authentic Hawaiian Luau
Kauai luaus are amazing productions, usually run by Hawaiians and their local talent to entertain you. A lively MC will narrate the luau, with local humor, Polynesian history and folklore. Musicians perform contemporary Hawaiian tunes and traditional favorites. Beautiful wahine (women) hula dancers and handsome kane (men, with warrior style dances), display combinations of dances and hip-shaking, Tahitian-styles that will get your blood pumping. Another crowd-pleaser is the fire dancers. With the sound of the drumbeat, men in malos (loincloths) perform incredible feats with fiery torches.
The kalua pig, from an imu (underground oven), is shredded for serving. This centuries-old baking technique tenderizes the pork and gives it a slightly smoky flavor. Favorite luau foods include poi (a purple paste made from taro root), laulau (steamed pork or chicken wrapped in taro leaves) lomilomi salmon (a zesty marinated concoction of salmon, tomato, and onion), and poke (raw ahi with spices), fresh fish, meats, and salads, along with desserts.
Kauai offers elaborate productions that promise a true Hawaiian performance. In Hanalei, the famous Tahiti Nui Restaurant and bar offers an original luau show, with talented Hawaiian/Tahitian dancers and musicians, happening on Wednesdays, 5-8pm. Ticket price includes complimentary World Famous Mai Tais for one hour, the traditional “imu ceremony” (unearthing of the luau pig), and a full Hawaiian dinner buffet, followed by a Polynesian dance review. For reservations, call (808) 482-4829 for an awesome night of entertainment.
The Smith Family Garden Luau, is a remarkable island style luau and hula production located near the Wailua River Marina. Smith’s grounds contain private gardens and colorful fish ponds. Arrive early to stroll the gardens and see peacocks, varieties of fruit and island trees, freshwater ponds, and exotic flowers. Keiki (children) love it and the outdoor photo opportunities are exceptional. The luau show is held in the Smith Family Garden amphitheater on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings. Reservations are required. Call (808) 821-6895.
In Kilauea at Anaina Hou, you can enjoy Hawaiian culture and history with fire dancing, storytelling, with beats of Polynesian drumming. Wed. 6pm, at their Pavilion. VIP tickets available for the first row. Arrive early to reserve your seat and enjoy dinner and drinks. (808) 828-2118
Romantic & Secluded Beaches
Kauai’s pristine beaches offer clear water, sheltered lagoons and miles of uncrowded coastline, with shaded areas for relaxing and romantic moments.
Kauai has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, but the waves can be powerful. Stay away from the water if it looks choppy, rough or has sizable waves. Wading or swimming could be dangerous. When in doubt do not go out and stay off rock ledges during high surf. Winter produces powerful waves on the North Shore and in summer the big waves can hit the South Shores. The East Shore may have waves and rip currents when the trade winds blow. South, West and some North Shore Beaches offer sunset views and the Eastside for sunrise.
East and Northeast:
Kealia Beach, the first beach past Kapaa Town along the highway has a safe inner lagoon on the north end. There are lifeguards (from 9am-5pm), bathrooms, showers, and picnic tables. Rip currents and rough waves are common.
Donkey or Paliku Beach is a secluded, sandy cove, located 1.5 miles north of Kealia beach. A pasture there was once home to sugar cane pack mules. Donkey’s is not visible from the highway. There is a public access sign on the Hwy about 1 mile past Kealia. The beach is steep and can yield high surf creating dangerous conditions. Don’t go in if there are waves of size.
Moloaa Beach, at the end of Moloaa Rd. is a secluded crescent bay that curves a quarter mile on the shore. Windblown debris accumulate here making it great for beach combing. On calm days swimming, snorkeling, and diving are excellent, but high wind and surf can generate dangerous ocean conditions and rip currents.
Larsen’s Beach, past Moloaa, is a narrow ribbon of sand and shallow reef. Parking and a public right-of-way was open to Larsen’s, where a trail leads down to the beach. But recently a private landowner erected a fence so it may not be easily accessible. It is great for beach combing and wading in the lagoon. Ocean conditions can be dangerous during the winter. Strong rip currents can sweep the lagoon creating unsafe conditions.
