Photograph by Makena Stock Media / Getty Images
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A couple kayaks along the Na Pali Coast in Kauai, Hawaii.

Photograph by Makena Stock Media / Getty Images

Everything to Know About Kauai

Here's how to plan the best possible trip to this island paradise.

Kauai, Hawaii, has a laid-back and welcoming vibe that tends to attract adventurous travelers looking to explore its unlimited natural beauty. The beaches in the south shore are perfect for swimming, which is great for families with young children, and the north shore offers hiking unlike any other place in the world.

When to Go

High season in Kauai falls over summer break (June through August) and the winter months of December through March when many visitors are looking to escape cold weather back home. Luckily, the off-season (April to May and September through mid-November) is not only when you’ll find bargain rates, but it’s also when the weather is at its finest.

Celebrate

If you’re visiting in February, don’t miss the Waimea Town Celebration—the oldest festival on the island. During the summer months, you’ll find the Koloa Plantation Days Celebration, which honors Koloa’s multicultural heritage, and the Kauai Mokihana Festival, which features performances and cultural workshops.

What to Eat

Don’t even think about leaving Kauai without sampling a few traditional Hawaiian dishes. Plate lunches, which date back to the 1880s, are a Hawaiian staple featuring a meat, white rice, and mayonnaise-based pasta. Loco Moco, consisting of a beef patty, egg, and gravy, is sure to satisfy any meat lover’s appetite. Poke is another local favorite and, of course, there’s always shaved ice for dessert.

Souvenir to Take Home

Besides Instagram-worthy vacation photos, there are a few local items definitely worth bringing home. Locally grown Kauai coffee beans, Hawaiian coffee scrub, and a bottle of award-winning Kauai rum all make great souvenirs and gifts for friends and family.

Sustainable Travel Tip

Sustainability is extremely important on this Hawaiian island and visitors can easily do their part. Use reef-safe sunblock, buy from local vendors, ride a bike or walk whenever possible, and absolutely pick up any trash you find while hiking or playing in the ocean. Every little bit helps.

Instagram-Worthy View

The Na Pali Coast is undeniably breathtaking, but getting those jaw-dropping landscape shots requires travelers to either take a catamaran tour or get up in the air via helicopter. Mornings are ideal as the water is generally calmer and you might even get lucky enough to capture those coveted light rays in your shot.