6. Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail (South Shore)
Head to Shipwreck Beach to find the beginning of the trail; or you can walk down to the beachfront from the Grand Hyatt Resort. Then hike a short distance up this trail and you’ll find yourself atop of a cliff overlooking the ocean with some incredible views—and more chances to spot sea turtles! You can walk along the cliff for quite a ways with beautiful views of the ocean, cliffs and caves in the rocks. Do it early in the day, especially if it’s a clear, sunny day, because it gets hot fast up there! Wear sunscreen and bring a hat and water!
7. McBryde Gardens (South Shore)
My dad took us to a fair number of botanical gardens on our family vacations, so I guess that has stuck with me into my adult years. The Allerton and McBryde Gardens offer a really unique look at some very rare native and non-native plants and trees, and even some that are extinct in the wild on Kauai.
We opted for the self-guided tour of McBryde, but I’m definitely adding Allerton to our list for a return trip (you also can tour a historic 1930s plantation home as part of the Allerton tour). McBryde Gardens are located above the Lawai Bay near the Lawai stream. Whereas many sights in Kauai offer a view from cliffs looking down, you get a beautiful valley perspective here. You’ll be shuttled down into McBryde from the visitor’s center and you are free to roam the area, walking the various garden trails that feature native plants, rare plants, orchids, giant Moreton Bay Fig trees.
Me, for scale. I’m five feet tall.
They even have a trail that explores prehistoric plants! We spent about two hours here and got caught in a massive downpour just before one of the shuttles arrived, otherwise we may have stuck around to explore some more. Again, expect muddy conditions, especially if it has rained recently, or if you get caught in a massive downpour like we did. Kauai is largely rainforest, though, so it wasn’t completely unexpected!
8. Kipu Ranch
The hubs and I definitely stepped outside of our comfort zones a bit during this trip and I’m so glad we did. We’ve never done a 4×4 tour before, but heard awesome things about Kipu Ranch Adventures and had to check them out for ourselves. We were not disappointed! We spent 3+ hours traversing Kauai farmland, nature trails and waterfalls and emerged muddy, dusty and utterly exhilarated! Ride through fields that you’ll likely recognize from movies like Jurassic Park, The Descendants, Pirates of the Caribbean, Indiana Jones Raiders of the Lost Ark, and many, many more!
The hubs was brave enough to swing on Indy’s famous Raiders of the Lost Ark rope swing out over the Huleia River. And we both took the opportunity to jump in a cool pool beneath a waterfall and towering bamboo.
9. Tunnel of Trees
You’ll have to excuse my car photo here. I’m kicking myself a little for not pulling over and taking a few proper photos of the Tunnel of Trees, but we were lucky enough to drive through it several times on our trips across the island. If you take Maluhia Road, you can’t miss this beautiful natural canopy of eucalyptus trees.
10. Spouting Horn (South Shore)
This spot is billed as Kauai’s most popular tourist attraction. It reminded me of a smaller, oceanside Old Faithful. The ocean creates a geyser-like effect on the rocky coastline as the waves crash into the sea. It’s a quick stop along the South Shore and just minutes from the parking lot for the Allerton and McBryde Garden tours, so it’s worth taking a few minutes to grab some photos or make a cool slow-mo video.
Well, this has certainly turned into a lengthy post! Kudos to you if you’ve hung with me until now! I really tried to keep my commentary to a minimum, but I can’t help gushing about some of the things we saw and did while we were in Kauai. And honestly, I could probably come up with plenty more to say about all the things we saw and did.
I like to think that I’ve traveled a fair amount (at least across the United States), and I can honestly say that this was my most favorite vacation ever. Our photos really don’t do justice to how incredibly beautiful the landscape of Kauai is. Plus, you don’t get the benefit of the sun shining on your face, the waves crashing on the shore, and the breeze rustling your hair and the abundance of palm leaves. If you ever have the chance to go to Kauai—GO! And please take me with you as your tour guide 😉
Next week I’ll be sharing some of our favorite places in Kauai to grab a bite and a cocktail!
Have you ever been to Kauai? What sights did you see while you were on the island? What should I put on my list for our next trip?
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