Each of Hawaii’s islands has its own unique identity and ability to summon up an instant mental image. When it comes to Kauai, it’s impossible not to imagine people enjoying its natural attractions, such as exploring the Na Pali Coast by boat or helicopter, hiking the Waimea Canyon (known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”) or kayaking one of the island’s gorgeous rivers. It isn’t called the Garden Isle for nothing. Kauai is cloaked in lush tropical foliage. It also has more than 40 sandy beaches, making Kauai an excellent choice for active vacationers in search of either land or water sports.
An awe-inspiring view from Waimea Canyon
State Parks across the island offer hiking geared for a variety of fitness levels. Prime hiking areas include the Na Pali Coast State Park, which has an 11-mile trail that usually takes several days to complete. Hikers also give high marks to the Waimea Canyon State Park’s 3,000-foot Waimea Canyon; the Alakai Wilderness Preserve, which includes the 10-mile long Alakai Swamp; and Kokee State Park, comprising 4,345 acres of pristine nature.
Kauai-bound hikers should take the time to visit the Sierra Club, Kauai Group website where they’ll find useful information and tips for planning a successful hike.
Camping—which will be necessary on more extensive hikes—is by permit only. Permits for camping at county parks are issued for seven days, although it’s possible to camp for up to 60 days when combining all of Kauai’s country parks. Permits cost $3 per person per night, free for children under 18. State Park permits are gratis, and allow camping for five consecutive days. Request permits as far in advance as possible—up to a year ahead for popular parks like The Na Pali Coast State Park. Permit information can be obtained by calling Kauai’s Department of Parks and Recreation at 808-241-6660.
Wet and Active
A peaceful and relatively easy way to appreciate Kauai’s natural beauty is by river kayaking. Beginners can opt for a gentle float on the Wailua River to the island’s celebrated Fern Grotto. Other popular kayaking excursions include the Huleia River from Nawiliwili Harbor to the Menehune Fishpond, and the Hanalei River, which takes kayakers through the island’s plains country. Ocean kayaking is another option, although a guide is recommended, since the ocean currents can be a tricky affair, especially along the Na Pali Coast. Operators that can help plan either guided or unaccompanied kayaking trips include Kayak Kauai (800-437-3507), Outfitters Kauai (808-742-9667), and Napali Kayak Tours (808-826-8968).
Visitors enjoy gliding through waterways and tunnels on inner tubes, courtesy of Backcountry Adventures.
Kauai operator Blue Dolphin Charters recently added a 25-foot rigid-hull raft for raft-snorkel excursions of the Na Pali Coast. The new craft is designed for groups of four to 12 passengers. Once onboard, passengers experience sea-cave exploration and the island’s coastal bays and shoreline areas, with an emphasis on viewing marine life, including whales in season. The Raft and Snorkel Adventure departs Port Allen Harbor at 8 a.m. for a 5½-hour tour of the Na Pali Coast, including lunch and snorkeling. The afternoon whale-watching tour, which runs in the winter, departs at 1:30 p.m. The company also operates 50-passenger sailing catamarans and provides scuba diving as part of its large-vessel tours. To make reservations, call 808-335-5553 or e-mail [email protected].
While most visitors to Kauai will be familiar with its options for kayaking, they may not know they can enjoy Kauai by taking a tube excursion with Backcountry Adventures along the open ditches, tunnels and flumes of a sugar plantation’s irrigation canals. These waterways were engineered and hand-dug back in 1870, and ceased operation in 2000. Participants don headlamps and glide along the waterways and through tunnels on an inner tube. The three-hour tubing adventure culminates in a picnic lunch at a natural swimming hole. One of the pluses is the fact that the excursion is open to participants five and over, although children under the age of 14 must be accompanied by an adult. Cost is $100. Call 808-821-1000 or e-mail [email protected].
A Break in the Action
After a full day exploring Kauai, it’s nice to kick back in comfort at a resort that combines a beautiful island setting with a complete range of services and amenities.
The pool at The Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas
In April, The Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas opened as scheduled. Located on Kauai’s North Shore, the oceanfront property comprises 18.5 acres perched 200 feet above Anini Beach. This is Starwood Vacation Ownership’s third vacation ownership resort in Hawaii.
Guest rooms are either studios or one-bedroom accommodations. The resort has 173 Island View Studio units and 173 Island View One Bedroom units. Most rooms have island views, although a few have ocean and partial ocean views. The property can only confirm island views when booking. Villas will also be offered as nightly rentals for visitors seeking larger accommodations for family travel or longer stays.
Rates for an Island View Studio start at $600 per night, with rates at $800 per night for a one-bedroom and $1,400 per night for a two-bedroom villa. Guests who book an Island View Deluxe Studio Villa will receive a special introductory rate of $299 as well as a guaranteed upgrade to an Island View Deluxe One Bedroom Villa. The resort is also offering a special travel agent rate of $159 for an Island View Studio.
A Premium Studio at The Westin Princeville Resort Villas
Each guest room has a fully equipped kitchen, complimentary WiFi and dial-up Internet, a washer and dryer and a private lanai. The on-property Princeville Market provides a selection of groceries, and 20 barbecue grills are spread out over the property. The market sells marinated steaks and fish, a popular choice for guests choosing to grill their own food. The property also has a restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Guests staying a minimum of five nights will receive a two-for-one coupon for select activities at the nearby Princeville Ranch. Princeville’s championship golf courses, The Prince and The Makai, border the resort.
