Visiting Kauai may conjure images of palm trees swaying in the tropical breezes while lounging pool or beach side sipping a Blue Hawaii or a Lava Flow. While this should certainly be included during your Kauai vacation, you may be surprised to know how many adventures are available on this beautiful island. So, set the Chi-Chi down and get ready for a day of outdoor activity on Kauai’s North Shore including kayaking, snorkeling, surfing and even a traditional Hawaiian plate lunch that will having you feeling like a local in no time.
Start your day’s adventure with a morning Blue Lagoon Paddle and Snorkel tour with Kayak Kauai. The tour is offered year round except Sunday and the morning excursion leaves at 9:15 a.m. Make sure to lather on the sunscreen because you’ll be basking in the Hawaiian sun during this guided tour.
After your tandem kayak is launched into the Hanalei River you will, for a short time, paddle down a narrow waterway until it opens wide as you continue moving forward. Paddling the river to Bay Reef Lagoon offers a chance to see the beautiful views of majestic Bali Hai and connect with the natural surrounding beauty. There is plenty of wildlife to spot and your guide will likely share information about the unique and beautiful local flora and fauna.
Soon you will find yourself at the mouth of the Pacific Ocean where you can test your new kayaking skills. Kayak into the waves and depending on surf conditions make your way down as far as possible towards the pristine beach below the Princeville at Hanalei.
Pull your kayak to shore and gear up for an amazing snorkeling opportunity. A few feet from shoreline, the ocean bottom drops offering underground rock formations, coral and lots of sea life.
Drift effortlessly among the schools of tropical fish in the clear, warm ocean waters of Kauai. You may wonder why your entire trip wasn’t focused on snorkeling the different coves and beaches of this island. The three hour tour ends after paddling your way back to your starting point-and the views only seem to be more beautiful on the return trip.
For lunch, walk to the Hanalei Taro & Juice Co food stand in front of Kayak Kauai for a Traditional Hawaiian plate lunch. Choose between the chicken Lau Lau, Kalua pig and the Pork Lau Lau plates. Plates come with rice or like the locals, order the poi bowl. Also included is a serving of taro mac salad, lomi lomi salmon and a piece of taro mocha cake. Now that is doing lunch like a local!
It’s time to head to the famous Hanalei pier for a surfing lesson with Hawaiian Surfing Adventures. Owned by Mitchell Alapa, a born and raised Hawaiian and lifelong surfer and his wife Lynn. This is a true family business.
They will have you geared up in a rash guard (a.k.a. cool surfer shirt), working with a guide and feeling like hanging ten in no time. You’ll learn the basics on your long board on land before they take you out into the water. This includes the steps to go from lying on the board to getting up to your feet. They’ll even figure out if you are a regular or goofy foot (right or left foot forward in other words).
Now it’s time to hit the waves. After a few tries, it is quickly apparent why surfers have such great bodies. All that arm paddling, pulling yourself up on the board and keeping low when you get to your feet make for an all over body workout. But it is all worth it, becasue there is nothing like catching your first wave and to realize your riding toward shore. Once you get the hang of it your surf instructor will help you tweak your stance so you can make your ride last even longer. You have now surfed the Hanalei Pier!
Afterwards, head west on the Kuhio Highway, where you will cross several charming one-lane bridges, until you reach the Hanalei Colony Resort in Haena. After checking into your beachfront condo, take time to explore the beach. Then make your way to the central grassy courtyard. Lie back in your lounge chair and enjoy the picturesque views and the sound of the crashing waves.
For dinner, walk just a few steps to one of the islands top rated restaurants: The Mediterranean Gourmet. Chef Imad Beydoun and his wife Yarrow create a culinary experience that combines their Lebanese roots with the flavors of Greece, France and the Middle East. Start with the feta cheese saffron rice cakes followed by tabouleh salad with hummus. For a main course try the seafood bouillabaisse or rosemary rack of lamb. Everything is delicious and fresh and will satisfy your appetite.
To end your perfect day on the north shore take a moonlit walk before making your way back to the condo. Head to your condo’s private balcony to absorb a few more minutes of the tropical breezes. When you get into the cozy bed, lie back and let the sounds of the crashing waves lull you to sleep.
What & Where:
Kayak Kauai (5-5070 Kuhio Hwy # A, Hanalei; 808-826-9844)
Hanalei Taro & Juice Co (5-5070 Kuhio Hwy # B, Hanalei, HI 96714; 808-826-1059)
Hawaiian Surfing Adventures (Hanalei Beach Park; 808-482-0749)
Hanalei Colony Resort (5-7130 Kuhio Hwy, Haena, 808-826-6235)
Alexa Meisler is the editorial director of 52 Perfect Days. Born in Paris, France she has since lived in Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon. She currently resides in San Diego with her husband and son where they enjoy exploring California and Mexico.
Travel has always been a part of her life; traveling to such places as Morocco, Tangiers and Spain as a young child as well as taking many road trips to Mexico with her grandparents as a young girl. Since then, she has traveled abroad to locations such as Russia, Taiwan and throughout Europe.
Prior to working at 52 Perfect Days she was a freelance travel writer; focusing on family and women’s adventure experiences.