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50 things to do in Kauai
There are so many things to do in Kauai. Kauai is truly a fantastic place and offers a bit of everything from epic hikes to beautiful waterfalls to stunning beaches and so far more.
Kauai is the perfect destination for your next vacation. However, there are so many amazing things to do in Kauai that it can be hard to narrow down what to do first. So, to help you out, I have put together this guide to the best activities that Kauai offers.
Hawaii has four main Hawaiian islands for tourism, Oahu, Maui, Big Island, and Kauai. Kauai is the least developed and least visited of the four main islands. However, that doesn’t mean that there are not an abundance of things to do in Kauai! It’s my favorite island, and I think you’ll love it too.
Do I need a rental car in Kauai?
Before we get started with this list of things to do in Kauai, let’s talk rental cars. A common misconception is that public transportation is available in Hawaii, but outside of Oahu, that isn’t necessarily the case.
You’ll definitely need a rental car in Kauai. Again, I recommend Discount Hawaii Car Rental. You’ll find the best prices on rental cars, and you can reserve now and pay at the Lihue airport!
There are too many things to do in Kauai to limit yourself to staying at a resort the entire time; I can’t imagine doing that!
50 Things to do in Kauai
Kauai offers a little bit of everything from kayaking to snorkeling to some of the most epic hikes in Hawaii. It is truly an outdoor lovers’ paradise.
However, you don’t have to be an avid hiker or outdoorsman to enjoy your time in Kauai. I’ve booked Kauai vacations for families with kids of all ages and older adults. There are plenty of easily accessible attractions and waterfalls, and a guided tour is always an option.
I have a 4-day Kauai itinerary and a 7-day Kauai itinerary to help you plan your Kauai vacation, but for now, let’s get to the list of things to do in Kauai. This list has something for everyone, from those loving adventure to those who want to take it slow and relax.
*A note, I originally had Queen’s Bath on here but removed it for safety reasons. If you do want to see Queen’s Bath, please only view it from above and do not attempt to access it.
1. Coffee at Rainbeau Jo’s
But first, coffee! See what I did there? So whether you need a pick-me-up after getting off the plane, or just a coffee any day of the week, check out Rainbeau Jo’s! I heard the bagels are excellent too.
Bonus, they have lots of dairy-free/vegan coffee options! Did I mention it’s locally sourced and organic?! Fun fact: I still have one of my glass jars I got four years ago, and the sticker is still on. I had two, but one broke in early 2023.
Coconut milk and maple syrup and seriously so good!
2. Sunrise hike at Sleeping Giant
This is the best sunrise hike in Kauai. It’s my favorite, and I’ll do it over and over again. You can do this hike with a shelter dog (more on that next) as long as they are up for it!
I’d highly recommend it to anyone. It’s about 2 miles up and much easier on the way back down. I would bring a flashlight or headlamp to make your life much easier. For more hikes, check out the best hikes in Kauai.
3. Take a shelter dog on a field trip
Taking a shelter dog on field trips is one of the best things to do in Kauai. The Kauai Humane Society has an excellent program where you can take a shelter dog on a field trip.
They will give you lots of suggestions on where to go; we took our shelter dog (her name is Ellen) to the Keahua Arboretum for a hike. You can take your shelter dog on several other hikes and even to Wailua Shave Ice for a puppy treat.
Our shelter dog was so sweet, and I wanted to bring her home.
4. Get juice at Kauai Juice Co.
Kauai Juice Co. has grown so much since my first trip to Kauai. They have 3 locations on Kauai, and their kombucha is sold almost everywhere.
Although I’m sure the kombucha is excellent, I love the juice! My recommendations are Akala, Omega, or Avatar. You can’t go wrong; I’ve never had a juice that I didn’t love.
5. Rent a bike and ride down the bike path
The Ke Ala Hele Makalae Path is a great place to ride bikes, go for a jog, or you can take your shelter dog! There are plenty of places to rent bikes, and some local hotels, such as the ISO, have them available for guests.