Rock Quarry Beach is south of Kilauea Town. Turn right onto Wailapa Road, then left down a dirt road to the beach. Rock Quarry a sandy bottom bay at the mouth of Kilauea River, which creates a fun surf spot. However, rip currents can occur.
Kalihiwai Bay, just past Kilauea is at the mouth of the scenic Kalihiwai River. From the Hwy, turn right onto east Kalihiwai Rd, north of Kilauea Town. Kalihiwai is a popular for fishing and winter surfing. It’s a picturesque beach, with a river mouth at the north end, where a sand bar allows body surfers and boarders to ride shore break waves. There can be riptides in the pounding shore breaks and forceful backwash. The waves out at East Point are for expert surfers in the winter. The summers are usually calm and great for swimming in the bay or paddling upriver.
Secret Beach is located at the same road as Kalihiwai. After turning onto east Kalihiwai Road, the road curves to the left. Take the second right onto a dirt road, to the end of the road for parking. Follow the path down to find Secret Beach. Secret’s is pristine and wide beach with exquisite views of Lighthouse Point. It has dangerous wave conditions in the winter and no lifeguards.
Anini Beach Park offers a large grassy lawn and shade trees. From the Hwy take the first right past Kalihiwai Bridge. Veer left to Anini Road, you’ll pass a few small beaches to the County Beach Park, with picnic pavilions and a boat ramp. An outer reef shelters the clear shoreline water, with channels running through it. The ocean bottom gently slopes to deeper depths at the edge of the reef, making for great snorkeling. The beach park and surrounding area activities include boating, kayaking, windsurfing and surfing. The park has lawns and shade trees, restrooms, showers and camping facilities.
Hideaways Beach lies just before the St. Regis Princeville Resort. A steep and slippery dirt path leads down to a scenic cove known for its seclusion and beauty, sunsets, snorkeling and surfing. Beware during high surf, there are no lifeguards. The trail down the cliff is difficult, especially when wet. Another beach is accessed by a public, cement, stairway path, to the left of the Resort, which leads to a narrow beach that offers snorkeling and reef surfing.
For Hanalei Bay, Lumahai Beach, Tunnels, Cannons & Ke`e Beaches reviews, see our Table of Contents “Beautiful Beaches of Hanalei & Beyond”.
Hanakapiai Beach requires a rugged, scenic 2-mile hike, on the Na Pali Coast Trail. It is a pristine beach with a river mouth at one side and a small cave on the other. In the winter it has dangerous and powerful waves. If the surf is up do not go near the ocean.
South and West Shores:
Shipwreck Beach in Poipu, at the Hyatt Resort, is a small beach that offers body surfing and boarding for experienced wave riders, with a lawn, bathrooms and showers. Pounding shore breaks and strong rip currents with shallow water make it dangerous. The bluff area next to the beach is known as Keoneloa (Hawaiian for “the long sands”). It has ancient Hawaiian petroglyphs, carved into the limestone and is a great coastal hike to, Maha`ulepu Beach, which is at the end of a dirt road past the Hyatt. It’s a wilderness area, with a geological site in a cave in the sand dunes, located on the west end above the beach, across a stream. Those interested in science, ecology and archeology will take special delight here. There is coastal hiking, windsurfing, body boarding, surfing, snorkeling, beach-combing, diving and fishing options. It is a private entrance with the gate closing about 6pm. No restrooms or lifeguards are available.
Poipu Beach Park is an easily accessible beach park, with a lawn, bathrooms, pavilions and showers. It is located between Brenneke’s Beach and Waiohai. A sheltered lagoon makes it an excellent area for kids, with Lifeguards on duty.
Out west, does not offer a lot of beach options. Salt Pond Beach Park in Hanapepe, has swimming and is generally safe inside the lagoon. Do not swim outside the protected lagoon. Lifeguards are on duty and it has a lawn, pavilion, showers and bathrooms.
At the end of the road is Polihale State Park, is the longest sand beach in Hawaii. It runs 15 miles past Kekaha, to the US Navy Pacific Missile Range and beyond. From the highway, it is a 10-mile, bumpy, dirt road drive to Polihale Beach. It is at the start of the Na Pali Coast and worth the drive. It’s a wide and remote beach with mesmerizing sunsets. Swimmers and surfers should be aware that winter rips, waves and currents are extremely dangerous. Never venture past the shore if the ocean looks rough.
