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Things to do in Kauai

Things to do in  Kauai

Welcome to Kauai

Time has dramatically carved the landscape of Kauai, the northernmost and oldest of the main Hawaiian Islands. It has a more rural and intimate feel than neighboring Oahu, and still teems with authentic Hawaiian culture and heritage. Lush and enchanting, many of the aptly named Garden Isle’s natural wonders are seen only by air or water, and myriad tours and backcountry adventures abound. A first stop for many visitors is the western Na Pali Coast, where snorkel, kayak, and sunset sailing cruises navigate the waters beneath steep, brilliantly hued mountain ridges framing waterfalls and deep valleys. Some boat tours visit sea caves and nearby Niihau, the Forbidden Island, or ply the Pacific in search of spinner dolphins and migrating humpback whales. Back on land, coursing down trails on a mountain bike is an exhilarating way to explore Waimea Canyon—the Grand Canyon of the Pacific—and neighboring Koke'e State Park. Head east to the serene Wailua River for kayaking and hiking among fern grottos and hidden waterfalls. Down south, fly through the treetops on a Koloa zipline tour. And then, of course, there are Kauai’s heavenly beaches—Hanalei Bay and Spouting Horn are two of the island’s most scenic. Come evening, head to Luau Kalamaku for Hawaiian cuisine and Polynesian entertainment. And don’t be fooled by Kauai’s small size: There is a lot to do, so a multi-day tour may be the best way to see it all—or if you’re short on time, a helicopter tour reveals Kauai’s natural beauty from above.

Top 10 attractions in Kauai

#1

Na Pali Coast

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Kauai’s Na Pali Coast is famous for its seaside beauty, marine life and water sports. The 15-mile (24 km) length of coast is lined by cliffs, white-sand beaches and turquoise sea. Come here to whale watch or spot dolphins and monk seals on an eco-cruise or sailing adventure. Follow the Kalalau Trail to go hiking across the cliff tops to Hanakapiai beach and waterfalls. Say hello to the local marine life on a snorkeling excursion, with the opportunity to see tropical fish and green sea turtles.More
#2

Wailua River

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Kauai’s Wailua River runs from the volcanic Wailua crater to the coast, flowing through the Wailua River State Park. It’s Hawaii’s only navigable river, so make the most of the experience with a boat tour or cruise into the island’s rugged interior. Along the way, you’ll pass waterfalls, nature reserves and walking trails as the river slowly meanders its way inland. The river’s highlights are Fern Grotto, Wailua Falls and Secret Falls, reached by a secluded walking trail.More
#3

Hanalei Bay

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One of Kauai’s most beautiful stretches of water, Hanalei Bay is a hub for watersports on the island’s north shore. Flanked by idyllic stretches of beach and backed by mountains, the bayside town of Hanalei is filled with shops renting kayaks, sailing boats, surfboards. Come here to soak up the rays on the beach, dip your toe in the water, take a stroll on the pier or bring a picnic to enjoy on the sand.More
#4

Waimea Canyon

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Known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, Waimea Canyon is a wild and wonderful river gorge. Carved over the millennia by the volcanic activity and the floodwaters of the Waimea River, the red rock canyon measures up 16 km long, and 900 m deep. Known for its spectacular views and hiking trails, Waimea Canyon offers plenty of scenic lookouts, picnic areas and nature trails.More
#5

Mt. Waialeale

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Be prepared for more colors of green than you’ve ever seen before in the area surrounding Kauai’s central Mt. Waialeale—it’s one of the wettest places on planet Earth, receiving more than 450 inches of rainfall each year. It’s dominating sheer green 5,066 cliff wall has also been called the Wall of Tears, for the many waterfalls that fill its crevices and stream down its face during frequent rains. And, if the setting looks familiar, that could be because it starred as the backdrop for opening scenes of the original 1992 Jurassic Park movie. To get to the base of Waialeale, and to the the Wailua River, you’ll have to take a 4x4 down the bumpy Wailua Forestry Management Road and then trek in. Alternatively, several helicopter tours take you much closer to its cliff face—and its waterfalls—than you could easily get to on a hike.More
#6

