Kaua’i is my favourite Hawaiian island so far. Known as the “Garden Isle” it is lush and green and apparently rains a fair amount. Fortunately for me, both times I’ve visited Kaua’i it has only rained once each time, and not very much! I found that it is clear of smoke and ash from volcanoes—that is a perk for those of us with asthma.
Kaua’i offers so much to do for all age groups and interests from beach fun to hiking and river adventures to golfing. I’m only going to cover the top 7 right now and I will need to visit again and again for more inspiration. 😉
Rent a Car
You can’t visit Kaua’i without renting a car. It’s a small island and easy to explore by vehicle so please don’t stay at your hotel for your entire vacation! The first time I visited Kaua’i I stayed in Princeville and it took about an hour to drive to Waimea Canyon, not bad. On my last visit I decided to stay in Wailua, as it was more central for driving, and next time I’ll possibly stay in Poipu for another type of experience. Check out this chart for estimated driving times.
Some fun things to take note of while on a self-guided island tour are driving through the tree tunnel on Maliuhi Road, seeing the Spouting Horn (water bursting through a hole in the lava rock), visiting Glass Beach (not much glass left), and snorkelling at the many beaches. A “must stop” is at Kauai Coffee Company…I had to stock up on my favourite roasts and am drinking a new one right now…Aunty Aloha. Yum!
Lydgate Beach Park by the Hilton Garden Inn, is a great place for safe snorkelling for all ages. The breakwater allows small fish in and when they grow they can’t fit back through the holes they entered by, so you may see many types of colourful tropical fish! While in the Princeville area, stop at the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge and Lighthouse as well as taking a look at the church made from lava rock! Don’t miss stopping at The Shrimp Station in Waimea or Kapaa for a plate full of fresh and delicious shrimp under $15! My favourite is the garlic shrimp…and coconut shrimp is very tasty as well!
Sunset Dinner Cruise
The only three ways to see the Na Pali Coast are by boat, helicopter, and by hiking. We chose the first two options. 🙂 We booked our cruise through Capt Andy’s and had an amazing experience aboard the Southern Star luxury catamaran. The 4-hour cruise with a fantastic, experienced crew, allowed us to see whales and dolphins in their natural environment, see the stunning coastline where many movies such as Pirates of the Caribbean and Jurassic Park were filmed and were served a delicious dinner of steak and prawns with an amazing cheesecake dessert.
The best way to see all of Kaua’i is by helicopter. So much of the island can only be seen by air as it is preserved. You’ll be able to experience flying into the centre of the original crater from the volcano where Kaua’i originated. We booked through Blue Hawaiian and it was a spectacular tour. Our pilot was very knowledgeable, entertaining, and kept us engaged and interested in the history of Kaua’i.
Waimea Canyon and Waipo’o Falls
Well worth the drive for the stunning view of the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”! If you are into hiking, there are trails that you can explore and hike throughout the Canyon and into the Waipo’o Falls.
Visit the Many Farmers’ Markets
I have to say that this was one of the best things we did on our first day exploring Kaua’i. The first thing we did after picking up our rental car was to stop at the Kaua’i Community College Farmers Market in Lihu’e. I was impressed with the wide variety of fresh meat and produce sold by local farmers. I even tried an apple-banana, which I’d never heard of before this visit. We stocked up on enough grass-fed beef, farm fresh eggs, freshly made goat cheese, and just picked vegetables to last the 10 days of our stay. Cooking in our hotel room was easy using an electric frying pan newly purchased from Walmart. Next time we’ll stay in a condo again with a full kitchen just to make cooking a bit easier. 🙂
See the Rainbow Eucalyptus Trees
We were pleasantly surprised to see these colourful trees in the middle of Kaua’i at the Keahua Arboretum. It was a short drive from where we were staying and such a fascinating tree to see and touch. I had no idea that trees grow this way!
With all the rainfall, it’s no surprise that Kaua’i has many amazing waterfalls! One of the most famous is Wailua Falls, featured in the 1970s television show “Fantasy Island”. Who remembers this show?
On your drive to Keahua Arboretum, you can’t miss Opaeka’a Falls on the right-hand side of the road. There’s a nice pull-out and easy walk to view the falls a bit closer.
And of course, the waterfalls mentioned above in Waimea Canyon, Waipo’o Falls.
Okay…that’s slightly more than 7 things to do and that is barely a start. Next time on Kaua’i I hope to explore movie tours, tubing adventures, snorkelling, and sample meals from the many different food trucks!
Enjoy your visit to Kaua’i and don’t be surprised to see wild hens, roosters, and baby chicks everywhere you turn!