From the 15-mile stretch of the Na Pali Coast to the funky beach town of Poipu, Hawaii’s lush Garden Isle is a timeless goldmine of natural beauty and adventure.
If you’re an early riser, head over to Poipu Beach before sunrise and you might catch a glimpse of the giant sea turtles taking a nap on the sand. However, keep your distance as these sea creatures are protected and it’s best not to disturb them while they’re sleeping.
Want to know one of Hawaii’s best-kept secrets? Nicknamed the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, Waimea Canyon State Park is a deep gorge that stretches approximately 14 miles long and more than 3,600 feet deep. With its many shades of brown and red, it’s almost as if this geological masterpiece doesn’t belong on this otherwise lush island.
Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail on Kauai’s south shore begins at Shipwreck Beach and winds along the coastline to Makauwahi Sinkhole—the largest limestone cave in Hawaii. Exploring this trail is like walking through a living museum of natural history.
You simply can’t leave Kauai without experiencing a luau. From tasting local dishes like poi and kalua pig cooked in an earth oven to feasting your eyes on traditional Polynesian entertainment, it’s the perfect way to see the true aloha spirit in action.
Off the Beaten Path
Kauai Backcountry Adventures Mountain Tubing offers river tubing tours through an old sugar plantation. You’ll wind your way through old irrigation systems and tunnels that were dug out by hand and witness stunning views of Waialeale Crater. Plus you’ll be experiencing something most tourists don’t even know exists.
Most Iconic Place
Na Pali Coast State Park—with cliffs that stretch as high as 4,000 feet—is the reason many travelers make the trip to Kauai. Whether viewing it by foot on the Kalalau Trail, by boat, or by soaring high above the mountains in a helicopter, it’s guaranteed to leave you speechless.
Kauai is not known for its nightlife, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time out on the town. Located right on the beach, Duke’s Barefoot Bar in Hanalei has live music, a full bar, and an open-air design that provides the ultimate barefoot beach bar experience.
The Kilauea Lighthouse dates back to 1913 and is now a hot spot for many photographers visiting the island. The Fresnel lens, which could reach 22 miles out to sea, is the crown jewel of this lighthouse. Visitors can see this remarkable lens on a guided tour of the historic lighthouse. It’s also one of the few places you can view a red-footed booby bird in its natural habitat.
Neighborhood to Explore
You can’t miss the charming surfer town of Hanalei when visiting Kauai’s north shore. It’s where you’ll find the best food trucks, a plethora of mom and pop shops, impressive views of the neighboring mountains, and even a few local art galleries. Thanks to this wide variety of local vendors, it is definitely the best place to shop when looking for souvenirs.
Best Place to Snorkel
For snorkelers, Tunnels is the best place to see a large variety of marine life and colorful coral. It’s located on the north shore, just past the town of Hanalei. Similar to most spots on this part of the island, there’s not a lot of parking so it’s best to arrive early in the morning.