things to do in kauai

You are the envy of all your friends and family. You are taking a vacation, but any ordinary vacation. Lucky you, a vacation in Kauai, Hawaii. 

How will you ever decide what magical things to do while on your vacation? Kauai is a small island packed with stuff to do. It is the smallest of the Hawaiian Islands. You can travel from one end to the other in less than three hours by car. 

This little island wonder is the wettest of the Hawaiian Islands, packing it with waterfalls and rainforest. 

Pack your bags and start planning your dream vacation. Check out this list of great things to do in Kauai.

1. Find a Luau 

A must do in Kauai is to take in an authentic Polynesian luau. Witness the kalua pig cooked in the earth. Taste traditional Polynesian cuisine like poi. 

Take it all in as the sun sets in the backdrop. After feasting on the classical fare, enjoy live music. Watch the history of Hawaiian stories come to life in the hula performances, the highlight of the Kauai luau.

2. Hanalei Bay

This is Kauai, Hawaii at its best. This two-mile wide beach has beautiful waters if you look one way and soaring mountains if you turn the other way.

The waves break perfectly in the crescent-shaped beach make it a popular destination for surfers. In the summer when the waves calm, the bay is dotted with sailboats and paddleboarders. 

Stroll the beach and try shave ice (never say shaved). This is the Kauai version of a perfect snow cone. Grab your cone filled the ice and poured with a sugary syrup. Many an authentic tropical flavor is an option like papaya or coconut pineapple. 

3. Hop Aboard the Helicopter

While this is a splurge, this is the best way to see Kauai. Rides will take you to a variety of Kauai points of interest including Jurassic Park Falls and Hanalei Valley. 

Only 30% of Kauai can be accessed by land. The best way to see the rest is aboard a helicopter. There isn’t a better view of the “Garden Island” than from the air.

Most rides last between 50 and 90 minutes. A slew of companies are available for rides. Do your research on safety and ratings. Advance reservations are always suggested. 

4. Kalalau Trail and Napali Coast State Wilderness Park

 Na Pali means high cliffs. Come to the Napali Coast State Wilderness Park to revel in the beauty of the cliffs and waterfalls. The park soars up to 4,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean.

The Kalalau Trail is for the experienced hiker. It involves a rigorous 11-mile hike. Many opt for just the first few miles of the hike. If you choose to hike beyond the first two miles. an overnight camping permit is required. If you choose to do the whole thing, your reward at the end is the Kalalau Beach. 

5. Kayak the Wailua River

The Wailua River is one of the few navigable rivers in Hawaii. Take a kayak out from one the many outfitters on the island. Explore the lush landscape only accessible by the river. 

You could choose one of the guided tours that take you along the river. You will kayak and hike to some of the stunning waterfalls. Take time out for a swim and photos near the falls. 

6. Kilauea Point

At the far northern tip of Kauai sits Kilauea Point. Come here for the view and take in all the best of Hawaii’s nature. This National Historic Landmark celebrated its centennial celebration in 2013.

Visitors come to watch native birds who are protected. Also, watch for the humpback whales migrating from November to April. In the summer months watch the dolphins frolicking in the water.

The nearby gift shop offers a lovely selection of books on the animals, birds, and nature of the area. They use profits to support refuge preservation and education.

7. Kokee State Park

The 4,000 plus acre state park offers Kauai best natural habitat. The park offers views from its plateau. Beautiful Hawaiian wildflowers and forest make this a must see. The park has over 45 miles of hiking trails throughout. 

Kokee Natural History Museum is a part of the park. It offers park information and a history of the area. Beyond the museum are 12 rustic cabins available for rent. 

While you might expect Hawaii to be warm, be prepared for cooler temperatures on your visit. The high elevation cools things down below normal Hawaiian weather. 

8. Poipu Beach

You cannot go to Kauai and not spend some time on the beach. Pack your beach essentials and head to Poipu Beach. Ranked one of the ten best beaches in the U.S., it is a popular destination for both tourists and locals.

Try your hand at some snorkeling or paddleboarding. Wade along the white sand beaches. Some visitors have been lucky enough to spot the endangered Monk Seals playing in the water offshore. 

9. Take an Off-Road ATV Tour

In the category of fun things to do in Kauai, this is it. Visit Kipu Ranch, which was once a sugar cane plantation. Now a 3,000-acre cattle ranch which is privately owned. It runs from the Huleia River to the top of Mt. Haupu.

Hop aboard one of their off-road vehicles. Ride through the ranches’ backroads and trails. Most tours last 3 hours and give visitors a first-hand look at Kauai’s beauty. You can also tour parts of the ranch in your own vehicle. 

Prepare to get a little dirty and have some wild fun too.

10. Waimea Canyon

Located on the western side of Kauai, this is a wonder to see. The canyon measures a mile wide, over ten miles long. It a beauty of lined striated color and lush vegetation. 

Waimea Canyon Drive leads you into the canyon. It offers many lookouts along the way. This drive winds you along the canyon and into the mountains. It ends by delivering you to Kokee State Park.

Things to Do in Kauai For Your Dream Vacation

Lucky you to vacation in the tropical paradise that is the “Garden Island.” Take advantage of these things to do in Kauai for a vacation full all the adventure, beauty and lushness Kauai has to offer. 

Check out our blog for other great travel tips and ideas too. 

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