There are plenty of beaches along the path if you want to stop, hop in, and cool off. You’ll also find local vendors selling fruit coconuts and other local fruits.
After that, check out 20 Best Places to Eat in Kapaa Kauai.
6. Hike in Waimea Canyon State park
Waimea Canyon is called the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” It is one of many natural wonders in Kauai. Choose from several trails and hike in to check it out. These include:
- Waimea Canyon lookout (Not a trial, but a lookout)
- Kukui Trail (5 miles)
- Waimea Canyon Trail (12.9 miles)
- Waimea Canyon River Trail (10.4 miles)
- Iliau Nature Trail (.5 mile)
7. Visit Koke’e State Park
Check out the Na Pali coast lookout or hike the many trails at Koke’e State Park. The Awa’awapuhi trail is my pick for epic views of the Na Pali coast.
The end of the Awa’awapuhi Trail
8. Take a helicopter tour with Blue Hawaiian
This is one of the best ways to truly see the garden isle. You’ll have stunning views of the Na Pali Coast that you can’t see from anywhere else. The best time for a helicopter tour is in the morning. However, sometimes it rains in the afternoon, so try to schedule your tour in the morning if possible.
9. Whale watch (in the winter)
Take a whale-watching tour in the winter to see the humpback whales that call the islands their home during this time of the year.
10. Hit the golf courses
If you’re a golfer, Kauai has many fantastic golf courses to check out. The public and resort courses in Kauai include:
- Ocean Course at Hokuala (Lihue)
- Wailua Golf Course (Lihue)
- Puakea Golf Course (Lihue)
- Kiahuna Golf Club (Koloa)
- Poipu Bay Golf Course (Koloa)
- Kukuiolono Golf Club (Kalaheo)
- Princeville Makai Golf Course (Princeville)
I have a blog post with eight golf courses in Kauai that goes into even more detail.
11. Take a sunset dinner cruise on the Na Pali coast
The three ways to see the Na Pali coast are by boat, air, or hike. Seeing the Na Pali is a must if it’s your first time in Kauai (or even if it isn’t).
Take a sunset dinner cruise and enjoy it from the water. I recommend Holo Holo Charters. A boat trip of the Na Pali Coast is one of the favorite things visitors can do on the island of KauBoatboat tours are the best way to see the Na Pali C if you’re not comfortable going up in a helicopter.
If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, try a sail and snorkel tour with Holo Holo Charters instead. The waves can be pretty crazy in the winter months, so know where you go will depend on this. The Napali Coast is a bit easier to access in the calm summer months.
12. Drive to Wailua Falls
This waterfall is VERY easy to access, and you can drive right up to it. Some people do go down to the bottom (despite the fences and signs), but you can get a great view right from the parking lot!
Wailua Falls is a great way to see a waterfall with kids who aren’t into hiking very far. Although most waterfalls in Kauai can be difficult to see, this one has easy access and is a must-see for everyone. It’s a short drive and one of the best spots to see a waterfall on the entire island.
13. Hike the Kalalau Trail (or part of it)
If you aren’t up for the 11-mile challenging hike, you can hike 2 miles to Hanakapiai Falls or Hanakapiai Beach. The Kalalau Trail is open again but requires a permit.
And yes, it’s 11 miles ONE WAY, so you’d likely need to camp at the beach if you go all the way. Most people won’t do that, but hiking part of the trail is doable for most! The views of the pacific ocean from this part of the island is spectacular and well worth it.
If you’d like to visit Kalalau Beach, you must hike all the way in; there’s no other way to see it except from the air.
You might also enjoy the 7 best hikes in Kauai.
14. Visit Hanalei town to shop and eat
The small town of Hanalei is the perfect day trip (or half-day trip) if you’re staying on the south shore. It’s not far, but it’s a completely different world. There are plenty of surf shops and great places to eat, as well as beaches and hikes.
I’ve mentioned several of these beaches and places to eat (such as the food trucks!) on this list of things to do in Kauai.
15. Visit the Polihale State Park
Polihale State Park is a remote beach on the East side of Kauai. The road to this Polihale State Park is 5 miles of gravel, but it’s worth it! Just check your rental agreement because some would consider this off-road.