Menehune Fish Pond

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The Menehune Fishpond is scenic—set amid lush jungle where craggy mountains are close enough to frame the edges of a killer sunset photo shot. But this giant pool of green-brown water has been attributed mythical qualities that are evident even in its name. Menehune is a mysterious race of little people—some say they’re like Hawaiian leprechauns—that have been credited with building sites throughout the Hawaiian Islands swiftly and stealthily. Legend has it they built this particular 39-acre loko wai (freshwater pond) by passing stones to each other from the village of Makaweli more than two dozen miles away, damming up the Hule’ia River with walls 900 feet long and five feet tall. In a single night. To get up close and personal with the work of the Menehune, join a kayak tour of the Hule’ia—it’s the only way to gain access into the otherwise off-limits Hule’ia National Wildlife Refuge that surrounds the pond.More
#7

Spouting Horn

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When the island of Kauai erupted from the sea between 4 and 5 million years ago, parts of the coastline were riddled with tubes where molten lava once flowed. One of those spots is the Spouting Horn on the island’s southern coast, where waves are channeled into the tube before violently erupting in a saltwater geyser over 50 feet in the air. Compared to other Hawaiian blowholes, what makes Kauai’s Spouting Horn unique is the guttural moan that precedes the powerful eruption. A second, smaller hole in the rocks funnels air as opposed to water, and the result is a sound that makes it seem like the rocks themselves are groaning. No wonder Hawaiians believed that a mo’o was stuck inside of the rocks—a mischievous lizard of Polynesian lore that can still be heard to this day. Once finished admiring the geyser and feeling the ocean’s fury, peruse the homemade souvenir stalls erected by local vendors.More
#8

Niihau

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Known as the Forbidden Island, Niʻihau is mostly untouched by outsiders, creating a microcosm of Hawaiian history and culture. Just 17 miles (27 kilometers) off the coast of Kauai, the island’s fewer than 200 residents speak Hawaiian and live without cars, electricity, and modern amenities.More
#9

Wailua Falls

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Kauai is known as “The Garden Isle” for its exceptionally verdant beauty, and when you first catch sight of Wailua Falls it’s easy to understand why. Spilling 80 feet over a rocky ledge into a fresh water pool below, this double-streamed, misty cascade so perfectly captures the tropical essence that it was used as part of the opening scene for the TV show, Fantasy Island. And, while there’s definitely no shortage of waterfalls on Kauai, what makes Wailua Falls so popular is the fact that you can see the falls without even having to hike. As you follow rural, Ma’alu Road as it twists its way up the mountain, there will eventually be a large parking lot approximately four miles up from the highway. Here, from a sweeping viewpoint on a country road looking over Wailua Stream, a heart-stopping view of Wailua Falls is only a few steps away.More
#10

Opaekaa Falls

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Kaua‘i, is green, and Kaua‘i is wet—but that’s also why it’s so beautiful. Parts of the island receive over 400 inches of rainfall every year, and all that rain means the “Garden Isle” is dripping in dozens of waterfalls. While some of these waterfalls require trekking through mud just to gain a glimpse of their splendor, others ones such as Opaeka‘a Falls only require stepping out of the car. Tumbling just over 150’, Opaeka‘a Falls is a year-round waterfall that is guaranteed to be flowing. The falls usually feature two separate streams that splash their way down the cliff face, but after periods of especially heavy rain, the two falls can merge into a single, explosive cascade. Whatever the size, the best time to visit is usually in the late morning when the falls are bathed in sunlight—and if it happens to be cloudy day, the falls are so close and easily accessible it’s easy to pay another visit.More

