River kayaking on Kauai

After sightseeing around the Kauai by car, our muscles needed stretching: it was time for an excursion on the Wailua River.  Kauai has the only navigable rivers in Hawaii, and Wailua is one of the most popular and accessible.

My husband and I rented a tandem kayak early one morning, launched, and paddled through flat water toward the Fern Grotto, a natural lava rock amphitheater used for musical shows.  We arrived before anyone else, including the performers, docked, and went ashore to explore.  Thick tropical ferns kept the setting dark, almost gloomy, but it wasn’t hard to imagine a performance enlivened with music, dance, and colorful costumes among the verdant vegetation.

Back in the kayak, we continued upstream toward a hiking trail marked on our map.  There is usually little or no current, and paddling upstream can actually be easier than downstream because a gentle tradewind blowing inland towards the mountains helps you along.

We docked among rocks and tree roots and then followed the path (sometimes well-maintained and sometimes a little elusive) through thick forests. Occasionally streams of sunlight broke through the dense foliage.  After hiking half an hour, we reached Secret Falls, where streams of water splashed into a refreshing pool.  Not quite as cold or forceful as the rain forest waterfall on Oahu, this one provided a scenic spot to pause for lunch and refuel our bodies and spirits.

Near the designated return spot, we came upon a sandy beach. Bright and open, it contrasted with dense vegetation just a few miles away and made a sunny end to our journey.  Beyond the welcome physical exercise, kayaking Wailua River took us on a spiritual journey into a region more typical of Hawaii than luxurious resorts.

Although we chose to kayak on our own, guided tours lasting 4.5 hours are available for about $48 per person including tax and gratuity.  This is a great adventure for families or groups as paddling is easy, equipment top notch, and guides assure that everyone has a good time.

Kayak Wailua



Photo by Larry Burmeier. Connect with Beverly at Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Going on Adventures Austin Adventure Travel