Kauai's Hidden Delights

By Manley, Harriot | Sunset, March 2002 | Go to article overview

Kauai's Hidden Delights


Manley, Harriot, Sunset


Guided hiking and kayak tours give you access to the island's private treasures

* "Hey, Mom, where's Indiana Jones?"

The question is coming from somewhere deep within a nylon poncho billowing out of a kayak that is nosing its way up a stream on Kauai's north shore. My nine-year-old, Sam, is somewhere in that poncho, paddling a zig-zagging course between the vine-cloaked banks of the quiet waterway. As we follow our guides deep into the jungle, the vines-- thick as my forearm-create a tunnel around us.

This kind of off-the-map adventure is my goal on our trip to the Garden Isle. While there are plenty of groups offering guided hikes of the Na Pali Coast or kayak paddles on placid rivers, I came looking for trips with a special bonus-either access to areas usually closed to the public or natural surprises in otherwise familiar places.

So now my family is paddling into the heart of the 2,500-acre Princeville Ranch. With exclusive access to the private property, our tour operators, Princeville Ranch Hike & Kayak, have mapped out trails and kayak paddles to jaw-dropping locations.

On this trip, we paddle for about a half-hour upstream, then hike to a rumbling waterfall. Maka, our guide, shows us which plants yielded Polynesian tinctures and medicines and which produced food.

Fortunately, we don't have to forage for lunch. As Maka spreads a picnic at the edge of a natural pool below the waterfall, Sam leaps off a ledge and cannonballs into the water. …

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