The Garden Isle's incredible natural beauty stretches from the breathtaking Opaekaa Falls, where the Wailua River makes a dramatic plunge over cliffs, to the magnificent Na Pali coastline. No group should miss the ever-changing colors of Waimea Canyon, the deep Kokee forests, or moonlit Hanalei Bay. And that's only a small portion of Kauai's many pleasures.
Helicopter tours are the only way to see the 80 percent of Kauai that is inaccessible by land. There are 14 helicopter companies on Kauai, and a one-hour tour is more than adequate for groups to view the NaPali Coast, Waimea Canyon, Hanalei Valley, Hanapepe Valley, the Waiale'ale Crater, and the Mana Waipuna Falls, where Jurassic Park was filmed.
Smith's Tropical Paradise offers the flora and fauna and tradition of Kauai. The 23-acre park has gardens, lagoons, exotic birds, and a narrated train ride that meanders through a rain forest, a Polynesian village, a Japanese island, a Filipino village, and other areas that represent Kauai's ethnic heritage. Traditional cultures are reflected nightly in a 75-minute musical production in the lagoon theater.
Na Pali, meaning the cliffs, is the 17-mile stretch of Kauai's coastline that is inaccessible by coach or car. Several million years of wind and water have eroded the Pali into gaunt cathedrals, with green valleys, cascading waterfalls, and haunting sea caves. If your group is too large for helicopter tours, more than 20 companies offer chartered Na Pali boat trips, with boats ranging from Zodiac rafts through cabin cruisers. They'll outfit your group with snorkel gear and then stop at a reef so everyone can get up close with the colorful marine life, including the native sea turtles, monk seals, and humpback whales.
For golfers, the Princeville Resort Prince course is the toughest on Kauai and provides spectacular mountain and water views. TheKiele course at Kauai Lagoons Golf Club provides challenges for golfers of all levels, and the links-style Lagoons course gives everyone a satisfying round. In fact, Kauai has four of the top 10 golf courses in Hawaii and the only navigable rivers.
* Several major carriers serve Hawaii from the mainland hubs of New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas/FW, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Vancouver. At remarkably similar rates, American, Continental, Delta, and United (joined by Hawaiian Airlines in West Coast cities) fly daily direct routes. Rates vary widely depending on the time of year.
* Low roundtrip fares in May escalate when you travel in the summer, although they decline to low levels by October. Holiday periods are highest. While most flights are to Honolulu, a few carriers offer direct flights to Maui or the Big Island.
* While there is little difference between airlines' published rates, savvy planners with sizable groups can arrange packages or group discounts at significant savings during nonvacation, non-holiday periods. Temperatures in the islands vary only slightly between lows of 60 degrees at night and highs of 80 to 90 during the day.
* On Oahu, Hawaiian Airlines, Aloha Airlines, Island Air, and Pacific Wings offer regularly scheduled and charter service to neighbor islands, as well as "flightseeing" trips of one or more islands for scenic views.
* Charley' s Taxi on Oahu offers meet-and-greet services. E Noa Tours on Oahu, as well as Kona Gold Coast Tours on the Big Island, Start Tours on Maui, and Polynesian Adventure Tours on several islands, take groups to their respective island hot spots. Oahu's Hawaiian Riders or Island Riders can set your group up with Jeeps, Humvees, Harley-Davidsons, electric scooters, mopeds, and even a Porsche for a special event.
* On the other islands, call on Polynesian Adventure Tours for group trips around Kauai, Maui, or the Big Island. Kona Gold Coast Tours on the Big Island and Star Tours on Maui are also prepared to provide first-class group services.