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10 best things to do in Kauai
Kauai is the oldest of the Hawaiian islands and arguably the most beautiful. Chickens roam free in Kauai and no building is taller than a palm tree. The wettest spot in the world (Mt. Waialeale) is on Kauai. Please note that seasonal weather can affect availability and access to some attractions. Make sure to call ahead and confirm availability. This is a great reason to work with a Kauai expert for your vacation, I’ll make sure to take care of this for you!
The Garden Isle is perfect for anyone seeking an amazing adventure. You can get around the island in 2-3 hours, meaning you can stay anywhere and have access to everything! However, it’s important to note that the road doesn’t go all the way around the island. Many areas of the island are inaccessible by car. That means you’ll need to take a helicopter tour, a boat tour, or hike in to see some of the most incredible sites.
I started writing the 7 best things to do in Kauai but there was just too many to narrow it down! I recommend spending one week on Kauai. There is so much to do that you could stay much longer and never be bored.
Related post: The best Hawaii island to visit.
Let’s get to the list: The best things to do in Kauai
1. Hike into the Na Pali Coast
Those seeking an adventure will find it along to Kalalau Trail. Frequently named one of the most dangerous hikes, this hike is one of the best in all of Hawaii. The trail is 11 miles one-way and requires a permit. If you’d prefer a day hike, you can hike into Hanakapai Falls or Hanakapai without a permit. There are also shorter trails that can get you to awesome views, like the Awaawapuhi Trail.
The end of the Awaawapuhi Trail
2. Kayak down the Wailua River
Wailua River is the only navigable river in Hawaii. The river feeds two accessible waterfalls, Wailua Falls and Opaekaa Falls. The Wailua river can also be explored by standup paddleboard, canoe guided boat tour. Fern Grotto is one of the most popular attractions in Kauai and can only be accessed by the river. Fern Grotto is also a popular destination for weddings.
3. Check out the Waimea Canyon
Nicknamed the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” Waimea Canyon is absolutely breathtaking. The views can easily be accessed by the main road, or you can visit Koke’e state park for better views via hikes. There aren’t many food options near the Canyon, so you may want to pack some lunch or snacks to bring along.
4. Take a boat tour of the Na Pali Coast
Seeing the Na Pali Coast is a must-do in Kauai. If you don’t want to hike out, taking a boat tour is an incredible way to view the coastline.
5. Kilauea Lighthouse
You’ll love seeing all the birds at the Kilauea Lighthouse. It’s hard of the Kilauea Point National Refuge. Entry is very inexpensive and it’s a fun place to stop for an hour or two.
6. Take a helicopter tour
There are so many parts of Kauai that can only be seen by helicopter. I recommend an open door helicopter for the best experience. Many of the waterfalls in Kauai can only be viewed by helicopter. You’ll feel like you are flying over Jurassic Park (because you are ;))
7. Visit Kapa’a Town
Even with a population of just over 10,000, Kapa’a is Kauai’s most populated town. There are plenty of shops as well as places to eat. We loved the Kapa’a bike path where you can either run or bike. Renting bikes is inexpensive and a fun activity for the whole family.
Trying to figure out the best island to visit? Check out which Hawaii island is the best?
8. Queens Bath
Queens Bath is a must see and within walking a short distance of many of the resorts in the Princeville area. You do have to go into a residential area to access it, so parking may be limited. The water is calmer in the summer but can be dangerous due to high surf in the winter. Proceed with caution.
9. Visit Poipu or Kalapaki Beach
The beaches on the south side of the island have calm and beautiful water. Our favorite was Poipu beach.
10. Stand-up paddleboard or surf Hanalei Bay
Depending on the time of the year, you can paddleboard or surf Hanalei Bay. The winter is the perfect time to surf, while the calmer waters of the summer are perfect for standup paddleboarding. Either of these is a must-do if you’re staying in the Hanalei Area.
Bonus: Snorkel at Tunnels (Makua) Beach
For the best snorkeling on Kauai, head to Tunnels Beach. Last I checked, the road to Tunnels Beach was only open to locals after the mudslides in April 2018. There is a small snorkeling area at Poipu Beach that is great for beginners. Taking a snorkeling tour is another great option.
Of course, one list could never include all of the best things to do in Kauai. This list should help get you started. If you’re thinking of planning a trip to Kauai, I’d love to help you! I have planned many Hawaii dream vacations and I’d love to help with yours! Feel free to use the form to contact me, or simply set up a time for me to call you! Not sure why to use a travel agent for your Kauai vacation, I wrote a post about the reasons why to work with a travel agent. You might be surprised, I was! You won’t want to miss it!
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