Kauai has the natural beautiful sceneries, rich culture, and interesting history that visitors can expect when planning to visit the Hawaiian archipelago. It’s your ideal destination for a holiday packed with outdoor activities and adventure — such as hiking, surfing, zip-lining and rafting to name a few.
This charming island also offers tourists places to relax and pamper themselves whether it’s bathing in the sun on a pristine beach or having a whole-body massage and facial spa.
While you’re here, enhance your cultural knowledge by visiting museums and historic villages, watching Luau shows, or trying out traditional dishes at local restaurants. You can also try horse riding to fully experience the people’s traditions.
Here are some of the best places to visit in Kauai to help you plan your next adventure!
Get up close and personal with turtles at the Na Pali Coast
Stretching nearly 30 kilometers along North Shore Kauai, Na Pali Coast is home to hidden beaches, fascinating sea caves, and spectacular waterfalls.
Go sailing and get a closer look at the sea creatures and get amused by friendly dolphins and elegant turtles. With a captain on board, you don’t need to learn how to sail to enjoy this natural beauty.
Kayak along Wailua River
Explore the Wailua River and Falls by kayaking, a great way to spend a day outdoors.
You can also hike some trails and swim, so be ready with appropriate footwear and swimming gear. Most tours include meals and drinks so you can focus on enjoying your day out.
Hot tip: If you’re eager to see the Fern Grotto (which was once reserved only for royalty), your guide can also take you there.
Go surfing at Kalapaki Beach
If you’ve been dreaming of surfing in Hawaii — where most people come to make their dream a reality — then you arrived on the perfect island. Riding the waves of the Pacific Ocean is one of the exhilarating things to do in Kauai.
Take solo or group surfing lessons if it’s your first time ever surfing or taking on bigger waves. Even if you’re not ready at all, you can get still hop on a surfboard and have the best ride of your life in no time.
Most locals may tell you the best spot on the island is Kalapaki Beach where the waves are gentle and good for learning to surf — plus you get exquisite scenery and family-friendly amenities.
Spend a day on the Island of Niihau
If you have a day to spend, hop on a boat that takes you to the Island of Niihau and see more astonishing natural beauties on this side of the globe.
Aside from its rich history and secrets and mysteries to unveil, this sheltered island beholds spectacular underwater caves, waterfalls, and plenty of trails to explore.
You can easily spend at least six hours in Niihau, which is one of the most essential places to visit in Kauai.
Admire the Waimea Canyon in every angle
When in Kauai, one of the most exciting things is to see the enormous Waimea Canyon with your own eyes — up close if you want. Known to be the second-largest canyon in the United States, it spans over 16 kilometers long and 900 meters deep.
You can absorb its enormity in different ways and look at it from different angles depending on your choice of adventure — by airplane, helicopter or bus. Either way, you won’t be short of enchanting views and awe moments!
Find inner peace at Kauai’s Hindu Temple
Do you ever wonder what monks do inside a monastery? This Hindu temple surrounded by refreshing tropical gardens offers its space for those who seek serenity and peace.
Housing over 20 monks, this hidden temple welcomes visitors, most of them are pilgrims, but also tourists who are interested in finding inner peace and mindfulness.
It’s an ultimate destination after hiking for a few days to relax and rejuvenate.
Take on a challenge to hike the Kalalau Trail
If you’re up for a challenging hike that’s worth a scenic view, then take the Kalalau Trail with almost 20 kilometers of various terrains.
All your efforts get paid off once you find a private beach.
With proper footwear and enthusiasm, there’s no doubt you can finish the trail. Many hikers have done it and, with the magnificent sights, they all agreed it’s absolutely worthwhile!
Frolic at Poipu Beach Park
Bathe in the sun and wade in the clear waters at Poipu Beach Park, one of the quintessential places to visit in Kauai.
A secret gem of the people, this beach has not been frequented by many tourists yet — which means you might have the shore all for yourself.
For those who have been here, they come back for the friendly turtles and seals. Make sure to bring your camera to capture such precious moments!
Feel royal at Queen’s Bath
It does not belong to a royal family, but the Queen’s Bath makes you realize why it has to be called as such once you get in. It’s a special tide pool not many people have heard about, so you may feel it’s an exclusive pool party when you get there.
What’s more amazing about this place is not only that it’s a small swimming pool, but also because it’s a giant sinkhole! Like many others, you might keep coming back because you just can’t get enough.
For a safe experience, check the weather forecast before swimming, as you know the pool depends on Mother Nature.
