The warm sun on our backs.
The still waters sprinkled with scarlet sea hibiscus blossoms.
The slight wobble of our bodies (knowing we were exercising our core).
It sure felt good standing up tall on our boards, quietly doing SUP in Kauai along the Hule’ia River!
SUP in Kauai
We thought our Kauai SUP tour with Outfitters Kauai – stand-up paddle boarding along a Kauai river – would be more like the brochure said: “Paddle. Smile. Splash!”
But no, it was easy to remain upright and paddle on the tranquil river, where no waves could knock us off balance.
No one in our group fell off their boards on their own – though horseplay came naturally on the river, and several family members had fun trying to push each other off.
Paddle boarding in Kauai
There are many cool things to do in Kauai – and lots of good reasons to visit the garden island.
The fact that Kauai has the only navigable rivers in Hawaii is one of them.
The Hule’ia River is one of the best places to stand-up paddle board in Kauai.
And this Kauai SUP adventure is the only one of its kind on the island.
We first started with a SUP lesson at the Hule’ia River entrance near Nawiliwili Harbor by the cruise ship pier.
Then, outfitted with drybags containing our lunches (strapped to our boards), we set off.
We knelt at first to avoid falling off at the river entrance, where the water is shallow and the bottom muddy.
This also allowed us to gain confidence on our boards. Pretty soon all of us (mostly first-timer SUPers) were able to paddle standing up.
The two-mile paddle down the river took us into the unspoiled interior, with mesmerizing views of the lush surrounding Hapu’pu Mountains.
The paddling was easy-going and unhurried, and we occasionally slid into the brackish water to cool off.
All too soon, we stepped from our boards onto the river bank.
The dry bags had shoulder straps, which we now used as backpacks for our two-mile round-trip hike along a jungle trail.
Then after lunch and a cooling swim in a freshwater swimming hole, we were ferried back down the river in a motorized Hawaiian-style outrigger canoe (towing the SUP boards behind us).
We had earned the right to trade “stand up” for “sit down” and rest.
Photo credits: 3 Outfitters Kauai