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Kauaʻi is Oʻahu’s ultra-cool, self-possessed alter ego; it dazzles without even trying. Also known as “the Garden Isle,” its chromatic coastlines and untamed tropical interior have all the hallmarks of a classic Hawaiian paradise while rich histories, quiet beach towns and heart-grabbing vistas make for a deeper, more emotional experience than you could ever imagine.
Go below the surface
As the oldest inhabited Hawaiian island – and the first to receive Captain Cook in 1778 – Kauaʻi’s cultural heritage gives visitors plenty of reasons to take a break from the beach. Discover the history of this treasured island at the Kauaʻi Museum in Lihue, which works to share the stories and artistic achievements of the island’s indigenous and immigrant people.
Hoping to dive even deeper into Kauaʻi's mana (spiritual essence)? Hop aboard a chartered boat for a voyage to the base of the prehistoric-style sea cliffs of Nāpali Coast State Wilderness Park, where dolphins flirt with the waves as you sail past, and sea turtles have perfected the art of coming within arms’ reach of gape-mouthed snorkellers.
Soar into a sky-high adventure
Perhaps one of the most enchanting parts about Kauaʻi is that 90 per cent of it is inaccessible by car, boat or even on foot. For this reason, a helicopter tour is a spiritual imperative for visitors to this island. Skilled tour operators such as Safari Helicopters allow you to see parts of the island that no human being can ever physically visit, and give you a waterfall-filled vantage point of the planet you’ll never, ever forget. Even better – they often sync your ride to music from famous movies (think Jurassic Park and King Kong) which have been filmed on the island.
Savour farm-fresh flavours
From farmers markets to creative cuisine, Kauaʻi's epicurean delights never fail to make a splash. Those with a limited amount of time on the island should stop by Kilohana Plantation, where the gamut of Kauaʻi's field-to-table fare reigns supreme. This semi-retired sugarcane operation uses its 67 acres to raise the okra, cashews, avocado, cattle and pigs that are incorporated into the menu at Gaylord’s, its onsite restaurant. The popular lunch and dinner spot is also known for its unique luaus, which lure travellers and locals alike with its elder-blessed portrayal of a classic Polynesian migration story.
Wander in some very wild places
Kauaʻi's natural setting is the stuff of actual legends – and you can defy your earthly expectations by trekking the incredible trails available on this hiker’s paradise. The notoriously challenging 35-kilometre Kalalau Trail may not be a beginner’s best place to start, but the 4,345-acre Kokee State Park on the island’s west side has something for every fitness level. Travellers looking for a more low-key meandering should spend a day at the beautifully landscaped Allerton Garden, a magical jungle paradise with an unbelievable array of exotic plants, fountains and mammoth trees.
Bliss out on its beaches
In true, paradisiacal style, Kauaʻi's beaches are beyond glorious, thanks to the many striking mountain backdrops. Plus, whether you’re a wave-catcher, sunbather or just want a pretty spot to people watch, the island has a beach for every bum. On the East Side, Lydgate Beach Park and Kalapaki Beach (home to the family-friendly Marriott Kauai Beach Club) combine lovely, kid-friendly swimming conditions with great, local surfer vibes. On the North Shore, Anini Beach Park and Kee Beach both boast spectacular reefs for snorkelling, while nature-lovers can spot monk seals and humpback whales among the waves at the South Shore’s Poipu Park.
Aloha from Hawaii! There are six major islands to visit in Hawaii: Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Maui, and the island of Hawaii! Each has its own distinct personality, adventures, activities and sights. We invite you to explore the Islands of Aloha to find your own heavenly Hawaii experiences.For more information visit: www.gohawaii.com/islands