-Published on AOL Travel
Isolated in Hawaii’s northwest corner and the only island to never have been conquered, the island of Kauai has always been the state’s most daring. Rugged and remote, everything on Kauai seems to be a little rawer than elsewhere. While there are some island activities– such as tow-surfing the 60-foot waves of King’s Reef — that are reserved for only a handful of mortals, slightly more reasonable opportunities for adrenaline, bravado, and the urge to try new things lay scattered all about this adventurous island wonderland.
Here are five adventure activities in Kauai we dare you to try:
1. Hike to the wettest spot on Earth
Rising stoically out of the center of the island and rarely visible from the sea level is the 5,148-foot Mt. Waialeale. Mt. Waialeale is regarded as the wettest spot on the planet. Averaging an astounding 426 inches of annual rainfall since 1912 — with 683 inches recorded in 1982 — its bog-strewn peak is considered by many as the most difficult, inaccessible hike in the entire Hawaiian Island chain and has been reached by only a handful of people.
An attempt at Waialeale requires substantial off-trail experience, wading through thigh-deep mud bogs, a hardy sense of adventure, and a strong working knowledge of a handheld GPS. Though many have made an effort at the peak — and failed — there are some pioneers out there who devote themselves to scouring the best routes up the wettest flanks in the world. Interested? Check out http://www.waialeale.org/ for history, routes, and a potential climbing partner.
2. Dive with sharks and seals
Lehua Rock provides yet another adventure activity in Kauai. Exceptionally remote and inaccessible during most of the winter months, Lehua Rock is considered one of the premier dive destinations in the entire Pacific. Though the site is actually closer to the privately owned Niihau than neighboring Kauai, all dive operations headed to Lehua leave from Port Allen on Kauai’s south shore. One company to check out is Bubbles Below Scuba Charters ($310 a person for a Lehua Crater three-tank dive).
Located 25 miles off the coast of Kauai across one of the roughest stretches of ocean you will ever encounter, the aquatic bounty that lies on the other side is worth the harrowing journey. Divers to Lehua Rock frequently encounter large collections of gray and white tip reef sharks, with larger species such as Galapagos and hammerhead making an occasional appearance. As an added bonus, divers have a fairly high chance of encountering a Hawaiian monk seal in the water, a critically endangered species that is the world’s only surviving species of monk seal.
3. Run naked on Polihale Beach
At 15-miles long and 300-yards wide, this enormous stretch of sand lies down a rutted dirt road on Kauai’s tinder-dry west side. Sprawling sand dunes reach over 100-feet high, and given the difficult access and remote nature of this corner of the island, it is always possible to find your own stretch of sand for doing… well… whatever you want, really. While the sand is vast and the scenery glorious, rough ocean currents and strong surf make this area quite dangerous for swimming, so resist the urge for a skinny dip, even though there’s no one around.
4. Forget the helicopter… skydive Kauai
If I were to say that very few people get to see Kauai from the air then I’d be lying. A helicopter ride across the gaping Waimea Canyon and the verdant Na Pali coast is one of the most popular activities in the entire state. Even with all the visitors that take to the air on a daily basis, only a hardy few are brave enough to actually whip off the doors and hurl themselves out into the scenery below.
Book a trip with Skydive Kauai ($229 per person), and not only will you be able to get an amazing view of this tropical paradise from 10,000 feet in the sky, but you’ll also experience the sensational rush of your toes hanging over the edge of an open door just seconds before plunging to the inviting scenery below. While you may not be buzzing along the ridges of the Na Pali Coast, this makes that helicopter ride look like another guided van tour.
5. Eat two fingers of poi
That’s right… it’s that big bowl of purple, gooey-looking stuff everyone’s giving a pass at the luau. Much more than the token luau food, poi is the staple food product of the Hawaiian people and it borders on near sacred. Poi is originally derived from the kalo — or taro — plant, which the Hawaiian people regard as one of their own ancestors. The kalo plant gives nourishment and life, and when the poi is set on the table, all arguments and bad feelings must cease in order to respect the presence of the poi.
While many malihini — or visitors — may sprinkle sugar on top or use a spoon to consume their poi, the dish is traditionally enjoyed without any topping and is eaten by dipping two fingers into the bowl and scooping by hand. With taro fields covering large swaths of the island’s north shore, Kauai still supplies about two-thirds of the state’s taro crop.