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Kauai’s “Must Visit” Destinations

For many travelers, researching the “must visit” destinations of a specific area can be a bit overwhelming.  With so many great places to visit, how can you know which ones are really worth your time and energy?  If you’re planning on visiting Kauai in the near future, take a look at the list below for some of the great spots on the island.  No matter what your interests may be, you will find something below that will be a perfect match.  Some of these locations offer breath-taking views, while others offer opportunities to put your athleticism to good use.  Other locations offer local historical and cultural opportunities.

Napali Coast

The Napali Coast offers some breathtaking sights, both from the water and from land.  From the coast, you can see the sparkling, clear waters of the Pacific Ocean.  From the water, you gaze up at the towering mountainous coast, which is filled with rugged greenery and shimmering waterfalls.  Because of the coast’s rugged nature, most visitors choose to visit the area by boat.  Tours are offered to help individuals experience the beauty of the coast.  During the summer months, you can join a kayaking tour to see the sights.  If you are hoping to get a higher look, you can always opt for an air tour to view the coast.

If you are the adventurous, outdoorsy type, you can choose to access the coast by land.  You will take the Kalalau Trail, which is an 11-mile trek (one way).  It has high cliffs and can be a bit dangerous and energy-draining.  But if you are experienced, you will most likely enjoy this adventure and can even choose to camp overnight if you would like.

Hanalei Town

If you are a visitor who prefers a more relaxed approach to vacations, consider taking a trip to Hanalei Town.  This town offers opportunities for a look into its history and culture.  Waioli Mission House is a great place to visit to really take a look into the town’s history and heritage.  You can also visit various art galleries in the town, which contain several pieces of authentic art made from Hawaiian woods.

In addition to these historic and cultural sites, check out the well-known and used Hanalei Pier and Hanalei Bay.  Several locals and tourists alike frequent the pier to fish and swim.  Or perhaps you could check out one of the local ukulele concerts that often take place.  Visiting this town will help you feel more culturally-attached to the area and give you a more authentic experience.

Spouting Horn

Another fantastic place to visit is along the South Shore of Kauai, where you can witness the Spouting Horn.  During the summer swells, this natural lava tube “spouts” gigantic bursts of water into the air.  This spouting horn is the cause for a Kauai legend.  The tale tells a story of a giant lizard named Kaikapu.  The natives were afraid of this Kaikapu, as it would attack and eat anyone who came near.  One day, a young boy, Liko, decided to challenge the lizard.  It attacked, but Liko stabbed it using a stick and escaped out of a small hole. The lizard followed, but because of its immense size, it got stuck in the hole. Legend has it that Kaikapu still howls and sprays angry breath out of the hole.

Opaekaa Falls

Opaekaa Falls is a fantastic place to take the family, as it is easy to get to.  It is a lookout you can access from the road, which makes it great for a simple family drive.  These falls sparkle as they fall overtop mountainous greenery and provide a great photo opportunity.

Waimea Canyon

For those who are adventurous and athletic, there are several opportunities in Kauai.  In addition to that 11-mile hike along the Napali Coast, you might want to consider a visit to Waimea Canyon.  Waimea Canyon is often compared with the Grand Canyon and stretches 14 miles long.  It was created by several rivers and floods that flowed freely through it, which makes it rugged and mountainous. There are several trails you can hike on to take in the grandeur of this historic, rugged canyon.  There are also several lookout points, where you can easily take some photographs and enjoy the view with friends and family.

Kilauea Lighthouse

If you are a fan of lighthouses, or if you are just looking for another great photo opportunity, head to Kilauea Lighthouse.  This lighthouse looks over the blue Pacific Ocean.  It is also home to the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, which is a sanctuary for birds.  While you’re there, you can get photos of the lighthouse, birds, and perhaps even life in the ocean, such as a humpback whale.

This is certainly not a comprehensive list of the many worthwhile destinations in Kauai, but hopefully it can help you in your efforts to plan the best trip possible.  No matter which places you choose to visit, your Kauai experience will surely be one that you will never forget.

About the Author

Vincent Stokes is a Portland native and world traveler. You can connect with Vincent on G+ or twitter (@TravelingGlobal).

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