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BFF Trip to Kauai-Hiking, snorkeling, and kayaking...Oh my!

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BFF Trip to Kauai-Hiking, snorkeling, and kayaking...Oh my!

My bff and I are taking a trip to Kauai (our first visit) from July 25th to July 31st. We are staying in Princeville the first 5 nights and then our last night in Lihue. We are interested in mainly hiking, snorkeling, a kayaking trip, and possibly a surf lesson. We will have a rental car. We arrive late on the 25th so that day is shot and take the red-eye on the 31st.

First off, best hikes. I know this is very subjective. I would like to think we are in decent shape and can handle moderate hikes, but maybe not too strenuous/difficult. We want to see different kinds of terrain and hopefully some great photo ops (birds, waterfalls, etc). Which of the following are "must see/do?"

-Napali Coast Kalalau Trail

-Wai Koa Loop

-Okolehau Trail

-Pihea, Awaawapuhi, and Alakai Swamp Trails (These seem close together?)

We will most likely only be able to do one hike on the east on our last day.

-Nounou Mountain Trail (Sleeping Giant)

Next up, snorkeling. Again, I would like to think we are decent swimmers but don't have a ton of experience snorkeling. I snorkeled in the Caribbean a few times and in Maui but that's it. Are these the best snorkeling spots for decent swimmers with probably limited time given the other activities we want to fit in? Are they safe? Also what is the best way to get info on currents/conditions?





Now for kayaking. This is the only activity we may want a guide for other than surfing. My bff and I did a trip to Nova Scotia a couple years ago and did a sea kayak tour. It was her first kayak trip and my third. We have done a lot of canoeing, but not a bunch of kayaking. We both enjoy it though. That being said, any suggestions? I read a little about the 17 mile Napali trip but think it may be too long. What about the Fern Grotto? Basically we just want another way to explore the island.

Surfing. This will be a first for both of us and probably pretty hilarious. I can't help but think of the movie, "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" and the surf lesson between Paul Rudd and Jason Segel. Any recommendations of an easy going surf lesson for total beginners?

Restaurants. We are both vegetarians. We would love to try any local specialties. We know it can be pretty pricey, so we will probably splurge here and there, but certainly not every meal. Just found out our hotel room doesn't have a fridge, bummer, so buying things at the grocery store may not be as convenient as I originally thought. I did find that most restaurants offer veg fare which is great!

Bars. We are past the club scene/college bar crowd, but don't exactly want a place that is dead either. We both enjoy wine and from what I can remember (just joking...sort of) the mai tais in Maui were awesome! One thing we are careful of is to not drive after drinking. If we are staying near the St. Regis in Princeville, are there any fun restaurants/bars in walking distance? Sounds like the St Regis bar is $$$.

Finally, any other must see/do activities? Queen's Bath, art, gardens, luaus (no piggies please),

sea glass beach, farmer's market...

I can't thank you enough for taking time to read through my crazy ramblings. Any advice is much appreciated!


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1. Re: BFF Trip to Kauai-Hiking, snorkeling, and kayaking...Oh my!

Contact Eric with Hike With Me for kayaking.


He's a great guide for kayaking, SUP, and hiking. The 17 miler is hard, hard, hard and if you are a really good kayaker would be fun, but its not for amateurs.

St Regis bar is very $$$$ so try Tahiti Nui. CJ's and Tiki Iniki too.

Luau? Mediterranean Gourmet but book it today.

Farmer's Mkt is Sat in Hanalei.

My daughter will be there the same time as you and is booking a surf lesson in Hanalei but the surf will probably be too flat. You might be better of taking it at Kalapaki Beach with Beach Boys.

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2. Re: BFF Trip to Kauai-Hiking, snorkeling, and kayaking...Oh my!


Thank you for the prompt response! I appreciate all of your advice. I went to the link you posted. Eric does seem very knowledgeable. I will look into the kayaking options. Since we are not interested in a hiking tour, is there any advice you can give on the hikes I posted?

Thank you very much!

Kauai, Hawaii
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3. Re: BFF Trip to Kauai-Hiking, snorkeling, and kayaking...Oh my!

