Kauai, like every Hawaiian island, has a personality all its personal. Nicknamed the Backyard Isle, this island will get extra rain than the others, and has dramatic cliffs, lush forests and waterfalls, and naturally, attractive seashores. Briefly, it’s paradise.
These are a few of the finest issues to do if you go to, from north to south:
1. Sail by the Nā Pali Coast
Located on the northwest nook of Kauai, these attractive shores can solely be seen by climbing in, kayaking alongside, or crusing alongside them. This space is named one of many topped jewels of Kauai, and for good motive.
I did the sailing, snorkeling tour after I was 17, and keep in mind being wowed by the dramatic, jagged mountains and luxurious greenery. It’s a sight to behold that’s distinctive on this world. It’s also possible to book a sunset cruise for a romantic finish to your day. This snorkeling tour additionally takes you shut sufficient to see the island of Niihau.
It has such a singular panorama that it was one of many major areas the place Jurassic Park was filmed. When you received’t discover any dinos, there’s a likelihood you may see whales and dolphins whilst you sail!
2. Paddle and Camp Alongside the Nā Pali Coast
Subsequent on my checklist is to kayak alongside the coast, tenting alongside the way in which. Often this includes kayaking a method, with the wind at your again, and getting picked up on the seashore on the tip. These journeys are booked out months upfront, and are supplied by Kayak Kauai and Napali Kayak Excursions.
3. Hike the Nā Pali Coast (Kalalau) Path
This is without doubt one of the hottest issues to do within the Nā Pali coast and probably the most fashionable hikes in Hawaii. This 22-mile spherical journey path is hard, with waterfalls alongside the way in which and tenting at a distant and exquisite seashore on the finish.
I used to be dying to do that one, however permits are inclined to get snatched up months upfront. You can also make tenting reservations here.
Even for those who solely do a part of the path, you’ll nonetheless want a parking allow, which can be in excessive demand. You may get it here.
4. See Hanakāpī‘ai Falls
This 8 mile hike departs from Ke’e Seaside and as probably the most fashionable hikes on Kauai, you’ll want the identical allow for the Kalalau path to entry this one.
The hike is troublesome and might be muddy, however this 300-foot tall waterfall is a sight to behold. That is excessive on my checklist for subsequent time!
5. See the Nā Pali Coast from the Air
Among the finest issues to do on the Islands is to take a look at the attractive Nā Pali coast by helicopter or sea aircraft (the cheaper possibility when you have a bunch – book here). The aircraft is the most affordable, and the costliest is a doors-off helicopter expertise.
I did the in between, with the doorways on helicopter again in my teenagers and I keep in mind being fully wowed by the wonder. We even did a touchdown that gave us a way of what it’s prefer to be within the Nā Pali coast with out having to hike. This offers you aerial views of areas that you just simply couldn’t get to in any other case.
Notice that flights take off from Lihue airport.
6. Kēʻē Seaside
I keep in mind loving this seashore as a child. It’s as idyllic because it will get, on the finish of the street up towards the Na Pali shoreline, and accessed by my favourite a part of the island – Hanalei.
Through the winter, the seashore can have harmful situations from the waves, however when I’ve visited in the summertime, it was good. This seashore is positioned inside Hāʻena State Park and subsequently a parking allow is critical. Just like the earlier entries on this checklist, this one is fashionable and may ebook out fairly far upfront. You can get permits here.
7. Moist Cave/Blue Room
A bit inland from Kēʻē Seaside, the moist cave additionally requires the state park allow, however for those who get one, remember to test it out on the way in which to the Kalalau path! There are a couple of caves alongside the drive, together with the Maniniholo dry cave a couple of minutes south.
8. Nationwide Tropical Botanical Backyard
You possibly can discover all of the greenery that Hawaii has to supply just by taking a stroll in nature. There’s a lot magnificence to behold on the islands. If you wish to be taught extra in regards to the flora past what you’ll find out within the open, take a look at the Nationwide Tropical Botanical Backyard on Kauai the place you may immerse your self in all issues conservation, reforestation and plant science.
Make a reservation to discover whilst you’re within the Hanalei space here.
9. Tunnels Seaside
I beloved this space for a day in Hanalei. It’s fashionable with kite surfers and snorkelers, well-known for its reef and generally, its wind.
