If you’re looking for some ideas on things to do in Kauai, you’ve come to the right place. There is no shortage of things to do on Kauai, whether you’re seeking activities or attractions. From exploring the beautiful pristine beaches to checking out the fantastic scenery, there’s something for everyone on this garden island.
This post will highlight some of the best things to do in Kauai, aka the Garden Isle, so that you can make the most of your visit. So if you’re planning a trip to this fantastic destination, read on!
Explore Kauai from Above with a Helicopter Tour
A helicopter tour should definitely be at the top of your list. Kauai is known for its incredible natural beauty, dramatic cliffs, and stunning waterfalls. There’s no better way to see them than from the air.
A helicopter ride will give you a bird’s-eye view of the island’s natural wonders, and it’s a must-do activity for any visitor to Kauai.
I’ve been on a helicopter, and it was absolutely incredible. We flew over the mountains and valleys, and I got to see parts of Kauai that I would never have seen otherwise.
The views were breathtaking, and I recommend going on a helicopter if you’re visiting Kauai.
Kauai is the perfect place for a helicopter ride, and plenty of operators offer flights around the island.
I highly recommend the Doors Off Air Kauai Helicopter Tour! You’ll get stunning views and pictures, especially since the doors are off!
If you’re looking for a private tour, you should definitely experience the Private Kauai Helicopter Tours with no middle seats. This tour is also doors off; every seat is a window seat, hence no middle seats. This is crucial, especially since some helicopter rides seat six people, so you might have to sit in the middle seat, where you won’t be able to enjoy the view. It’s well worth spending the extra money on a private tour!
The Entire Kauai Island Air Tour is an excellent tour for those looking for a less expensive option.
So if you’re looking for an unforgettable experience, be sure to check out a helicopter tour in Kauai.
Zipline Through the Natural Scenery
Ziplining in Kauai is an activity that should not be missed. Several companies offer ziplining tours, and the views from the zip lines are spectacular.
You can see the mountains, the valleys, and the coastline from up high, and it is an exhilarating experience.
Most zipline tours also include a hike through the rainforest, which is a great way to see some of Kauai’s beautiful scenery. Just don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes!
A zipline company I recommend is Koloa Zipline. You’ll be able to soar over the Waita Reservoir and through the lush forests. The tour has eight ziplines and is said to be one of the longest ziplines in Kauai. The guides will make you feel safe and comfortable, even if it’s your first time ziplining.
Cruise on the Na Pali Coast
Cruising on the Na Pali Coast is a must-do activity when visiting Kauai. When you join a cruise on the Na Pali Coast, you’ll be able to explore some of the most beautiful and inaccessible coastlines in all of Hawaii.
The cruise will take you through the dramatic sea cliffs, lush greenery, and crystal-clear waters of the stunning Napali Coast.
You’ll also get to see some of Hawaii’s most exciting wildlife, including dolphins, green sea turtles, and humpback whales.
There are a few different cruise options available, so be sure to research ahead of time to find the right one for you.
On the Deluxe Na Pali Morning Snorkel Tour, you can cruise on the coast and swim and snorkel over tropical reefs.
The Deluxe Na Pali Sunset Tour is great for those looking for a cruise without the snorkeling option. You’ll see some of the most stunning views on the island, and you’ll also get to witness the incredible sunset over the Pacific Ocean.
Cruises along the Napali Coast are unforgettable experiences you don’t want to miss.
Visit the Kalalau Valley
The Kalalau Valley is one of Hawaii’s most beautiful and secluded places. It’s located on Kauai, the oldest and northernmost of the main Hawaiian Islands.
The valley can only be accessed by taking a boat or hiking the Kalalau trail, making it a popular destination for adventurers and nature lovers.
The 11 miles long Kalalau trail leads from Ke’e Beach to Kalalau Beach. You’ll need a permit to hike the entire Kalalau trail. For more information about permits, check here. Be prepared and wear proper hiking shoes, as the course can be rugged. If you’re traveling with kids, I would skip the Kalalau trail.
