Kauai Itinerary - Day 4

Day 4 on Kauai, let's get out in nature.

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Matt Anderson's Take
Guide Series: Kauai Vacation Itinerary
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Yesterday was a pretty amazing day with that boat ride to the Napali Coast, wasn't it? Remember how I mentioned that another way to see the Na Pali coast was by hiking? Remember how I also said it's a very difficult hike that isn't for most people? Well, today we're going to hike the Kalalau Trail! Let's get up early for this one as hikes are best when it's not too hot out.


Okay, hold on now. Don't panic. You're not going to be doing the full 11 mile hike, nor will you be hanging off of sheer cliffs while finding religion as you pray for divine intervention along the notorious "crawlers ledge". It takes a special kind of crazy to enjoy an experience like that and that's not me, and probably not you either. If I'm wrong, kudos to you and you will absolutely love the full 9+ hour journey (one way) with views that are second to none. For everyone else, stick with me here.


If you aren't a hiker, this is still something you can check out. The beauty of an out-and-back hike like this is that you can walk 1/4 of a mile in and then simply turn around at any point and walk right back out. You'll still get a great sense of Kauai and being in nature. Do what you can and then head back. Just make sure to first read up on Hiking Safety & Essentials and make sure you're well prepared for the hike especially with water and some snacks even if you're only going in a short distance.


If you consider yourself an average hiker then you'll land upon the lovely Hanakapi'ai Beach after about two miles into the hike. Just remember, two miles in means two back out. This is a fun and very hidden and secluded beach to hang out on but swimming is not advised due to strong currents.


If you're a great hiker, you might enjoy the trek to Hanakapi'ai Falls. This one starts near Hanakapi'ai Beach and heads inland for another two miles of difficult terrain and ends up with an amazing waterfall at the end. Make sure you're well equipped if you do this as you now have 4 miles of hiking to get back out.


I'm sure some of you are shaking your head and thinking I just got you up early for a hike that you can't do at all, not even a short distance. Not to worry, you want to be right in this spot anyhow even if you're not doing the hike because next up is Ke'e Beach Park which is located right near the trailhead for the Kalalau Trail. This is a gorgeous, popular beach to spend some time at. It will feel better after a long hike, but will be worth your time either way.


Before you leave Ha'ena State Park, be sure check out the Maniniholo Dry Cave and Waikanaloa & Waikapalae Wet Caves if you want to do a little amateur spelunking. For most, they're not incredibly exciting but you're right here already so why not! Kids will enjoy seeing them.


Next up, let's stop at nearby Makua Beach / Tunnels Beach. This is a fantastic snorkeling beach when the ocean is calm and a fun place to hang out. It's one of those fun, secret beaches that isn't so secret.


I'd guess that you're pretty hungry for lunch about now so let's continue heading east and head over to Hanalei for some food. You'll find plenty of options here along with a lot of unique stores to browse through while you walk off your lunch. Those with an interest in Kauai history will enjoy taking a tour of the Waioli Mission House And Church.


When you're done exploring Hanalei, head over to Pali Ke Kua Beach (Hideaways). It's located right next to The St. Regis Princeville Resort and is an amazing secret beach. Okay, maybe not secret but certainly well hidden, hence the name. Now, this isn't for everyone as it requires a very short, but very steep hike down. If it rained recently and the trail is muddy I wouldn't recommend it for most people. At the same time, if you have small kids I also wouldn't attempt this. It's not a terrible decent, but it's not easy either. There are some railings along the way and ropes in other parts so you can check it out and see if you're up to the (minor for most) challenge. It's gorgeous down there.


We're also not far from the incredible Queen's Bath. Heard of it? Well, there are multiple Queen's Bath locations on the islands but this one is truly fit for a queen. First up, know that parking here is terrible. There is a tiny lot and that's it. Park anywhere else in this residential area and they'll tow you so wait for a spot. Second, this requires a bit of a hike. Hikers would consider it a short walk. But it's not for everyone so you'll need to judge if it's right for you. It's not long but there are plenty of areas where a fall would not be good.


Third, and this is the big one, do not ever attempt to swim in Queen's Bath. Period. If you get there, people will likely be in there swimming. Ignore these fools. People die here. It may look safe and calm, it is a bath after all, but a big wave can come in at any moment. If that happens it can knock you around the sharp rocks or even suck you right out to sea because of how the bath lets water back out. It's worth viewing because it's an incredible place, but don't enter the water here.


Drive a bit further down the road and let's stop at Kilauea Lighthouse / Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge. This is a pretty cool place to see some raw nature without any hiking and without any danger that some of Kauai's hikes may add. This one is as simple as parking your car, paying a small fee to get in, and walking up a paved path.


At the end is a lighthouse, gift shop, and some amazing views. Birds will be everywhere as this is a bird sanctuary and it's amazing to watch how they fly around and float in the winds. Keep an eye out for large concentrations of white on the ground. These are hot drop zones and you won't want to stick around long in those spots!


Depending on how much of the Kalalau Trail you hiked this morning, you've either had a full day or a really full day. If there's still time and you're the type who enjoys plants and flowers, the Na Aina Kai Botanical Gardens is just a bit further east from the lighthouse. If you're staying on the south side of the island and it's late just remember that you probably have a good hour long drive ahead of you to get back to your resort. If you haven't yet had dinner, you'll find plenty of options around the halfway point in Kapaa or Lihue as well as in Koloa, near many of the south shore resorts.
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Matt Anderson
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