However on the sand underneath a palm tree, I hardly felt the sturdy wind. Though I’m not precisely positive how a lot space Tunnels Seaside covers, the little Cove that we had been in was simple to entry with some roadside parking and with the restricted crowds, we had been capable of finding a spot on a Saturday afternoon down Alealea Highway.
10. Hanalei Bay Sundown or Surf
For beautiful eastward views of a cascading waterfall, and westerly views of the sundown, I really like the placement and crescent form of Hanalei Bay.
This space is fashionable with surfers and paddle boarders, and is near the motion the place you’ll find locations to eat, store, and hand around in Hanalei.
Proper now, as a consequence of a landslide, entry is proscribed to Hanalei and past to sure hours. On Sundays, there are not any restrictions however that is ever-changing. You possibly can test the present street situations here.
11. Wishing Effectively Natural Iced Espresso (and Jar)
Within the city of Hanalei, you’ll discover a couple of shacks and meals vans serving up Poke, juice, and within the Wishing Effectively’s case, natural espresso, ice cream, shave ice, and açai bowls.
I beloved that with the acquisition of the iced espresso ($7), I acquired this Hanalei mason jar at no cost! On the opposite facet, it says sluggish your self down. What a enjoyable memento!
12. Kayak or SUP the River Behind Hanalei Bay
When you’re like me and also you had been hoping to kayak the Na Pali coast, however didn’t get reservations in time, kayaking or paddle boarding the river behind the Hanalei Bay is doable final minute and within the afternoon! Get pleasure from views of the waterfall cascading down the Na Pali coast line as you go.
13. Nourish Hanalei
For beautiful views overlooking the Hanalei Bay with out having to attend within the queue to get there, cease by nourish for lunch. They provide juices, wholesome savory bowls with pork and veggies, and açai bowls. It was began by three native sisters who provide up well being aware meals.
The view sufficient is price checking it out, however the meals is fairly good too! They’re solely open for a couple of hours per day on choose days of the week, at present from 11am – 3pm on weekdays solely.
14. Sundown at Pu’u Poa Seaside
I’ll all the time keep in mind the attractive view from consuming dinner on the Princeville resort, which is at present closed and underneath development to open as Resort One Hanalei. I used to be initially disillusioned that the resort was closed, till realizing that we may nonetheless entry the seashore, and that there can be fewer folks there too!
You’ll discover a staircase to the left of the development main right down to this seashore, which has some attractive sunsets and is simply throughout the river from Hanalei Bay.
Remember that parking for the speech and Hideaway Seaside are each extraordinarily restricted. I like to recommend staying in Princeville with the intention to entry these two simply, after which transfer to different components of the island for the later a part of your journey. The island is larger than it appears!
15. Cling at Hideaway Seaside
I spent two strong days at this little cove whereas on Kauai, having fun with the views and monk seals that will swim by infrequently! Make sure to convey your snorkel as there are some tropical fish and the occasional sea turtle right here (please be type to turtles and don’t contact or chase).
You’ll have to go down some steep steps with a view to entry the seashore, that I can think about would flip fairly slick after it rains. There are ropes to hold onto on your descent. As talked about earlier than, parking right here is extraordinarily restricted.
16. Queen’s Bathtub
The Queen’s Bathtub is a pool fashioned from lava stone on the north facet of the island, in Princeville.
However there’s not only one pool to take a look at, there are quite a few little swimming pools, cliff jumps, and climbing all alongside the way in which. I beloved checking it out within the late afternoon, seeing all the sea turtles alongside this stretch of shoreline.
The Queen’s Bathtub is accessed from a sometimes-muddy path with restricted parking. Remember that throughout instances with excessive surf, this space might be harmful, and other people die by getting swept off the rocks by waves. Make sure to go when the surf is low and the tide is out, this modifications day-after-day and you may check the surf report to see the very best situations. Sometimes, the spring and summer time months are higher for calmer seas.
There have been loads of accessible swimming pools after I went, because the surf was solely at 2 ft and the tide was fully out, however use your finest judgment and solely go in these swimming pools if there aren’t waves crashing on them.
17. Soak Up the Solar at Anini Seaside
Often called probably the most lovely seashores on the island, it’s shocking that this one tends to be much less crowded than the southern seashores.