You can also drive to the Pu’u O Kila lookout or Kalalau lookout, which is the closest you’ll be able to get to the valley by car.
Both the Kalalau lookout and Pu’u O Kila lookout offer visitors panoramic views of the valley and the ocean.
If you’re looking for an unforgettable and unique Hawaiian experience, be sure to visit the Kalalau Valley. It’s definitely worth the effort to get there!
Visit the Kauai Coffee Company
The Kauai Coffee Company is a must-visit attraction on the island of Kauai. Not only can you sample some of the world’s best coffee, but you can also take a tour of the plantation and learn about the coffee-making process.
I tasted several of their varieties, and they were so delicious that I decided to purchase several of them to take home!
The cafe also has a great choice of beverages, including coffee (duh!), cookies, and ice cream as well!
Watch a Luau Show
A luau show is definitely a must-see! A luau show is a great way to learn about Hawaiian culture.
Kauai has some of the best luau shows in the state and offers a unique and authentic Hawaiian experience.
Most luau shows on Kauai feature traditional Polynesian dances, music, and costumes. You can typically expect to see hula dancers, flame twirlers, and drummers.
Many luaus also include a buffet dinner with authentic Hawaiian cuisine.
If you’re looking for a luau show, I highly recommend Luau Kalamaku. It’s one of the best luaus I’ve been to on Kauai, and the entertainment is top-notch.
They offer a Buffet Dinner & Show as well as a Plantation Owner’s Dinner & Show. Both offer transportation to and from Luau Kalamaku from most hotels in Kauai.
The Buffet Dinner and Show offer a Plantation Train Ride upgrade option where you can ride through the Kilohana Plantation.
If buffet dinner styles are not for you, choose the Plantation Owner’s Dinner & Show, where you’ll be able to enjoy a four-course meal at the Gaylord’s Restaurant.
If you’re looking for an exciting and memorable night out, check out a Kauai luau show!
Eat Shave Ice
Shave ice is a popular Hawaiian treat that can be found all over the islands. Kauai is no exception; there are a few places to get your shave ice fix.
One of the most popular spots is Wailua Shave Ice, which is located in Kapa’a. This local favorite serves up some of the best shave ice on the island, with various flavors to choose from. The shop is located in the charming town of Wailua, and it’s worth a stop during your visit.
Another great place is Wishing Well Shave Ice, located in Hanalei.
If you’re looking for shave ice in the Poipu area, visit Waikomo Shave Ice.
Extra: Eat Ice Cream at Lappert’s Hawaii
Not a shave ice fan? Visit Lappert’s Hawaii, a popular spot for tourists and locals alike to enjoy some delicious ice cream. They have a wide variety of flavors, including traditional favorites like vanilla and chocolate and more unique options like lilikoi and white chocolate macadamia nut ice cream.
In addition to their fantastic ice cream, Lappert’s also offers coffee and smoothies.
If you’re looking for a sweet treat in Kauai, check out Lappert’s Hawaii!
Eat at Food Trucks
Check out the food truck scene! Kauai is home to some of the best food trucks in the country.
Food trucks are a fun and affordable way to try foods without breaking the bank.
Most food trucks have menus with several options, so you can mix and match until you find something you love. Plus, who doesn’t love food that’s served on the go?
A favorite of mine is Hanalei Taro & Juice Co. It’s a local favorite, and for a good reason. They embody the “farm to table” concept and thus have menus changing with the seasons. Their Kalua Pork and smoothies are amazing!
Plus, they have a great selection of taro products, a Hawaiian cuisine staple. If you’re looking for a taste of authentic Hawaii, be sure to check out Hanalei Taro & Juice Co.
Another popular food truck is the Kauai Poke Co. Food Truck. This truck serves up fresh and delicious poke bowls.
If you’re looking for a delicious breakfast or lunch option, the Small Town Coffee food truck is worth checking out. This truck is located in the town of Koloa and offers a wide variety of coffee drinks and food items.
