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I love kayaking. Since most of my ventures are on Oahu’s
sparkling bays, I jumped at a shot to explore one of Kauai’s
What drew me to Princeville Ranch Adventures’ paddling trek was
its lazy-river appeal with a punch. As if hiking and kayaking into
Kauai’s heart isn’t ample incentive, this excursion rewards clients
with a hidden pair of waterfalls cascading into a brisk swimming
On a sunny North Shore morning, our group of eight gathered at
the company’s headquarters just beyond the Princeville Resort
entrance. Our guide, Mike Kaplan, geared us with tabis (water
shoes) and dry packs for our cameras. Following our orientation, we
loaded into a Swiss Army Pinzgauer and drove to Princeville
Along the short ride, Kaplan explained that the 2,500-acre
spread is one of Hawaii’s oldest working cattle ranches. It’s
leased and operated by Denise and David Carswell, who launched
Princeville Ranch Adventures in 1999.
We unloaded near the Ranch’s zipline area, realizing our outing
would be much more subdued. As we walked toward the Kalihiwai
River, Kaplan pointed out guava, lauhala and uluhe fern. We also
learned about invasive plants like ink berries, which actually
taste like ink. I noticed odd notches at the base of a tree
“Those are wild boar markings,” Kaplan explained. “That’s how
they sharpen their tusks, show hierarchy and mark their
As we jaunted further off the beaten path, we witnessed a
clandestine Kauai few experience. We weaved our way into the
island’s interior, soon approaching a stream bank flanked by a
fleet of colorful kayaks.
Kaplan helped us gear up, and in no time, we were navigating
through the mellow stream lined with a maze of tangled vines. While
only a few had kayaked before, no one really struggled.
After a half hour or so, we banked our crafts and hit the trail
toward the twin waterfalls.
“David Carswell was on horseback looking for a lost cow when he
heard the sound of the falls,” said Kaplan.
The Carswells cleared the Amazon-thick growth over the stream
and laid out the hiking path over six water crossings all to
figuratively pave the path for eco-enthusiasts to share this remote
The falls spilled into a deep mountain pool surrounded by
fern-lined walls. After soaking in the scenery, the games began. No
one was shy. Most jumped off a perch into brisk waters below and
floated in tubes. Others opted for “waterfall massages,” letting
the plummet pound their backs.
While we frolicked, Kaplan laid out a spread of pita, veggies,
turkey, salami, cheeses, fruits and Kauai cookies. He encouraged us
to eat up to lighten his return load. Full and refreshed, we were
ready for our homeward-bound paddling.
With their adventures, the Carswells hope to “preserve, promote
and protect the open lands and hidden natural beauty of Princeville
It was clear to me they were on track.
Princeville Ranch Adventures
Jungle Waterfall Kayak Adventure includes: Gear, life vests, dry
bags, tabis (water shoes) and a picnic lunch.
Requirements: Clients must be at least 5 years old and in good
Times: 8 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Duration: Four hours
Cost: $94, plus tax
Commission: 10 percent. Referral deposit only.
Other Tours: 4½-hour Zipline, $125, plus tax; four-hour Hiking
Excursion, $79, plus tax.