Before the hubs and I realized that hiking is more than just casually strolling about in the wilderness, we took Kayak Kauai up on a day of hiking in the morning and stand-up paddleboard (SUP) rentals in the afternoon. When I told the owner, Micco, that this was how we’d like to spend a random Wednesday, he responded with, “well, you’ll sleep well that night!”
Well played, Micco.
We met our guide, Kelly, early in the morning at the Kayak Kauai location in Kapa’a. Though I assumed our tour would involve a small group, the hubs and I were pleased to find that we were the only two hikers that day. After picking out our lunch—sandwiches, drinks, and water are all included in the tour—we hopped in the van to head toward Moalepe Trail.
The hike along Moalepe is one of Kayak Kauai’s newer tour options, and is geared more toward people who are interested in navigating trails that are a little off the beaten track, but still boasts stellar views of the Garden Island. As we had already done Waimea on our own, this was a perfect option for us.
Though we saw a few other hikers tackling the trail sans guide, having Kelly—who was born and raised on Kauai—meant we got to do things like eat purple flowers that tasted like mushrooms, acquire fancy new rope bracelets made from an extremely durable kind of bark found on the trail, and finally learn why so many parts of Kauai look like what I picture the plains of Africa to look like. Apparently, it’s because a huge number of trees are actually directly FROM Africa. I mean, how obvious?
Additionally, as I am directionally challenged and the hubs gets easily confused when his surroundings all look very similar, Kelly’s navigation was 100% required. He tried to teach us a few things about tracking, but I thought all the parts of the trail where people had apparently recently walked looked exactly the same as the parts where they apparently had not.
This led to one serious revelation for me: I would have very limited chance of survival in a post-apocalyptic world, a la The Hunger Games or The Walking Dead. This probably should have depressed me, but when you’re in Hawaii, it’s pretty hard to get too upset about such things, you know?
Later, when we heard dogs barking off in the distance, Kelly explained how hunters train teams of dogs to go in and hunt for wild boars. The dogs will corner the boars, and then the hunters will approach and stab them in the chest. Occasionally, a dog will get injured by a boar, but mostly they’re just rewarded with the extra meat at the end of the hunt. It all sounded terribly violent, so I just imagined it to be the Hawaiian version of Downton Abbey and felt much better. Sidenote: sorry for all the pop culture references in this post?
We eventually made our way toward Kuilau trail, which would eventually lead us to the Kuilau Picnic area, where we would stop for lunch and take in the views.
Seeing your trail ahead of you when it’s all windy and bendy like that is 1 part cool, 3 parts intimidating.
After our tour wrapped, we made our way back to the Kapa’a shop to pick up our car and bid adieu to Kelly. We then made our way up to Hanalei to pick-up our SUPs and tackle adventure number two of the day.
Stand-up paddle boarding ended up being one of my favorite activities during our time in Kauai, which, honestly, was completely unexpected. Though we each fell once, it was way more relaxing than I had anticipated (except for when the wind was at our front, then I wanted to just ditch the whole thing and go get a beer.)
Unlike surfing, once you have it figured out, you’re pretty set. The learning curve didn’t take nearly as long as I had expected, which is always a plus for me, as I am very impatient when it comes to learning new things. Good trait, no?
Luckily, even in the midst of my frustrated moments, the views of Hanalei River did not disappoint. It seriously felt like we were on a movie set.
It was also at the Hanalei location that we were able to meet more of the Kayak Kauai team, including the owner, Micco. I always find it fascinating when we get to chat with people who moved somewhere remote, and after learning that Micco is an American University alum like the hubs, I had even more questions (namely, why didn’t the hubs take the classes that led us to be tour operators in Hawaii?). Micco had started the company with his brother back in 1984, and like all good businesses, it was based completely in passion. In fact, Micco’s honeymoon involved a kayaking tour of Croatia. His wife wasn’t there to offer her opinions on the matter, but this sounds like a serious dedication to the sport to me.
As I tend to feel with most independently owned tour operators, Kayak Kauai was the perfect way to spend our day not only exploring the island, but learning more about the local culture in Kauai. Though I’m sure the local resorts offer rental options and tour hook-ups, the more we travel, the more I realize that these smaller companies are the heart of most local tourism industries, and getting to know the faces behind these companies is just as much a part of the experience as the actual tour itself.
Should you find yourself in Kauai, definitely give Micco and Kayak Kauai a shout and see which tour or rental option would be the best fit for you. Considering we managed to do everything but actually kayak, it’s safe to say they offer something for everyone.
– Though Kayak Kauai did host us for the day, all opinions are, as always, my own. I really did enjoy all the physical activity! I swear!