As every seasoned vacationer knows, Hawaii may be the closest place to heaven that the United States has to offer. Though it’s difficult to pinpoint which of Hawaii’s islands best proves this, many would argue in favor of Kauai. Multiple beaches vie for sunbathers’ time, Brennecke Beach and Poipu Beach Park the most popular among them. For those who like a challenge, hiking to the remote, cliff-strewn Mahaulepu beaches combines vigorous exercise with a chance to take in almost unreal blue skies and towering palm trees.

The best way to see Kauai is from a helicopter; several companies offer tours that fly over Na Pali Coast, the Waimea Canyon, and the Hanalei Valley. The especially adventurous swear by the choppers without doors, but passengers should exercise caution; in addition to causing noise pollution, helicopters on Kauai have crashed. The same prudence can be applied to swimming at Na Pali, where the waves are too rough for any water activities. There’s lots of surfing and snorkeling to be had at Kauai’s other beaches, minus the danger.

In case battling the waves on a boogie board or soaring perilously through the clouds doesn’t tempt you, Kauai also provides more sedate diversions. The Kauai Museum, for example, exhibits Hawaiian artifacts. Huge sunflowers loom in Kauai’s rural areas, where sunflower seeds and coffee beans are replacing the island’s sugar cane industry. And pop culture enthusiasts shouldn’t miss the now-defunct Coco Palms resort, used in the Elvis Presley film “Blue Hawaii.” After a long day surfing, hiking, or just lounging, travelers watch the blazing pink sun sink into an azure sky. Another day ends on Kauai, and another tourist is made a convert to Kauai’s heavenly charms.

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