This beach is huge, and you’ll find primarily locals here. However, if. If this beach is too far out of the way for you, there are so many more options. Check out the 10 best beaches in Kauai to find the perfect beach for you.
16. Check out Kilauea Lighthouse
Check out the Kilauea Lighthouse and offshore bird sanctuary for just five dollars per person. You may even spot a laysan albatross or red-footed booby at the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge.
17. Kayak Wailua River
You can rent a kayak and explore on your own or take a tour of the Wailua River. The Wailua River is 20 miles long and Kauaʻi’s largest navigable river. Kauai has the only navigable rivers in Hawaii!
18. Drive through the tree tunnel
This isn’t really one of the things to do in Kauai that you need to plan, but it’s still worth mentioning because it’s quite a sight to see.
If you’re heading to Poipu or Koloa, you’ll make your way through the tree tunnel. Do not stop and block traffic for a photo, but it’s such a cool thing to see! Bonus, you can see it from above if you take a helicopter tour.
19. Check out Spouting Horn
If you’re in the Koloa area, make sure to check out Spouting Horn. It’s not a place where you’ll spend a lot of time, but the water can go up to 50 feet high, and it’s an exciting sight.
Please follow the signs and take precautions. Do not walk down near the Spouting Horn. It can be very dangerous.
20. Check out Tiki Taco in Kapa’a
I know it might sound weird to go to Hawaii for tacos, but hear me out. This taco specialty shop is Mexican food with a Hawaiian flair.
They have organic options, vegetarian and vegan options, and everything is gluten-free. My #1 choice is the tofu taco, and my husband says the shrimp taco is his favorite.
It’s delicious and has something for everyone. Every time we go to Kauai, we find ourselves eating here more than anywhere else. As a bonus, it’s one of the cheapest places to eat on the island.
21. Find sea glass at Glass Beach
If you think you’re lost on the way to Glass Beach, you’re not! It’s just outside of the industrial part of downtown Lihue.
We even saw some Hawaiian monk seals on our last trip to Glass Beals! So, if you’re lucky, you may spot a Hawaiian monk seal in Kauai too.
Depending on when you visit, you may see lots of glass treasures wash up on the shore.
22. Float Down Sugar Cane Irrigation Canals
I haven’t tried Mountain Tubing with Kauai Backcountry Adventures, but it’s on my list of things to do on Kauai! I
always tell my clients not to think they’ll get to do everything on the island. There are still plenty of things that I haven’t done, and I’ve been to the islands a lot.
23. Go to a luau
When you think of things to do on Kauai, or in Hawaii in general, you probably think of a luau. I recommend the Smith Family Luau.
I do recommend booking a luau in advance as this popular Kauai attraction does sell out in advance.
24. Check out Wailua Shave Ice
You have to get shave ice while you’re on Kauai, and Wailua Shave Ice is the best. They even have options for dogs if you bring a shelter dog with you! By the way, it’s SHAVE ice, not shaved ice.
25. Dine with your toes in the sand at Lava Lava Beach Club
There aren’t quite as many beach-front dining options on Kauai as the other islands, but there are a few!
Lava Lava Beach Club is one where you can dine with your toes in the sand. Make sure to check out Happy Hour for drink specials and great prices on appetizers. I have an entire blog post about the best happy hours in Kauai for even more great deals on food and drinks.
26. Visit Ke’e Beach
It is said that hula originated at Ke’e Beach. This is one of Kauai’s most beautiful and secluded beaches past Haena State Park on Kauai’s north shore.
You might also want to visit nearby Secret Beach (aka Kauapea Beach.) This beach isn’t as easy to access, but it’s a large, beautiful beach and rarely ever crowded.
Just keep in mind that due to the privacy of the beach, some have tried to make it a nude beach. It is not officially a nude beach, but if you venture too far to the east side, you may see some nude or topless sunbathing.
27. Check out the food trucks in Hanalei
If you love food trucks, Hanalei will be the perfect place for you. Here are a few of your options:
- Cafe Turmeric (my favorite!)
