Things to Do in Kauai - page 2
When compared to the sun-drenched beaches of Poipu or Hanalei, Koke’e State Park is a brisk mountain outpost where bikinis and boardshorts are replaced by flannels and hiking boots. Located at 4,000 ft. in the uplands above Waimea Canyon, the air is cooler than down on the shoreline, and flocks of nene goose meander through the low clouds that linger on the forested mountain slopes.
In addition to being a mountain outpost, Koke’e State Park is known as having Kauai’s best hiking. No fewer than a dozen trails depart from the immediate vicinity, with trailheads leading either towards the colorful ravines of famous Waimea Canyon or into the lush interior which ranks as one of the wettest spots on the world. Still other trails lead towards overlooks which gaze down on the Na Pali coast, and the 3,000 ft. near-vertical drops are definitely not for the faint of heart.
Beneath the shade of monkeypod trees, the red clapboard downtown strip of Old Koloa Town welcomes visitors to a bygone era, the former site of Koloa Plantation. Founded in 1835 by New England missionaries, Koloa was the largest sugar plantation in a statewide industry credited with encouraging immigrants from around the world to make Hawaii home. Today the strip—accessed through a mile-long tree tunnel of towering eucalyptus—is a tiny community of gift shops, ice cream parlors, galleries and restaurants, each with a building plaque describing its original purpose on the plantation.
Besides shopping there’s the Old Koloa Jodo Mission, a still-functioning Buddhist temple originally founded to serve the Japanese immigrant community; a semi-circular bronze sculpture depicting plantation workers; an old stone chimney left over from one of the plantation buildings; and the Koloa History Center set back along the Waikomo Stream running through downtown.
Known as the Garden Isle – it’s the greenest of all the islands – Kauai lies at the northern end of the Hawaiian chain. Kauai’s scenery is so spectacular, it’s been featured in dozens of movies, from Jurassic Park to The Descendants to Tropic Thunder. Shore excursions include film location tours, as well as tours to Waimea Canyon, the ‘Grand Canyon of the Pacific.’
How to get to Kauai
Ships dock in Nawiliwili Harbor on the island’s southeast coast, near the town of Lihue. A rental car is the best way to get around if you aren’t taking an organized tour.