Kauai Kayak
Credit: kikmoyoo

Ready for the adventure of a lifetime? There’s no better way to see some of the most hidden spots in Kauai, Hawaii than by kayak! No matter your fitness level there’s a trip for you. I’ve carefully selected my top 5 Kauai kayaking trips. Grab a paddle and get ready!

Hanalei Heritage River and Bay

The Hanalei River is one of only 14 rivers nationally to be designated a Heritage River. What does this mean for your Kauai kayak trip? Pure beauty!

You’ll start along the river, which has very little current and only a light breeze. This is a great trip for beginners or children. Along the way you’ll get to see why Kauai is known as the Garden Island and you’ll be treated to tropical birds and giant turtles as you make your passage.

After a viewing the river you can move on to kayak in the bay. Here you’ll witness spectacular sea life living along the coral reef. Bring your snorkel gear and tie up your kayak to a friend so you can get up close and personal with these amazing fish.

Secret Falls Kauai Kayak Trip

Get ready for a trip back in time. Wailua means spirit, and on this trip you’ll pass by the remnants of seven heiau, or temples. These remains are as old as the 14th century. 

As you traverse the river deeper towards the mountain you’ll appreciate the deep water color and smooth paddling. Songbirds will likely provide your soundtrack and the smell of wild mangos will make you hungry.

After a few miles you’ll want to change into hiking boots for the 45 minute trek to a secret waterfall. These spectacular falls, called Uluwehi, drop over 100 feet over a sharp, foliage-covered cliff.

Kauai Secret Falls Kayak Trip
Credit: joebaz

Kayaking the Na Pali Coast

Summer provides perfect weather to take on the ultimate adventure: kayaking the Na Pali coast. Please be advised that this is a trip for advanced kayakers only – you’ll want to get in plenty of practice before paddling out on the open sea.

 If you’re feeling up to it, rent a kayak early in the morning and get ready to set out on 16 miles of the most incredible sea kayaking in Kauai (and the world, for that matter). Most people put in near Ke’e Beach and then finish around Polhale beach. Reward yourself with a fresh coconut from a local vendor after your trip!

 This trip is ranked by National Geographic Adventure as one of the best in the world, up there with rafting through the Grand Canyon! Make sure you book well in advance as things can fill up quickly.

Na Pali Kayak Trip

Hule'ia River Kayaking in Kauai

This river is located in the same city as the airport: Lihue. Here you’ll get a taste of Hawaii as it used to be since the river winds through Kipu Ranch. If you’re a movie buff you’ll appreciate that this is where Jurrasic Park, Raiders of the Lost Arc, and many other blockbusters were filmed.

Make sure that you study a map before setting out on this trip. You won’t want to miss any of the sights along the way, and if you’re not paying attention you might be distracted by the natural beauty and paddle on past them!

Jurassic Park Kauai Kayak
Credit: beezum88

South Shore Kauai Kayaking

If you’re visiting in the winter or conditions aren’t quite right for Na Pali coast kayaking, don’t worry! Usually the south shore of Kauai will still give you a beautiful sea kayaking experience even when its northern counterpart is too dangerous.

You might consider asking a tour provider if they offer any add-on trips to create an ultimate adventure. Many people combine kayaking in Kauai with zip lines, picnics, and waterfall hikes. 

As you can see from the selection of trips above, kayaking in Kauai can be done in both rivers and in the sea. No other island in Hawaii has navigable rivers. Each presents it’s own fun and challenges, but both are incredibly rewarding. Your best bet is to select one of the trips listed above and then ask your hotel concierge for a recommend tour provider. Kauai kayaking can be done without a tour provider, but in this case you’ll still want to visit a local rental shop to pick up gear. While you’re getting your Kauai kayak gear make sure that you ask the locals about current conditions and get a few tips for your journey!