Writer, adventurer, and Kauai resident Heidi Siefkas describes one of her all-time favorite kayaking adventures to Kipu Kai beach, famous for its appearance in the movie The Descendants. It is important to note that it takes an experienced paddler to make this journey. If you’re so inclined, you need to be in excellent shape, understand surf conditions, and take safety precautions.
I have visited Kipu Kai various times since moving to Kauai in 2013. There are two routes to Kipu Kai: one starting at Nawiliwili Harbor in Lihue or at Mahaulepu Beach in Poipu. Regardless of the starting point, you will only want to do this if the conditions are right–Kona winds (from the south) with little swell are ideal. Although you can do the route in a single kayak, I would suggest a tandem kayak for two people. It is most likely that the wind or current will be working against you on one of the legs of the adventure and when the forces of Mother Nature are working against you, it is best to have a PIC, or “partner in crime.” As on any water adventure, you should always have a life vest when kayaking as well as someone on land that knows your plans and estimated time of return.
From either direction, it will take 45 minutes to an hour and 15 minutes to paddle. I have witnessed humpback whales, spinner dolphins, manta rays, and numerous fish. You may see a few fisherman coming from Nawiliwili Harbor as well as kite boarders in Poipu, but you won’t find a traffic jam here like the rush hour coming from Kapaa into Lihue or the reverse at pau hana (end of the working day) back into Kapaa.
Kayaking to Kipu Kai is certainly an off the beaten path adventure on the water in Kauai. It is a unique, active experience with the prize of a two-mile stretch of paradise without the crowds.
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About Heidi Siefkas: Heidi is an author and adventurer living on the island of Kauai. Connect with Heidi and her books at heidisiefkas.com. Find Heidi and where her next adventure will be on Ms Traveling Pants.