Kauai Five Ohhh

by Maxine Clayman on 15 May 2014, 12:05PM

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Finding the ideal holiday destination can be tricky, especially if you and the people you’re travelling with have different interests. That’s what makes Kauai, one of Hawaii’s oldest islands, so special. Whether you’re after a spot of sunbathing, or a hike along a canyon trail is more your thing, Kauai offers the perfect combination of award-winning beaches, adrenalin activities, culinary hotspots and nature. Maxine Clayman, editor of travel blog My Hidden Gems reveals her pick of Kauai’s attractions. As you can see, there’s plenty to keep everyone happy.

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1. Witness the majesty of Waimea Canyon
Nicknamed ‘The Grand Canyon of the Pacific’ by Mark Twain this vibrant red, green and gold canyon on the west side of Kauai is bursting with colour. Waimea Canyon, formed within a lush tropical landscape, is an absolute must-see for anyone visiting Kauai. How you get there on the other hand is entirely up to you.

I took a more leisurely approach with Polynesian Adventure Tours, who run day trips to Waimea Canyon that includes a cruise along the Wailea River with countless photo opportunities. The first of these was the Spouting Horn, a blowhole that shoots powerful sprays of saltwater. The main viewing point at Waimea Canyon, which is easily walkable to, boasts panoramic vistas of this majestic ravine.

If you’re after a more active option there are 45 miles of hiking trails around Koke’e State Park, some of which lead into the 3,500-feet deep gorges. But the most spectacular way to truly appreciate the vastness of Waimea Canyon is from above, by helicopter.

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2. Cruise the Na Pali coastline
The only land access to the remote terrain of the Na Pali coast is via the challenging 11-mile Kalalau Trail that traverses five valleys. Another gentler option is to take a boat trip, a great way to explore the 15-mile untouched stretch of the rugged and breathtaking Na Pali coastline. Arriving on the ocean waves allows you to appreciate the impressive 4,000-foot high sheer cliff face and cascading waterfalls. There’s the chance to encounter a variety of aquatic life including green sea turtles and spinner dolphins. Also, from December to May you might catch a glimpse of humpback whales on one of the catamaran tours. If you want to see ocean creatures up close in their natural habitat then you might prefer to set sail in the morning, as lots of tours starting earlier in the day include snorkelling. The reef off Nu’alolo Kai, an ancient fishing village, is teeming with colourful fish making it a popular stop-off point. If you’re after an adrenalin rush there are also raft tours that provide the opportunity to discover its underwater ecosystem, giving access to some of the harder to reach sea caves, hidden valleys, waterfalls and remote beaches. Alternatively, and if you fancy a lie in, most boat companies run romantic sunset cruises to the Na Pali coast, departing in the afternoon.

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3. Chill out on Kauai’s beaches   
Hawaii is famous for its soft, sandy beaches and the ones you’ll find on Kauai’s 113 miles of shoreline are no exception. Hanalei Bay on the north shore, close to the resort of Princeville, is a firm favourite with surfers. A two-mile curve of white sand and turquoise waters, it’s surrounded by steep cliffs and lush jungle, set against the Makana Mountain (Bali Hai), which looms in the background. Also on the north shore is Tunnels Beach (Makua), home to a series of submerged lava tubes making it a mecca for snorkelling and scuba diving.

Head to the south side of the island and you’ll be equally as impressed by its shorelines. Poipu Beach is another hotspot for snorkelling and a haven for marine life. Early morning is the best time to go for wildlife watching. I was lucky enough to spot a rare monk seal and about seven sea turtles when I was there. If you get restless sunbathing, The Mahaulepu Heritage Trail is a gentle coastal walk that runs along the cliffs on Shipwrecks Beach, in front of the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa.

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4. Indulge in a traditional Hawaiian spa
The Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa, spread across 52 acres of immaculately manicured gardens, is the most luxurious hotel in the south of Kauai. Despite its size, the hotel has its own saltwater lagoon, numerous pools - some filled with koi carp - a lazy river and beachfront cabanas (the hotel overlooks Shipwrecks Beach), it manages to retain the personal touch.

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The Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa is also home to the Anara Spa, the biggest spa on the island. Many of the treatments here use traditional Hawaiian healing techniques and are specially created to help you unwind. My partner and I were led past waterfalls and lava rock showers, and through plush gardens, to get to our very own private open-air thatched outdoor treatment room for a relaxing couples massage. The spa also offers a host of sensory therapies to encourage lokahi (harmony) using volcanic clay and local roots, guaranteed to soothe away any stress.

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5. Watch the sun set over the Pacific Ocean
One of the best, and most romantic, places to watch the sun go down in Kauai is at the Beach House, an award-winning restaurant in Poipu. It’s not really surprising then that this hotspot gets quite busy so if you want a good view of the ocean it’s worth booking an early dinner. That way you can sample some of Hawaii’s finest Pacific Rim cuisine while enjoying the sunset, making the experience truly memorable. If you’re lucky, during whale watching season, you might also be able to spot whales from your vantage point, or the bar area next to the lawn.

Seafood features heavily on the menu at the Beach House and the portions are on the generous size. I was full after my starter of ahi poke, cubes of fresh, seared tuna, which was easily enough for two, so you’ve been warned. I can guarantee you will want to leave room for dessert.

Getting there
Travelbag offers 7 nights at The Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa from £1,799 per person including flights with United Airlines from London Heathrow. Call 0845 543 6615 or visit www.travelbag.co.uk/holidays/usa/hawaii

For more info on Hawaii see Discover America

Author bio: Maxine Clayman is editor of travel blog My Hidden Gems and contributes to national newspapers such as the Express and the Sunday Times.


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