Below are some of
Waterfalls: Rushing waterfalls thundering downward into sparkling freshwater pools are some of
Gardens: The islands are redolent with the sweet scent of flowers. For a glimpse of the full breadth and beauty of
National Wildlife Refuges:
The Grand Canyon of the Pacific --
(c) Zagat © 2013, Google.
Below are some of our favorite Kauai experiences.
Hitting the Beach: A beach is a beach is a beach, right? Not on Kauai. With 50 miles of beaches, Kauai offers ocean experiences in all shapes and forms. You can go to a different beach every day during your vacations and still not get tired of seeing them.
Taking the Plunge: Rent a mask, fins, and snorkel. Facedown, you'll float like a leaf on a pond, watching brilliant fish dart here and there in water clear as day; a slow-moving turtle may even stop by to check you out. Faceup, you'll contemplate green-velvet cathedral-like cliffs under a blue sky, with long-tailed tropical birds riding the trade winds.
Feeling History Come Alive: It is possible to walk back in history on Kauai. You can see ancient, ancient history, from the times when the menehune were around, at the Menehune Ditch and Menehune Fishpond. Or experience Hawaiian history at the Kauai Museum, the archaeological sites at Wailua River State Park, and the Ka Ulu O Laka heiau. For more recent history, since the arrival of Captain Cook, check out the Grove Farm Homestead Museum, Kilohana, and the Waioli Mission House Museum.
Going Deep-Sea, Big-Game Fishing: Don't pass up the opportunity to try your luck in the sportfishing capital of the world, where 1,000-pound marlin are taken from the seas just about every month of the year. Not looking to set a world record? Kauai's charter-boat captains specialize in conservation and will be glad to tag and release any fish you angle, letting it go so someone else can have the fun of fighting a big-game fish tomorrow.
Exploring the Grand Canyon of the Pacific: The great gaping gulch known as Waimea Canyon is quite a sight. This valley, known for its reddish lava beds, reminds everyone who sees it of the Grand Canyon. Kauai's version is bursting with ever-changing color, just like its namesake, but it's smaller -- only a mile wide, 3,567 feet deep, and 12 miles long. A massive earthquake sent streams into the single river that ultimately carved this picturesque canyon. Today, the Waimea River -- a silver thread of water in the gorge that's sometimes a trickle, often a torrent, but always there -- keeps cutting the canyon deeper and wider, and nobody can say what the result will be 100 million years from now.
Bidding the Sun Aloha: Polihale State Park hugs Kauai's western shore for some 17 miles. It's a great place to bring a picnic dinner, stretch out on the sand, and toast the sun as it sinks into the Pacific, illuminating the island of Niihau in the distance. Queen's Pond has facilities for camping as well as restrooms, showers, picnic tables, and pavilions.
Soaring Over the Na Pali Coast: This is the only way to see the spectacular, surreal beauty of Kauai. Your helicopter will dip low over razor-thin cliffs, flutter past sparkling waterfalls, and swoop down into the canyons and valleys of the fabled Na Pali Coast. The only problem is that there's too much beauty to absorb, and it all goes by in a rush.
Watch for the Green Flash
If you have been on the island for a few days, you'll notice that people seem to gather outside and watch the sunset. After the sun has set, several people may call out, "Green flash!"
No they haven't had too many mai tais or piña coladas. They are referring to a real, honest-to-God phenomenon that happens after sunset there is a "green flash" of light.
The romantic version of the story is that the green flash happens when the sun kisses the ocean good night. (Honeymooners love this version.) The scientific version is not quite as dreamy; it goes something like this: Light bends as it goes around the curve of the earth. When the sun dips beneath the horizon, it is at the far end of the spectrum. So this refraction of the sun's light, coupled with the atmosphere at the extreme angle of the sunset on the horizon, causes only the color green to been seen in the color spectrum just before the light disappears.
Here's how to view the green flash: First, the day has to be clear, with no clouds or haze on the horizon. Keep checking the sun as it drops. (Try not to look directly into the sun; just glance at it to assess its position.) If the conditions are ideal, just as the sun drops into the blue waters a "flash" or laserlike beam of green will shoot out for an instant. That's the flash.
(c) Zagat © 2013, Google.