When in Rome, do as the Romans! When in Kauai, do as the Kauaians! And, that means appreciating and respecting the āina (land) for its natural treasures. One way that I do this is by exploring Kauai’s rivers up close and personal via paddleboard. My favorite paddleboard route is on the Hanalei River on the North Shore of the Garden Isle. In the town of Hanalei, you can easily park your ride and put your board in at Black Pot Beach on Hanalei Bay (seen below).
You will be tempted to go and browse the beautiful boats that are moored in the bay, but the real treasure is paddling up Hanalei River. The riverbanks are made by hau, one of the 24 canoe plants brought over by the Polynesians. You will witness the hau flowers, nicknamed sea hibiscus, changing colors from yellow to orange throughout the day.
With the beautiful mountains framing your adventure on the Hanalei River, it is hard to know when to turn around. My suggestion is to paddle to the main road as in enters Hanalei. You will see the Hanalei Dolphin restaurant on your right. Up to this point, you have been going upstream as well as against the wind. Regardless if you choose to turn around here or farther up river, the paddle back to the bay is downstream and with the wind. So it’s a smooth ride back.
For those looking for a little romance or just a little fun on the way back, I would suggest taking one of those hau flowers and placing it behind your left or right ear. Kauaians, like other Hawaiians, use the flower behind the ear to signify if you are in a relationship or available. Place the flower behind your left ear if you are in a relationship, just like a wedding ring. For those that are available and looking, the flower goes behind your right ear so as to say, “Right on!”
Have you paddleboarded in Kauai? Please share your best Kauai adventure travel stories and/or tips. I’d love to hear from my adventureros near and far.
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Here’s to more good times and good stories.