Island Life. Island Adventures.
Combine the two and you have living life at its fullest.
I speak with experience. I have explored giant rocks in the middle of the ocean since I was a know-it-all-but-really-know-nothing college student, and I was a full fledged expatriate living on a crag in the midst of the Caribbean Sea. I do know the joy of island life.
Postcard perfect, Kauai.
I have made a quest of seeking isles where the full gusto can be squeezed out of life, where the sun explodes bronze and vermillion across the sky, and the surf pounds a pulsating beat with no need for an alarm clock to jolt me awake or a TV to bide the time.
Nature wakes me up. Nature works me out. Nature entertains me.
In my adventurous attempt to seek islands that offer the rewards and demands of living apart from creature comforts, I have gone too far — literally Thousands of miles from the nearest continent (a twelve-hour all night long flight only to find that I still have yet to board ANOTHER plane), the ruggedly gorgeous island of Kauai bobs in the Pacific Ocean.
The famous adventure coast of Na Pali.
This is the oldest major Hawaiian island and the first landing by Captain James Cook when he stepped on Waimea Beach back in 1778. Here, unless you are a hermit and purposely make it a point to stay indoors, this Hawaiian paradise screams, “Go outside!!”
Hawaiian King-trodden dirt roads, one-lane bridges, breath-stealing 3,500 feet deep canyon drops, mountains soaring to heights of 5,234 feet, ancient sugar cane plantations, rich coffee estates, trees laden with perfumed tropical fruits, and several levels-high waterfalls yank at you to explore Kauai’s wonders.
Myths and legends abound.
Now for those of you who come here just to soak up the sun at a resort, that is fine indeed, but just keep in mind that there is an entire world of history, culture, nature, and adventure out there that many people only see on the silver screen — this island is the backdrop of an extensive list of Hollywood productions.
The vintage TV. show “Fantasy Island” is hailed by the Wailua waterfalls as Tattoo yells, “Da plane, boss, da plane!” Tyrannosaurus Rex in “Jurassic Park” keeps watch over the Kahili Mountains. For those of you who never could figure out where “Gilligan’s Island” actually was located, well, some of the show was filmed on this spectacular Garden Isle.
Let’s get back on the adventure track that follows the wild boar-hooved path in order to see the real Kauai.
Are you ready for adventure?
It’s an adrenaline rush for me just thinking about the Kipu Falls Zipline Safari with Outfitters Kauai, my guided adventure company. I have to tell you that I’m one of those crazy nature-lovin’, thrill-seeking, outdoorsy types. You know one of those peeps that make others ask, “WHY would you do that?” Then they give me all kinds of reasons why I shouldn’t and why they would never- and yet, will admit in the next breath that they wish they had the guts to accomplish such things and are envious of my ability to live with adventure. I have a little secret: I find that inexperience is the real reason that hinders people.
“You don’t know if you don’t go.”
I am your bona fide “why not?” kinda person,
Still, sometimes some adventures put butterflies in my stomach.
Nestled in a dreamlike setting, quite typical of everything on Kauai, sits the humble office of Outfitters Kauai. Someone’s small handmade sailboat, tiny but big enough for a child to be captain of his own ship, glides back and forth on the sleepy river across from the surf-shack type office. Behind the office a few cruise ships dock and spit out tourists keen to shop.
Outfitters Kauai puts
the adventures together.
Outfitters Kauai's address is Poipu Plaza, 2827A Poipu Rd — PO Box 1149 — Poipu Beach, HI 96756 but with such surroundings the address would be more accurate if it were described as “Outfitters Kauai is located in a cool small building somewhere between an idyllic river and a picturesque ship harbor.”
I find it hard to comprehend street signs and names here. Even the staff is dreamlike — sun-kissed, golden bronze, and all smiles — beautiful people with a compassionate love for their little dollop of heaven on earth and their joy of jobs of adventure.
The guides know
everything about Kauai.
Outfitters Kauai offers a little bit of everything for everyone: a 15-mile downwind kayak to one of the most remote places on the planet on the Na Pali Coast; hiking through a jungle stream and picnicking by a 100 foot waterfall; cycling 3,500 feet down into the Waimea Canyon (a.k.a. “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific”). Lush rainforests, swinging ropes, deep-water mountain pools, motorized Hawaiian canoes, ancient historical legends, and lessons on island survival are just a few surprises in store from the adventure company.
I wanted to taste a morsel of this and a taste of that so they set me up on the top favorite new multi-sport Kauai adventure — The Kipu Falls Zipline Safari!
The Safari is an easy two-mile kayak paddle loaded with Hawaiian history, legend, and lore embellished by our young and lively tour guide who winds us through tropical scenes stolen straight from “Gilligan’s Island”.— or did the show steal its views from Kauai?
The Safari begins with river kayaking.
Bent, curved palm trees reach for the sunshine; tiny thatched huts sit next to million-dollar homes along the river; mangroves extend their long straw roots to slurp up waters from below.