Once again good scoops from Jbett...

Like your hikes, and yep, you have varied the scenery and difficulty....you are pretty industrious and not sure that you will get in all of the ideas that you have, but you have done a great job of pre planning... gold stars.

Kayaking up north.....you two have flown across the pacific, and who knows when you will be back. A really neat and cool and fun guided kayak adventure, that is actually easy.

KAYAK HANALEI, on the makai ( ocean) side of the main road as you enter hanalei town just past the hanalei dolphin restaurant. Old buidling, kayaks should be visible. You get checked in, and into your life jackets, and select your paddle, and wet bags for your personal gear. Then you will be on a ramp, sit on the kayak, and slide down into the small tributary that takes you and the group to the river in a couple of minutes.

Now, you will paddle the river, and then back down to Hanalei Bay, looking for honu, and the around the point at the St. Reggie, and around the corner , thru the reef, to land your kayak on sand at beautiful Hideaways Beach. Now you snorkel and have lunch, and paddle back in to the bay with your group....sometimes we have been greeted by dolphins ( no guarantee), and have seen more honu ( turtles).

Paddle back up river, maybe riding a wave into the river mouth on the way back. Life is still easy, you paddle back to the ramp, and the staff will haul you and the kayak up the ramp.

What we do, is trun in the gear, and then walk next door to the Hanalei Dolphin for lunch and adult beverages. You can search the Hanalei Dolphin ( in hanalei...they have another place in poipu) and check to see if there might be a salad, or fish or veggie type of meal to suit you all ). You have had a marvelous kayaking adventure.

Added info : Now we are highly experienced snorkelers, but one of the guides leads the small group on a snorkle where he free dives down, and brings up marine life for you to inspect. We had no problem with that, and then you have additional time to easily fin where you wish to explore on your own.

As to Glass Beach.....for us, as visitors on a short stay, we would pass on that, and go snorkeling at Lawai Beach, while in poipu. We would also pass on Queens Bath.

From poipu you can easily head up to Koke'e to make an early arrival at the Pihea Trail head, and connect to the Alakai Swamp trail....this is going to be several hours and your day will be quite filled. But a wonderful hike that will allow you to see vegetation that lives only there. in the Alakai Swamp...no place else on the planet.

Like the idea of going to a luau at the med gormet....actually one of our favorite places on the north shore.

As Jbett suggested get your reservations early...I think the luau might only be one night a week.....they may have expanded, but do check it out.


Erica and I bring our own aloha, and make our own good time........I think that you two will be doing the same.

We have not been to the TAHITI NUI in Hanalei Town....but only because we did not get there early enough to get a seat....there will be live music and a festive attitude, and lots of excellent reviews from posters who had a super great and fun time there. Our next stay cation on the north shore, the Tahiti Nui is on the top of the list.

If the Happy Talk was open at the Hanalei Bay resort, we would also go there for happy hour, loved that place, but they are still under re construction.......so, in Hanalei Town, we like the fun and easy going places were we can get good food and drinks. ( early is also a good plan ).

KALYPSO, and THE HANALEI GORMET.......always up beat, and actually, if it is just the two of us, we like to sit up at the bar and talk story with whoever is open and enjoys human conversation.

Those are just a couple of places, but they suit our feeling for eating and drinking in fun atmpsheres.

The Kalalau Trail: No longer do that trail.( 20 years of hikes there ) ...1000 of your new best freinds will be joining you, and it is not an easy trail. In fact, there are more injuries on that trail than all of the other trails on all of the hawaiian islands combined.

But, that info does not seem to bother the visitors, and they continue to flock there.

I Like Sleeping Giant, for an East Side Hike......good strong athletic shoes or boots. Usually boots take up too much room when packing. And of course, the reward is having grub and grog at the Olympic Cafe in Kapa'a town omce back down the mountain.

ANINI BEACH: Wow ! Super beautiful beach, protecting reef, some snorkeling, easy swimming, and there used to be a lady who gave sail board lessons up there. Multicolored water, usually calm, grass, shade trees and bbq's, as well as tables and benches for a picnic lunch.

