When visiting Kaua’i, there’s an endless list of activities and great qualities about this green gem in the middle of the Pacific. Thanks to Colbie Caillat, and her film clip “The Little Things” (filmed entirely on the island of Kaua’i), here are ten things you must see and/or do when you visit the Garden Isle.
1. The Taro Fields (0:10) - If you’ve never had Taro Chips, you’re missing out. If you’ve never had Poi, you’re not missing out. Taro, a plant which is actually toxic uncooked, is generally grown in areas of high rainfall, or moist soil. While Taro chips is probably the most enjoyable outcome of Taro, Poi is the most traditional. Mashed, and mixed with water, Poi has a consistency similar to yoghurt. The bowl of poi was considered such an important and sacred part of daily Hawaiian life that whenever a bowl of poi was uncovered at the family dinner table, it was believed that the spirit of Hāloa, the ancestor of the Hawaiian people, was present. This is because Hawaiians believed that the taro plant, or kalo, was the original ancestor of the Hawaiian people. While Poi can lose its flavour quickly, and become almost sour, it’s still something that you must try at least once when visiting Kaua’i.
2. Na Pali Coastline (0:11) - inaccessible to automobiles, this coast can be enjoyed by hiking, boating (in kayaks from May 15 through Labor Day) or from a helicopter. The Kalalau Trail from the end of Hawaii Route 56 (called the Kuhio Highway) provides the only land access, traversing 11 miles (18 km) and crossing five major valleys (and many smaller ones) before reaching Kalalau Beach at the base of Kalalau Valley. This is part of Kaua’i (and for that matter, the world) that should be missed. Towering cliffs that drop thousands of feet to the ocean below, encompassing vibrant colours that you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere else in the world.
3. Hanalei River (0:16) - Kauai has the only navigable rivers in Hawaii, and while the Hanalei River isn’t the largest, it’s often considered to be the most scenic. The most famous however – the Wailua River – is the only navigable river by boats larger than your average kayak/canoe. The Wailua River is a center of activity for locals and visitors in the form of boat tours to Fern Grotto, kayaking and water skiing.
4. Surf (0:57) - Reasonable in the summer and heartstopping in the winter Kaua’i, like much of Hawai’i experiences some of the best (and biggest) waves in the world. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert big-wave surfer (like Kaua’i native and resident, Laird Hamilton), there’s a surf spot to be found, and a teacher if you need one.
5. Bubba’s Burgers (1:04) - It may sound silly to have a burger joint in a list of ‘must-do’s’ for a holiday, but once you’ve visited Bubba’s Burgers, you’ll understand why. So what’s the big deal? Bubbas is ingrained in the history of Kaua’i. In 1992, Kaua’i was hit by a HUGE hurricane called Iniki. It literally destroyed the island (Jurrasic Park was being filmed on Kaua’i as Hurricane Iniki approached, so much of the wind and rain in the beginning of the movie is legit!), and left the island without power. With no power, and no refrigeration, Bubba’s meat was going to go to waist. But to make the best of a bad situation, they instead served up BBQ’d hamburgers for the residents (and tourists) that were left with little more than the clothes on their back. Of course, no one turned down a hot meal, let alone one that tasted so good! So Bubba’s, mahalo for your kokua!
6. Hanalei Bay Pier (2:08) - Originally built as a loading dock for the Taro crops (and subsequent rice fields) to be loaded onto boats from, this pier is now a popular spot for both tourists and locals alike. You’d be hard pressed to find the pier deserted, as it’s now a well used and well loved fishing and recreation spot. Thanks to the crystal blue water, the visiblity is usually very good. Kids and adults are often found jumping into the water from the end of it.
7. Hanalei Bay (2:37) - Hanalei Bay consists of nearly two miles of beach, surrounded by mountains. In the summer, the bay offers excellent mooring for sailboats, stand up paddle boarding and swimming. The calm, crystal clear water is what makes Hanalei Bay so special. There are spectacular views to be found from all angles, as the bay is surrounded by towering green mountains. When the weather turns, it’s not uncommon to see countless waterfalls cascading down in all directions. During the winter the surf becomes large and is a favorite surf location, often the home to huge waves. The beach at Hanalei Bay was selected No. 1 on “Dr. Beach” Stephen Leatherman‘s 2009 list of top 10 beaches.
8. Kilauea Falls (2:42) - This popular waterfall is loved and enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. While there’s a bit of a debate around whether the falls sits on public or private land, it doesn’t really deter people from seeking it out. The pool below is deep, clear, and inviting in the hot Hawaiian days. Be sure to wear shoes when climbing around the rocks – they can be slippery at the best of times.
9. Bali Hai (3:08) - While the Bali Hai show tune (and subsequent movie) is based on the real island of Ambae, near Vanuatu, much of the movie was filmed on the North Shore of Kaua’i. The famous Mount Makana was used as Bali Hai, and is still known as Bali Hai today. The nearby Tunnel’s Beach is often referred to as “Nurses’ Beach”, and the scene where Bloody Mary sings of Bali Ha’i takes place on Hanalei Bay.
10. The Sunsets (3:46) - This one doesn’t really need an explanation. Sunsets anywhere in Hawai’i are amazing, but there’s been a few in Kaua’i that, well, blew me away. Spectacular.