The kayak float delivers us to a fave local playground where I am twelve again. I tie my kayak to a tree and with heart a pounding, I brave the cold, clear waters of Kipu Falls’ swimming hole which is almost surrounded by a 20-foot rock wall with gigantic rope swings dangling from different heights. The lagoon screams, “Come play with me!”
Enormous flat rocks provide perfect natural seating for lunchtime or for those who want to just enjoy the show of adults behaving like children and children acting like children. The best thing of all is that there are NO snakes. I keep an eye out for slithery, slimy creatures because swimming holes and streams surrounded by lush vegetation usually mean unwanted company. It’s like the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve minus the nasty serpent. No snakes on Kauai. (Editor’s note: Hawaii now has imported Brown snakes causing havoc.) I have found paradise! My search for the perfect island ends here. PERIOD.
A Tom Sawyer moment.
I plop onto a bench in the covered wagon and chatter with the wide-eyed boy next to me. The wagon bounces through Kipu Ranch, which is private property, and our guides spin mythical tales of the ancient two-foot tall Menehune who roams the island at night. The leprechaun-like people were master builders that could start and finish enormous projects in one night. Our survivalist guides explained the uses, misuses, and remedies of indigenous plants and berries found in the jungle. Our guides are more than informative, they are passionate about carrying on the history of their treasure, giving each of us a little gem to take back home with us.
Wagons tour the private Kipu Ranch.
Our covered wagon trek slips us back in time and through lush meadows where shiny black cattle roam through fairway green grass.
Jurassic Park or cows in paradise?
“Remember the scene where T-Rex chases all those little dinosaurs on Jurassic Park?” asks our Aussie Bush hatted guide. All tourists nod in remembrance. Our other guide, blonde and tanned, and folding a palm leaf into an origami grasshopper chimes in, “Well, this is where that scene was shot.
“See the sleeping giant? Legend has it that he was adored by the ancient Hawaiians as he roamed the land. The giant built a heaiu (shrine) for them since they were so busy with their daily work. He worked nonstop and completed the project in two weeks. Then the village held a grand luau in honor of the giant and after gorging, he fell asleep and has yet to wake up. Hawaiians used to light fires on the mountain to illuminate the giant’s figure to ward off any invaders.”
We are mesmerized motionless by the tale, even after the delicious lunch of sandwiches, sides, and drinks.
The Tom Sawyer setting for the zip line adventure begins from an enormous wooden treehouse constructed in a huge Banyan tree with a trunk 30 feet in diameter!
A giant banyan treehouse
is the zip jump off.
Peeking below, I see two streams flowing together below an oooohhh-ahhhh inspiring 150 foot gushing waterfall. On the other side is a lazy 80-foot-wide tropical stream lulling quietly in a gentle slumber.
Participants (Zippers) are outfitted with mountain climbing harnesses and helmets and we then walk through a labyrinth of aerial Banyan roots to arrive at the gated take-off area. Protocol is required as the Outfitters Kauai guides runs through an equipment checklist and attaches a tether from the Zipper's harness to a two-wheeled trolley that rides on the zip cable.
The gate opens, this Zipper takes a giant step and zoooooom — away I go! All earthly limitations and fluttery stomachs are forgotten as I sail 50 feet above ground and over rivers and waterfalls and through the treetops at a speed of about 35 mph. Hooting, hollering, and ear-to-ear grins seem to be standard photo ops! I want to ZIP again and again.
You gotta go on this adventure with the fun and experienced gang at Outfitters Kauai! Check ‘em out at (888) 742-9887 toll free in the USA & Canada, or visit their website: www.outfitterskauai.com/KipuFalls.html
More details are as follows:
Swing into adventure
with Outfitters Kauai.
• Guests staying at Poipu area or west side resorts check in at Outfitters Kauai in Poipu. Check-in 7:30 a.m., return is at 3:45 p.m.
• Guests from east side or north side Kauai resorts check in at the Kayak Shack at Nawiliwili Small Boat Harbor. Check-in is at 8:15 a.m., return is at 3:30 p.m.
What's Included: Snacks, cold drinks, and a GREAT picnic lunch.
What to wear and bring: Swimsuit, shorts, t-shirt, windbreaker or light rain coat, footwear with aggressive tread for muddy conditions (example: sport sandals with heel straps or aqua socks with tread), sunscreen, hat, bug spray, H2O proof camera. You can buy these items at the Outfitters Kauai Poipu shop, or rent sport sandals (as available) at Poipu or the Kayak Shack.
Restrictions: You must be able to walk two miles & kayak 60-90 minutes; to participate in the zipline portion of the tour, passengers must weigh less than 275 lbs in order to fit into the safety harness, and the minimum age requirement is 7 years. Younger kids are welcome to take the tour, but will not be allowed to zip.
— Feature by Lena Hunt, Jetsetters Magazine Florida Corespondent; photos by Lena and courtesy of Outfitters Kauai.