Emerald green against the sapphire sea, the small round island of Kauai almost shocks you with the intensity of its colors. As home to Mount Waialeale, the dormant volcano known as "the wettest spot on earth," it has grown a deep forest canopy, now and then punctuated by such visual spectacles as Waimea Canyon, the 2,500-foot- deep desert-like terrain known as "The Grand Canyon of the Pacific."
Amid so much beauty, it's not surprising that the most popular activities lend themselves to intimate exploration of the island--hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and kayaking up its navigable rivers, the only ones in Hawaii.
For back-to-nature clients, the Paddle and Jungle Waterfall Adventure from Outfitters Kauai is recommended. It combines several miles of easy kayaking on the peaceful Wailua River, walking along a stream trail to "The Secret Falls," enjoying a picnic lunch, swiming under and around the falls, and then more kayaking on another fork of the river. All the while, there is a steady narrative intrepreting the flora, fauna, and history.
For a slightly faster paced boat ride, DMCs suggest the Zodiac motorized rafts, which depart from Port Allen in the south, heading for the wet caves of Haena. It's one way to see the fabled Na Pali Coast State Park up close and personal. (In earlier years, you could skip the long boatride, because the excursions left from the nearby Hanalei River, but now motorized vehicles have been banned from that body of water.) On the way, guests snorkel and have a picnic lunch at a remote beach. Sea caves, waterfalls, sealife, history, and legends are all part of the package.
There are numerous boat rides or helicopter tours to the Na Pali Coast, where 3,000-foot-high mountain cliffs rise straight from the ocean floor and waterfalls crash to the valley floor below.
Kauai also has a number of famous golf courses including the Prince Course at Princeville, rated number-one in the state.