10 of the Best Things to Do on Kauai - BookitList

10 of the Best Things to Do on Kauai

Kauai, aka The Garden Island, is famously known as one of the most beautiful Hawaiian Islands. It’s unique and rugged landscapes have been featured in movies such as Jurassic Park, Pirates of the Caribbean, and more! We spent 10 days on the island and never ran out of crazy adventures, thrilling things to do, and beautiful places to see! Here’s a list of 10 of the best things we did while on the island:

1. Sail the Na Pali Coastline

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The beautiful Na Pali coastline is what has made Kauai so famous! The only downside is there are limited options to be able to see it. One of the ways you can get to it is by boat. Since the coastline is so iconic, there are multiple different companies that provide tours and excursions along the coast. Some of the top companies include Capt. Andy’s, Blue Dolphin Charters, and Catamaran Kahanu. The tours usually cost around $200/person, but it is worth every penny! We did Capt. Andy’s classic sailing tour and it included a light breakfast, 1.5 hours of snorkeling with all the gear provided, and a gourmet lunch (with delicious vegetarian options)!

There are a variety of tours the companies provide. If you want a more relaxing time you can go on the sunset cruise, but if you’re more up for an adventure you can opt for the raft expedition!

2. Go snorkeling

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Throughout the island there are amble opportunities for snorkeling, and you must do it at least once while you’re there! We saw dolphins, fish, and sea turtles during our excursion! The easiest way to snorkel is to get one of the coastline sailing cruises that comes with snorkeling as one of the activities. This way you don’t have to worry about what areas are safe to snorkel at or have to rent equipment.

3. Watch the sunrise at the Kalalau Lookout

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Kalalau Lookout is another iconic landscape on Kauai. It is a true gem that is tucked within Koke’e State Park. You can access the lookout simply by typing ‘Kalalau Lookout’ into your phone. I recommend coming as early as possible! We tried to visit this spot two different times. Our first visit was a complete failure, we arrived around 2pm and all we could see were clouds. We waited for around 45 minutes in hopes that it would clear, and it never did. If you are visiting (in the winter months especially), make sure to arrive early in the morning to beat the clouds!

This lookout overlooks one of the only parts of the Na Pali coastline that is accessible by foot. If you want to see more and are up for a bit more of an adventure you can take the unofficial hike, the Kalepa Ridge Trail. This trail is around 1.9 miles roundtrip and goes along the top of the ridge providing even better views of the gorgeous coastline. But, be sure to only do this trail when conditions allow. After rain, the trail can become very muddy making it dangerous so just be careful!

This lookout along with Koke’e State Park are free to access, you will just have to pay for parking upon arrival.

4. Hike the Kalalau Trail

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This 22-mile roundtrip, strenuous hike is the hardest hike I’ve ever done, but let me tell you it’s worth every step! This is the best way to see the Na Pali coast by foot. The hike goes to Kalalau Beach and back with 2 stops along the way. The first stop (and where we turned around) is Hanakapiai Beach at the 2-mile marker. Just going to this stop alone makes the hike worth it. There are endless gorgeous views along the way and the beach is a hidden paradise! The next stop, that’s a bit inland, is Hanakapiai Falls at the 4-mile marker. This is another beautiful place that if you have the time, I recommend going to! If you are planning to go to the falls make sure you have planned accordingly, it takes about 6.5 hours roundtrip.

This hike is within Ha’ena State Park and if you want to visit during your trip you need to make sure to book a reservation on www.gohaena.com well in advance.

5. Take a helicopter tour

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This is the most expensive, but most unique thing to do while on Kauai. If there is anywhere to do a helicopter tour, this is the place! Since only about 10% of Kauai is accessible by automobile, doing a helicopter tour will allow you to see so much more of the island than you would’ve.

Some of the best companies that provide tours include Blue Hawaiian Helicopters, Jack Harter Helicopters, and Island Helicopters Kauai and prices range from $300-$400/person.

6. Try poke

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Whenever you go to a new place, you must get a taste of their culture and unique foods. Nowadays, you can find poke almost anywhere, but I guarantee it won’t be as fresh or delicious as on Kauai. Trying poke while in Hawaii is almost a must, and on Kauai there are two stand-out places to get it.

If you are in Lihue, the Fish Express is a small place that might not look like much from the outside but is wonderful! If you go a little south to Koloa (near Poipu) you will find the other amazing option, Koloa Fish Market.

7. Take in the views of Waimea Canyon

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Waimea Canyon, aka The Grand Canyon of the Pacific, is such a gorgeous, but unique part of the island. You would never think such a big, red dirt canyon would be on a small tropical island… but it is!

Waimea Canyon is a beautiful place to visit and there are so many different places for views. You can take go the more relaxing route and see the breathtaking canyon views from Waimea Canyon Lookout, a 0.1-mile trail off the main road. Or you can opt for the Iliau Nature Loop Trail that also provides breathtaking views, but without a railing. This is a 0.4-mile, easy loop. Lastly, if you are up for a hike, you can do the Canyon Trail. This trail branches off the Cliff Trail and is a 3.4-mile roundtrip hike that takes around 3-4 hours. This trail is popular because about halfway down the trail you will reach Waipo’o Falls, a gorgeous 800-foot waterfall.

8. Soak up the sun at Poipu Beach

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Poipu beach is located on the south shore of the island in the cute town of Poipu. If you want to see sea life up close this is the beach to come to! We saw 2 sea turtles and one seal just relaxing on the beach during our couple of hours we were there.

This beach is the perfect one for a beach day. Since it’s located on the south shore, where the weather is consistently calmer and sunnier than other parts of the island, it’s the perfect spot on the island to soak up the sun.

During your beach day here make sure to walk over to Puka Dog in Poipu for a drink and famous Hawaiian hot dog for lunch (they even have veggie dogs for vegetarians)!

9. Explore the hidden gem, Polihale State Park

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Polihale State Park is a tucked away gem of Kauai. Located on the west side of the island, this state park is unmarked and difficult to get to. To access the park, you must turn left off the main road and drive down a 5-mile unpathed and pothole-filled road. I recommend having a 4-wheel drive car if you are planning to come here.

It’s free to access, and once you get there just find a parking spot and walk to the beautiful beach! It’s one of my favorites because it’s much more secluded than other beaches on the island. Due to the limited people, the beach is cleaner, and more peaceful. You potentially could be the only one there!

10. Relax at the picturesque Tunnel’s Beach

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This is my absolute favorite beach in Hawaii, and on the top of the list of beaches I’ve ever visited. Why? The landscape. What makes this beach so loved by everyone are the lush, green mountains that surround it. You truly feel like you’re in Jurassic Park!

You can find this beach on the north shore of the island, past Hanalei and just before Ha’ena State Park. It’s free to access and has a parking lot, so just bring a beach chair, sunscreen, and you’re good to go! Also, make sure to check out the huge cave in base of the mountain across the street from the parking lot!


My name is Savanna and I'm a travel blogger and content creator! I share comprehensive travel guides, and travel tips on how to travel luxuriously on a budget.

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