Kauai, the fourth largest of the Hawaiian islands, is fondly known as the Garden Isle. Travel beyond its pristine, sandy shoreline and it’s easy to see why. A lush, green jungle studded with volcanic, waterfall-drenched mountains awaits the traveler who ventures into the island’s interior. Home of one of the wettest spots on earth, Kauai is a wild, enchanting Eden unspoiled by development. If you’re looking for a Hawaiian experience that extends beyond the archipelago’s famous, palm tree-lined beaches, Kauai is where you’ll find it.
Eighty percent of the island is inaccessible by foot, so a Safari Helicopters tour with a bird’s-eye view of the island is the perfect way to learn the lay of the land. From the fluted ridges of the Napali Coast to the dusty red bowl of Waimea Canyon, Kauai’s geography is spectacularly diverse, carved over 5.1 million years by volcanic activity and wind and sea erosion. Located just minutes from Lihue Airport, Safari Helicopters is equipped with a top-of-the-line helicopter fleet and knowledgeable, experienced pilots eager to acquaint you with Kauai’s marvelous topography.
For your first day on Kauai, you’ve got to get wet. And there’s no better place for a dip than the blue waters bordering the 17-mile stretch of sea cliffs known as the Napali coast. Kauai Sea Tours, located in Eleele, offers a snorkel or sunset dinner cruise aboard the Lucky Lady, a 60-foot luxury catamaran equipped with a waterslide, bar and buffet service. Folks with an appetite for adventure, however, might prefer to zoom along the coast on a 24-foot ocean raft, which can navigate sea caves, duck under cliffside waterfalls and land at a remote beach only accessible by boat for a serene picnic.
After a day of adventure, rest your head at Hanalei Colony Resort. Tucked in the secluded garden-like setting of Kauai’s north shore, you’ll enjoy cozy, oceanfront condo accommodations with a full kitchen, a private lanai (porch) and large picture windows looking out on stunning ocean and mountain views. The beach fronting your door is perfect for shelling, and the mana, or spiritual power, emanating from the surrounding mountains is almost palpable.
Although steeped in natural beauty, the north shore isn’t without modern fashion. Inside the posh St. Regis Princeville Resort, you’ll find the Honolulu-based resort wear company Tori Richard, a clothing brand offering a contemporary twist on the iconic aloha shirt. Worn by the cast of “Hawaii Five-0” and George Clooney, Tori Richard carries clothing for both women and men, including bold print pants, dresses and swimwear.
Fuel up for another day of adventure with a sunrise drive to Kauai Coffee, a gorgeous seed-to-cup coffee estate offering walking tours, roasting demonstrations, club memberships and tastings in Kalaheo. Kauai Coffee is Hawaii’s largest coffee grower, with more than 4 million coffee trees grown and sustainably harvested on 3,100 acres in Kalaheo. Be sure to stop in the gift shop and spend some time relaxing on the veranda with a freshly made cup of joe. Our recommendation? The Kauai Blue Mountain: A unique, well-balanced dark roast with a malty flavor and fruity notes. It’s the ultimate expression of island coffee.
Now that you’re caffeinated, prepare to channel your inner Tarzan at Skyline Eco-Adventures, where you’ll sail above the canopy, taking in vistas of verdant mountain valleys. With eight thrilling lines and exciting features, such as a 200-foot drop-off and a walk-the-plank jump, you’ll feel like a heroic adventurer on a jungle safari as you glide through the skies over Kauai’s sunny south shore.
Replenish for a night of activity with a check-in at the beachfront Hilton Garden Inn Kauai Wailua Bay, where every guest room, suite and cottage offers ocean, mountain or scenic garden views. Complete with an open-air lobby, on-site restaurant and swimming lagoon, this hotel on Kauai’s Royal Coconut Coast is close to hiking trails, waterfalls, sacred historic sites, Hawaii’s largest navigable river and an arboretum showcasing mango, monkey pod and eucalyptus trees.
Be entertained while you feast for dinner at a traditional Hawaiian luau. Hosted by the Smith family of Kauai’s Wailua River Valley, Smith’s Garden Luau offers a memorable night that includes a pig roast, ukulele music and hula. The evening begins with a stroll of the 30-acre garden grounds and a chance to witness the cooking of a kalua pig in an earthen oven. In addition to kalua pork, the buffet-style menu features local favorites, such as beef teriyaki, chicken adobo and fresh-caught mahimahi. After the feast, grab yourself a mai tai and enjoy the show!
This special section can be found in our July/August 2017 issue.