What to do on the Island of Kauai

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Things to do on Kauai


The vibe on the island of Kauai is very laid back. When visiting Kauai, you don’t need to spend a lot of money in order to take advantage of the beauty of the island and what it has to offer.

I’ve been to Kauai many times throughout my life. I used to visit Kauai with my Dad as a girl to visit relatives. Kauai is definitely a special place to me.

I’ve put a list of things that visitors like you can do when visiting Kauai.

Hang out on the beach

Kauai has many beaches but my top two recommendations are Hanalei Bay or Poipu Beach.

Hanalei Bay

Hanalei Bay is located on the North side of Kauai. The drive up North is very pretty and lush so try not to fall asleep.

The local kids like to jump off the end of Hanalei Pier into the warm water below.

The backdraft of Hanalei are gorgeous mountains full of greenery so don’t forget to take plenty of pictures.

The Hanalei Pier on the North side of the Island of Kauai is very popular. The backdraft of the green lush mountains makes amazing photos.
Hanalei Pier

Poipu Beach

Poipu Beach is located on the South side of Kauai. There are many hotels and resorts around Poipu Beach so there will be more people on the beach.

The beach is actually split making two separate bays. One bay is better suited for little kids and the opposite bay is better for the more experienced swimmers and adults.

If possible, try and stay for the sunset. If the weather conditions are favorable, you’ll be able to witness a gorgeous sunset.

Poipu Beach is a great beach for families. The water is clean and refreshing.
Poipu Beach

What to do on the Island of Kauai for free:

Spouting Horn Kauai

The spouting horn on Kauai is really neat to watch and you can safely watch it from a safe distance.

Sometimes the height of the water spout gets really high, while other times it barely spouts at all.

Its unpredictable so you’ll just have to keep your camera ready for the perfect shot and that means milliseconds.

I recommend making this a quick stop before heading to Poipu Beach.

The Spouting Horn on the Island of Kauai is a must-see. Buy some souvenirs from the pop-up shops nearby.
Spouting Horn Kauai
PC: Dale Lookholder

What to do on the Island of Kauai to get exercise:

Hike up Nounou aka The Sleeping Giant Mountain

If you want to get some exercise in while vacationing on the Island of Kauai, go and hike the Nounou Trail.
The Sleeping Giant Mountain Hike
PC: Honolulu Magazine

Take a swim at Queen’s Bath

Queen’s Bath is located in Princeville, which is on the North side of Kauai.

Take note that Queen’s Bath is only this calm during the Summer months. I do not recommend you waste your time to try and find this during the Winter because it is dangerous.

The waves are big and choppy and you can easily get hurt if you even try to attempt on going in.

In order to get to Queen’s bath you will have to take a 10 minute hike down from the parking lot and then another 20 minute hike on the rocks heading left. It is not ideal if you have small kids with you.

This place is popular and the parking is very limited so I would advise you to go early or try again another day as the residences nearby has little tolerance from folks to park illegally.

The queen's bath is safe only during the Summer. Don't waste your time finding this place during the Winter months as it will be too dangerous.
Queen’s Bath Kauai

What to do on the Island of Kauai for families:

Go snorkeling at Lyndgate

This beach is a family friendly beach that is protected from the waves by a rock wall.

It is very good for snorkeling but make sure you keep an eye out on your kids because there is no lifeguard on duty at this beach.

If you're looking for a safe beach for your kids to snorkel while on Kauai, take them to Lyndgate Beach.
Lyndgate Beach, Kauai

What to do on the Island of Kauai:

Drive thru the Tree Tunnel

When you head toward Poipu or Koloa, you will likely get a chance to drive through this gorgeous tree tunnel.

The stretch of the tunnel is over a mile long so enjoy the ride while it lasts. There is no where to pull on the side for photos so if you are driving, have your passenger take the photos or videos for you.

The tree tunnel is one of Kauai pride and joy landmarks.

The tree tunnel on Kauai will lead you in and out of Koloa/Poipu. The best time to drive through the tunnel is during the day.
Tree Tunnel Kauai

Cross the Swinging Bridge

When passing through the small town of Hanapepe, make a stop to cross the swinging bridge.

Don’t let the sound of this give you much anxiety because this bridge is quite durable despite the creaking sound of the wood.

Stop by and say hello to the lady in the art studio on the other side.

When on the Island of Kauai, drive to the little town of Hanapepe and cross this swinging bridge.
Swinging Bridge Hanapepe

Drive up Koke’e

Unless you are going to hike to take a helicopter to see Waimea Canyon, you’re won’t be able to avoid the drive up Kokee.

If you are prone to motion sickness, the road up Kokee can be challenging because there are many turns and the drive is a continuous incline up the mountain so be prepared.

Before going up, I would recommend that you use the bathroom somewhere in Waimea town because there won’t be any restrooms until you get to the Waimea State Park.

