29 Best Things to Do in Kauai In 2024

Written By: The Planet D

Kauai, fondly referred to as the Garden Island, is a tapestry of lush forests, rugged mountains, and pristine beaches, making it a paradise for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike. As the oldest of the main Hawaiian Islands, Kauai’s landscapes have been sculpted over time into cascading waterfalls, the dramatic Na Pali Coast, and the jaw-dropping Waimea Canyon.

Alongside its natural wonders, Kauai boasts a rich cultural heritage, which is something you are going to want to explore when you are making your list of the best things to do in Kauai. Whether you’re looking to hike through tropical rainforests, snorkel in crystal-clear waters, or simply unwind on a secluded beach, Kauai offers a beautiful setting infused with the Aloha spirit.

Top things to do in Kauai

Top Things to do in Kauai

Here we cover things to do on Kauai’s South Shore, North Shore, East, and west coast so you can choose the best places to explore based on where you are located. Whether you are interested more in the stunning landscapes like Waimea Canyon or the Napali coast or you are looking for a more local vibe by checking out Lydgate beach park or trying some local shave ice, Kauai is an island that does not disappoint.

Planning Your Trip To Kauai Right Now?

Below are some of the top tours in Kauai. Don’t forget to plan ahead when visiting the Hawaiian Islands!

Top Activities and Tours in Kauai:

1. Kalalau Lookout

Best Things to do in Kauai Kalalau Lookout
Photo Credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Ben Ono

Probably one of the most recognizable images of Kauai is the views you see from The Kalalau Lookout. From here you take in this incredible overview of the Kalalau Valley nestled within the Na Pali Coast. The valley stretches for miles, showcasing lush green cliffs, deep valleys, cascading waterfalls, and the sparkling waters of the Pacific Ocean.

Located on the western side of Kauai, the Kalalau Lookout is high up at 4,000 feet (1,219 meters) but is relatively easy to reach via the winding Kokee Road, which takes you through Kokee State Park. There is a paved parking lot at the end of the road and it should be noted that since April 2021, out-of-state visitors to Kauai’s Waimea Canyon State Park and Kokee State Park (including the Kalalau Lookout) have to purchase both an entrance ticket and a parking permit. This is not too much at $5 per person and $10 per vehicle.

Because it is quite high the weather can change quickly. Some say to get there before noon to avoid the fog but we recommend heading up in the later afternoon for the better light. Just make sure to bring a jacket as it can get pretty windy and rainy at the drop of a hat. The lookout also serves as an excellent starting point for hikers embarking on the Kalepa Ridge Trail, an intermediate hike that offers some of the best views on the island. Check out our Hiking in Kauai article for more information.

2. Hike The Kalalau Trail

Best Things to do in Kauai Kalalau Trail

While the body is fresh and raring to go, trekking down the Kalalau Trail is one of the best things to do in Kauai. The hike is an overnight epic that will put your fitness to the test. But for those who take up the challenging hike, you’ll see the stunning Napali Coast as few can.

The popularity of the trail and the fragility of the environment means you’ll require a permit to begin. But with that sorted ahead of time, you’ll want to get an early start. The trailhead is found at Ke’e Beach. The first two miles snake along the coast towards the beautiful white sand of Hanakapiai Beach. This section can be busy as it doesn’t require a permit. What you will need is a paid reservation to access H?‘ena State Park. Reservations can be made in advance to enter this entire area here.

But once you reach the golden shore, you’ll turn inland and begin cutting through the Napali Coast. After nine miles of jaw-dropping vistas and thigh-burning undulation, you’ll reach the turnaround point. Some return for a total of 22 miles in a day, but most stick around to camp behind Kalalau Beach. As you hang with fellow hikers, enjoy the remote corner of Kauai that you can only reach with a little sweat and a sense of adventure.

3. Swim At the end Of Hanakapiai Falls Trail

Best Things to do in Kauai Hiking the Hanakapiai Falls Trail

Featuring the first section of the Kalalau Trail, this trek is the perfect alternative for those who can’t complete the overnight journey. Additionally, you don’t need a permit.