- Fresh Bite Kauai
- Aloha Juice Bar
- Kealia Poke
- Trucking Delicious
- Hanalei Taro and Juice Co.
- Wishing Well Shave Ice
- Saenz Ohana Breakfast
- Pat’s Taqueria
28. Snorkel at Tunnels Beach
Snorkeling on a sailing trip is great, but if you want to snorkel on your own, Tunnels Beach is one of the best places to snorkel in Kauai. There are places around the island to rent snorkel gear, but I recommend bringing your own if possible.
Most tours provide sanitized gear, but I would still recommend bringing your own.
You can check out some of my favorites on my Amazon storefront or in the links below.
29. Take a surf or SUP lesson at Hanalei Bay
Hanalei Beach is a great spot to take a surf or SUP lesson. The calm waters of the bay are perfect for beginners. Of course, if. If you’re not a complete beginner, you can always rent a SUP or surf board and hit the bay on your own.
Kayaking is yet another option since Hanalei Bay is protected.
30. Hike the maha’ulepu heritage trail
This 3.7-mile out-and-back trail is near Koloa and is considered moderate difficulty. This seaside trail goes from Shipwreck’s Beach to Punahoa Point.
31. Visit Allerton Garden in Koloa
If you or someone traveling with you loves Botanical Gardens, check out Allerton Garden in Koloa.
32. Dine with your toes in the sand at Lava Lava Beach CLava Lava Beach Club is one
33. Have a juice at Kauai Juice Co.
Yes, the juice is so good that it has its own spot on this list of things to do in Kauai!
Kauai Juice Co. uses many local ingredients and has the best juice and kombucha I’ve ever tried.
34. Beach hop on the south shore
There are so many beautiful beaches on the south shore of Kauai. Visit one or visit all of them. I recommend checking out Poipu Beach and Shipwreck Beach to start. Here are a few others:
- Kukuiʻula Harbor Beach
- Gillins Beach (this one has sand dunes!)
- Lydgate Beach
- Donkey Beach
- Baby Beach
- Brennecke’s Beach
- Kealia Beach
The beaches on the south shore are also some of the best spots to see green Hawaiian green sea turtles!
35. Check out glimpses of Jurassic Park
I always tell my clients that Hawaii is not a theme park. In fact, it’s not even close. If you head to Hawaii thinking you’ll find a lot of Jurassic Park stuff, you really won’t. Try Orlando. 🙂
However, you can catch some glimpses of Jurassic Park in Kauai. The best way is by helicopter tour, where you’ll see Jurassic Falls (actually, Manawaiopuna Falls.) Unfortunately, the only way to see this waterfall is by helicopter or plane tour; it’s not accessible by car or hiking!
Check out more about Kauai helicopter tours here.
36. Enjoy a luau at the Luau Kalamaku
One of the top things to do when visiting the Hawaiian islands is a luau. If you want to try a luau on Kauai, the Luau Kalamaku is a visitor favorite.
37. Visit the Kauai Museum
Before becoming part of the United States, Hawaii was an independent kingdom that operated under its own royal monarchy. And yes, this is still a touchy subject among many locals, so please be respectful when having conversations about this topic.
If you want to learn about Hawaiian culture during your Kauai vacation, visit the Kauai museum. The Koke’e Museum of Natural History is another must for museum lovers. Keep in mind these are not large museums but are still worth visiting, especially if you love culture and history.
38. View the Pu’u hinahina lookout
If you don’t want to go too far into Waimea Canyon, you can always view it from the Pu’u Hinahina lookout. If you’re not up for the hike, you can also view Waimea Canyon on a helicopter tour.
39. Visit Ha’ena State Park
Ha’ena State Park is where you’ll start on the Kalalau Trail. However, you can visit even if you have no intention of hiking. This is where you’ll find Ke’e Beach, and it’s just completely different from the south side of the island.
