Winter Getaway to Kauai: Part 6 – Activities in Kauai

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Emily Jablon:   Daraius and I went to Maui, Hawaii in March 2013.  We loved Hawaii so much that we decided to return, but this time to Kauai.  Kauai is more laid back and less built-up than Maui.
Activities In Kauai
At the Spectacular Waimea Canyon in Kauai

We went to Kauai over Valentine’s Day week, which made for a very romantic getaway. Using our miles and points made it even better!

Winter Getaway to Kauai – Trip Report Index:

Activities in Kauai

Because it was rainy in Kauai, we used our guidebook to find some sights we could visit in the shelter of our car.

Activities In Kauai
Rain, Rain, Go Away!

There was also a flood warning, and we noticed a couple of roads were closed due to flooding.

Activities In Kauai
A Little Flooding Won’t Keep Us From Exploring!

Kauai is divided into 4 regions: east, west, north, and south.  Each day, we visited a different part of the island.

East Kauai Sights

We went to see 2 waterfalls on the East Side.  Our 1st stop was Opaekaa Falls.  These waterfalls drop ~150 feet.

Activities In Kauai
Opaekaa Means “Rolling Shrimp” Which Were Once Abundant Here

Everywhere you looked, there was natural beauty.

Activities In Kauai
Kauai Has the Only Navigable Rivers in Hawaii

You can see the waterfall from the road.  You can’t hike to the top or bottom because they closed the trails after a hiking accident in 2006.

Activities In Kauai
You Can Only View the Waterfall From Far Away

You can get much closer to Wailua Falls, which is at the south end of the Wailua River.

Activities In Kauai
Wailua Falls Is Easy to Access

If you visit in the morning, sometimes you can see a rainbow.  But it was too overcast this day!

Activities In Kauai
Despite the Rain, the Waterfall Was Still Stunning

West Kauai Sights

Polihale State Park has 17 miles of sandy coastline, sand dunes that reach over 100 feet high, and tall cliffs.  There are also restrooms, showers, and drinking water.  However, to get to the park, you have to drive 4 to 5 miles on a bumpy dirt road.

The road can get really muddy and had some huge potholes.

Activities In Kauai
View From the Drive to Polihale State Park

Warning signs were posted in front of the road.

Activities In Kauai
Drive at Your Own Risk?  Not Sure This Is Such a Good Idea…

Daraius ignored the warning signs and drove down the road anyway.

Activities In Kauai
Danger Is Daraius’ Middle Name!

It was a very pretty drive, but also very bumpy!

Activities In Kauai
We Should Have Used a 4×4 Instead of Our Compact Rental

We had to drive through some pretty big mud puddles.

Activities In Kauai
Please Don’t Get Stuck.  Please Don’t Get Stuck.

After maneuvering through lots of mud puddles, we finally reached the state park.

Activities In Kauai
Success!  We Made it!

It was very scenic with lots of trails.

Activities In Kauai
You Could Walk Natural Trails to the Beach

We got out of our car to walk around.

Activities In Kauai
A White Sand Beach Flanked by Steep Cliffs

We only saw 5 other people on our excursion.

Activities In Kauai
It Got a Little Breezy on the Beach

Daraius really liked how private the state park was.  I didn’t like the wind!

Activities In Kauai
There Were Only a Few Tourists in the Park

The surrounding countryside was all so green and lush.

Activities In Kauai
Breathtaking Views on the Deserted Beach

There were lots of wild areas and interesting landscapes.

Activities In Kauai
The Park Was a Welcome Break From the Touristy Areas

We saw a few campsites, but it was otherwise deserted.

Here’s what our car looked like after it rained!

Activities In Kauai
A Car Wash Was in Order After the Trip!


We went to the Kekaha Beach at around 4:00 pm.  It wasn’t too crowded, but the water was cold and the sun was barely out.

Activities In Kauai
Another Deserted Beach…Perfect for a Romantic Walk!

The parking lot was nearly empty!

Activities In Kauai
Not Many Folks Around…Perfect for Some Couple Time!

Daraius and I spread out our beach towels and relaxed.

Activities In Kauai
The Sun Came Out for Just a Little While

The sand was clean and clear, but the water was too cold for me!

Activities In Kauai
No Swimming Today…We Preferred the Hotel Pool

The only restroom facilities were porta-potties.