Travel back in time at Old Koloa Town
Parading an abundance of historical landmarks, fun activities and (of course) shops, this peculiar shopping village is a favorite among locals and visitors.
Discover the Old Kōloa Town which was one of Kauai’s first sugar plantations. Visit renewed historic plantation-era buildings, some of which now house quaint clothes, gift and jewelry stores, art galleries, cafes and restaurants, and many more.
Choose your own path in Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail
There are so many glamorous sights along the Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail and it has something for almost everyone!
Aside from hiking the marvelous trail, you can also spend the day playing golf offering commanding views.
The trail has several paths towards the ocean, so get ready with your swimming wear because you’re sure to end up there whichever direction you take. Put Shipwreck Beach on your list as it’s also the locals’ favorite place for surfing!
See the vibrant sea life by scuba diving or snorkeling in the Koloa Coast
Kauai has a dynamic colorful marine life and there’s no better way to witness it than diving deep into the ocean.
Either scuba diving or snorkeling, there are many tours available that cater to every level of experience whether first-timers in scuba diving or certified divers.
Be present underwater and you might get lucky to encounter the well-known Hawaiian green sea turtles!
Explore the Kokeʻe State Park
Who doesn’t want to breathe fresh air while looking at an amazing view? Nature lovers or not, Koke’e State Park is for everyone!
Spanning the northwest of the island, this wonderful creation of Mother Nature offers many hiking trails with different levels of difficulty. If you want to be sure which trail is suitable for you, the visitor’s lodge has a crew to accommodate you and provide you with guidelines and directions.
If hiking is not for you or you need some time indoors, you can visit the museum there where you can learn the rich history of the island and artworks made by its people.
Enjoy the sun, sea, and food at Hanalei Bay
The largest bay on the North Shore, spanning over 3 kilometers of unspoiled beaches, Hanalei is home to various wildlife, including the endemic waterbirds of Hawaii.
Its soft sands and diverse attractions attract most surfers and tourists, not to mention the surrounding restaurants offering delicious dishes with fresh ingredients.
Why not treat yourself to a satisfying hearty meal after riding your perfect wave and getting your perfect tan?
Have your camera ready at the Spouting Horn
Easily one of the most photographed places to visit in Kauai, Spouting Horn is a picturesque force of nature that inspired local legends.
Capable of blasting water 50 feet into the air, this magnificent blowhole on Kauai’s southern coast shouldn’t be missed on your trip to Old Koloa Town.
Discover the story behind it and the man-eating lizard said to be trapped inside this ancient lava tube.
Visit a restaurant and try a poke bowl
You might have had a Hawaiian poke bowl before coming to the island, but there’s nothing like the experience of having this simple nutritious meal made by the people who have been enjoying it for hundreds of years.
The bowl is typically filled with steamed white rice topped with — the star of the show — raw fish marinated in sesame oil, plus vegetables (avocado if you like) to complement the flavors and nutrients.
This dish has become popular among foodies across the globe and Kauai has plenty of restaurants that serve poke along with other local favorites.
View the ocean from Kilauea Lighthouse
Take in the vastness of the ocean from the viewpoint of this more than 100-year-old lighthouse on the northern tip of Kauai.
Built in 1913, the lighthouse has been restored to its prowess with an amazing lens that can reach over 35 kilometers at sea and visitors can witness its assembly twice a week.
The lighthouse has since been valuable not only to sailing ships but also to airplanes thanks to its powerful beam.
Visit the Museum of Art
Kauai Museum features artworks of the indigenous people and immigrants, inspired by the Hawaiian heritage.
For art lovers, enjoy the unique and intriguing exhibits, and those interested in history, a number of artifacts relating to the indigenous people.
It’s also a perfect destination to learn and have fun when the weather insists on indoor activities, as it’s one of the fascinating places to visit in Kauai.
Take a dip at the Wailua Falls
Wailua Falls has become widely known because of the TV show “Fantasy Island” but also because it’s one of the favorite destinations with its stunning view, especially in the mornings.
With almost 25 meters drop, it offers a beautiful postcard-worthy scene surrounded by greeneries. It can already be seen and easily be accessed from the roadside. Get ready to take a dip if you want a full experience.
Be mesmerized at the National Tropical Botanical Garden
Learn more about the botanical aspect of the island by visiting its charming and flourishing garden.
Local guides can provide you with enough knowledge and insights into Kauai’s flora and fauna, and they can elaborate about the culture too if you ask them!
If you’re considering joining a tour, make sure to book in advance which is required at the Allerton Garden and the MacBryde Garden.