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The best things to do on 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. One of the wettest spots on earth (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!
Must-do Kauai activities
The Garden Isle is perfect for anyone seeking a fantastic 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.
As a Hawaii Travel Agent, I’m often asked if one week on an island is too long. My answer? It might not be long enough! There is so much to do that you could stay much longer and never be bored.
Related post: The best Hawaii island to visit.
The best things to do on Kauai
1. The best hikes on Kauai, the Na Pali Coast
Those seeking a crazy 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 Beach (permit also required.) There are also shorter ridge trails that can get you to excellent views, like the Awaawapuhi Trail.
If you love hiking, check out the best hikes in Kauai.
The end of the Awaawapuhi Trail
2. Unique things to do in Kauai: 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 or a guided kayak tour. Fern Grotto is one of the most popular attractions in Kauai and is only accessed by the river. Fern Grotto is also a popular destination for weddings.
You don’t want to miss Secret Falls, so I recommend taking a guided tour since it’s much easier than trying to go alone. I love using Viator to book tours for my travel clients, but you can also book it yourself using the link above. I linked to one of my favorite tour companies on Kauai.
3. Check out Waimea Canyon
Nicknamed the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” Waimea Canyon is breathtaking. The views are seen from 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. Boat tours 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.
You can either check out a Sunset Dinner Cruise or a Na Pali snorkeling adventure. #8 has another one of my favorite snorkeling trips that also include the Na Pali Coast, so keep reading to find out what it is.
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 of Kauai
There are so many parts of Kauai that can only be seen by helicopter. Many of the waterfalls in Kauai are only available by helicopter. You’ll feel like you are flying over Jurassic Park (because you are ;)) You can read about my experience with Blue Hawaiian on Kauai here or book your tour here.
7. The best towns on Kauai
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 an inexpensive and fun activity for the whole family. If your legs are sore from hiking, you can also rent an electric bike.
Trying to figure out the best island to visit? Check out which Hawaii island is the best?
8. Take a snorkel tour to Niihau
You technically can’t visit Ni’ihau without being invited, but you can take a snorkel tour! This tour also includes the beautiful Na Pali coast, so you’ll see so many beautiful places on one trip.
9. The best beaches on Kauai
The beaches on the south side of the island have calm and beautiful water. Our favorite was the 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. Hanalei Bay is also a great place to take a surf lesson, which should be on everyone’s Hawaii bucket list.
Bonus: Snorkel at Tunnels Beach
For some of the best snorkeling on Kauai, head to Tunnels (Makua) Beach. The road to Tunnels Beach was recently reopened for tourists. If Tunnels Beach is too much, there is a small snorkeling area at Poipu Beach that is great for beginners. Taking a snorkeling tour is another great option.
Hawaii vacation with a Hawaii Travel Agent
I know that planning a Hawaii vacation can be stressful. Why not make it a little easier on yourself and work with a Hawaii Travel Agent? Make sure to contact me or go ahead and fill out a custom travel request, and I’ll get back to you to start planning ASAP!
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If you liked this post, you might also enjoy:
- 25 things to do on Kauai.
- 10 best things to do on Oahu
- The 7 best things to do on the Big Island.
- The 7 best things to do on Maui.
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