HALF MOON BAY, Calif., April 2, 2012—It’s not only about sun, sand and surf on Kauai, Hawaii’s Garden Island. While saltwater adventures are hard to beat, a trip inland reveals adventures that can help you mix saltwater with freshwater on your next Kauai vacation.
The extensive irrigation system of the 17,000-acre former Lihue Plantation provides the perfect spot for “mountain tubing” with Kaua’i Backcountry Adventures. The open canals and tunnels were hand-dug by plantation workers in the 1870s, and wind through lush green forests. Along the way, you can learn more about the island’s history and culture.
This is the only tubing adventure of this kind on Kauai, and this outfitter is the only eco-tour company with access to the expansive plantation.
How wet will you get? The inner tubes provided for your journey are pretty beefy, which keeps you above the water, however you’re sitting inside them, so you’ll get at least a little wet. In addition, toward the end of the ride, there’s an opportunity to splash your family or friends, so be prepared for some hijinks.
At the end of the mountain tubing adventure, you get some time to relax with a picnic lunch and take a dip in a picturesque natural swimming hole. Perfect for those hot afternoons.
Get a different look at the island’s interior with a stand-up paddling adventure from Outfitters Kauai. The trip starts with a 2-mile, downwind paddle on the Hule’ia River, where your guide will tell you about the natural habitat, as well as local legends surrounding the Menehune Fishpond and other spots along your route.
After the paddle, you can leave your board behind on the shore, and hike through the rain forest to a picnic overlook for lunch. From there, it’s on to some serious cooling off in the Blue Pool. Choose whether to jump from the platform, climb down the ladder and swim, or take the water zipline and splash into the refreshing stream-fed pool.
You can use nearly all the energy you have left at the Blue Pool, because after you hike back through the forest canopy, you don’t have to paddle back to your starting point. A motorized canoe zips you back—an ideal time to air-dry. Then, you’re ready for the next Kauai adventure.
Where to stay
The variety of hotels on Kauai range from rental cottages to luxury resorts. Some favorites from my recent trip:
Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa. This luxury resort is set among lush tropical gardens right on the water’s edge in Poipu. Even if the Grand Hyatt is full, it doesn’t feel crowded at all. It’s also an ideal hotel for families—with water slides and plenty of pool space. While in-house Anara Spa services may be heavenly, my favorite part about it is the lava-rock outdoor shower.
Hanalei Colony Resort. Escape to this spot on a stretch of beach in Hanalei on Kauai’s green north shore for a real away-from-it-all vibe. The condo rentals allow you the freedom of doing things on your own, but the availability of an on-site pool, laundry facilities, maid service and nearby restaurant and café make “on your own” feel a little luxurious.
The St. Regis Princeville. Perched above Hanalei Bay lies the super-luxe St. Regis. Even if your travel plans don’t usually include posh resorts, this one will make you stand up and take notice. Just the sunset views from the St. Regis Bar during the evening champagne toast are enough to make you consider checking in.
Aston Waimea Plantation Cottages. Do you dream of living on a sugar plantation? These authentic plantation homes, set in a coconut grove right near the beach, are where you can live your dreams—if only for a little while.
Jill K. Robinson is an award-winning journalist and adventure seeker. Follow her adventures on dangerjillrobinson.com and Twitter @dangerjr. Jill is an avid kayaker and owner of Half Moon Bay Kayak Company.
This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.