Beautiful Beaches of Hanalei and Beyond
With its fine white sand and incredible views, the crescent shaped Hanalei Bay is ideal for summer swims and winter surfing. The beach is a mile long with reefs and surf breaks at either end and beginner beach breaks in between. Black Pot Park, on the east-end, is surrounded by the Hanalei River, the pier, and camping grounds. Pine Trees Beach is located near the middle bay.
Leaving Hanalei is Middle’s surf break, a deep-water section on the west-end of the Bay. Also on the west end of the Bay is Waikokos, a secluded cove and surf spot in front of a rock cliff. This beach is narrow and inside the lagoon is a shallow reef. On calm days it’s safe for children and offers good snorkeling, but watch out for Vana, the purple, spiny urchins.
Rounding the bend at the top of the hill is Lumahai Beach. The trail to Lumahai is down a steep jungle path that opens up to a dazzling lagoon. It’s protected from the wind by a cliff, with tide pools and an ocean jumping spot. Trees provide shade. The west-end of the beach connects to the Lumahai river and can be a good place to swim. Beware of strong currents in the ocean and waves. Stay away from the ocean when the winter surf is up or wind is strong.
In Haena, you can walk the beach for miles, to Tunnels Beach, all the way to Haena Beach Park. Tunnels, is one of the most picturesque beaches on Kauai with great snorkeling, but parking is tight. Maniniholo Dry Cave is an ancient lava tube across the road from Haena Beach Park. Past the Park is Cannons Beach. From Cannons, you can walk about a mile to the end of the road at Ke’e at the start of the Na Pali Coast Trail. Ke’e offers a fine sand beach, a lagoon that is excellent for snorkeling, and trees for shade. If you walk out to the point, you’ll view the Na Pali Coast, a perfect place to watch a romantic sunset, then go back to Hanalei Town for a delicious dinner.
Adventures On Kayak
Whether you are an avid kayaker or have never been in one, there are expert guided tours that will fit your needs and desires.
Kayaking on Kauai’s Incredible Rivers
Kauai boasts some long and exceptionally scenic rivers that are easily accessible for a kayak adventure. Whether you are an avid kayaker or have never been in one, there are expert guided tours that will fit your needs and desires. Kayaking will allow you to take a loved one on a double-kayak paddle up a flowing river. It’s also safe and fun for the entire family and a kayak adventure might include a jungle hike to a gushing waterfall, river, or beach-side picnic area. Guided river tours are the best way to go and can be very fulfilling, as your guides will inform you of all the history and ecological significance of the island’s flora and fauna. They will also be careful to instruct you about the best way to have fun and be safe. Single kayaks are also available for a solo nature photography session. The four uniquely different rivers listed below offer everything you’d expect on Tropical River outing from the Southeast to the North Shore of the island. Regardless of which river you chose, a kayak adventure will bring you into the heart of Kauai wilderness areas. Don’t forget the mosquito repellent and avoid all rivers and streams during times of heavy rains.
Wailua River-Valley of the Kings
Kauai’s Wailua River, is the only place for freshwater waterskiing in the state of Hawaii. The river line is dotted with the ruins of several Hawaiian heiaus (sacred sites). The river is flat and warm except when it floods. The river meanders from Mt.Wai’ale’ale and is fed by several tributaries. Professional water-skiers and wake boarders take advantage of the near perfect conditions and tournaments are held there. Wailua State Park is adjacent to the river and after a paddle you can enjoy hiking to Uluwehi Sacred Falls in the midst of a rain forest. This river is popular for many recreational activities. Visitors and locals use it as regular freshwater retreat. Large stones with ancient petroglyphs are located at the mouth of the river and may be viewed when water level allows. The right side heading upriver is designated for kayakers. Those wishing to go to the Falls can take the right fork in the river, which is about a 25-minute paddle from the launch area. Just before the hike you’ll paddle to a shallow, rocky area and beach your kayak there. It is about a 30 minute hike on the left side of the river trail.