Begin by following the breathtaking coast to Hanakapiai Beach. Stop for a breather and prep your legs for over 2500 feet of elevation gain. As you cut inland, the trail rises steadily through the jungle and doesn’t let up. Your sense of adventure will be put to the test after every lingering tree root. But eventually, you’ll make it.

Hanakapiai Falls is one of the best in Hawaii. It’s a 300 feet-tumbling white veil that splices the dense jungle. Jump in for a swim, before returning to Ke’e Beach. Also, as noted above you will need a paid reservation to access H?‘ena State Park.

4. Waimea Canyon State Park

Best Things to do in Kauai Waimea Canyon State Park

Next up is Waimea Canyon State Park. Known as The Grand Canyon Of The Pacific, Waimea Canyon is a 14-mile crevasse that cuts through the jungle in Kauai’s southwest, exposing swaths of deep orange rock.

At its lowest point, Waimea Canyon is over 3,500 feet deep and a mile wide. You can explore the canyon by driving down the epic Koke’e Road. As you drive along, seeking epic viewpoints, you’ll be picking up your jaw after every hairpin corner.

Best Things to do in Kauai Waimea Canyon Lookout

There are several mesmerizing stops along the way, including the Pu’u Hinahina Lookout. Put the car in park and enjoy the brief stroll to panoramic views. The most popular stop, however, is the Waimea Canyon Lookout. It may often be busy, but the view is unbeatable down to the Waimea Falls. If you’re ready for a hike, head out along the 2-mile return Cliff Trail. It’s quieter and brings you right to the edge of Waimea Canyon.

Remember, as we mentioned above you will have a fee to enter the park and a parking fee as well.

5. Swim At Poipu Beach Park (South Shore)

Best Things to do in Kauai Poipu Beach Park

You’ve started off the trip with a bang, but now it’s time to put your feet up on the golden sand and find your tropical bliss. On the South Shore, sunbathing at Poipu Beach is one of the best things to do in Kauai.

The beach is split in two by a sand bar, offering a duo of silky arcs to choose from. They’re both within a protected bay, with the outer reef slowing much of the swell. So not only is her soft sand perfect for a day of reading true crime on the beach towel, but it’s also prime for snorkeling.

Aside from other travelers, you’ll often be joined by green sea turtles and the Hawaiian monk seal. When you aren’t swimming or admiring the wildlife from afar, Poipu Beach is backed by resorts offering easy access to restaurants and sunset cocktails.

While you are at Poipu Beach, make sure to try your hand at some Ziplining. This Zipline Adventure has 8 Ziplines and is a perfect way to enjoy some beautiful views and some adventure!

6. Go Whale Watching

Best things to do in Kauai Whale Watching

From mid-December to April every year, large numbers of migrating humpback whales make their way to the Hawaiian island. There are many viewpoints on the island that will allow you to spot the whales from afar, but nothing beats seeing them up close.

The Auau Channel that splits Maui, Molokai, and Lanai may be the most renowned whale-watching spot in Hawaii, but Kauai has something those islands don’t, the Napali Coast. Short of doing the Kalalau Trail, there are only two ways to truly capture the dramatic sea cliffs. That’s on a boat trip or a helicopter tour.

So why not do two for the price of one? Head out along the spellbinding coast in search of humpback whales, admiring the scenery as you go. It won’t take long to spot the humpbacks, as they’re the most acrobatic whale species on the planet. If you’re lucky, you’ll see many whales breaching the surface before tumbling back down, creating a new set of waves.

7. Visit Tunnels Beach

Best Things to do in Kauai Tunnels Beach

For excellent snorkeling with bright colorful fish head to the serene Tunnels Beach. On Kauai’s North Shore, the beach comes with lifeguards who monitor the swimming conditions. However, with limited parking, you’ll want to arrive early.

It’s worth the early rise in order to get some tranquil snorkeling done in the early morning light. Dive into the translucent water with the reef spanning out in all directions. The reef’s sea caves and intricate tunnels mean there’s a surprise around every corner. As you explore the effervescent coral, keep an eye out for sea turtles and monk seals making their way to the warm sand at Tunnels Beach.

