Australia and Hawaii are linked by the famous explorer, Captain Cook. Eight years after setting foot in Botany Bay, the navigator found his way to the Islands, where sadly he met his demise. However, his loss is our gain and Hawaii remains a firm favourite with Australian travellers. While many head for the beaches and surf of Oahu or Maui, Kaua’i offers a true taste of life in the Pacific.
Hawaii’s oldest island
Kaua’i is the oldest island of Hawaii and its heritage is one of fascinating folklore steeped in rich history. Captain Cook landed at Waimea Bay in 1778, but its history predates his arrival by centuries. There are many historical sites waiting to be explored on Kaua’i. Kaua’i Museum, established in 1960 contains exhibits, artefacts, and murals portraying the history of Kaua’i and its unique culture. While Grove Farm Homestead Museum is a sugar plantation that depicts life in old Hawaii during the plantation era (1864).
Grand Canyon of the Pacific
Nicknamed the ‘Grand Canyon of the Pacific’, Waimea Canyon is one of Kaua’i’s biggest attractions. This massive canyon provides stunning views of Kaua’i’s lush valleys and tropical forest canopies and you can appreciate its vastness from several lookouts along Waimea Canyon Drive. Carry on along this road as it continues into the mountains and ends in the cool forest of Koke`e State Park.
Waimea Canyon is easy to tackle by yourself, with numerous lookouts if sightseeing by car, as well 64 kilometres of hiking trails. Alternatively, you can choose from a variety of tours on offer.
Not to be confused with Napoli in Italy, the Napali Coast (Napali translates to ‘the cliffs’ in Hawaiian) is a 24-kilometre stretch of mountains and sea on the northwest flank of the island. Accessible only by air, boat and on foot, Kaua’i’s Napali Coast draws visitors from around the world eager to witness its unique, natural beauty. You can choose from a guided kayak tour (during summer months), a Zodiac (if you’re adventurous) or boat tour, or enjoy a slothful sail along the coastline for awe-inspiring views.
Hollywood on Hawaii
For decades movies and television shows have used Kaua’i as the stunning backdrop for epic stories, and you can relive your favourite Hollywood moments when you visit.
South Pacific, Fantasy Island, Blue Hawai’i, Raiders of the Last Ark, King Kong, Jurassic Park I, II and III, The Descendants, and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides were all filmed on Kaua’i.
It’s for the birds
And yes, we’re talking the feathered variety. The Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge on Kaua’i’s north shore is a special setting for bird lovers. Hawaii’s endangered birds are seen nesting in the cliffs, including the Hawaiian Gallinule, albatrosses and frigate birds. Look to the ocean and you may be blessed with the sight of Hawaiian monk seals, green sea turtles and spinner dolphins.
Marked by the historic Kilauea Lighthouse, you can’t miss a stop at the Refuge, it’s one of the few remaining colonies of nesting seabirds in Hawaii.
From the first Polynesians who crossed the oceans to land on Kaua’i’s shores, Hawaiian society has been recorded on the landscape in heiau (temples) and fishponds, preserved by museums, historic trails and landmarks. To visit Kaua’i is to honour that history.