You may want to pick up something cold to drink because it’s going to be hot out.

The drive up Kokee will take you to the Waimea Canyon and the Kalalau lookout. The ride is a little rough because of all the turns so be prepared.
Drive up Kokee, Kauai

Visit the Waimea Canyon

Whether you drove, hiked, or flew to Waimea Canyon the view at the top is worth it.

I have been there many times and it always takes my breath away.

It always blows my mind to think that there is a MINI Grand Canyon in Hawaii.

When you get to the viewing area look to your left and see if you can spot the waterfall.

Waimea Canyon on the Island of Kauai is a gem. It'll be hot up there so make sure you pack extra water before heading up.
The Gorgeous Waimea Canyon

Kalalau Lookout

If you made it up to Waimea Canyon, you may as well drive a little more up the road and go to the Kalalau Lookout.

The Kalalau Lookout another view that still amazes me.

I would even go as far to say that this is a proposal worthy spot.

The Kalalau Lookout is breathtaking. If you made it up to Waimea Canyon, you may as well drive a little more and find Kalalau.
Kalalau Lookout on Kauai

Go for a Bicycle Ride

If you are staying in the Kapaa area, I would suggest you rent a bicycle.

There are different places that has bicycles for rent and it’s not very expensive.

Kapaa has the worst traffic on the island so biking around Kapaa is a better option especially if you intend on staying within the area.

There is also a nice bike path that runs parallel to the coast so don’t forget to leave your GoPro on at all times.

If you're staying in the Kapaa area in Kauai, I recommend renting a bicycle to get you around the area. There's a lot of traffic in Kapaa so if you need to go somewhere close, use a bicycle instead.
Rent a bicycle in Kapaa
PC: James Kirkikis

Kayak the Wailua River

If you want to get some physical activity during your trip, rent a kayak and paddle up the Wailua River.

There are several places that you can rent a kayak from but I highly suggest renting from a company that is next to the river.

The paddle up, starting from the bridge overpass, is about 40-50 minutes.

Once you get to the top, you can either go left at the fork and take a swim or stay right and proceed to a 45-minute hike up to Secret Falls.

If you are feeling frumpy and need to get out and exercise, kayak the Wailua River. A 45 minute paddle will get you to the secret falls island.
Kayak Wailua River, Kauai

Hike to Secret Falls

When someone asks me where to go on Kauai, I always recommend Secret Falls.

You will need to first get to the island by kayak/paddling then hike 45-minutes up toward the falls.

When you get to the top, you will see a magnificent waterfall. The water is cold and refreshing.

There’s a lot of rocks at the bottom so if you decided to go, don’t forget to bring your water shoes.

One of my favorite places to go whenever I'm on Kauai is Secret Falls. I love swimming around in the cold water.
Secret Falls, Kauai

What to do on the Island of Kauai for a relaxing time:

Mountain Tubing

This mountain tubing activity is very relaxing. Think the opposite of river rafting.

Most of the ride is slow but enjoyable and if you don’t know how to swim, no problem!

The water is cold but shallow and the tubes are made from durable plastic.

There is one part where you will go through a cave so that explains the helmet and head light.

If you want to do something relaxing, consider mountain tubing. The water is cold and shallow. You'll feel refreshed and clean at the end of the tour.
Mountain Tubing, Kauai

Go Ziplining

Ziplining is always fun.

If you have the extra time and money, why not zipline over the lush vegetation of the Garden Island.

Why not zipline over the lush green vegetation over the Kauai rainforest.
Zipline Kauai

Go for a Horseback Ride

The Princeville area is beautiful and so are horses.

This relaxing horseback ride is so awesome and the horses are so friendly.

If you're in the Princeville area on the island of Kauai and you have extra time, consider going on a horseback ride. The lush mountains in the distance makes amazing photos.
Horseback Riding on Kauai

What to do on the Island of Kauai that you won’t regret:

Catch a Charter to the Na Pali Coast

The Na Pali Coast of Kauai is the superstar of the island.

The best way to access the Na Pali is by boat. You can jump on a charter that departs from the North (Hanalei) side of the island or the West (Eleele). I recommend departing from the North side.

During the winter months the ocean can get rough and your tour has a higher probability of cancelling so plan this excursion during the summer.

The Na Pali Coast on Kauai is one of the must-do's. The ocean is choppy during the Winter months so if you want to do this excursion, wait till the Summer.
Na Pali Coast, Kauai

Take a Helicopter Tour

Of all the activities that I have listed, taking a helicopter tour is by far the most costly.

It’s a hard pill to swallow but you can’t get the same views any other way.

Whenever I book an activity that needs any justification, it always comes down to “YOLO” (You Only Live Once)!

If your budget allows, consider taking a helicopter ride over the Island of Kauai to get a birds view over the Garden Isle.
Helicopter over Kauai

If you want to learn a little more about the Island of Kauai, check out my other blog: Kauai Overview