After completing the inner reef, venture to the outer, where you’ll uncover tumbling sea cliffs that will also have stronger currents. Those who stay on dry land can kick back and admire the towering mountains behind them.

8. Take a Helicopter Tour

Best Things to do in Kauai Helicopter Tour

Speaking of towering mountains, if you want to see them from above, this is what to do in Kauai. Kauai’s varied landscapes are hard to fathom and the sheer scale of the mountains and valleys often makes adventuring on foot a bridge too far. So, in order to see some of the most majestic parts of the island, you’ll need to take to the sky.

Taking a helicopter tour is a great way to capture the might of the Na Pali Coast and see pods of whales. But your tour can also take you to difficult-to-reach places, including the otherworldly Manawaiopuna Falls which is the famous Jurassic Falls.

Book Your Helicopter Tour of Kauai Here!

Best things to do in Kauai Na pali coast Helicopter tour

From above, the island’s veritable kaleidoscope of colors is on full display. See the deep blues of the Pacific Ocean fade to white as it crashes against the dark brown cliffs of the Napali Coast. As the cliffs rise, the browns mix with light oranges and greens until the deep rainforest takes hold. Island helicopters actually land at the base of the falls.

9. Jurassic Park Tour

Best things to do in Kauai Jurassic Park Tour
Photo Credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)

Jurassic World and Jurassic Park III were filmed on Kauai and you can book a rainforest trek to visit the filming locations of these movies and the original Jurassic Park. There are several ways to immerse in Jurrasic Park on Kauai.

Start your Jurassic Park adventure by visiting the Jurassic Kahili Ranch, which served as the primary filming location for the original movie. Take a guided tour of the ranch to see the areas where iconic scenes were filmed, including the helicopter landing site and the famous Jurassic Park gate.

The Napali Coast, with its breathtaking cliffs and pristine beaches, served as the backdrop for many stunning scenes in Jurassic Park. Take a boat tour, kayak excursion, or hike along the Kalalau Trail to witness the majestic beauty of this iconic filming location.

Kipu Ranch is another filming location for Jurassic Park and offers various adventure tours. Hop on an ATV or take a guided tour to explore the expansive landscapes, stream crossings, and dense forests that were showcased in the film.

The Hanapepe Valley Trail is a beautiful hike that takes you through lush vegetation and offers panoramic views. This area was also featured in Jurassic Park, specifically during the helicopter arrival scene.

10. Witness The Queen’s Bath

Best things to do in Kauai Queens Bath

A brief trip from Princeville, one of Kauai’s premier resort towns, is the unique Queen’s Bath. The “bath” is an enormous tide pool enveloped in lava rock. Hawaiian royalty would come to the North Shore to relax in Queen’s Bath’s sacred waters.

Please make sure to check the surf report before going out here. People have died from being swept away by the waves, so heed the warnings. If the gate is closed do not go around it, it means it is not safe. Note: Access to the Queen’s Bath has been closed since October. 2022 and we are not sure when or if it will re-open.

To the left of the natural tub is a miniature cliff that features several small waterfalls pouring in. As they fall, the bath rises and falls with the ocean, creating a dazzling sight. The best time to visit is in the summer when the water around Kauai tends to be calmer. In the winter, with the rough swell, Queen’s Bath can be a spectacular but dangerous place to swim.

Many choose to bypass swimming and simply admire the beauty from a safe spot. And this is what we recommend.

We also recommend wearing sturdy shoes as the trail at the beginning is often muddy. Flip-flops won’t cut it, you need sturdy footwear.

11. Stroll The National Tropical Botanical Garden

Best things to do in Kauai National Tropical Botanical Gardens

The National Tropical Botanical Garden is dedicated to saving, studying, and also discovering new tropical plants. Its headquarters are found right here in Kauai, with the island home to four distinct gardens (the fifth is in Florida). Since the gardens opened in the 1960s, the gardens have grown to cover almost 2,000 acres teeming with thousands of species from tropical regions around the globe.

