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Introduction to Attractions on Kauai

An introduction to attractions on the island of Kauai in Hawaii.

For the ultimate adventurer, Waimea Canyon State Park provides unsurpassed opportunities for exploration. Follow Waimea Canyon Drive as it winds up 12 miles into the interior of the island, hugging the rim of the canyon for a dramatic panorama. The view of the 3,000-foot canyon is staggering. Hues of orange and red are splashed against the tropical green of 1,866 acres of park land. Contiguous with Waimea Canyon is Kokee State Park. Open to the public at no charge.

Kokee State Park encompasses 4,345 acres of upland wilderness and is a Mecca for hikers, campers and outdoor enthusiasts. This sprawling park is heavily wooded and o ffers numerous hiking trails for a unique perspective on the island. Within the park, the Kalalau Lookout peeks over cliffs and gorges to the ocean 4,000 feet below. With 19 different trails to explore, hiking is one of the most popular activities at Kokee State Park. Trail lengths vary from 0.1 mile to over 10 miles. Recommended hiking trails include: the Canyon Trail, a popular scenic trail with great views of Waimea and Poomau Canyons. The Kumuwela Canyon Trail is a moderate nature hike with beautiful scenic views. The Nualolo Cliff Trail is a strenuous hike with a mix of native plant species and stunning views of the valleys. Open to the public at no charge.

Adjacent to Kokee State Park is the Alakai Wilderness Preserve, which includes the Alakai Swamp and the Alakai Swamp Grail. The swamp is 10 miles long and two miles wide. There are pristine nature trails and a new boardwalk over the boggy terrain for viewing some of Hawaii's rarest flora and fauna. Open to the public at no charge. Phone: 808-274-3433

The National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG), the nation's only tropical botanical garden chartered by the United States Congress, offers public tours at three garden sites on the island: McBryde Gardens, Allerton Gardens, and Limahuli Garden.

Lawai Garden, the site of NTBG's headquarters, encompasses 186 acres in Kauai's lush Lawai Valley. The garden is made up of rare and unusual varieties of native Hawaiian plants, as well as extensive collections of tropical plants from around the world. The adjacent Allerton Garden, formerly a private estate, is managed by NTBG under an agreement with the Allerton Estate Trust. The historic 100-acre garden is made up of tropical flowers and trees set amidst pathways, fountains, sculptures and other outstanding examples of landscape architecture and design. Reservations are required for tours of McBryde Garden and Allerton gardens. Cost is $30 per person for guided tours. Call 808-742-2623 for tour schedules and reservations.

The 17-acre Limahuli Garden, on Kauai's magnificent north shore, is surrounded by towering mountains, breathtaking beauty and a 990-acre natural preserve. The garden consists of rare and endangered native Hawaiian and other tropical plants including many with significance to Hawaiian culture. The area also includes ancient sites of great historical and archaeological significance including stone-faced terraces believed to be more than 700 years old. Limahuli Garden offers both guided and self-guided tours. Reservations are required for guided tours. Guided tour cost is $15; self-guided tours are $10. For current tour schedules and reservations, call 808-826-1053.

The majestic Napali Coast State Park on the north shore includes the eastern valleys of the Napali Coast. Kalalau Valley, the best-known valley, can be reached by an 11-mile trail that begins at Kee Beach on the northwestern end of the main highway snakes its way up and down Napali's steep cliffs. For most, the 11-mile hike is a three-day journey that requires camping along the way. This trail is considered one of the best in Hawaii. Camping permits are required and can be obtained by the State Parks office at no charge. Phone: 808-274-3444.

Avid hikers may choose to explore the first two miles of the Kalalau Trail which takes you to secluded Hanakapiai Beach. This half-day trek will expose you to the Napali Coast's rugged, uninhabited coastline and breathtaking beauty. The towering cliffs of the Napali Coast can also be viewed by boat or helicopter.

The Spouting Horn Blow Hole, located near Poipu Beach is natural attraction consisting of a lava rock outcropping known for the shooting geyser of sea water that appears during high tide. The spouting results from the surf washing into the lava tube and sucking up through a hole in the coastal rock. The geyser reaches as high as 60 feet. Open to the public at no charge.

On rugged Kilauea Point, the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge is a nesting site for the red-footed booby, wedge-tailed shearwater, Laysan albatross and many other species of Hawaiian seabirds. The visitor center adjacent to the Kilauea Lighthouse has displays explaining Hawaii's seabirds and their sanctuaries. Open to the public Monday-Friday, 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Entry is $3 for adult and children 16 and under are free. Phone: 808-828-1413.

More About Kauai Visitor Attractions

Kauai Island Travel Guide

Islands of Hawaii

State of Hawaii Travel Guide

See also:
Pictures of Hawaii
Destinations in Hawaii
Hawaii for Visitors

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