Ever dream of paddling up a tranquil jungle stream to fern fringed pools and misty waterfalls? This is just one of many romantic island fantasies that can become a reality on Kauai.
Kauai is the only Hawaiian island with navigable rivers, and exploring her tropical rivers and streams does not require kayaking expertise. After some initial instructions and precautions, even the most novice paddlers quickly master the nuances of kayak maneuvering.
Though the lower Wailua River is the most traveled on Kauai, quiet solitude can be found only slightly further upstream in the river’s twisty bends and lesser-traveled forks.
After paddling in a double kayak for about 45 minutes, you will tie up and take a half hour hike on an uneven but relatively flat trail through the jungle to the waterfall pictured at left.
This is an adventure you will long remember with Kauai’s tropical flowers and lush vegetation, including guavas and mangos when in season, and the song of exotic birds drifting through the trees.
Both guided and self tours are available for this river. Most paddling is done in double open kayaks on smooth waters. There are tri-kayaks for those with small children to sit in between two adults.
There is a north shore kayak adventure that is up more of a stream then a river. You feel the hush of the jungle as you paddle individual kayaks upstream, take an up and down hike over two ridge lines, and finally, make two stream crossings. Finish up with lunch and 2 ziplines. Ask Guest Services for more details.
Closer to Poipu Beach, the less traveled Huleia River offers leisurely paddling past Kauai’s Menehune Fish Pond and excellent birding through the Huleia National Wildlife Refuge. The Kalihiwai and Hanalei rivers on Kauai’s northern shore also offer easy paddling and beautiful vistas.
Ocean kayaking is the ultimate Kauai adventure. The paddle can take 5-8 hours depending on ocean conditions. In summer season, you travel Na Pali, stopping at secluded beaches, explore caves (including the one with the open ceiling), and soak in the amazing cliffs. In winter, you follow the south shore, gliding alongside dolphins and possibly a whale or two. This is a physically challenging activity so please call Guest Services for more details.
Suite Paradise Guest Services can make the arrangements for self-guided, self-paced or expert guided kayak adventures (866-977-3239 toll free 9-5 HST every day.)
By far one of the most popular and unforgettable attractions on Kauai is snorkeling. Few things in life compare to drifting effortlessly among a school of brightly colored tropical fish in the clear, warm seas of Kauai, which are among Hawaii’s finest waters.
You don’t have to be an accomplished swimmer to enjoy snorkeling on Kauai. With minimal instruction, even beginners can snorkel in no time. With proper flotation even the non-swimmer can enjoy snorkeling. Kauai has snorkel beaches suited to all comfort levels.
The best snorkeling on Kauai is usually found inside the island’s many protected lagoons. Coral Reefs here are home to hundreds of species of fish, one third of which are not found anywhere else in the world.
Since Kauai is millions of years older than the other inhabited islands in the Hawaiian island chain, Kauai has by far the most protective reef lagoons and therefore some of Hawaii’s best snorkel spots.
Favorite Snorkel Locations on Kauai
Poipu Beach Park – Kauai’s South Shore
Poipu Beach Park is one of Kauai’s safest beaches boasting some of the clearest waters in Hawaii. From a sheltered, shallow beach suitable for tiny tots, to the renowned body surfing Brennecke Beach, Poipu Beach Park has repeatedly ranked among the best family beaches in Hawaii. Poipu Beach Park’s sheltered cove is ideal for small children and novice snorkelers. Some of the best snorkeling is found on the far right side of the beach park, west of the tombolo or sand split. Click here for more on Poipu Beaches.
Lydgate Park – Near Wailua on Kauai’s East Side
Enclosed within an array of boulders, the protected waters of this man-made lagoon make it a great place for beginners. Lydgate has a surprising number of fish including a school of friendly, large, and incredibly colorful parrotfish.
Anini Beach – Kauai’s North Shore
The water at Anini is very shallow in parts, but the reef appears to go on forever at this beach, with the largest reef on Kauai. Anini provides more than ample exploration of the underwater canyons at the reef’s edge, where larger reef and pelagic or deep-sea fish can sometimes be seen. Anini is suitable for beginners, but for safety purpose only venture there during an incoming tide; which occurs immediately after a low tide. Beware: currents draining the reef on an outgoing tide can be strong.
Tunnels — Kauai’s North Shore, Beyond Hana’le’i
Tunnels is named for the vast labyrinth of pathways that intersect its wide fringing reef. This shallow reef is interspersed with narrow, sometimes cavernous canyons. The variation in undersea terrain makes for exciting explorations and an ideal home for a wide array of reef life.
Ke’e – At the very end of the road on Kauai’s North Shore
Ke’e offers great snorkeling destination during summer months and during calm seas, and is worth the drive to see the towering cliffs of Kauai’s Na Pali Coast and azure waters of this lovely lagoon sparkle like a rare gem. Ke’e’s natural beauty alone recommends it. The wide variety of colorful fish plying the coral reef are an added bonus. Pacific green sea turtles often congregate in an outer lagoon beyond the inshore reef. While here, you might want to walk the world famous Kalalau trail to the first lookout (about one mile).
To get the most out of your snorkel adventures on Kauai and to ensure that this Hawaiian paradise remains as beautiful the next time you come to visit, please remember these snorkeling tips.
Since storms and tides can make swimming conditions unpredictable, it is always important to evaluate ocean conditions carefully before entering the water.
- Always snorkel in areas where there are other swimmers and snorkelers.
- Do not snorkel near surfers or body surfers.
- Do not snorkel if the water is unclear, rough or choppy.
- Look up out of the water periodically to keep your bearing. This easy precaution will keep you from drifting off course without knowing it.
- The best snorkeling is in calm clear water. Try mornings.
- Do NOT feed the fish under any circumstances. It fouls the water and sickens the fish, which makes them susceptible to predators.
- A good way to attract fish is to just bring a zip lock bag! Put a leaf or any other colorful object in the bag, fill it with water and allow it to float near you. You’d be surprised at all the curious fish that will swim up to inspect your bag.
- Help protect Kauai’s reefs! All coral reefs are marvelous ecosystems that take thousands of years to develop and only seconds to destroy. Float over shallow reefs, but do not walk on them. Paddle to a sandy spot to stand.
- Admire sea turtles and monk seals only from a distance! Both the Pacific green sea turtle and the monk seal are protected under the Endangered Species Act. It is against the law to harass them in any way, including touching. These laws are strictly enforced in Hawaii. If you are fortunate enough to see one of these rare creatures in the water, enjoy them from a respectful distance.
- REMEMBER ALWAYS CHECK LOCAL CONDITIONS FOR SAFETY BEFORE ENTERING THE SEA. HIGH SURF AND STORM SURGES CAN BE VERY DANGEROUS ANYWHERE THEY ARE OCCURRING. LISTEN TO WEATHER FORECASTS, TALK TO LOCAL PEOPLE AND PLAN YOUR SNORKEL LOCATION ACCORDINGLY.
The location of Kauai vacation rentals, resort condos and villas offered by Suite Paradise, along with their access to sandy beaches and other Poipu Beach attractions can be seen on our Poipu, Kauai map.
A splendid way to combine adventure, scenic beauty, and snorkeling on Kauai is by boat cruise. Special discounts for these fun adventure cruises for which Suite Paradise guests receive a special discount are available with Suite Paradise Guest Services.