One of the most unique things you can do in Kauai is kayak the Wailua River. Kauai is the only Hawaiian island with navigable rivers, and the Wailua is the most popular one to explore. The tranquil Wailua River weaves by gorgeous waterfalls and lush, jungle landscapes. It’s an escape to the past, as the original Wailua River was the home of the first Hawaiians almost 1500 years ago. It’s also an incredible modern-day look at the beauty, and preservation, of this natural treasure. Interested in learning more about a Wailua River kayak adventure? Follow along as I guide you through my excursion with Rainbow Kayak Tours, one of the premier outfitters for the Wailua River.

Rainbow Kayak Tours

Entrance to the Rainbow Kayak Tours headquarters.

The location of Rainbow Kayak Tours, at 440 Aleka Loop, is a nondescript shopping mall. You might think you’re lost, but circle around the parking lot and look for the kayaks and shuttles–a sure sign you’re in the right place.

Rainbow Kayak Tours

All aboard the Rainbow Kayak Tours shuttle!

After waking up extra early for my 7:15am check-in time at Rainbow Kayak Tours, I was feeling less than bright-eyed-and-bushy-tailed. However, I was eager to start the day and was happy to hear the shuttle ride from the shop to the kayak put-in place was a short one.

Wailua River Kayak

Pick a kayak, any kayak!

At Rainbow Kayak Tours you can choose to kayak solo or as a team.  Just be sure to let your choice be known at time of reservation so they can bring the correct number of kayaks to the banks of the Wailua River.

The beginning of my 4 1/2 adventure tour.

The beginning of my 4 1/2 adventure tour.

The start of the Wailua River kayak tour is rather leisurely, especially if you kayak tandem-style. I paddled past historical Heiaus (hallowed shrines), the ancient village of Kamokila, and under the canopy of swaying palm trees and other vegetation. It. Was. Beautiful.

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Paddling to Secret Falls.

 

Before I knew it, I had paddled past North Fork and the famous Fern Grotto and was on my way to Secret Falls.

Wailua River Kayak

Time to drop off the kayak at the Secret Falls trailhead and hike into the Kauai rainforest.

Part of the Wailua River Kayak experience is hiking through the natural Kauai rainforests, discovering and learning about the floral and fauna around you from your trusty guide, and, of course, splashing into the Secret Falls Waterfall.

Wailua River Kayak

Hiking into the Kauai rainforest.

The hike through the Kauai rainforest is a moderate one, but I cannot stress enough to bring proper shoes. The path can be rather slippery (I had flip-slops on so I ended up going barefoot most of the time). Bring some water shoes or comfortable sneakers.

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The Rainbow Kayak Tour guide sharing his expertise.

As I hiked through the rainforest, the extremely knowledgeable Rainbow Kayak tour guide shared his expertise regarding local flora and fauna. At one point, he pointed out edible plants that I volunteered to try. It was surprisingly good!

Lunch is served

Lunch is served.

The Wailua River kayak experience includes a fresh lunch, served on the banks of the Secret Falls Waterfall.

Wailua River Kayak

Time for waterfall fun!

It’s hard to beat playing in a Kauai waterfall! Secret Falls is an enchanting waterfall descending 80 feet into a natural pool surround by rocks and vegetation. To avoid the crowds from Wailua River kayak tours, be sure to book the early morning tour. The afternoon tours are notorious for being busier which means you won’t have as much solo time underneath this amazing natural feature.

Wailua River Kayak

Scenic sights along the Wailua River.

After frolicking in the waterfall and enjoying a delicious lunch under a warm Hawaiian sun, I hiked back to my kayak with my group. From there, we paddled along the same route in which we came.

I found the Wailua River kayak tour to be one of my favorite activities on Kauai. I felt like I got to experience the natural side of Hawaii, but in a trusted, guided atmosphere. Plus, I got to swim under a Hawaii waterfall, which is kind of the best thing ever. It’s hard not to give this tour two enthusiastic thumbs up!

Add the Wailua River kayak tour from Rainbow Kayak to your Hawaii itinerary to see why this Kauai activity is one of the best.


Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Hawaii to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

While on a Hawaii vacation you’ll find plenty of Kauai activities to fill your agenda. One of Hawaii’s most beautiful islands is Kauai. Known as the “Garden Isle,” this island is home to some wonderful sights, including the beautiful North Shore.

Add these 10 Kauai activities to your vacation for an unforgettable tropical escape.

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1) Na Pali Coast State Park
This Park is 22 miles long and features volcanic cliffs rising up to 4,000 ft. To get a good view of the area, visitors can hike, boast or go a helicopter sightseeing tour.

Hanalei Pier at sunset Kauai activities

2) Hanalei Bay
Hanalei Bay features nearly two miles of beach surrounded by mountains. It is a great place for water sports. However, it also offers serene waters perfect for relaxing.

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3) Kilauea Point
Located on the northernmost section of Kauai, Kilauea is home to exquisite beauty. The Kilauea Point Wildlife Refuge, home to a number of protected aquatic birds, and Kilauea Lighthouse, a 52-foot landmark, are two key standouts.

Kee Beach Kauai activities

4) Kee Beach
One of the most popular beaches on Kauai, Kee Beach is home to great snorkeling and diving. The Trailhead for the Kalalau Trail is located here, plus visitors can get a great panoramic view of the Na Pali Coast by taking a short walk towards Ha’ena.