Visit The Musubi Truck if you’re looking for some excellent spam musubi! (Spam musubi is a popular Hawaiian dish made from spam and rice wrapped in seaweed. It’s usually served as a snack or light meal.)
Learn How to Snorkel
Snorkeling is one of the best things to do in Kauai! The clear blue waters are perfect for exploring, and you can see a variety of fish and coral up close.
I enjoyed a wonderful morning snorkeling trip to Kauai with my family. The coral and fish were beautiful; we even saw a sea turtle!
The Kauai’s Ultimate Guided Shore (No Boat) Snorkeling Adventure is a great snorkeling tour I’d recommend for beginners! You can snorkel in a small group and avoid crowds. Plus, you won’t have to ride a boat (for those that are prone to motion sickness).
The Raft Adventure- Na Pali 1/2 Day Snorkel is excellent for those looking for an adventure-filled experience. Unlike the Na Pali cruises, these rafts will take you into sea caves and under waterfalls!
Beach Hop Kauai’s North Shore
Kauai’s north shore is home to some of the island’s most popular and picturesque beaches, making it perfect for beach hopping. Whether you’re looking for a quiet spot to relax or an action-packed beach with plenty of activities to keep you busy, you’ll find what you’re looking for on Kauai’s north shore.
Some of the most popular beaches on the north shore include Hanalei Bay, Ke’e Beach, Anini Beach, Tunnels Beach, and Kauapea Beach. These beaches are beautiful and worth a visit, but each has its unique charm and personality.
Hanalei Bay is a wide crescent-shaped bay that is one of the most photographed spots on Kauai. With its white sand beaches and dramatic mountains in the background, it’s easy to see why.
Learn how to surf from professionals with these Kauai Learn to Surf lessons.
An excursion I recommend is the Hanalei Bay Kayak & Snorkel Tour. With this tour, you can enjoy snorkeling in Hanalei Bay and kayaking along the Hanalei River.
Hanalei Bay is also a great place to relax on the beach. The lush surroundings and beautiful bay were a perfect backdrop for a day of relaxation.
This beach is located at the end of the Napali Coast Trail and is known for its dramatic cliffs and stunning ocean views. The beach offers spectacular views of the Napali Coast and chances to see dolphins, sea turtles, and monk seals.
Anini Beach is one of the most beautiful and secluded beaches on Kauai’s north shore. The reef at Anini Beach is one of the longest/widest in the Hawaiian islands.
It’s perfect for a relaxing day in the sun or a peaceful swim, and there’s plenty of room to spread out and enjoy the views.
Tunnels Beach is a must-visit spot when in Kauai. This beautiful beach in Haena is known for its clear turquoise waters and dramatic coastline.
Tunnels Beach got its name from the giant lava tubes that run beneath the beach. These tubes make for great swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving and are a popular spot for marine life sightings.
Kauapea Beach, also known as Secret Beach, is a secluded white sand beach located on the north shore of Kauai.
This secret beach can only be accessed by a short and steep trail, which makes it one of the most secluded beaches on the island. You can also see the Kilauea Lighthouse from the beach.
Visit the Kilauea Lighthouse
The Kilauea Lighthouse is a historic lighthouse that’s located in the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge. It’s known for being the oldest lighthouse in Hawaii, and it was also one of the first lighthouses to be built in the United States.
The lighthouse is open to visitors, and it offers incredible views of the coastline and inland areas.
Visit the Queen’s Bath
Queen’s Bath is a natural tide pool located on the Kauai coastline. The bathtub-shaped pool is surrounded by black lava rocks.
It’s a popular tourist attraction but can be dangerous due to the strong current and changing depths.
Please be careful and assess the water conditions when visiting this location.
It’s crucial to never turn your back to the ocean at Queen’s Bath because you never know when a large wave will hit.
I recommend wearing hiking shoes and not sandals to protect yourself.
Explore Waimea Canyon (“Grand Canyon of the Pacific”)
The Waimea Canyon is one of the most popular tourist destinations on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.