40. Take a Safari Tour at Kipu Ranch
Kipu Ranch offers many activities for visitors, including a fun safari tour where you can zipline, hike and kayak the Hule’ia River. If you’re looking for adventure, you definitely want to try the safari tour.
41. View the island from above in a small plane
If the thought of a helicopter tour makes you uncomfortable, you can consider flying above the island in a small plane. This will give you a great look at the garden island, and maybe you’ll feel more comfortable than in a helicopter.
If you’re over the weight limit for a helicopter tour, the plane tours are typically more accommodating so that is something to keep in mind.
42. Visit the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort
You don’t have to stay at the Grand Hyatt Kauai to visit the resort or dine in the restaurants. The Grand Hyatt Kauai is the third largest resort in Hawaii and, by far, the largest resort in Kauai.
If you haven’t booked your trip yet, the Grand Hyatt is an excellent choice for families and a good choice for couples tOf course, you You can always contact me to get a custom quote for your trip!
At the Grand Hyatt Kauai, they have several resident birds living on the grounds, and you may even spot a Nene (the official bird of Hawaii) wandering around there too! They are endangered, so it’s a real treat to see them.
43. Visit a coffee farm
Kona Coffee gets all the attention, but did you know that Kauai has a coffee farm too? If you love coffee, take a tour of Kauai Coffee Plantation.
44. Check out Art Night on Fridays in Hanapepe
Hanapepe is worth checking out anytime, but especially on Friday evening. Hanapepe is the town where Lilo and Stitch live on the show. I hope I don’t have to tell you that they don’t actually live here because they aren’t real. 🙂
There are cute shops, restaurants, and a swinging bridge. There’s also an art night every Friday. A longstanding tradition is popular with both locals and visitors. This is a popular place on Fridays, and with good reason, it’s one of the best things to do in Kauai.
45. Go horseback riding
CJM Country Stables offers horseback riding in Kauai. They highly recommend reservations before arrival. There few places offering horseback riding in Kauai, so they can be a popular spot to visit.
46. Explore on ATVs
There are a few ways to explore Kauai on ATVs. My favorite is the Waterfall Triple Trail Expedition at Kipu Ranch. This three-hour tour shows beautiful mountain and jungle views. You’ll also enjoy breathtaking scenery, blockbuster movie hits, cultural history, and Hawaiian legends.
47. Visit Princeville Botanical Gardens
Princeville Botanical Garden requires a reservation and is worth a visit. Princeville Botanical Gardens is home to some of the healthiest specimens on Kauai, with a diverse collection comparable to the other beautiful gardens of the Garden Island
48. Snorkel at the forbidden island of Ni’ihau
You can’t actually visit Niihau without an invitation. However, you can take a snorkel tour to Niihau from Kauai! While you won’t technically go on shore, you’ll get as close as anyone can to the forbidden island.
49. Enjoy a walking tour of Hanalei
If you love for things to be a bit slower-paced, you might enjoy a walking tour of Hanalei. You definitely don’t need to do a walking food tour and can explore on your own.
However, I included this on the list of best things to do in Kauai because I’ve had many clients lately ask for walking food tours, and they seem to be a popular option.
50. HAve brunch at duke’s Kauai
You can enjoy brunch, lunch, or dinner at Duke’s Kauai. Duke Kahanamoku traveled worldwide and introduced people to the Hawaiian lifestyle. Then, he visited Kauai and enjoyed the beach that is now just outside of Duke’s Kauai.
Duke’s is one of the top places to eat on the island, so make sure to add it to your list of things to do in Kauai. If you need more restaurant ideas, check out The best restaurants in Kauai.
Things to do in Kauai
I hope this list of 50 things to do in Kauai will help you prioritize what you want to do in Kauai. This is just a starting point, there are hundreds of things to do on Kauai, and you’ll never be able to see it all in one trip.
More things to do in Kauai
Want even more Kauai vacation ideas? Check out some of my most popular posts.
- The 16 best beaches in Kauai for swimming
- The best things to do in Hanalei
- How to be a better tourist in Hawaii
- 10 best adventure activities on Kauai
- The Best Time for Whale Watching in Hawaii
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