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  • Caitlyn Mackie

The Adventurer's Guide to Kauai

Updated: May 7, 2018

So you want to explore the lush jungles, roaring waterfalls and vivid landscapes of Kauai? If you are looking to avoid the tourist traps and get "off-the-beaten-track", so to speak, of this enchanting island, you have come to the right place.



Napali Coast, from the sky.

I spent 10 days - no itinerary - wandering this island and managed to experience everything from the high ridges to the canyons below.


First thing is first, find a rad crew! (Although travelling solo is also cool)



In my first couple days on the island I somehow bumped into these awesome people with the same "wing it" mindset




We are all itching for #adventure, so get your hiking boots on and be prepared to get dirty!! (and very, very, sweaty. humid sweat. always soaked in sweat.)


Get off the beaten path


There is so much beautiful scenery accessible by car in Kauai. Hitch hiking is also so easy to do here! (although take obvious safety & common sense judgements if you do so). But if you are looking to take it one step further into exploring what more this island has to offer, be prepared to do some hiking. A lot of the best views in Kauai are just a short jaunt away from the main tourist drive up locations. So follow your nose and push your boundaries; there will be a path somewhere to get to an even better, less crowded, spot to take in the views. Like these ones we found by accident!




Find the trailhead at Kalalau lookout point to hike to these serene views.

Who would've thought that we were going to be hiking into the sky?? Up and above, and even in to the clouds.


A rest stop on the Kalepa Ridge Trail

Kalepa Ridge getting clouded in



There are so many ridge hikes like this all just north of Waimea Canyon, but don't forget to check out the actual canyon itself - it's hard to miss.


We found a lookout on a map (using maps me), pointed at it and said "we'll go there". And so we did. (It required a 4x4 vehicle which we were grateful to have scored). No expectations, our only aim to enjoy some nature and good company.


While other tourists stopped to look at the canyon from behind a fence, surrounded by other people, we drove 20 minutes and walked an easy 1.6 miles to find these views. We were able to take them in all by ourselves.



A pretty speechless surprise.

Take your time, Soak it in (pun intended)


A well known fact about Kauai is the presence of its majestic waterfalls


We took a much needed dip at Hooppii falls - the humidity and dirt really get to you after a couple days without a proper shower. This spot was in biking distance from the town of Kapaa. A short distance to go with high rewards ( its even more worth it after biking up winding rural roads to get there)


Hooppi falls sits in a canyon perfect for swimming



yes, those are pink rental bikes that we chose to tour on, and yes we got many laughs from the locals driving by

Another waterfall close by (pink rental biking distance too)


This waterfall is called Opaeka falls. At first arrival we were doubtful in finding a trail out to the waterfall. Although the view from the parking lot was nice, we were eager to get closer (and away from other tourists)


The view of Opaeka falls from the parking lot

Start a conversation! It's the easiest way to find the best, local spots. Before we knew it, the nice farmer man selling juice let us in on a secret trailhead just down the road. He told us it would give us a closer look at the falls.


And so we were off, not too sure about where exactly we needed to go, but started biking in the direction the man had pointed.


And what do you know, a little adventure and spontaneity can seriously go a long way.

Sitting at the top of Opaeka falls

Some other great swim spots include:


Queens bath (North shore)

Queens Bath (north shore)

Waterfall shower while hiking Waimea Canyon

Somewhere in Waimea Canyon part 2

somewhere in Waimea Canyon part 3

Sleep can be an adventure in itself.


If you are wanting the full outdoor experience of Kauai, camping is a must. Most county parks are super easy to show up and pay $3 for a camp spot. There are also lots of beaches around the whole perimeter of the island where no one will bother you. *Please just always be respectful of the locals and the space that they have a right to.*


Again, we had no plans and just picked a park on the map and said "we could probably sleep here". This island is so small and takes probably 4 hours or less (depending on those one road traffic jams) in total to drive from one end to the very other.




side note: if you can't afford a car for the whole stay or are under age to rent one (like me), Mopeds are an excellent second choice.

So I hope this little glimpse of my ten days in #Kauai has ignited that #wanderlust in you and eagernesss to get out and #explore! The earth has so much to offer, this island completely outdid itself.


Thanks for getting this far into the reading, for live updates remember you can follow my Instagram where I always post stories when out adventuring! Stay tuned for more blogs and detailed expeditions as well.


Sunset from Waimea Beach


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© 2020 by Caitlyn Mackie