The Falls are tall and narrow with a deep pool at the bottom and rocks to rest on nearby. This is a very scenic and romantic spot to enjoy lunch or snap some photos. The Fern Grotto (where Elvis was filmed in Blue Hawaii) is further up the main river, but is not open to kayakers. You may get to this natural wonder by booking a ride with Smith’s Fern Grotto Tours. Just past the Fern Grotto is an excellent pool for jumping and swimming in. Most tours launch from the Wailua Park near the junction of Highway 56 and 580. There are two landings areas just inland from the river mouth. They include picnic tables and bathrooms. Further upriver is Kamokila Hawaiian Village (across the road from Opaeka’a Falls), which offers kayak tours and a tour of their ancient village. You can easily spend a full day in the Wailua River area kayaking and having fun. For Wailua River Kayak Tour reservations call the following numbers and please mention Kauai Adventures & Romance Magazine.
Dukes Kayak Adventures:
Kamokila Hawaiian Village:
Kayak Wailua Tours:
Wailua Kayak Adventures:
Wailua Kayak & Canoe:
Waterfalls on Kauai
Due to land owner liability concerns, getting close to a waterfall on Kauai is becoming more difficult. However, there are still a few you can visit or view from a look-out.
Opaeka‘a Falls is located on the east side, in Wailua, off the north branch of the Wailua River. Take Highway 56 north from Lihue. After crossing the Wailua Bridge, turn left on Kuamo’o Road at mile marker 6. Follow the road approximately 1.5 miles to the Opaeka’a Falls Lookout on the right side of the road. The best view is from the path along the highway. The perfect time to see these lacy falls is mid-morning, when the sun is in the proper position for taking pictures.
Uluweli, or Secret Falls, is located upstream in the Wailua River area. It is a tall and beautiful waterfall – the focal point of most Wailua Kayak tours. The only access is via boat or kayak. Once you reach the end of the tributary, you’ll walk for 20 minutes along a trail, which can be rugged and muddy. Good shoes that hold up in water are helpful. There is a small pond at the base of the falls, great for dipping on sunny days. Be mindful of the slippery rocks and give yourself plenty time to get back before sunset.
Wailua Falls is off Highway 56, between Wilcox Hospital and Hanamalu. The short drive from Lihue town takes you to one of the most beautiful and accessible waterfalls in Hawaii. You’ll see the waterfall on the right side at the end of the road. The majestic, 80-foot waterfall was featured in the TV show “Fantasy Island” in its opening scenes. Wailua Falls can appear different depending on rain and the river’s flow. Rainbows often appear in the water, rendering delightful shots for photographers.
There are other lesser falls on island. Please use caution when going near them or a river. Rivers can flood and sweep the strongest swimmers away. Never dive head-first and use caution jumping into water. Make sure the area is free from other swimmers, submerged rocks, or debris.
Hopi’i Falls, located off Kapahi Road, has become a popular spot for swimming and jumping off rocks. From Lihue, drive north on Highway 56. After you pass Kapaa town, turn left on Kawaihau Road and drive for 2.5 miles until you reach Kapahi Road. Turn right and within a half mile, you’ll see cars parked in a residential neighborhood. Please be thoughtful about the parking situation and do not park in No Parking zones.
Hanakapi’ai Falls is a hike on the Napali Coast Trail. From the end of the road in Haena it’s an 8 mile round trip, including 2 miles along the Coast Trail. You’ll cross a rushing stream a couple times as you hike inland on the jungle trail. The falls are magnificent and tower 400 ft. on the back valley wall. There is ample room to swim near the waterfall, but a better swimming hole is about 1/8th mile before the falls. It is a strenuous hike, so start early, wear good water shoes, and pack food and water.
Note of caution – Please do not venture near any river, stream, or waterfall during heavy rains, when dangerous floods can occur.