The canyon was formed by the Waimea River over 10,000 years ago and is more than 10 miles long, 3,000 feet wide, and a depth of over 1,000 feet. Visitors can enjoy biking and hike through the canyon.
The Waimea Canyon offers some of the most spectacular views on Kauai. The Waimea Canyon is a must-see for anyone visiting Kauai.
There are several lookouts and viewpoints along the canyon- Waimea Canyon lookout, Pu’u Hinahina lookout, and Pu’u Ka Pele lookout. The lookouts offer stunning panoramic views of the river valleys and canyon walls.
The lookout at Waipo’o Falls provides a view of the waterfall plunging into the canyon.
The Kukui Trail, a trail down the west side of the canyon, provides access to some of the best viewpoints in Waimea Canyon.
Beach Hop Kauai’s South Shore
Kauai’s south coast is a great place to beach hop because it offers a variety of beautiful beaches with different features.
Poipu Beach Park
One of my favorite beaches on the south coast is Poipu Beach.
Poipu Beach is one of the most popular beaches on the island of Kauai.
It’s known for its beautiful scenery and for being an excellent spot for swimming, sunbathing, boogie boarding, surfing, and snorkeling.
You might see some Hawaiian monk seals or sea turtles resting on the sandy beaches.
Shipwreck beach is a beautiful beach located in the Poipu area of Kauai. This is one of the most popular beaches on the island and is known for its dramatic cliffs, stunning views, and excellent snorkeling.
The beach got its name from the shipwreck that sits offshore, and it’s worth a visit if you’re in the area.
Baby Beach is a beautiful place to relax and have some fun in the sun. It’s located on the south side of Kauai, perfect for families with small children. The water is calm and shallow, making it an excellent place for kids to play.
Hike along the Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail
If you’re looking for a scenic hiking experience on the south shore of Kauai, be sure to check out the Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail.
This 2-mile trail runs along the coastal landscape that’s full of natural wonders. You’ll see beautiful beaches, rugged cliffs, and a variety of wildlife along the way.
Visit the Spouting Horn
The Spouting Horn is a natural geyser located on the south shore of Kauai. It’s one of the island’s most popular attractions, and for a good reason – the sight of the water blasting high into the air is truly unique.
There are also several picnic tables and benches in the park, so it’s the perfect spot to relax and take in the natural beauty of Kauai. The horn is beautiful to watch and an experience you won’t want to miss.
Go See the Wailua Falls
Wailua Falls is a stunning waterfall located in Kauai. You can access these falls without hiking. A viewing platform at the top of the falls offers a perfect view of the rushing water plummeting over the cliff.
Visit the Beaches on the East Shore
The beaches along the east coast of Kauai are easily accessible, as many resorts and vacation rentals are located nearby. Here are some beach recommendations along the eastern shore.
Kalapaki Beach is a must-see spot in Kauai. It’s an excellent spot for surfing, swimming, and body boarding. The waves here are perfect for beginners and experienced surfers alike all year round, and the scenery is unbeatable.
Make sure to catch the nightly show as the sun dips below the horizon; it’s an unforgettable experience.
Lydgate Beach Park
Lydgate Beach Park is Kauai’s most popular beach park, and for a good reason- it has something for everyone.
The park is a great place to swim, sunbathe, picnic, or relax and take in the view.
There are two large pavilions with picnic tables, restrooms, and showers.
The calm waters make it kid-friendly and perfect for swimming and snorkeling.
The Lydgate Beach Park also has a large playground, the Kamalani Playground. You’ll want to visit there if you’re traveling with younger children!
Lydgate Beach is located near the mouth of the Wailua River and is easily accessible.
Kealia Beach is one of the most popular beaches on Kauai’s south shore. The wide, sandy beach stretches for over half a mile and is excellent for swimming, sunbathing, surfing, and bodyboarding. It’s also a great place to watch the sunrise. Kealia Beach is located just past Kapaa Town.