Anini seashore is positioned on the North Coast, pretty near the Kilauea Level Nationwide Wildlife Refuge. It’s among the finest locations to spend the day stress-free, snorkeling, and wading by the calm waters. This Seaside has companies, together with a parking zone, bogs, showers, and a ship launch close by.
18. Catch the dawn at Kīlauea Level
The lighthouse on Kīlauea Level towers 52-feet over the coast and is the right place to catch a dawn on Kauai due to the unimaginable views. When you can’t really get into the park the place the lighthouse is through the dawn itself, you may nonetheless get an important view of the dawn simply exterior of the park.
As soon as the park opens in a while, you may discover the grounds and the lighthouse itself. Advance reservations are required and available here.
19. Discover Kilauea Level Nationwide Wildlife Refuge
One other good spot to go to at Kilauea Level is the Nationwide Wildlife Refuge there. When you hold a lookout for native wildlife, you too can find out about their conservation efforts. Within the wintertime, you may even be capable of see dolphins and Hawaiian monk seals within the waters beneath!
Because of the pandemic, the park requires a reservation to go to so ensure that to plan forward.
20. Hike the Sleeping Big East (Nounou Mountain)
For beautiful views to the east, take a look at the sleeping big hike. It’s a 3.2 mile path that’s fairly fashionable close to Kapaʻa and gives views to the ocean, in addition to cave photograph ops and funky rock formations. You’ll get attractive views of the encircling mountains as nicely. The start is steep, gaining almost 1000 ft in elevation over the course of the hike, however it’s an important, quick one with a pleasant payoff.
21. Take a Chocolate Tour at Lydgate Farms
Did you say chocolate?! There are a number of chocolate farms on the island of Kauai, and also you’ll drive by a number of as you discover the island. However this one gives a farm-to-bar tour and interactive tasting expertise. It prices, a reasonably penny, although, at $95 per individual. Guide here.
22. Eat at a Meals Truck in Kapaʻa
There’s a stretch of street in Kapaa city that has loads of scrumptious and ingenious eats. You’ll discover a matcha bar, breakfast joints, locations for juice and Kauai kombucha, however you haven’t actually skilled it with out consuming at a meals truck!
There’s a pleasant selection on this space, together with Namaste Indian, Shave Ice by the Bay, and El Taco Feliz.
23. Kayak the Wailua River
If you wish to get on Wailua river in a extra adventurous approach, you may rent a kayak and transfer down the river at your individual tempo. That is such an effective way to get out on the water and see the pure great thing about the world. Wailua River is about 20 miles lengthy, making it the longest river on Kauai and the third longest in Hawaii, so there’s loads of river to take pleasure in!
24. Opaeka‘a Falls Overlook
Probably the most accessible waterfalls on Kauai, that is only a fast drive to an overlook, identical to the subsequent one on this checklist. You’ll discover it through a brief 5 minute drive up the Kuamo’o Highway (rt. 580) from the Kuhio Freeway (rt. 56). The falls are surrounded by lush greenery. Sadly there isn’t any climbing entry to those falls.
25. See or Hike to Wailua Falls
The identical as waterfall, or somewhat twin of waterfalls, as simple to entry through Maalo Highway overlook and other than the detour, it solely takes a few minutes to have a look at it. That stated, you may really hike to it, which seems like much more enjoyable! Learn extra in regards to the hike to the waterfalls and pool here.
26. Kayak and Hike to Uluwehi Falls (aka Secret Falls)
Though not so secret anymore, the key falls are a customer favourite and you may entry them by foot and kayak rental partway. The kayaking takes about 45 minutes up the river, adopted by a 20-minute trek by the plush rainforest alongside the ground of the Wailua River Valley.
There are a lot of excursions that you would be able to take, though this one is simple sufficient to do by yourself. Take into account the excursions don’t function on Sundays and it could even be troublesome to get the kayak rental on Sundays. That stated, when you have your individual kayak or paddleboard, Sundays may be the very best time to go to, as there aren’t any excursions!
27. Go for a Riverboat Cruise at Wailua River State Park
Not down for a hike or a kayak? Wailua River State Park is positioned in a lush river valley on the East Shore of Kauai. It’s a treasure trove of pure wonders, together with a fern-covered cave in the course of a tropical backyard.
