top of page

Kauai, Hawaii (Day 6): Kayaking on the Wailua River

Summary: Every trip usually has a dud. Not necessarily a bad day, specifically, but maybe not a "best day ever," experience. That was our experience when we tried a kayaking tour on the Wailua River. To be fair, it wasn't entirely the tour guides' fault. It was a combination of factors that leads us to believe that we would have been happier having rented Kayaks and traveled up the River on our own instead. That all being said, we give this experience a solid 3 stars out of 5. This blog post is part of 7-part series related to our time in Kauai. See our itinerary page and additional blog posts for more information about the Garden Island.

What Gear You Should Bring. As the tour company suggests, we recommend bringing water, snacks, a hat, lots of sunscreen and bug repellant.

Getting there. We did a tour with Ali'i Kayak Tours. From Waimea, the drive is approximately 45 minutes to the Wailua Marina State Park in Kapa'a. Parking available at no cost. We arrived at the trail head at the requested 8:00 a.m. start time and waited for approximately 30 minutes before we were led to the Marina to start the safety briefing. Note that if you can, use the restroom before arriving as there is just one toilet available for each sex for the entire group and it is at the dock. Everyone ends up waiting until the line is complete.

Briefing and Launch. Kayaks used by this company are two-person. If you come as an "odd" number group, you may be asked to share a kayak with a stranger. For us, we were an "even" group so we split into two, chose a kayak each, and packed our backpacks in the bungy holder in the kayak. If you need assistance, the tour guides will help you but everyone is otherwise asked to grab oars and carry them and the kayak down to water to launch the kayaks. Before you launch though, you are given a brief safety lesson and an opportunity to ask questions.

2-Mile Kayak Trip on the Wailua River. This section was the highlight of the day. The River is calm, wide, and great for kayaking. The landscape reminded us of every film that has been filmed in the area, with its thick rainforest coupled with overlooking mountains. At the half-way point, the kayaks in the tour re-group for a brief rest before setting off for the second mile.

Hike to Falls with Tour. This is where the tour turned a bit south for us. To begin with, the group at 22 guests was much too large. Hiking speeds vary too much, which means that the entire group is slowed to the slowest person's pace. This is not to say that we must always hike briskly but there does reach a point when taking a "leisurely" pace is simply just plain too slow. Other issues on this stretch was the fact that the single-track trail required the large group to hike single-file but if you were in the back 1/2, there was no possible way to hear the tour guide up at the front. We understand that history of the area was given, along with some lessons on the plant life we passed, but we did not hear a word of it. Finally, something totally unrelated to the tour guides, we suppose, is the fact that a family with two younger children were completely unruly and spoiling the hike. More on that below.

The Falls. After a brief hike with a little stretch of tricky steps (note for those that have limited mobility, this may not be for you), we arrived at Uluwehi Falls aka Secret Falls. Here, we tried our hand at walking behind the falls while simultaneously being pelted with the falling water. Some of us were more successful than others but it was fun nevertheless.

Kayak Back to Start. After a snack break and rest, the group hiked back to the Kayaks to head back to the start. At this point in the day, the sun is overhead and the wind will pick up a bit. This just means that an extra layers of sunscreen and little more elbow grease will be needed to get back. We again enjoyed this part of the day.

Fish Express. Afterwards, we stopped at Fish Express for a late lunch. This was our second time here in three days because, seriously, the Poke bowls are amazing. We made a second stop for lunch for the boys at Porky's (they're not Poke fans like us adults). Porky's was also a repeat visit as both boys gave it 5 stars. Trust us, both of these taste way better than they look.

Beach Plans That Didn't Happen. We had planned on spending the rest of the afternoon at the beach but as it turns out, our very studious teens wanted an opportunity to work on homework that was due upon our return. So instead, we headed back to the AirBnB for some quiet time, with plans to hit the beach the next day.

Unwritten Rule of Traveling With Kids: Be A Parent. Now for a few complaints. We LOVE families that travel (we're one too!), but please, have respect for the other travelers and make sure you parent your kids at all times. We completely understand that kids will be kids and not everything can be controlled or even should be controlled. By "parenting," we mean at least be aware of how your kids are impacting others in your group and do your best to minimize that impact as everyone is entitled to have a good time, not just you. As an example, with this Kayak tour, the kids in question were running free from their parents and doing whatever they wanted including unsafe maneuvers on logs and boulders, running in and out of the hiking line and between hikers, shouting constantly (but not in a "I'm having fun," kind of way), all with the parents totally oblivious to what was happening. In fact, they were off doing their own thing, seemingly relying on the tour guides to watch their kids even when doing what could have been dangerous activities like river crossings on foot. This is all to say, that we definitely love traveling with kids and those that travel with kids, but there needs to be some respect for those around you by at least, as a minimum, be a parent.


bottom of page