Trip ideas

Top Hiking Trails on Kauai

Top Hiking Trails on Kauai

How to Get Off the Beaten Path on Kauai

How to Get Off the Beaten Path on Kauai

Best Beaches on Kauai

Best Beaches on Kauai

Recent reviews from experiences in Kauai

star-5
Great Experience
Christopher, Nov 2020
Wailua River Kayak and Sacred Fall Hike Adventure
The Waterfall was the icing on top and we got to swim and relax after some lunch.
star-5
Travel through the Covid 19 Pandemic
James_T, Jan 2021
Kauai Adventure Bundle: 4 Epic Audio Driving Tours
Most attractions were either closed or limited to what was being offered.
star-5
I highly recommend this tour
ANNA_D, Dec 2020
Private Luxury Tour of Kauai: South & West Shores
We saw notable sites such as Opaeka'a Falls, Waimea Canyon, the Spouting Horn and the Tunnel of Trees.
star-5
Amazing experience, must do!
Vivian_L, Nov 2020
Wailua River Kayak and Sacred Fall Hike Adventure
The waterfall was absolutely breathtaking.
star-5
Adventure sunset cruise
Norman_Q, Nov 2020
'IMILOA - Express Na Pali Sunset Cruise
It was amazing to see the ocean blue waters with its exciting waves crash against the rusty brown soil of Kauai with its lush green vegetation.
star-5
Mandatory tour in Kauai
David, Mar 2020
Entire Kauai Island Air Tour
Spectacular tour, mandatory when you are in Kauai, you fly over the whole island seeing the main attractions from another perspective, the pilot / guide will give all the instructions of the places adding a lot of value, besides seeing beautiful land
star-5
Spectacular views! Wow!
Micha_H, Mar 2020
Entire Kauai Island Air Tour
Highly recommended to see Kauai this way...!
star-5
Great Experience
Billy_R, Mar 2020
Secret Kauai Tour
If you want to see Kauai hire Dj and Simon.
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Personalized
steve_B, Feb 2020
Secret Kauai Tour
It was first time in Kauai, so he could have offered more suggestions of what to do.
star-5
Cave tour
sackettnlf, Jan 2020
Makauwahi Cave Tour
Great change from the usual water activities.
star-5
Awesome adventure
roseX4, Sep 2019
Na Pali Coast Kauai Snorkel and Sail
A great way to see that side of Kauai and the amazing Na Pali Coast.
star-5
Awesome tour!
Dream42766196802, Sep 2019
Kauai ECO Adventure Helicopter Tour
The waterfalls and mountains are breath taking!
star-5
Fantastic views
Adventurer756537, Jul 2019
Kauai Shore Excursion: 55-minute Helicopter Adventure Flight
Perfect way to see the beauty of Kauai.
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Na'Pali Cruise
Stephanie F, Jun 2019
Na Pali Sunset & Sightsee Dinner Cruise
The captain was knowledgeable about the history of the coast and we got to see where several movies were filmed.
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Highly Recommend this all-day adventure!
Leigh, Apr 2020
Wailua River Kayak and Sacred Fall Hike Adventure
Swimming under the waterfall was a highlight of the day for me.
star-5
Must do while in Kauai
Phillip M, Jul 2018
Kauai ECO Adventure Helicopter Tour
Best way to see all of Kauai.
star-5
Amazing Tour with Private Guide
Climber42553423575, Feb 2019
Private Luxury Tour of Kauai: North & East Shores
We selected to see the North and East sides of Kauai.
star-5
This was an unbelievable experience...
bonne.becker, Aug 2016
Paddle Kauai Jungle Streams and Hike
The Kayaking was a first time event for the three of us, and the climb to this breathtaking waterfall was not to be missed.
star-5
The tour guide, John, was so...
dolly, May 2016
Private Kauai North Shore Tour
If you want to see the ins and outs of Kauai and learn a lot, then we recommend this company.
star-5
This trip was amazing! My husband...
Christopher J, Jan 2017
Na Pali Sunset & Sightsee Dinner Cruise
I would definitely recommend this trip to anyone who is going to visit Kauai.

Frequently Asked Questions

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