Travel agents can reach out to Lindsay Forman, leisure sales manager, at [email protected] or 808-827-8722.
The ResortQuest Kauai Beach at Makaiwa has completed a $30 million renovation, which included the refurbishment of all guest rooms and public areas. Ideal for active guests, the resort is centrally located and is within walking distance of two major shopping centers and popular island activities near historic Kapaa town.
Terrific views are prevalent, since 62 percent of the resort’s rooms are categorized as Ocean View. Two Oceanfront Suites in particular, numbers 437 and 491, have the shortest walks to the beach. Each suite is approximately 1,350 square feet, with an additional 120 square feet of lanai space, a wet bar, separate living area and bedroom and an oversized bathroom with a Jacuzzi. The 28 Deluxe Ocean Front Rooms are about as close to the beach as you can get and feature a direct view of the ocean. Room 490 is particularly desirable, for its direct views of the ocean and Ala Kukui Point. Of the resort’s Ocean Front Rooms, number 488 is considered premium for its view. The resort has 33 connecting rooms, which are convenient for those traveling with groups or family members.
To book the resort, travel agents can contact their regional sales manager or e-mail [email protected]. Room rates at the ResortQuest Kauai Beach at Makaiwa range from $285 for a Garden View Room to $472 for a Deluxe Ocean Front Room and $995 for a One-Bedroom Suite.
The resort’s Pua Day Spa has one treatment room that can accommodate couples. Agents can book spa treatments in advance by contacting Isabelle Winninger (808-635-1589, [email protected]). Note that advance payment is required.
If a full day of paddling a kayak or hiking the trails leaves your clients feeling worse for the wear, they’ll be glad you booked them into the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa, which overlooks Keoneloa Bay. The property’s Anara Spa is the largest spa on Kauai. A recent renovation effort included a 900-square-foot expansion of the fitness center, a movement pavilion for indoor fitness classes and personal training, an open-air meditative lounge and a couples’ massage treatment room. The spa also has four private hale (thatched roof huts) with connecting pathways and waterfalls. Book your wellness-loving clients in the Poipu Wing, since these rooms are closest to the spa. Anara Spa reservations can be booked via Jessica Shea, the spa director (808-240-6441).
The property has a water playground with a river pool, waterfalls and a 150-foot water slide into a saltwater lagoon. Those with kids in tow should book rooms in the Shipwreck wing, which is closest to the pool and lagoon area.
The Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa has seven restaurants and six lounges. The Tidepools Restaurant is set among koi-filled lagoons with a backdrop of waterfalls in an open-air setting of Polynesian hale. The restaurant is popular with locals, so book ahead of time. Agents can make advance reservations through the resort’s concierge department (808-240-6456, [email protected]).
The resort provides two agent contacts: Ann Takechi, senior sales manager ([email protected], 808-240-6422), and Chris Wingerberg, sales manager ([email protected], 808-240-6428). Rates start at $430 per night.
Castle Resorts & Hotels specializes in modestly priced, well-located and comfortable hotels and condominium resorts on five Hawaiian Islands. The company’s condominium property, Castle Kiahuna Plantation & The Beach Bungalows, is located on a sandy beachfront on Kauai. Features include a restaurant, poolside café, tennis courts, and swimming pool.
The resort has one- and two-bedroom garden-view condo rentals, and one- and two-bedroom partial oceanview suites. The ultimate accommodation is the two-bedroom Beachfront Alii Suite, which opens up to the beach. The most desired rooms are those in the one- or two-bedroom beachfront categories. The two-bedroom, two-bath suites are a good recommendation for families. These accommodate up to six people. Family groups larger than that can opt for several two-bedroom suites in proximity to each other. There are no adjoining rooms.
The Kiahuna Golf Club is nearby, and there are shopping and dining options across the street from the resort. Hawaiian monk seals sometimes beach themselves, allowing guests a rare opportunity to observe these endangered animals.
Rates start at $245 per night. As an added incentive, this fall travel agents earn $50 for bookings of five consecutive nights or more at participating Castle Resorts’ properties. The travel agent liaison at the property is Elaine Sigimura, reservations manager (808-742-2200, [email protected]).
Learn more about Kauai by checking out the video below:
Kauai is one of eight main islands comprising the Hawaiian chain. Kauai is 33 miles wide and 25 miles long.
Getting There: Direct flights are available on United Airlines from Los Angeles and San Francisco and on American Airlines from Los Angeles. Hawaiian Airlines and Island Air provide inter-island service. Flight time is about 25 minutes.
All major car rental companies have desks at Lihue Airport. Car rentals are also available at major hotels. Taxicab service is available island-wide.
Climate: Kauai's climate is semitropical. Daytime temperatures at sea level range from about 88 degrees to a pleasant evening low near 60 degrees.
Hawaii Wholesalers: Apple Vacations (800-517-2000, [email protected]; Classic Vacations (866-262-7044, [email protected]); Creative Leisure (800-413-1000); Funjet Vacations (888-558-6654); and Pleasant Holidays (800-742-9244).
Kauai Visitors Bureau: 808-245-3971; www.kauaidiscovery.com.