Live Music & Night Life Reviews
Sensational restaurants and live music at many venues with talented musicians performing at the following locations:
At the Waipouli Resort, The Oasis on the Beach has live Modern Ukulele music Wed. at 5-7pm. Happy Hour is from 4-6pm at their beachfront bar. Lemongrass Grill located at 4-871 Kuhio Hwy. has live Contemporary Hawaiian dinner music nightly. In Kapaa town, Sam’s Ocean View has live music Mon. & Fri. from 6-8:30pm. Big Wave Dave’s has karaoke 5 nights a week from 8pm-2am & live music on some Fri. & Sat. nights. Paniolo Santa Maria BBQ has live Jazz, Blues & Pop music Mon. thru Sat., with open mic on Wed. from 6:30- 8:30pm. First Sat. night of each month, Old Kapaa Town Art Walk, features live music, with food & craft booths. The Bull Shed Restaurant, has Happy Hour from 4:30-5:30 pm, dinner from 5:30-9:30pm and live music 7 nights a week. Trees Lounge, has live music 6 nights a week, with a long Happy Hour 5pm-7pm, dancing to Island bands and DJs. The Hukilau Lanai, at Kauai Coast Resort features live Hawaiian, jazz and easy-listening music 6-9pm, Tues-Sun in their Wally’s Lobby Bar. Courtyard Marriott Kauai at Coconut Beach offers The Crooked Surf with live musicians 5:00-8:00pm, sports on TV and nightly entertainment, with happy hour specials and alluring fire features. Visit the Coconut Marketplace; every Wed., 5pm and Sat. at 1pm- a Hula Show and on Fri. 5pm, they have live, Hawaiian Music, also the last Sat. of the month there’s a free movie night there. Lava Lava Beach Club, has live music with local artists from 6-8pm every night.
At Princeville Center Food Court has live Hawaiian, Jazz and Contemporary music 6-8pm nightly. The Happy Talk Lounge at Hanalei Bay Resort has live music 7 nights a week. Down in Hanalei Town; there’s live music at the Hanalei Gourmet live music on selected nights 6-9pm, Hawaiian music on Sun. nights. Tahiti Nui, a classic Polynesian Bar, offering live Hawaiian music every night 6-9pm and live music Thurs. – Sat. 9:30pm-12:30am accompanied by tasty pizza and flavorful foods. Kalypso Bar & Grille also in Hanalei has live music 6-9pm every Friday. Flat screen TV’s show surf and sporting events including Sunday NFL Ticket. In Kilauea; The Bistro has live Jazz and Hawaiian Slack Key 6:30-9pm Thurs. thru Sat. and occasionally on weekends. Gather at Anaina Hou every Friday for Pau Hana Fridays. Dance to live music by local bands from 6-9pm. Happy Hour 5-9pm. Family friendly environment.
The Kauai Beach Resort Shutters Lounge, offers Happy Hour from 5-6:30pm, live Hawaiian acoustic music nightly. For dinner, Gaylord’s & Mahiko Lounge at Kilohana Happy Hour 3-5:00pm, live piano music on Tue & Fri. 6:30-9:00pm & live Hawaiian music on Wed. & Thurs. nights & Sunday brunch. Next to Kauai Marriott at Kalapaki; Cafe Portofino above Duke’s, has harp music nightly except Tues. & Wed. Hawaiian musicians entertain Wed. 7-9pm. Dancing Thurs. 10:15pm – 2am with local DJ & occasional guest DJ, $5 cover after 11pm. Dress code, call 245-2121. Duke’s Bar features live, Hawaiian music Wed.- Fri. 4-6pm & Fri. 8:30-10:30pm. Rob’s Good Time Grill is a popular local bar, with dancing Tues-Sat., live bands Mon.-Fri., mostly a DJ Fri. & Sat. Kukui Grove Center enjoy local live music on center stage (Food Court) every Thursday from 11am – 2pm and Aloha Fridays 7-8pm.
SOUTH & WESTSIDE
In Poipu, Merriman’s Fish House at Kukui’ula Shops has live acoustic music every night 6-9pm. At Poipu Shopping Village, Hawaiian musicians sing and shares stories, accompanied by award winning Hula maidens of a school of Hula, Halau Ka Lei Mokihana O Leina`ala. Mon & Thurs 5pm. The Seaview Terrace, at The Grand Hyatt Resort, has Hawaiian music nightly from 5-9pm and late night entertainment from 8-10pm at the resort. The Grand Hyatt has a torch lighting ceremony at sunset on Sat. night at 6:00pm. Brennecke’s, across from the Poipu Beach Park has live music Thurs. thru Sat. starting at 7:30pm and a late night Happy Hour. Port Allen Sunset Bar & Grill has Karaoke Fri. & Sat. nights at 8pm. Wranglers Steakhouse in Waimea has awesome food and happy hour in the Saddle room: Thurs.- Sat. 4-6pm and live music: Fri. & Sat. 5:30-7:30pm.