Take a Boat Trip to Fern Grotto
Fern Grotto is a naturally-formed lava cave on the Wailua River. Ferns have taken root in the nooks and crannies of the grotto, giving it its name.
This natural wonder is located on the Wailua River and is renowned for its exquisite beauty. The grotto is filled with hanging and tropical plants. It’s a magical place that will take your breath away.
It’s said that the upper part of the Wailua River was a sanctuary spot where only Hawaiian royalty and nobility were allowed to enter. In particular, the Fern Grotto was a special place where royal weddings were held.
The grotto is only accessible by riding a boat up the Wailua River, so visitors can take a guided tour or rent a kayak or canoe. I would recommend purchasing a ticket for the boat tour with Smith’s Kauai. You can enjoy a guided tour with live music and a hula inside the boat! The greenery and rushing water are a sight to behold, and it’s one of the most peaceful places on Kauai.
Note: The cave is currently inaccessible due to safety reasons, so you are only able to see the cave from the observation deck.
Kauai is home to some of the most spectacular golf courses in the world. Play amidst lush, green rainforests and sparkling ocean views for an unforgettable golfing experience.
There are many golf courses in Kauai, and they offer a variety of challenging and scenic holes. If you’re looking for a breathtaking golf experience, look no further than Puakea Golf Course in Kauai. This course, located near the Lihue Airport, weaves its way through the natural beauty of the island, providing stunning views of the ocean at every turn.
The Poipu Bay Golf Course is one of the most popular golf courses on the island. It’s an 18-hole course that offers stunning ocean views backed by lush mountains. The course was also home to the annual PGA Grand Slam of Golf from 1994 to 2006.
Other popular golf courses in Kauai include the Kiahuna Golf Club and the Wailua Golf Course.
You can absolutely bring your own golf clubs, but most golf courses on Kauai have rental clubs for visitors who don’t bring their own.
Not a golf player? Play miniature golf at Kauai Miniature Golf and Botanical Garden.
Kauai Miniature Golf and Botanical Garden is a great place to go if you’re looking for something fun to do. There are two 18-hole miniature golf courses, as well as a variety of plants and flowers to enjoy. You can learn some Hawaiian history and culture through the signs placed throughout the course. After the 18 holes, you can enjoy some shaved ice! I highly recommend this place to everyone.
Go on a Kauai Highlights Tour
I would recommend signing up for a Kauai Highlights Sightseeing Tour because you will be able to see all of the best attractions on the island without having to worry about anything. The tour guides know all of the best spots to take pictures and will make sure that you have an enjoyable experience. These tours are great if you have limited time.
Kauai Travel Tips
Make Car Rental Reservations in Advance
When you rent a car in Kauai, you’ll have the freedom to explore all that this beautiful island has to offer. From historic towns and stunning beaches to lush rain forests and dramatic waterfalls, there’s something for everyone here. With your own vehicle, you can quickly get to all the best spots and make the most of your vacation. Although some tours will pick you up from the hotel you’re staying at, most will ask you to meet up at a specific location.
In addition, Kauai is home to some of the best restaurants on the island, and without a car, it would be difficult to get around to try them all. So if you’re looking for an unforgettable Hawaiian adventure, be sure to rent a car in Kauai!
The best way to ensure that you get the car you want is to make your reservations well in advance. I know some friends that were unable to find rental cars and had to cancel all of their activities/tours.
I recommend renting cars from Discover Cars because they have the best prices and an easy booking system. I’ve used them for trips and have been very happy with the experience. You can easily compare prices and cars from different suppliers like Hertz, Avis, Alamo, etc. I would recommend them to anyone looking for a great deal on a rental car!
Make Reservations for Kauai Activities and Attractions in Advance
Most of the popular Kauai attractions and activities require reservations made in advance. This is because there is a limited number of each activity available each day. Once they are booked, no more reservations can be made. Similar to rental cars, great Kauai activities sell out quickly. So if you want to go on a hiking tour, zip line through the valleys, go whale watching on a boat trip, or take a helicopter ride over the island, be sure to book your spot well in advance!
