Monday, March 28, 2011

Kayaking the Wailua River - Kaua'i

This weekend I went to Kaua'i.  Kaua'i is the northernmost island of the Hawaiian Islands and is where many movies - Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jurassic Park, etc. - were filmed.  I've been to Kaua'i before and hiked the Na Pali Coast, but didn't really think there was much appeal to the island itself.  Sure, there is pretty scenery, but we have pretty scenery on O'ahu, so why would I need to go somewhere else?  I still have that opinion, but this weekend we did something pretty cool.  We kayaked the Wailua River en route to hiking to the "secret falls."

Wailua River is a long, slowly meadering river that starts at the Wai'ale'ale Crater and is fed by several tributaries on the way to the ocean. This is the only navigable river in all of Hawaii.  Several forks in the river lead to waterfalls and can be easily explored by kayak.  We ended up going with a guide so we didn't have to worry about getting lost or leaving the kayaks unattended.  We found a great deal with Kayak Wailua for $42 per person with the kayak rental, guide, tax, and gratuity included.  You need to call to make a reservation, and they were really helpful with getting us set up.  I recommend getting a reservation for noon as that is the least crowded time.  Our group was only 6 people and when we got to the waterfall, there was hardly anyone around.  We landed on the island at 6:30am and were able to call and make our noon reservation for the same day.

Anyway, when we landed, we still had about 5 hours before we had to show up for the kayaking tour.  So we killed some time at the Kaua'i Coffee Company, checked into our hotel (more on that later), and got some breakfast at an awesome diner in town.  When we showed up at the Kayak place, they gave us dry bags for all our belongings as well as a cooler so we could bring our own lunch to picnic at the waterfall.  The kayak portion of the trip is 2.5 miles each way, followed by a 1 mile hike to the waterfall.  The river is really calm and peaceful and was definitely my favorite part of our trip as well as my favorite thing to do on Kaua'i.  It was just a lot of fun and really relaxing (even if kayaking does require some exertion).  It was definitely easier than kayaking to the mokolua islands in lanikai.

On the river itself, kayakers are given their own "lane" on the right side of the river. To see the Secret Falls, take the right fork in the river, about 35 minutes from the mouth. A few minutes later you come to an island. Dock on the right side and follow the trail to this secluded waterfall.  If you're interested in doing the guided tour, which I highly recommend, I suggest going with "Kayak Wailua:"

4565 Haleilio Road
KAPAA, HI 96746
(808) 822-3388

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