Summer is driest on Kauai, but also the most expensive. Save a little coin on lodging in the spring, the second driest season on the Garden Island, so called because the bounteous rainfall makes the island sprout green. Because of lingering swell from Arctic winter storms, the famed NaPali coast is usually too rough for kayaking in the spring, so opt for a hike on the 11-mile-long Kalalau Trail, a strenuous and precipitous trek along the NaPali’s curtain of verdant cliffs to earn a camp spot on Kalalau Beach, one of the world’s most iconic. Reserve your $20 permit well in advance.
The big winter waves that keep kayaks at bay in the spring make for reliable surf just a few miles east in Hanalei Bay. Beginners learn to stand up on the shore break next to the pier, and advanced surfers can saavy the tricks of the outer reef from a local ($65).
Afternoons, pedal the lush Powerline Trail to Wailua (bike rentals from $20), postingup at the beachfront Hanalei Colony Resort ($275). After a few days on the rainier north shore, dry out at the opulent Koloa Landing Resort on Poipu beach, just opened in 2010 and debuting a new spa and fitness center this month ($320).
There are fewer mai-tai addled crowds this time of year, but if you’re after still more solitude, head a few miles east to Mahaulepu beach, protected form the hordes by a gnarly road considered rough even for rental cars. Instead, access it via the three-mile trail from Shipwreck Beach and bring your snorkel, mask, and fins to look for sea turtles in the comparatively calm south-side waters.
STAY: 7 days