Plan a Day to Relax at Where You’re Staying
I would recommend planning at least one day where you do nothing but relax. This will allow your body and mind to recharge so you can enjoy the rest of your trip. Kauai is a fantastic place, and there’s so much to see and do, so it’s best not to try to fit it all in!
Be Prepared for the Rain
Kauai is known for its lush greenery, and while this makes for a beautiful landscape, it also means that it rains frequently. But don’t worry; usually, the clouds will clear up after a while. Don’t forget to pack some sunscreen and sunglasses too – even when it’s cloudy, the sun can be pretty intense.
Stock Up on Food/Drinks at Costco
Eating out every day can get pricey. If you want to save some money, I would recommend buying food/drinks at Costco. There’s a wide variety of food available, including local cuisines such as pokes! Costco is located near Lihue Airport, so I would recommend buying food and beverages before heading to your hotel.
Where to Stay In Kauai
There are many different places to stay in Kauai, each with its own unique charm. You can find upscale resorts, hotels, and vacation rentals. No matter where you stay, you’re sure to have a fantastic time exploring all that Kauai has to offer. Here are some of my recommendations!
Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort
Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort is a world-class resort that offers guests the ultimate Hawaiian experience. From its breathtaking location on the beach to its luxurious accommodations and amenities, the resort provides you with everything you need to enjoy your vacation.
The resort’s guest rooms and suites are spacious and feature stunning views of the Pacific Ocean or the lush gardens and mountains of Kauai. Guests can relax in a private lanai or soak up the sun in one of the outdoor pools. The resort also offers a variety of dining options; restaurants, bars, and lounges. They even have outdoor event areas where you can watch the luau show (reservations required). The resort also offers a variety of activities for adults and children!
With its idyllic setting, luxurious accommodations, and endless activities and attractions, Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort is the perfect place to stay while exploring all that beautiful Kauai has to offer.
Koa Kea Hotel & Resort
The luxurious Koa Kea Hotel on the island of Kauai is a perfect choice for those looking for a secluded and tranquil Hawaiian vacation experience. Situated on the beach in Poipu, this exquisite property offers guests stunning ocean views, first-class amenities, and spacious accommodations. The hotel’s lush gardens and impeccable service only add to its allure. So if you’re looking for an unforgettable Hawaiian getaway, be sure to consider Koa Kea Hotel.
Sheraton Kauai Resort
If you want to enjoy the ocean to the fullest, consider staying at the Sheraton Kauai Resort. The resort is located on Poipu Beach! Sheraton Kauai Resort was designed to blend in with Kauai’s natural beauty.
The Sheraton Kauai Resort offers guests several amenities and services, including a swimming pool, spa, and fitness center. The resort also offers weekly sunset luaus by the ocean (reservation recommended)!
This resort is great for larger parties because more than half of the rooms can be connected to each other.
Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas
The Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas is an excellent place to stay on the island of Kauai. The villas are spacious and have beautiful views of the ocean since it’s situated on the cliffside. The Princeville Resort offers a variety of activities, such as swimming, horseback riding, hiking, and golfing. There is also a fantastic spa on site. The staff is hospitable and helpful, and the location can’t be beaten.
Hotels and Condos
If you’re looking for a casual beachfront hotel, Kauai Shores Resort is a great place to stay. It has fantastic amenities, including an on-site restaurant, outdoor yoga classes, and pools. Plus, it’s located near the airport, making it easy to find places to shop and eat!
Kiahuna Plantation & Beach Bungalows
If you’re looking for a unique and relaxing Kauai condominium, consider Kiahuna Plantation & Beach Bungalows. This resort condominium features spacious guest rooms and bungalows surrounded by swaying palms and tropical gardens. You’ll be able to receive hotel-like services at Kiahuna Plantation!
Kauai is a beautiful place with plenty to do and see. I hope this list of activities and attractions helps you plan your trip. Be sure to save and share this post with friends, and check out our other related travel posts below for more.