Kayaking in Kauai

By Viator, December 2013

4.5 51 Reviews | Add your review

Even though all of Hawaii has jaw-droppingly beautiful scenery, experts seem to agree that the island of Kaua’i is unparalleled in its rugged beauty. Seeing as the Garden Isle is the oldest of the main Hawaiian Islands, it consequently is the most eroded with the most dramatic scenery. 

In addition to being eroded and old, Kaua’i is also the only island that has any sort of navigable rivers. Whereas all of the kayaking on neighboring islands takes place just off the shoreline, Kaua’i has places where you can paddle upstream through the surroundings of a tropical rainforest.

Of the main rivers for kayaking on Kaua’i, the Wailua River is the most popular and the river with the most amount of activity. Flowing its way through eastern Kaua’i—most often referred to as the “Coconut Coast”—tours up the river begin in Kapa’a and make their way inland towards the mountains. This is more than just a lazy paddle upstream, however, as many tours of the Wailua River also include hiking to a thundering waterfall which is known as “Secret Falls.” 

Also on the eastern shore of the island, the paddle up Hulei’a Stream passes through the Hulei’a Wildlife Refuge and skirts in front of the Alekoko Fishpond. This ancient fishpond is surrounded by the backdrop of a 2,000’ mountain range, and much like the paddle up the Wailua River, you have the chance to hike inland to a three-tiered waterfall known as “Hidden Falls.”

For a completely different river experience which is a window into traditional Hawaii, the Hanalei River on the north shore of the island is a conduit back into time. Staring at the backdrop of 4,000 ft. mountains you will paddle upstream through traditional taro fields which are cultivated in the ways of Old Hawai’i. Or, heading the other direction, kayak downstream towards the mouth of the Hanalei River and emerge in a bay that has the best view in the state.

More than just river kayaking, however, some of the best paddles on all of Kaua’i are found out on the ocean. On the south shore of the island, the paddle from Poipu to neighboring Port Allen is a classic early-morning run, and when the water is calm you can often see sea turtles poking their heads above the water.  

Meanwhile, on the north shore, during summer days when the surf is calm, a kayaking tour along the Na Pali Coast is one of the most epic adventures in Hawaii. On this somewhat arduous, breathtaking paddle, you are awarded with views of the eroded cliffs that you can normally see only from a helicopter. Paddle to beaches which are completely empty and sit at the base of soaring mountains, and gaze upon one of the last shorelines in Hawaii where modernity has yet to reach. For the fit traveler who is looking for an adventure unlike anywhere else on the planet, a kayaking tour of the Na Pali Coast will be embedded in your memory for eternity.

Tours & Tickets

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Paddle Kauai Jungle Streams

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 8 Reviews

Paddle down the Wailua River, a beautiful and historic jungle stream, deep into the heart of the island on a kayaking Kauai day trip. This Kauai hiking tour ...  Read more

Location: Kauai, Hawaii
Duration: 7 hours (approx.)

From USD $112.50

Na Pali Coast Sea Kayak

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 1 Reviews

If you like excitement and adrenaline, then this is the one for you! This 15-mile (25km) kayak tour to the Na Pali Coast is typically carried out on heavy ...  Read more

Location: Kauai, Hawaii
Duration: 13 hours (approx.)

From USD $247.92

Wailua River Kayak and Hike Adventure

4.5 star rating: Recommended 32 Reviews

Enjoy an idyllic kayaking and hiking adventure on Kauai’s Wailua River. Paddle down the tranquil river and admire the lush jungle landscapes on shore. Your ...  Read more

Location: Kauai, Hawaii
Duration: 5 hours (approx.)

From USD $88.49

Hanalei Bay Kayak and Snorkel Tour

4.5 star rating: Recommended 5 Reviews

During your time on Kauai, enjoy a three-hour guided kayak and snorkel tour along the picturesque Hanalei River and in Hanalei Bay, which is home to the ...  Read more

Location: Kauai, Hawaii
Duration: 5 hours (approx.)

From USD $98.99

Hidden Valley Falls Kayak and Kauai Hike Adventure

3.5 star rating: Worth doing 5 Reviews

For a fun kayaking Kauai activity, paddle tandem kayaks along the Hule'ia River and travel deep into the heart of the Kauai island jungle. Then, go Kauai ...  Read more

Location: Kauai, Hawaii
Duration: 4 hours 30 minutes (approx.)

From USD $122.92

Kauai South Shore Sea Kayak Adventure

This 7-mile (11km) kayak tour is a day packed full of fun, excitement and adventure. Savor the magnificent views, breathtaking scenery, and hidden beaches of ...  Read more

Location: Kauai, Hawaii
Duration: 8 hours 30 minutes (approx.)

From USD $164.58

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