Take me there Tuesday: Kayak tour and hike of Hule’ia River in Kauai

A fun couples or family adventure to enjoy on Kauai is a kayak on the Hule’ai River on the east side of Kauai. This activity starts with kayaking, then you get to go into the jungle for a hike and then finish off with a boat ride back to your starting point.

Kayaking up the Hule’ai River is fairly easy as the wind helps you. I believe we paddled about 2.5 miles in total. That might sound challenging, but we weren’t fatigued from it. The wind really was our friend and from my understanding, that’s the normal pattern everyday for this tour.

At a designated point along the river, we hopped off the kayaks for a tour into the jungle where we saw some small waterfalls. I don’t recall exactly how long the hike was, but I would guess it’s under a mile and there were very little elevation changes. Like the kayak portion, it wasn’t too physically demanding.

We did have several stops on the trail for some interesting commentary from the guides. A couple of the stops were a points where we could use the rope swings for a quick dip in the stream. I was too chicken to try, but it sure looked fun.

Yes, we did see chickens in this pristine, relatively untouched wildlife refuge.

After the hike, we hopped aboard a motorized boat to take us back to the starting point. We got to enjoy the views again from the Hule’ai Wildlife National Refuge.

This picturesque adventure passes along some filming locations for some blockbuster movies, like Raiders of the Lost Ark, Pirates of the Caribbean and Jurassic Park. The tour guides can point out some of these points.

Our short video provides an overview of the Hule’ai River kayak and hike tour. (Even if you don’t plan on taking this tour, you’ll probably enjoy the scenery of this video.)

Here’s what to know, if you want to enjoy this adventure on your Kauai vacation:
  • This tour is operated by Kauai Outfitters. See this link for pricing and their schedule. According to their website, this tour is open to “all ages” — even little ones.
  • Wear a swimsuit and/or quick drying clothing that you don’t mind getting wet.
  • Wear sunscreen. (These are our favorite sunscreens for a Kauai vacation.)
  • Bring/wear sunglasses.
  • Wear a shoe that can get wet and muddy and is good for walking on uneven, slippery trails. (See our shoe recommendations for a Kauai vacation.)
  • Wear/use mosquito repellant.

Additional notes:

  • This tour is often offered as an excursion organized by the cruise ships. It’s very convenient for the ships and passengers as it stops and starts by Nawiliwili Harbor. The cruise ships typically name this tour “Hidden Valley Falls Kayak.”
  • We enjoyed this kayaking and hiking tour, however, we prefer kayaking the Wailua River and hiking to “secret/sacred falls.”

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