The park has a riverboat cruise accessible, which is able to take you thru the park at a leisurely tempo so you may take all of it in.
28. Tube Down the Canals in a Sugar Plantation
Try the Lihue Plantation, the place guests can rent a tube and leisurely float down the outdated canals of an deserted Nineteenth-century sugar plantation.
It’s recognized for its fascinating historical past. Do you know that it as soon as encompassed virtually your entire city of present-day Lihue? It was the primary business sugar plantation on the Hawaiian islands, clocking in at over 170 years outdated.
Anticipate to see inexperienced expanses of grass, towering timber, and even some historical stone arches from the deserted constructions. It’s good for residing out your final Indiana Jones fantasy, for those who ask me!
29. Drive by the Tree Tunnel on the Option to Poipu
From the primary freeway to show off to Poipu, you’ll drive by the tree tunnel, filled with big Golden Pothos vines rising all alongside the tunnel of tropical timber, by what was a sugar plantation.
Usually, I like to get out and take images in the course of roads like these, however this can be a fairly busy drive with out anyplace to drag out, so I like to recommend simply having fun with this from throughout the car.
When you’ve been to the opposite islands, like the large Island, this isn’t the one tree tunnel in Hawaii!
30. Hike the Maha’ulepu Heritage Path
This 3.7 mile hike is a simple one on the bluffs alongside the ocean in Poipu, stretching from Keoneloa Bay to Kawailoa Bay. There’s a ton of historical past and cultural websites right here, together with the Waiopili Heiau, which you’ll learn extra about on the Poipu Seaside basis website.
Make sure to pack a hat and sunscreen, as this hike is uncovered and also you’ll expertise a lot of solar! However the excellent news is, you may leap proper into the ocean if you end.
31. Marvel on the Spouting Horn blowhole
A lesser-known place to go to in Kauai, this spectacular blowhole is probably the most dramatic one you’ll find on the islands. It’s positioned on the South Shore and is without doubt one of the best and quickest blowholes to entry, making it a fast cease.
When the blowhole erupts, the water is blasted as much as 50 ft within the air. This one specifically is thought for the distinctive sound that it makes, so hold an ear out for that!
32. Watch Cliff Jumpers at Shipwreck Seaside
The seashore in Poipu has showers and bogs, in addition to a seashore with loads of shade from the pine timber. It’s also possible to start the heritage path from right here. These waves are additionally fashionable with surfers, and there’s a cliff leap on the left facet of the seashore. I used to be suggested to not leap until I see different folks doing so efficiently, it’s a tall leap, and there could be a rip present, so use your finest judgment, or simply watch from the shore like I did!
33. Go to the Makauwahi Cave Reserve
Additionally in Poipu, you’ll discover the Makauwahi Cave Reserve along with your cave repair on the southern facet of the island.
You’ll discover a large cave that you just’ll must do some hand-and-knee crawling on to enter, however when you do, you’ll be greeted with a limestone cave, and a few tortoises close by.
34. Snorkel with Sea Turtles at Poipu Seaside
There are a whole lot of locations to snorkel within the Hawaiian islands, so it might sound daunting to decide on the very best one. Poipu Seaside is thought on Kauai for being the best possible place to see sea turtles whereas snorkeling. Check out this list of locations to snorkel within the space.
It’s vital whereas interacting with the ocean turtles to maintain a good distance. By no means strategy a sleeping turtle on the sand, and go away a long way whereas swimming within the water with them. 6 ft or extra is acceptable. The ocean turtles are endangered, so please by no means contact or get shut sufficient for the coveted turtle selfie. It’s not good for them!
35. Seize a chunk and store at Warehouse 3540
When you’re round Poipu, ensure that to cease in at Warehouse 3540 the place you’ll find quite a lot of native artisan stalls promoting handmade items. It’s an important various to the mass-produced souvenirs you’ll discover at larger shops on the islands. Right here you’ll additionally discover a couple of meals vans exterior which promote all types of scrumptious meals, together with vegan poke!
36. Purchase native produce at a farmer’s market
When you’ve been to Hawaii earlier than, you’ve most likely seen that costs on the grocery retailer are usually way more costly than the mainland as a result of additional price of transport. Procuring at an area farmers market is a superb various to a grocery retailer go to as a result of it helps help the native economic system and usually the produce is more energizing and extra scrumptious.
