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Splashing in Paradise

Fun in the Water

Kauai Fun in Paradise Special - from Kauai MagazineA trip to the Garden Island is not complete without some time spent in, on, or under the water. The Pacific Ocean's turquoise waters surrounding the island and Kauai's sparkling clear inland streams and rivers beckon whale watchers, anglers, boaters, divers, surfers, and other water sport lovers. The dilemma may be what to dive into first.

whale-watching cruises

A whale-watching ocean tour is an intimate way to experience the awesome Humpback Whale and enjoy the variety of Kauai's beautiful landscapes from an offisland perspective. Every fall, Humpback Whales leave their Alaskan feeding grounds to journey to the waters of the Hawaiian Islands to sojourn for the winter, mate, birth, and nurse their young. (Whales think that Hawaii is romantic, too!) Whale-watching cruises give you an up-close and personal encounter with these magnificent mammals from about November to March, when Humpbacks are most prevalent.

You can choose to whale-watch from aboard catamarans, zippy rubber zodiac rafts, cruise vessels, and sail boats. Some tour companies offer dual-powered (motorized and sailing) catamarans for snorkeling, whale watching, and sunset cruises. Some provide the more extreme rigid-hull zodiac inflatables.

Be sure to bring a camera. A waterproof disposable camera is a good idea, as well as a towel and an extra set of dry clothes, because you will get wet. Binoculars will help with closer observation of whale activity. For best viewing with binoculars, use 8x40 or 7x50 magnification. If you don't have sea legs, consider taking nonprescription or homeopathic motion sickness prevention medication before getting on any ocean craft. Hawaii winter wave swells can be immense and the sea ride can get quite bouncy.

Whales abound in the waters all around Kauai, putting on a show with playful behavior such as fin slapping, lobtailing (slapping the tail fluke), and breaching (jumping out of the water). Don't be surprised to see a school of Spinner dolphins, traveling in parallel pairs along your tour boat, rhythmically leaping out of the sea. Baby dolphins flip themselves into the air with abandon alongside their parents. You may also spot albatross and Boobies (birds which nest and hatch in the caves of the Na Pali cliffs).


Are you ready to dip your paddle in clear fresh water fed by sparkling waterfalls? Or would you rather explore sea caves, cliffs, and waterfalls and then snorkel in a secluded bay or lagoon amid tropical fish? Or both? Then a kayaking tour is the perfect activity for you.

Millions of years of erosion and weathering have created more plains and rivers on Kauai than on any other Hawaiian island. Kauai's six rivers are the only navigable rivers in Hawaii: Waimea; Hanapepe; Huleia; Wailua; Kalihiwai; and Hanalei. Via river kayaking, you can discover tropical rainforests, woods, and swampy jungles amidst a profusion of colorful flowers and butterflies.

Most kayak tour operators offer waterfalls tours combining a perfect blend of paddling, hiking, swimming, and picnicking at places like Secret Falls up the Wailua River.

snorkeling, diving, tubing, and swimming

Beneath the kayaks' paddles, the surfboards' swooshing fins, and the touring catamarans' bouncing pontoons, lives a cool, quiet blue world that belongs to Kauai's abundant sea life. Diving and snorkeling tour operators provide instructions on how to use their equipment and even how to get great photographs and videos of your sea adventures. Some of the best snorkeling locations are: Koloa Landing; Lawai Beach; Poipu Beach Park; Lydgate Park; Tunnels Beach; and Kee Beach. Grab a snorkel, mask, and flippers for an afternoon, and enter Kauai's enchanted underwater world.

"Tubing" is a unique experience. Plan to get wet. Tubing takes you on a guided tour through jungles and tunnels using former sugar plantation irrigation waterways while you "float on air," relaxed on an inner tube. Tubing is an effortless way to tour some of the island's otherwise inaccessible areas.


Surfing, boogie boarding, kite-surfing, and windsurfing are popular water sports on Kauai. If you have a favorite board, you can check it as airline baggage (for an extra fee) or you can rent gear on island.

Key spots for surfing include: Polihale; Major's Bay at Barking Sands; Davidson's at Kekaha; Pakalas; Poipu Beach; Lawai Beach (also called PKs and Acid Drop); Shipwrecks; Nawiliwili Harbor; Hanalei Bay; Tunnels; and Cannons. Check with local lifeguards and surfers for a report on conditions and be aware of dangerous currents, increasing swells, and rip currents.

Windsurfing/kite-surfing spots include: Salt Pond; Mahaulepu; Anini Beach; Hanalei Bay; and Y-Camps (YMCA at Haena). For local wind and surf conditions, call (808) 245-3564 or 245-6001.

fresh-water fishing

Anglers may be surprised to learn that freshwater fishing for trout and bass on Kauai's rivers, ponds, streams, and reservoirs is remarkable. You can trout fish at Kokee State Park (on Kauai's west side) in designated streams, reservoirs, and "ditches." Trout fishing season begins with a 16-day period in August and continues on weekends and holidays through September. Large-mouth bass, small-mouth bass, and the exotic South American peacock bass have been caught in Kauai's reservoirs.

Fishing licenses are required and available online at http:// For more information, call the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Aquatic Resources at (808) 274-3344.

deep-sea fishing

If you are hooked on deep-sea fishing, both exclusive and shared charter trips are available. Shared charters reduce your cost, but fish caught on shared trips are divided among passengers. Excursions can vary from several hours long to up to two-day overnight adventures to remote fishing spots around the island. On these exciting excursions, you fish for ono, billfish, ahi, mahi-mahi, and more.

For fishing, kayaking, snorkeling, diving, surfing, sailing, whale-watching, Kauai is happy to bathe you in multiple water sports. Whatever ways you choose to get wet in, on, or under the water the experience is bound to be therapeutic in the magical waters surrounding Kauai.