Those ideas that you have received, plus others that felt good to you are going to more than occupy your time......You might plan on the big must do types, and then let the others slide in on your kick back days.

It is great that you have done your research, and are raring to explore the garden island. You will be taking basket loads of wonderful memories back home with you....and we all here on this board, know that those memories will never ever leave you.

E Komo Mia ( welcome) to Kauai

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4. Re: BFF Trip to Kauai-Hiking, snorkeling, and kayaking...Oh my!

Well, Denny just posted some of the same advice I was going to give; in particular, the info. On the Alakai Swamp hike and the kayaking to Hideaways. Both lots of fun!

Ke'e and Tunnels are favorite snorking spots; I'd skip Anini.

For a great surfing lesson, try Mike Rodger at www.kauaiexperience.com

The self-guided tour at Limahuli Garden just before Ke'e is well worth the visit!

Have fun! We're heading North Sunday for two weeks.

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5. Re: BFF Trip to Kauai-Hiking, snorkeling, and kayaking...Oh my!

<<Since we are not interested in a hiking tour, is there any advice you can give on the hikes I posted?>>

The only hiking I do is down the steps to the pool. lol

Eric does more than hiking tours. He does Kayak tours and SUP. You said you were interested in kayaking and that is one way to do it.

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6. Re: BFF Trip to Kauai-Hiking, snorkeling, and kayaking...Oh my!

Good on you for getting outdoors and active, hiking, snorkeling and kayaking are what Kauai is all about. My opinion based on the impressions I got from what you wrote:

Your time is fairly short, unfortunately you can't do it all. It does not sound like he Na Pali kayak is for you, but there's still plenty to do on the north shore. For snorkeling, tunnels and hideaways are best bets. Ke'e is nice too, but the reef is shallow and inside the reef is unimpressive. You could hike the trail a short ways, and then swim inside the reef and enjoy the view. Or you could hike the 2 miles each way to Hanakapi'ai beach, which is very nice except for the crowds. It's moderate and does require paying attention, but a very nice hike. There are also the dry and wet caves to stop at, and limahuli gardens to explore, as suggested.

For kayaking, the east side would make a good 1 day trip from up north: half-day kayak and waterfall hike on he Wailua river (I think it's better than the Hanalei river, and you have the choice of guided or unguided--I think you can get by without guides on the river), half-day for seeing Kilauea lighthouse and beaches along the way (Moloaa, Larsens, Donkey beach, Kealia) and Wailua falls overlook. Nounou (Sleeping giant) or Kuilau are nice 1/2 day hikes, but it that might be overdoing it before/after the kayaking.

Personally, I would not do a big hike in Kokee before your flight, unless you're fine with showering at an outdoor shower (combined with a dip and sunset at salt pond park in Hanapepe) and packing dirty sweaty clothes. I suggest doing the west side a long day-trip from up north (you can still stop at Salt pond--or even Polihale--for a dip and sunset). You could do the kayaking and east side beaches before the flight, and just rinse off the saltwater so you only have to pack a wet bathingsuit in a damp towel. For hiking in Kokee, I would recommend either Nualolo out and back (steeper) or Pihea-Alaka'i swamp boardwalk to Kilohana lookout (longer) as your big hike.

Nowhere to walk to from Princeville if that's where you're staying--though a cab to/from Hanalei shouldn't be too expensive if you want to have a night out down there. But Hanalei Bay by the pier is perfect for learning to surf, the rentals and instructors are waiting right there in their trucks for you--can't miss them.

Local vegetarian is taro/poi and ulu (breadfruit--tastes a lot like potato in a very good way). I highly recommend you find a place that serves either if those

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7. Re: BFF Trip to Kauai-Hiking, snorkeling, and kayaking...Oh my!

Wow! Thank you so much for the fantastic advice! I truly appreciate the time you all took to reply to my post. Heading out on Friday, can't wait!!!

8. Re: BFF Trip to Kauai-Hiking, snorkeling, and kayaking...Oh my!

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