Kauai Travel Guide

Kauai is one of the least visited of the Hawaiian Islands, so travelers will understand why it’s called the “island of discovery.” Over 90 percent of Kauai is inaccessible by road, a tantalizing statistic for adventurers looking to for things to do in Kauai unencumbered by the hordes of cars and people that plague Oahu and Maui. There are many excellent scuba and snorkeling locations where divers can spot sea turtles, dolphins, sharks, playing along the colorful reef. If you are a hiker, you cannot pass up the opportunity to take on the Kalalau Trail that traverses the Na Pali Coast. The steep inclines and flashfloods of rain make this red mud trail one of the most dangerous hikes in the world, but the views are unforgettable. If you’re not up to hiking, a helicopter ride is the next best way to see Waimea Canyon and the Na Pali coastline.

If you are looking for things to do in Kauai that don’t involve throwing yourself from heights, kick back with a shave ice from one of beach trucks and hang out at the beautiful beaches along the coastline. Take a pit stop for lunch in one of the quaint towns like Hanapepe and Koloa and peruse the local shops for crafts like kukui nut necklaces or woven-palm beach hats. If you have never been surfing before, now is as good a time as any to start. Kauai offers a variety of surf lessons and rental boards around the island. Check out the list below to find out what to do in Kauai.

Cliffs rise 4,000 feet out of the ocean. Falling rocks, copious mud, rain, and flash floods are commonplace.

The six-acre Kahuna Valley retreat draws healing masters from around the globe to teach Qigong, Taoism, Reiki, and Hawaiian Kahuna healing. At the spa, choose from hot-stone therapy, deep-tissue massage, or a starlit watsu session with mineral-rich waters from the nearby Makaleha Mountains.

A 1930s Tudor-style mansion and adjacent restored plantation cottages have been transformed into a collection of 10 upscale shopping boutiques. The bedrooms, closets, and even bathrooms of the former home display artwork, antiques, clothing, and handicrafts.

The natural wonders of the towering Na Pali coastal cliffs, the reefs, and marine life are easily accessed from the Spirit of Kauai or the Akialoa, two Coast Guard-certified, customized 55-foot sailing catamarans. The catamarans are operated by Capt.

The seldom-visited and fascinating island of Niihau off the coast of Kauai is inhabited only by a handful of native Hawaiians, and is generally closed off to tourists.

A dark, rock archway constructed in 1920, adds to the charm of Hawaii's first ever Christian church, located by the ocean and the Hulihe'e Palace in Kailua-Kona.

For a funky, homegrown look into the Hawaii of yesteryear, the Tahiti Nui in the beachside hamlet of Hanalei is the real thing. The unpretentious bar-restaurant caters to the locals, and it was the first watering hole to open up on Kauai’s north shore a half-century ago.

Island and European styles merge in the Allerton Garden, located in Poipu’s Lāwa`i Valley. Allerton and the nearby McBryde Garden are run by the National Tropical Botanical Garden and share a visitor center near the Spouting Horn.

Explore the North Pacific waters and observe marine animals in their native habitat with guidance from the staff at Bubbles Below Scuba Charters.

With its name meaning “bay sprinkling food,” the remote Hanakapi’ai Beach on the rugged Na Pali coast sits at the end of the Kalalau Trail, a challeging hike that takes about three hours round trip.

A number of sea tours, from kayaking to sailing charters, explore Kauai’s dramatically carved Na Pali Coast, but this is one of the best.