A couple of nice ones to take a look at are Kukui’ula Kauai Culinary Market in Poipu on Wednesday evenings and Hale Halawai Farmers’ Market in Hanalei on Sundays.
37. Go to Glass Seaside
Candidly I’ve not been to this seashore, however just like the one in Fort Bragg, California, the ocean glass on this seashore has been worn down by the ocean to create an intriguing, man-made seashore sand in an in any other case industrial space that some on the market may discover fascinating!
This place will get combined evaluations, with some folks saying there’s a bizarre vibe and others saying there’s not that a lot about it that’s thrilling. You additionally get folks gathering the glass, making it arduous to seek out until you go at low tide.
38. Discover Waimea Canyon
Now we’re making our method to one in every of my favourite components of the island, again round to the opposite facet of the mountains that you just get to take pleasure in from Princeville and Hanalei. It’s sort of loopy that you would be able to solely entry them by driving all the way in which across the island, however for a view of this attractive nature that doesn’t require an advance allow, positively take a look at Waimea Canyon and past.
Often called the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” this pure marvel is a must-see on Kauai. As you drive on Waimea Canyon Highway, you’ll discover loads of scenic overlooks the place you may snap a legendary pic or just take within the views. From the primary Canyon Overlook, you may even catch a glimpse of the 800-foot Waipo’o Falls!
39. Hike the Waimea Canyon Path
This hike is about 2-4 miles, roundtrip, as some hikers solely go so far as Waipoo Falls alongside the Canyon Path, whereas others solely take the quick stroll to the tip of the Cliff Path. This solely takes you to the highest of the waterfalls, which does disappoint some hikers.
Learn on for some even higher, albeit steeper and extra slim, hikes.
40. Hike the Awa’awapuhi Path
I believed this hike was superior. It’s nicely shaded, nicely marked, and though it may get barely muddy, it wasn’t as unhealthy as a few of the different hikes in Kōkeʻe State Park.
The hike appears tremendous simple at first, descending 1500 ft to the point of view beneath. With a purpose to get the total expertise, you’ll must proceed down a steep, considerably unfastened grime overlook to a slim path. I may see how this could be very uncomfortable for individuals who don’t like heights, though I believe that you just’d be lacking a variety of the payoff for this path for those who didn’t a minimum of go down a little bit bit. That stated, most of the trails on this space are steep and also you’re having fun with these to be used at your individual threat.
Bear in mind to pack loads of water, since you’ll be climbing all these 1500 ft again up!
41. Hike the Kalepa Ridge Path
I want I had performed this one, as I later heard, it’s the very best one within the space. It’s solely a 30 minute hike, however there are indicators warning you to not go, identical to you will see on another fashionable locations on Kauai, together with a hidden seashore. When you do select to go, I do know that the path has steep drop offs however the payoff is attractive views.
42. Try the Pu’u O Kila Lookout
That is simply probably the most spectacular views on the island, and possibly in Hawaii and even your entire USA. When you don’t get an opportunity to do the helicopter experience or the Kalalau Path, this overlook is the closest you may get to experiencing the grandeur of the Na Pali coast.
Better of all, it’s simple to get to, on the finish of the street in Kōkeʻe State Park. Simply park and stroll to the suitable for a couple of yards for these attractive views.
43. Look out for Manawaiopuna Falls from a helicopter
Manawaiopuna Falls is without doubt one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Hawaii, towering 400 ft within the air. You’ll have seen it within the 1993 Jurassic Park film! Due to how distant this pure marvel is, the one method to see it’s from a helicopter tour. This tour can really take you to the bottom of the falls the place you may really feel its unimaginable power and see it from an entire new perspective.
Extra helicopter excursions in Kauai right here:
My third go to to Kauai solely served to remind me of what made me fall in love with it as an adolescent 17 years in the past. It’s lush, dramatic, filled with adventures, with lovely seashores and a pleasant vibe. I really like each Hawaiian island, and they’re every so distinctive, and what I really like most about Kauai is that regardless that it’s small, it’s chock-full of adventures. I hope that this checklist helps you scratch the floor!
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Planning an extended journey? Try our full Hawaii guide for extra inspiration!