As challenging as it was to leave the stunning St Regis Princeville Resort, we did manage to venture out and explore an array of activities available on the island. We opted to forgo the world-class Golf and Shopping in Princeville and instead decided to connect with nature through Hiking and Kayaking.
- American Airlines Flight and Marriott Kauai Resort
- Exploring Lihue
- St Regis Princeville
- Exploring Kauai’s North Coast
Let me just start by saying, this trail was treacherous! The Kalalau Trail is an 11 mile hiking trail that leads from Ke’e Beach (where the road ends on the North Shore) to Kalalau Beach and back along the indescribable Na’Pali Coast. The hikers (just two of us willing) set out from Ke’e Beach one morning. We weren’t expecting to complete the entire trail which requires an overnight stay, but we approached the trailhead unsure how far we could go. To give you an idea of how difficult this trail can be this time of year, they actually had a trail official asking each and every person how far they intended to hike that day. In nearly every case, he talked the hikers out of going on their original plans and shortening their hike. Even though we were in good shape and had experience, we were ‘talked’ into reducing our hike to the standard 2 miles in to Hanakapiai beach (only accessible via the trail) and 2 miles back out, which turned out to be a wise decision.
The trail was one giant mud slip and slide. We were told the conditions are seasonal and since it was November, mud would need to be our friend. The sharp grades up and down made for an exhilarating hike. Though to be fair, it was less of a hike and more of a strategic slipping session since almost no step was stable. One interesting note was that there were several tiny uneven bushy areas a couple feet from large rocks deemed ‘helicopter landing areas’ to fly out anyone who is seriously injured on the trail. You would have to be one heck of a pilot to land there in windy conditions.
The risk was well worth the reward. The views from every slip (step) were stunning. The quiet Hanakapiai beach at the turnaround point of our journey was one of the most beautiful sites I have ever seen. I am still convinced they filmed some of the Pirates of the Caribbean scenes there, though I am not sure how’d they bring the equipment in! Unfortunately we lost most of our photos from an Orange Juice-Laptop incident but I am not too concerned as these images are imprinted in my memory forever.
It was pretty funny as we returned to the pristine St Regis resort COVERED in mud and sweat from head to toe. The doormen made every attempt to protect their beautiful lobby by wrapping us several times in bright white plush St Regis towels.
Kayaking the Wailua River
Having survived the Kulalua Trail, we went back out the next day for a guided kayak on the Wailua River and then a hike into Secret Falls for lunch and waterfall swimming. We went with Kayak Adventures for about 70 dollars per person for the day, meals included. Our guide was wonderful and had deep knowledge of the island of Kauai. In comparison, this hike was a cake walk and the kayak was leisurely. The waterfall at the end of the trail was very peaceful and spiritual. We enjoyed a tranquil swim and our lunch. This day trip was definitely worth the money from my perspective and was an activity we could enjoy as a family.
The world is full of beautiful beach destinations. While I have experienced my fair share across the globe, I still have not found a beach destination that excites me more than the islands of Hawaii. The wide range of points redemptions for both flight and hotel makes me keep wanting more. Maui still remains my favorite island and I intend to return there next, but I believe Kauai has more raw natural beauty. While there are so many options, I believe the St Regis Princeville is the premier resort for natural beauty in the islands of Hawaii.
Personally, this trip was a great reinforcement of the power of points and miles. Under no other circumstances could my family of seven spread across the country afforded to fly to Kauai and enjoy over a week (in luxurious suites) at a world class resort.