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5) Glass Beach
The shoreline of Glass Beach is covered with millions of sea glass pieces – brown, aqua-colored, clear and blue. It is perfect for beachcombing, but not recommended for recreational swimming due to the rocky surface.

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6) Na’Aina Kai Botanical Gardens
Spanning 240 acres, Na ‘Āina Kai is a living mosaic of diverse and bounteous gardens, a hardwood plantation, a moss- and fern-draped canyon, and a pristine sandy beach stretching between a meadow and the aquamarine waters of the Pacific.

Waimea Canyon in Kauai, Hawaii Islands Kauai activities

7) Waimea Canyon and Koke’e State Park
Waimea Canyon is quite majestic, as is spans ten miles, has a width of two miles and depth of 3,600 feet. The river cliffs boasts red, browns and greens. Plus, Koke’e State Park offers more than 45 hiking trails on its more than 4,000 acres.

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8) Wailua River and Hidden Valley Falls
Kauai has the only navigable rivers of all the Hawaiian Islands, and the Wailua River is the perfect spot to spend some time meandering in a boat or kayak. It weaves through gorgeous waterfalls and lush jungle landscapes. A trip here features Opaekaa Falls and Wailua Falls. In addition, there is Fern Grotto, a natural lave rock cave sheltered by draping ferns.

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9) Kalihiwai Falls & Kipu Falls
Both of these Kauai waterfalls are gorgeous sights to see. Kalihiwai Falls, a two-tiered waterfall, is accessible by car, hiking or horseback. To reach Kipu Falls, simply follow a short 5-minute trail. A 20-foot rock wall surrounds the falls, which empties into a crystal clear pool perfect for swimming.

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10) Poipu Beach Park
On the South Shore of Hawaii you’ll find Poipu Beach. It’s an excellent place to spot humpback whales and is also home to endangered Hawaiian monk seals. Snorkeling is also very popular at this beach.


Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Kauai to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

The crystal clear ocean waters of Kauai create the perfect environment for snorkeling.  The warm waters and thriving reef system make it a natural choice for snorkeling.  One of the reasons the reef system is so spectacular is it has been developing for millions of years.  It has become a habitat for hundreds of species of fish, some of which are found nowhere else in the world.  Plus, snorkel gear is available for rent at just about every hotel or oceanside attraction so it’s easy to grab a mask, snorkel and some fins and swim around the waters to explore the underwater world of Kauai.

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Anini Beach

The best beaches to snorkel in Kauai

Anini Beach
Home to the longest reef on the island, Anini Beach is located on Kauai’s North Shore.  The water here is fairly shallow and the reef features underwater canyons with ample sea life.
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Poipu Beach

Poipu Beach

The reef here has sea cucumbers in residence and snorkelers frequently spot sea turtles at Poipu Beach.  This South Shore Kauai beach is also home to endangered Hawaiian monk seals, which you can see sunning on the beach.
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Tunnels Beach

Tunnels Beach
Also known as Makua Beach, Tunnels Beach is the quintessentialspot to snorkel in Kauai, with amazing mountain views surrounding the beach.  The reef here is horseshoe shaped and is home to bright corals, a variety of fish including the vibrant Humuhumunukunukuapua’a, wrasse and parrotfish. 
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Kee Beach

Kee Beach
Kee Beach is a great option for beginner snorkelers as the lagoon is protected from waves by reefs.  Home to plenty of colorful fish and Pacific green sea turtles, views of the Na Pali Coast add to the scenery.
Wherever you snorkel in Kauai you’re sure to experience an underwater world teeming with sea life.  Try to go early in the morning as that is when viewing is best.  And, stay safe!  Be sure to snorkel with a buddy, stay out of choppy water and avoid touching the reefs.  Most of all though, have fun as you explore the sea!   

Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Kauai to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

Top View of a Beautiful Waterfall in HawaiiThe Hawaiian Island of Kauai is known as “Hawaii’s Island of Discovery” because it has a vast array of things to explore. It is generally considered one of the best Hawaiian Islands for those seeking adventure and activity, and Hawaii Kauai activities provide a great way to discover the natural side of Hawaii. Kauai is one the least developed Hawaiian Islands and it features alluring places like the soaring cliffs of the Napali Coast, which can only be reached by helicopter or boat, and Waimea Canyon State Park, home to Waimea Canyon, a top Kauai attraction dubbed the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.”

If you’re looking for hiking in Kauai the Kokee State Park is a great place to visit. The Wailua River, one of the only navigable rivers in Hawaii, is located on Kauai as well, as is Kilauea Lighthouse, which is located on the northernmost point of Kauai. It is a must-see while visiting Kauai’s North Shore, an area featuring spectacular rugged mountains, lush taro fields, heavenly beaches and spectacular sea cliffs. Hanalei Town is a must-visit while on Hawaii’s North Shore as it is home to gorgeous beaches like Lumahai Beach & Kee Beach. The Na Aina Kai Botanical Gardens and the 17-acre Limahuli Gardens are also great places to explore and witness breathtaking scenic sights.

Kauai beaches are some of the most stunning in Hawaii, perhaps the world, and a few of the top Kauai beaches include Hanalei Bay, Tunnels Beach, Poipu Beach, Anini Beach Park & Kekaha Beach.

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Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Hawaii to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know. Before you pack your bags, get the latest scoop on Hawaii vacations from Ashley.