Ringed by beaches, coral reefs, and sea caves, Kauai offers plenty of places to explore the Pacific. Calm, shallow bays are ideal for swimming and beginner surfing, while the reefs that line the dramatic Na Pali Coast boast some of Hawaii’s best snorkeling. Read on for the top ways to get wet on the Garden Isle.
Snorkel off Kauai’s Best Beaches
Clear, shallow beaches across Kauai welcome snorkelers of all experience levels, and near-shore reefs allow you to swim out to some top snorkeling spots. Try Tunnels Beach, Anini Beach, and Hanalei Bay on the North Shore, or Lawai Beach near Koloa on the South Shore. Guided tours take you to the best locations (which varies depending on ocean conditions) and include gear rental.
Sail Along the Na Pali Coast
Towering above Hawaii's northwestern coast, the emerald cliffs and deep valleys of Na Pali are best seen from the water. Explore the shoreline both above and below the surface on a combo sailing and snorkeling cruise. Catamaran cruises offer plenty of space to stretch out, while nimble rafts can dart in and out of sea caves.
Learn to Surf on Hanalei Bay
A sweeping, palm-fringed crescent on Kauai’s North Shore, Hanalei Bay boasts ideal conditions for beginning surfers. Sign up for a lesson that includes surfboard rental, and practice standing up on the beach before paddling out into the calm waves to put your new moves into action.
Swim in Waterfall Pools
You don't have to head out to sea to cool off on Kauai. The island’s lush interior is dotted with dozens of waterfalls that pour into natural swimming pools for a wild, refreshing soak. Many waterfalls can only be reached by hiking or kayaking; to see them without the guesswork, join a guided tour.
Kayak Down the Legendary Wailua River
Considered sacred by native Hawaiians, the Wailua River snakes from Wailua on the East Shore through a tropical state park and a leafy lava cave known as Fern Grotto. Hear ancient legends while paddling down the river on a guided kayak tour. Many tours also stop at Opaekaa Falls or Uluwehi Falls (Secret Falls) for a swim.