DEEP canyons snake up from Kaua’i’s shores into the uninhabited and thickly forested interior of the Hawaiian island. It was an obvious choice for Steven Spielberg when he wanted to re-create the age of the dinosaurs in his film Jurassic Park.
Grandest of all Kaua’i’s natural wonders is Waimea Canyon, 16km long and more than 700m deep. A scenic drive along the canyon edge takes in the spectacle of the valley, including the 240m plunge of Waipo’o Falls, but to truly get to grips with Kaua’i, take one of the island’s many hiking trails.
The Na Pali Coast is another corner of Kaua’i that tends to the vertical and inaccessible, bar hiking trails of various levels of difficulty. You can cheat a bit by taking to the skies on a helicopter tour (safarihelicopters.com and maunaloahelicoptertours.com).
East of Na Pali, the coast settles down enough to become the delight of surfers, and crescent-shaped Hanalei Bay is a sight on its own. Newcomers to wave-riding can take lessons with outfits such as Kauai Island Experience (kauaiexperience.com). Just remember not to put too much on your plate – Kaua’i’s landscape may be intense, but its tempo is the opposite. Getting started If you can forgo a beachside location, Majorie’s Kaua’i Inn has magnificent views of the island’s interior (from $150; marjorieskauaiinn.com). Koa Kea Hotel & Resort is a high-end boutique hotel right on Po’ipu Beach (from $450; koakea.com). Jetstar and Hawaiian Airlines offer flights to Hawaii.