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Touring in Paradise
Fun on the Land
Kauai is Gilligan's Island? Yes - and Gaynor's Bali Hai (South Pacific), Jurassic Park's parkland, George's jungle, the boss' Fantasy Island, Hook's Neverland, and Elvis' Blue Hawaii, among others. The Garden Island of Kauai has been the setting for dozens of movies and television shows since the early 1930's. The varied climate and geography provide virtually every type of outdoor scenery imaginable.
These same exquisite landscapes and gorgeous weather are main attractions for non-actors, too. Organized movie tours in mini-busses or a 4x4 off-road van are a great way not only to see the locations of wellknown films, but also to experience dramatic parts of the island that would otherwise not be accessible. The more adventurous explorer might choose to chart a path through Kauai's wilderness in a four-wheel drive or an ATV. If two wheels are your idea of fun, then bicycling down the Waimea Canyon may be your answer. Perhaps a romantic ride on horseback is your fancy. Ecotourism, nature, and culturebased tourism that is ecologically sustainable and supports local communities is gaining in popularity on the island. Whatever your mode of transportation, a sightseeing tour of Kauai's exquisite scenery will be a day to record and remember.
movie tours Five-hour guided and narrated tours trek to many of Kauai's movie locations. Among them are the remote beach where the pilot for the TV show "Gilligan's Island" was shot, the famous, and under-renovation Coco Palms resort, where Elvis' Blue Hawaii was filmed, and locations for such productions as South Pacific, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Six Days, Seven Nights, and Jurassic Park. Passengers in buses view actual scenes from films and television shows on a TV monitor in surround sound. A nice way to see quite a bit of the island is from the comfort of such a touring van.
Tour stops may include Opaekaa Falls, one of Kauai's many beautiful waterfalls above the East Side of the island. Other sites in the tour include Lydgate Beach Park, the famous Wailua Falls (used in the opening scene of the "Fantasy Island" TV series), and Hanamaulu Bay, a location for Donovan's Reef, Voodoo Island, Pagan Love Song, and Six Days, Seven Nights.
Some 4x4 tour companies offer tours in rugged air conditioned off-road vans, while others tour in open-air vehicles. One tour takes you to Kipu Ranch, a spectacular 2,500- acre ranch on Kauai's southeast shore featuring a dramatic grand entrance lined with majestic Norfolk pines. The ranch has been used repeatedly in Hollywood hits such as Diamond Head and The Hawaiians, both starring Charlton Heston, and Steven Spielberg's Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Lost World, sequel to Jurassic Park. Other films shot on the Kipu Ranch include Outbreak and the 1997 remake of Mighty Joe Young.
Other companies take you on spectacular off-road tours, including to Kokee State Park with panoramic vistas of Waimea Canyon that can only be seen from taking one of these tours.
For those who crave a wilder ride and don't mind getting dirty and wet, many of the location sites can be toured via ATVs, rolling through streams and into forests over rocks, following the Huleia River, where Indiana Jones took off in his seaplane. ATVs are easy to operate and prior experience isn't necessary — just a willingness to get splattered from head to toe in Kauai's classical red dirt. Some providers travel through private estate lands, into the island's interior, to waterfalls and along mountain ridges. Some trips bounce along old cane roads and tunnels and explore tropical forests and lush jungles.
If pedaling is your preference, you could book a bicycle tour of the Waimea Canyon starting at the crack of dawn. Begin at the rim (elevation, 3,500 feet) of the famed canyon and traverse down 12 miles of winding road skirting this "Grand Canyon of the Pacific" (so dubbed by Mark Twain) all the way to the blue Pacific Ocean. Bikers will experience the gorgeous reds, oranges, and earth tones of the layered canyon walls. Or get off the beaten track with a cruise along the scenic roads of the private Grove Farm Plantation. Pedal past various crops, the now defunct Koloa Sugar Mill, and enjoy some of Kauai's pristine coastline.
There are also several bicycle rental companies for those that wish to explore in a small group or on their own. Maps are available for the best, and safest, places to ride.
Touring Kauai on horseback is a romantic and unique way to see the island's abundant natural and inner beauty. On the South Shore, saddle-up for a horseback ride along the beautifully sculpted Mahaulepu cliffs. Mosey along sandy white beaches and stop for a swim. On Kauai's North Shore, take a leisurely horseback ride to gaze upon the majestic emerald mountains of Hanalei (where you just might see "Puff the Magic Dragon") and the patchwork squares of taro fields in the valley. Then stop for a swim in the pool of a cascading waterfall.
Your own two feet are one of the best ways to see the most inaccessible of Kauai's scenic gems. Dozens of hikes are possible across the island where you'll enjoy vistas, beaches, waterfalls, and even a swamp that cannot be seen using any other type of transportation. For maps and details covering 34 major hiking trails on Kauai, visit Na Ala Hele, the State of Hawaii Trail and Access Program (administered by the Division of Forestry and Wildlife, Department of Land and Natural Resources). Not included on the State's list (referenced above) is the infamous Kalalau Trail, an 11-mile strenuous coastal walkabout beginning at Kee Beach (at the end of Highway 560) and traveling deep into the Kalalau Valley. Accessible in summer months only, hikers usually take 3-5 days to hike in and out of Kalalau (permit required) which provides unparalleled and stunning views of the Na Pali Coast hanging on the Pacific Ocean. For a shorter, permitfree day trip, trek 2 miles along the coastal Kalalau Trail to the violent surf of Hanakapiai Beach and then another 2 miles inland to the spectacular Hanakapiai Falls, a long, silvery ribbon of water gushing into a large, cool pool, into which you may be happy to throw yourself after the 4-mile fatiguing hike. For permits, call the DLNR at 808 274-3433.
With year-round temperatures in the 70s and 80s, four of Golf Digest's top 10 rated courses in Hawaii, and two of Golf Magazine's top golf resorts in the USA, it's no wonder that Kauai has a unique reputation among golfers. From the glistening mountains and lush tropical terrain of the North Shore to the lava cliffs and serene tranquility of the South Shore, Kauai's nine golf courses offer diverse island scenery and a challenge for any skill level. Robert Trent Jones, Jr. said, "In all the world, I never expect to find a more spectacularly beautiful place to build a golf course than Princeville, overlooking Hanalei Bay." Indeed, a large part of the thrill of being on either of the two Princeville courses that he designed is due to the surroundings—the ocean, waterfalls, mountains, and the unforgettable silhouette of Mt. Makana (Bali Hai).
With so many spectacular and challenging courses at all points of the compass, a player can literally golf around the island. To set a tee time, visit our
No matter how you make the trek — on two wheels, four wheels, two legs or four legs - Kauai's trails, canyons, cliffs, mountains, beaches, fairways, and rolling hills are waiting for you to put yourself in the picture and explore and capture the inner secrets of the land of the Garden Island.