5 Best Kept Secrets of Kauai’s North Shore
Thinking about getting away? Need a little less wifi and a little more fresh air?! Look no further than Hawaii’s garden island of Kauai.
This post may be a little skewed as I have been lucky enough to experience the Kauai with my family whom most would consider locals as they spend several months of the year in this paradise! Their deeply rooted love for this island and each other has motivated me to write about the places and activities most visitors don’t take time to see or do. These best kept secrets are just a few of the many experiences they’ve shared with me in Kauai that make each visit so special.
1- Stone Dam. Kilauea hides this little oasis deep within a mahogany wood forest. While many stop in Kilauea to go to see the botanical gardens and pay for a tour and potential crowds, you can instead follow the Wai Koa Loop Trail within Wai Koa Plantation (on the east side of the highway) for free and private walk through the forest until find yourself in this gorgeous place. The dam was build in 1880 and used for sugar cane production. Small waterfalls, beautiful flowers and plants only found by those who seek this little adventure out.
2- Club Med Ruins. Find a unique view of the Hanalei bay and get the perspective of what many travelers saw as paradise back in the day at a Club Med Resort. In the 60’s this place was what you’d imagine out of the movies. Wealthy tourists, fun and hip locals, a disco that didn’t stop playing music until the sun came up. Truly it is fascinating that the place was bulldozed and all that’s left is an attempt by other developments to build but nothing yet has taken its place. It’s a quick .5 mile walk down Hanalei Plantation Road. You’ll feel like your in your own Indiana Jones novel and can make your own story up along the way.
3- Waipa Foundation.
Connect and learn about local resources, values and lifestyle. The community makes poi (part of native Hawaiian cuisine) together every Thursday in the Waipa poi garage. There’s a local market every Tuesday with unique vendors and they also host special events like cooking classes, concerts, a dinner series and farm/garden tours. There’s 1,600 acres of raw culture and beauty at Waipa, where you can earn respect from the locals for taking time to learn about their culture and getting to know their people.
4- Paddle the Hanalei River. A beautiful paddle where you travel through taro and rice fields, past gorgeous hills and little bungalows in a life that is lived at a much slower pace than our reality back on the mainland. The river is 15.7 miles from the slopes of Mount Wai’ale’ale to the bay but you realistically can only make it half way before you end up in a lot of marshland. I would suggest a gorgeous 5 mile trip in to the iconic one lane bridge and back. Just enough to get you to take a jump off the pier once you get back to the bay!
5- Local Farmers Markets! Hanalei Farmers Market at Waipa & the Kilauea Famers Market (not sure on the dates/times) are two that I’ve been able to visit during my travels to Kauai. Very cool small markets with everything from the juiciest fruits on the island to botanical face & body products, herbal teas harvested locally, sea sponges and local goat cheese. Vendors are friendly and love to share their knowledge on to islands fruit, herbs and other unique products.
Next Time I Visit…
Kauai Farmacy Tour. Kauai Farmacy is a 4 acre medicinal farm in Hawaii that grows 70+ herbs and offers a wide variety of products that they make on site. They offer so many cool teas, spices, super foods and salves. The knowledge they have on the power to self-heal and create optimal health through herbs is incredible and it would be amazing to see this place first hand!
Na Pali Coast Hike. The Kalalau Trail is well known for picturesque views of the coast that make you feel like you are in another world! Red dirt, lush green vegetation/forests and the brightest of blue seas below you. If you make it far enough you’ll end up at a sparkling beach or high enough to see what feels like the entire island. Switchbacks through streams, up boulders and alongside waterfalls will keep you awestruck for the full 11 miles (again, it’s up to you how far you want to go!). I plan to make it to the end and back.
Tips from the Locals:
- Stop at local spots to eat. Food trucks are always a YES.
- Rent Scooters only if you know how to operate them.
- Wake up early to see the island without the crowds.
- Go surfing. You only live once!
The coolest part of this island is you’ll discover new adventures and picturesque views all on your own just by jumping in the car and exploring. If you think you can’t afford it there are plenty of great hostels, yurts and even local farming opportunities that could help you make it happen! For instance WWOOF’ing could be your thing?! Here’s a list of Kauai host farms.