kauai, hawaii travel guide: kayak and hike along the wailua river

Kauai has a lot going for it: It’s stunning, the weather’s perfect, and it offers a lot of different outdoorsy activities for when you feel like balancing your chill beach time with, you know, adventures of the physical variety. (If you don’t like being outdoors, though, maybe Hawaii isn’t your dream destination—which makes me sad for you, on so many levels…)

About halfway through our stay on the undeniable paradise of Kauai, we spent half a day kayaking and hiking along the Wailua River. Our guide, Josh, a transplant from Rhode Island or some other tiny state in the Northeast, was knowledgeable and entertaining. He gave us a quick and humorous tutorial about how to paddle and steer a kayak before we were on our way.

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HEADS-UP: You’re in a two-person kayak, so TEAMWORK is required, folks! Kayaking in tandem is not as easy as one would think! We weren’t always in sync with each other’s strokes and I have that annoying control-freak thing where I try to steer the boat even though I’m in the front and we ran into low-hanging trees a couple of times, but it was still totally fun! (Just, you know, tested our marriage a little bit—JK! But seriously, we did run right into a tree one; kayaks are harder to steer than you’d think. Or maybe it’s just user error. That’s entirely possible. I acknowledge this freely. [But I can to that, because technically my husband was in charge of steering—cue evil laughter!])

Kauai, Hawaii Travel Guide | Kayak & Hike Along Wailua River

We paddled for maybe 40 minutes before tying off and starting the hiking portion of the excursion. TIP: Get some waterproof hiking sandals or shoes if you do this excursion. I came “prepared” with my typical Eddie Bauer hiking shoes, but there were several times during the hike where we were wading knee-high water. Some people took their shoes off every time we waded through water; I didn’t want to deal with the hassle, though, so I went barefoot through most of it. Which was entirely doable—the trail was smooth (if a little muddy, but, you know, mud can be washed off in the ever-present river) and as long as I watched where I was going, I was perfectly fine. But some waterproof shoes would have made it a lot easier on me, probably. (A few months after our trip, I came across these quick-drying shoes on Amazon, one of their lightning deals, so I’ll be better prepared next time I do this or a similar excursion!)

But I digress. Let me tell you about the hike! We hiked along for maybe 30-40 minutes before we came upon our resting spot, which, incidentally, is in view of an amazing waterfall. We sat upon the giant boulders surrounding the waterfall and its pool eating homemade sandwiches and fresh cookies and food-gasming over insanely fresh pineapple. (Straight from the heavens, this pineapple was, I’m telling you. You’ve never had pineapple until you’ve eaten it in Hawaii. [Fun fact: Hawaii doesn’t export a lot of its pineapple anymore, so you’re not super likely to taste actual Hawaiian pineapple anywhere else.]) If you desired, you could also swim around the waterfall (my husband partook while I sat back and relaxed a bit and watched him get pummeled by water; I didn’t feel like sitting around in my wet suit).

Kauai, Hawaii Travel Guide | Hike & Kayak Along the Wailua River

After our time swimming and relaxing by the waterfall, we began our hike back through the rainforest. (Want to hear something funny? I slipped on some mossy rocks as we were wading our way toward our kayaks, my shoes flew from my hands and started swimming on down the stream, so all that effort to keep them [and myself] dry was so pointless, haha.) But I and my shoes dried off fairly quickly as we paddled back to our launch point; by then, the sky was high in the sky and blazing hot.

Our excursion concluded around 3 p.m., which gave us the rest of the afternoon to just relax and chill. I actually preferred that most of our Hawaiian excursions were over by mid-afternoon. Being behind six hours meant that for much of our time there, I was falling asleep early but was waking naturally by about six every morning, which was kind of nice, actually. I’m not much of a morning person, but this meant taking in the sunrise and having time before our excursions to have a leisurely breakfast before we had to report to our meeting point.

I would highly recommend this excursion if kayaking and hiking are picnicking are up your alley. We had such an amazing time. The river was so calm and peaceful, the paddling was just the right amount of exercise without exertion. The hike was easy enough, and the rainforest, with its rustling leaves and birdsong, was magical. We had such a great group of people with us, too, which always makes a big difference. Everyone was so game. You could probably also rent kayaks and do something like this by yourself, as I’m sure many people do, but (as you probably know already), I’m a fan of just being able to show up and have someone take me where I need to be, plus you get the added advantage of learning the history of the place and the different animals and fauna that populate the area. (Fun fact: Did you know that there actually aren’t any super dangerous species in Hawaii? They were never introduced to the islands, so pretty much anywhere you go in Hawaii is pretty safe—inland, at least, they do still have sharks and things in their water [duh]!) And if this review isn’t enough to convince you to do it, just take some time taking in all of the awesomeness I photographed along the way! 😉

More Hawaii adventures and tips to come! To be continued!

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