If you want nothing more on your vacation than a fabulous beach, a luxurious Kauai vacation rental, and a perfectly mixed mai tai, you’re in luck – Kauai has some of the most spectacular beaches (not to mention the best mai tais) in the world. But Kauai’s wealth of natural wonders is hard to resist; the year-round tropical climate and spectacular scenery tend to inspire even the most committed desk jockeys and couch potatoes to get outside and explore. If you have your own snorkel gear or other water sports equipment, bring it.

If you can’t, don’t fret; everything you’ll need is available for rent. Safety Tips– When planning sunset activities, be aware that Hawaii, like other places close to the equator, has a very short (5-10 min.) twilight period after the sun sets. After that, it’s dark. If you hike out to watch the sunset, be sure you can make it back quickly, or take a flashlight.

As in finding and choosing the right Kauai vacation homes to fit your own needs and budget where it’s best to contact experts like us to guide you, so too is planning a hiking vacation easier if you rely on experts. Go with an outfitter or a guide and let them worry about the details. Experienced outdoor enthusiasts can follow your noses trek into the rainforest on your own, but it’s often preferable to go with a local guide who is familiar with the conditions at both sea level and the summit, knows the land and its flora and fauna in detail, and has all the gear you’ll need. It’s also good to go with a guide if time is an issue.

If you really want to see native senderismo en birds, for instance, an experienced guide will take you directly to the best areas for sightings. And many forests and valleys in the interiors of the islands are either on private property or in wilderness preserves that are accessible only on guided tours. If you go with a guide, plan on spending at least $100 a day per person. But if you have the time, already own the gear, and love doing the research and planning, try exploring on your own. We recommend that you always use the resources available and inquire about weather, trail, or surf conditions; water availability; and other conditions before you take off on your adventure.

For hikers, a great alternative to hiring a private guide is taking one of the guided hikes offered by the Kauai chapter of the Sierra Club in Lihue (www.hi.sierraclub.org). The club offers guided hikes on preserves and at special places during the year, as well as 1- to 7-day work trips to restore habitats and trails and root out invasive plants like banana poka, New Zealand flax, nonnative gorse, and wild ginger. This might not sound like a dream vacation to everyone, but it’s a chance to see the “real” Kauai — including wilderness areas that are usually off-limits.