Ways to go beyond the public path
Any good guidebook will lead you to many wonderful hikes on Kaua’i. On the South side, Waimea Canyon and Koke’e offer many choices. You can take your pick of vistas, distance, terrain and difficulty and go enjoy the beauty and usually enjoy the solitude. To drive there from Haleakamanu, hike and return; it is best to allow an entire day. There are many fine hikes in the Kapa’a/Wailua area, you can get there in just 30-45 minutes.
There are many wonderful hikes right on the North Shore. The most famous hike is the Kalalau Trail on the Na Pali Coast. If you feel that you must do this hike, and many people do, consider this advice passed on from a local woman who showed us her care of the native Hawaiian environment and also her concern for the well being of the visitors. She taught us the Hawaiian word “lawa” (pronounced “lava”). It means “enough”. She told us to hike until lawa – not necessarily to get to the top of the hill, the first beach, the waterfall or the end of the trail – but to “nalu” (go with the flow) and hike until we had enough fun. This hike is often crowded with folks who are not prepared for the steep climbs and precarious footing. It is spectacular, but you won’t be alone.
Two of our favorite hiking trails are both conveniently close by and offer some solitude and the opportunity to experience the natural beauty of Kaua’i.
Just up the highway is the trailhead for the Powerline Trail (not to be confused with the Powerhouse Road). To get to the trailhead, go up Ka Haku Rd. and go East (to the left) on Kuhio Highway. It is only about a half mile to Kapaka Rd, where you turn right. Go up Kapaka for about two miles where you will find a dirt parking lot on the left by a water tower and a hunters check in station, this is the trailhead. The Powerline Trail was built to construct the poles for the Powerline (clever name, eh?) It is a wide trail and does have some steep climbs and ponds to navigate, but it is mostly an easy family hike. It does go all the way to Wailua on the other side of the Island. But you only need to go until lawa. If you go a couple of miles you will see the Hanalei River to your right and spot some waterfalls in the mountains across the valley. If you go about four miles you will begin to see tall fan palms. These are the native Hawaiian Pritchardia Palms (Loulu). They are now endangered and protected in their habitat (which is where you are) since the rats and pigs wipe out the seeds and seedlings. You may encounter hunters and dogs and other hikers on the trail, we have always found them friendly. Stay on the trail and you will have a great time.
The other hike that we have found enjoyable is the Okolehau Trail. It is a steep climb up to some amazing views of Hanalei Bay. To get there, go right on the Kuhio Highway toward Hanalei Town. After crossing the bridge at the Hanalei River, turn left along the river with the Kalo patches to your right. Within a mile you will come to the trailhead into the mountain on your right. Parking lot is to your left between the road and the river. There are two accesses to the main trail, a few hundred yards apart. So if it looks like the right place, it probably is. The Okolehau Trail is two miles of more of climbing, still we would consider both of these family hikes that mix exercise, nature study and adventure with the beauty of the views of the North Shore.
Horseback riding and ziplining
We have enjoyed family excursions with Princeville Ranch Adventures, including river kayaking, horse back riding, and ziplining. Their website is: https://princevilleranch.com. You can also purchase discount cards at Costco in Lihue.
Kayaking and Stand Up Paddling (SUP)
You can rent a kayak (or paddle board) and stay on the rivers and coast of Princeville through Kayak Hanalei (http://kayakhanalei.com/rentals/kauai-kayak-rentals/).
You can also explore the Na Pali Coast on an ocean kayak, which takes adventure to a new level. You can book through Napali Kayak (http://www.napalikayak.com).
Please let us know what you think of our suggestions and pass on new discoveries that you find.