Waimea Canyon

We drove up to Waimea Canyon, which is located on the west side of the island.  It takes ~90 minutes to drive up and back down the canyon, but I would budget about ~3 hours for a leisurely visit.  Plan on spending longer if you want to go on the hikes.

Mark Twain referred to Waimea Canyon as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.”  The canyon is 14 miles long, 1 mile wide, and ~3,600 feet deep.

To get there, take Waimea Canyon Drive from Waimea.  Don’t follow the signs.  This road is less traveled and has better views.

We stopped several times along the way to take some pictures, and went for a quick 15 minute walk.  We read that this route has some of the best hiking in Kauai.

Activities In Kauai
Take Waimea Canyon Road for Better Views

We loved seeing the vibrant green valleys.

Activities In Kauai
Everything on the Island Is So Lush and Green

Every stop seemed to have a better view!

Activities In Kauai
Even on a Cloudy Day, the Views Are Inspiring

Seeing the river below made we want to go kayaking or rafting in it.

Activities In Kauai
We Wished We Had Signed-Up for a Kayak Tour

You can kayak, hike, and raft in the canyon.

Activities In Kauai
There Are Lots of Navigable Rivers in Kauai

A little into our drive, we decided to stop for a walk at the Iliau Nature Loop.  We knew where it was because of the cars parked on the side of the road.

Activities In Kauai
You Have to Park on the Road to Access the Trail

There were signs warning folks to stay on marked trails.

Activities In Kauai
The Trails Were Clearly Marked

Daraius loves going for walks.

Activities In Kauai
No Hiking Boots Needed on This Trail…It’s an Easy Walk

We opted for the shorter trail since we wanted to get to the canyon before dark.

Activities In Kauai
You Can Choose From Several Different Trails

Because of the rain, it was cloudy and misty, making it difficult to see the views.

Activities In Kauai
The Clouds and Mist Made It a Little Cool

It was still lovely, and we took a lot of pictures.

Activities In Kauai
Daraius Should Have Brought a Sweater!

It was fun to explore the area.

Activities In Kauai
Hopefully We’ll Come Back on a Sunnier Day

We imagine this spot would have had some great views, but that gives us another reason to return to Kauai!

Activities In Kauai
It’s Often Cloudy in This Area of Kauai

Our next stop was the Waimea Canyon Lookout.

Activities In Kauai
Waimea Canyon Lookout Has Some of the Best Views

The canyon was gorgeous, with deep reds, greens, and browns.

Activities In Kauai
It’s Not as Big as the Grand Canyon, but It’s Still Dramatic

It really did remind us of the Grand Canyon!

Activities In Kauai
We’re Lucky to Enjoy These Experiences Together

In some ways, it was even more spectacular.  I think the rich colors really made it look full of life.

Activities In Kauai
The Dramatic Colors Were Striking

There was a small river flowing through the canyon.

Activities In Kauai
You Can Join Kayaking Trips on This River, Too

We could see Waipoo Falls in the distance.

Activities In Kauai
Waipoo Falls Is ~800 Feet High

Up next we saw another canyon viewpoint.

Activities In Kauai
Amazing Views Everywhere We Looked

It was almost a sensory overload.

Activities In Kauai
Another Spot to Pull Over and Take Pictures

The chickens were thinking of going home with us.

Activities In Kauai
I Wonder What Joelle Would Think If We Brought 1 Home?

We stopped and picked up some local snacks.

Activities In Kauai
We Grabbed Some Dried Fruit and Baked Goods

This area is known as 1 of the wettest spots on Earth, and I can see why!

Activities In Kauai
We Still Weren’t Able to Escape the Rain and Clouds

I sat in the car and Daraius went exploring.  A little rain couldn’t stop him.

Activities In Kauai
The Chickens and I Preferred to Stay Sheltered From the Rain

Bottom Line

Kauai can be very wet and rainy, but there are still lots of things to do.  We saw amazing waterfalls, valleys, and canyons.

Visiting Waimea Canyon is a must.  It truly is like the Grand Canyon of the Pacific!

Daraius enjoyed the adventure of driving rough roads to Polihale State Park.  If we had to do it again, we’d rent a car with 4-wheel drive!

All that driving around and hiking really worked up our appetites.  Stay tuned for some food reviews!

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