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Private Kauai Photo Tour
Boy fishing, Kauai, Hawaii, coconut tree, beach
Little Hawaiian boy trying to catch some breakfast.

Kauai

Waterfall and rough sea, Napali Coast

Kauai is a gem of the Hawaiian archipelago, for too long unexplored by me.  Hawaii has seen its share of famous storytellers; James Albert Michener explained how it arose from the sea, Robert Louis Stevenson, Jack London, and Herman Melville passed through on their way to other frontiers and all wrote of their impressions with the flowery prose of the day. Writers of our past and even the most skilled word smiths of today have extolled the beauty of the place, but words fall short no mater whom the writer. Sometimes so grand even our camera’s fall short, but not if I can help it.

Kauai is known as "the Garden Isle" thanks to the tropical rainforest covering much of its surface. The dramatic jungle cliffs and pinnacles of its Napoli Coast have served as backdrop for major Hollywood films, while 10-mile-long Waimea Canyon adds stunning mountain landscapes to this beach destination.

Napali Coast

There’s no preparing for the visual spectacle of Kauai’s north shore, with its mountains practically dripping green and studded with waterfalls and beaches aglow with barely trodden golden sand. Highway’s end is the beginning of the Napoli Coast, roughly twelve unsullied miles of verdant shoreline. That’s where we find Kee Beach, an alcove whose water a reef surrounds, attracting colorful marine life while keeping the waves at bay.

The east shore has some pretty bays and resorts, also a lot of agriculture.  It is also home to Waimea Canyon. Dubbed the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” Waimea Canyon is a beautifully eroded gorge located on the southwestern part of the island of Kauai. The canyon is a must see for anyone visiting the Garden Isle, which is one of the island’s top attractions. Waimea Canyon is over ten-miles long, over one mile at its widest and about 3,000 feet deep. As a basis of comparison, the Grand Canyon in Arizona is over 277-miles long, ten-miles at its widest and over one-mile deep. But Waimea Canyon still offers some of the same types of scenic vistas and panoramic views as its much larger cousin on the US mainland, albeit on a much smaller scale. Oh, did I forget to mention the plethora of green lacking in the Grand Canyon of Arizona.

Waiema Canyon

Mt. Waialeale, one of the wettest spots on earth, with more than 400 inches of rain annually feed the verdent green. This large volume of rainfalls feeds the Waimea River system which continues to shape the canyon estimated to be over five million years old. It can also get our camera’s wet, bring rain covers and lens hoods on this trip.  Rain is regular; however, it is not cold.

Me being a mountain photographer was probably the first person ever to head to the mountaintop instead of the beach upon my arrival to Kauai.  I couldn’t get to Waimea Canyon fast enough.

Although Kauai sits firmly on the tourist radar, an indisputable rival of its famous neighbors, Oahu and Maui; however, upon first glance at its unspoiled natural splendor, you’d never know it, and this is purposeful. A closer look at one of the oldest (geologically speaking) and arguably most beautiful of the major Hawaiian Islands reveals a blossoming culinary scene, a rooted arts community, and a smattering of low profile resorts. But thanks to careful regulation (by law, building heights max out at 55-feet) opposition from residents who quickly quashed a high-speed ferry service between Oahu and Kauai.  Although the ferry would have brought many day visitors, the prudent residents didn’t want Kauai to become Oahu despite probable financial rewards. Most of the island still feels like the world’s most stunning backwater.

Let’s go see it again!


Hawaii - Images by Daryl Hunter
Grand Teton Photography and Field Guide