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Hawaii-bound? A first-timer's guide to thrills, chills on Kauai

Daniel Beekman, The Seattle Times on

Published in Travel News

The biggest thrill came last, however. The FlyLine starts atop a wooden tower several stories tall. Below is Kipu Ranch, where the movie "Jurassic Park" shot scenes.

Strapped into a hammock-like harness, I swung horizontal, then swooped across the valley in a superman pose. Outfitters Kauai says zip liners reach 50 mph.

Others in the group were less scared than I. They coasted down in serene style, extending their arms like birds.


Speaking of birds, chickens rule Kauai. Scientists believe their numbers surged in 1992, after a hurricane destroyed farms, setting birds free.

The strangest spot I saw a rooster was Hanakapi'ai Beach, a rocky cove two miles up the renowned Kalalau Trail. The trail runs along western Kauai's Napali Coast, where sparkling waves crash spectacularly against plunging mountains.

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To get there, drive counterclockwise on the island's outer highway until you run out of road. We stayed in Kapa'a, on the east shore, and the drive took us about an hour.

Next to the trailhead is Ke'e Beach, where we watched an endangered Hawaiian monk seal enjoy a nap on the sand.

The sun was out for our hike, which made the coast's colors really pop. Rest breaks are the best part of the trek, thanks to the views: The ocean couldn't have been more blue and the hillside couldn't have been more green. Tropical flora -- lauhala and banana trees, ohia lehua and ti plants -- offer shade and wonder.

When hiking, you can expect to sweat. There are steep sections and my boots grew heavy with squelchy, red mud.


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