One of the most popular things to do on the island of Kauai is a boat tour up the Wailua River to Fern Grotto, one of the island’s most beautiful natural attractions. Fern Grotto is a natural lava rock cave covered with tropical ferns and surrounded by a tropical rainforest. It is one of the most romantic locations in all of Hawaii, and many weddings have been performed here in the past. Another unique feature of Fern Grotto is its excellent acoustics – it is a natural amphitheater.
This is a very beautiful area on Kauai – covered in dense vegetation in all shades of green. Mangrove trees line the river’s banks, and the lush mountains provide a scenic backdrop. You’ll see tropical grasslands lining the river and cloud-capped Mount Wai’ale’ale looming in the distance, one of the wettest spots in the world.
Fern Grotto tours are a very popular Kauai activity. The grotto is only accessible by boat, and tours up the Wailua River are offered daily. You can also select the combo tour that combines a visit to Waimea Canyon with a Wailua River boat cruise to Fern Grotto. Another popular activity that takes place after the Wailua River boat tour is Smith’s Garden Luau, a traditional Hawaiian luau held at the river’s banks.
YMCA of Kauai Camp Naue: Right on the beach at Haena and close to the start of Na Pali’s Kalalau Trail, this is a simple four-acre compound of two large bunkhouses with shared bathrooms (but separate facilities for men and women) plus tent sites and a small cottage.
Camp Nauʻe YMCA is a 12-acre (4.9 hectare) beachfront campground on the north shore of Kauai, Hawaii. It contains five bunkhouses (cabins), bathrooms, showers, a pavilion, a kitchen and a dining hall. It is used by visiting campers as well as local youth groups. The campground is located directly on Haena Beach. Naue literally means “to move” in Hawaiian
McBryde Garden is part of the nonprofit National Tropical Botanical Garden.
McBryde Garden is a botanical ark for threatened and endangered plants of the tropics. Located in the verdant Lawai Valley, it is home to the world’s largest collection of native Hawaiian species outside the wild, and extensive plantings of palms, flowering trees, ornamentals, orchids, and other plants from tropical regions. The landscape is a combination of sprawling expanses and niches of plantings, bordering a meandering stream. The Conservation & Horticulture Center serves as an intensive car unit for endangered species. The garden is adjacent to NTBG’s Allerton Garden. Garden vehicles bring visitors into these valley gardens from the Southshore Visitors Center in Poipu.
Throughout this beautiful Lawai Valley, there are indications of traditional Hawaiian archaeological sites. The historic property was purchased from Queen Emma’s estate by the McByrde family in the 19th century and used as a sugar plantation. In the 1930’s, philanthropist Robert Allerton acquired the property and with architect partner, John Gregg Allerton, built a home and transformed the plantation to a garden of rooms with interconnecting pathways.
This beach is a popular surf and body boarding spot. If you don’t wish to participate, you can watch from the shore, or the grass area next to the beach house. Look for experienced surfers catching waves past the reef. Snorkeling can also be good here (small pool near the rock wall) when the ocean is calm and the water clear. Turtles and seals are common here also.
Further to the west on Spouting Horn Road is Lawai Beach, a delightful snorkeling spot fronted by a resort of the same name. Although the strip of sand is narrow, the snorkeling is good and in calm waters. Further out is an offshore reef that provides several exciting surf breaks that are quite popular with local surfers.