It’s an effort to preserve these unique and beautiful species, with much of the garden home to endangered or threatened species. The NTGB even rediscovered a plant that was believed to be extinct.

Alongside these tropical plants is the largest assemblage of native Hawaiian plants on earth. Wander through any of the four gardens and discover why Kauai is known as the Garden Isle.

12. Na ‘Aina Kai Botanical Garden and Sculpture Garden

Best things to do in Kauai Na Aina Kai Botanical Garden
Photo Credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tommy Lundberg

If you are really into Botanics and the NTGB is not enough for you then make sure to check out these botanical gardens. Na’Aina Kai means “Land by Sea” and in Na ‘Aina Kai Botanical Garden & Sculpture Park visitors can get a taste of this beauty.

Na ‘Aina Kai Botanical Garden and Sculpture Garden is one of Kauai’s hidden gems, located in Kilauea on the North Shore. Spread across 240 acres, this botanical garden is a living mosaic of diverse horticulture, including lush forests, blooming gardens, and a hardwood plantation. The estate, originally a private residence, is now open to the public and is an enchanting oasis of tranquility and beauty.

The Sculpture Garden is another highlight of Na ‘Aina Kai. It features an impressive collection of bronze sculptures gracefully adorned among the verdant surroundings. The garden also boasts water features, koi ponds, and a white sandy beach. You can take guided tours to learn about the flora, the artistic elements, and the story behind the creation of this magnificent space. It’s a serene and inspiring place, perfect for nature lovers and art lovers alike.

13. Discover Wailua Falls

Best things to do in Kauai Twin Wailua Falls

Known for its eternal rainbow, Wailua Falls is both easily accessible and absolutely stunning. On the island’s east coast near Lihue Airport, follow Highway 583 and continue driving until the dead end.

From there, simply step out of the vehicle and admire the 80-foot waterfall that tumbles down in two sections into a jade-green swimming hole. Please be respectful of the signage warning against trespassing beyond the Wailua Falls lookout. The base of the falls is on state-managed property and access is by permit only.

However, for a true adventure kayak along the Wailua River. It’s the only river you can kayak on the island and will take you not just to Wailua Falls but to ancient temples and through the unspoiled jungle.

14. Grab Lunch at One Of The Food Trucks

Top things to do in Kauai Food Trucks

When we think of what to do in Kauai, our minds think of mountains, stunning waterfalls, and white sand beaches. But we need to add a fourth thing to that list: food trucks.

The island’s food truck scene will be one of the best surprises on your travels. You’ll find them all over, alongside beaches, at the trailhead, and around town. You’ll come across all sorts of food and drink that will keep you fueled, from fish tacos to refreshing fruit smoothies. The best part? It’s dirt cheap.

But like all things, there’s always somewhere that does it best. If you only have one food truck experience, head to Kapaa, where you’ll find them in abundance. Try Al Pastor Tacos or Nixtamai for Mexican cuisine. To cool off, eat shaved ice at Shave Ice Tege Tege.

15. Boogie Board at Shipwreck Beach

Best things to do in Kauai Shipwreck Beach

Along the coast from Poipu Beach is the aptly named Shipwreck Beach. Many a boat has accidentally and sometimes on purpose come in contact with the beach’s offshore reef, meeting its demise.

While Poipu gets the crowds, this beach remains relatively quiet. It’s a popular surf beach thanks to its lively swell. But the swirling water doesn’t make for the best swimming, so arm yourself with a boogie board at the very least. There are no lifeguards on duty here, so look for warning flags (which signal hazardous water conditions) and heed their warnings.

On sunny days, it’s a romantic spot for local and traveling couples who can enjoy the tranquility as they look out across the rusty ship lingering offshore. Another reason to visit is the soaring 40-foot cliff. You’ll spot thrill-seekers jumping off the cliff like clockwork. We don’t recommend you do this. The surf and swell combined with rip currents make this a dangerous thing to do. Bottom line: Don’t do it.

16. Walk The Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail

Best things to do in Kauai Mahaulepu Heritage Trail

Departing from Shipwreck Beach, the Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail will give you a glimpse into the past. It’s one of the easiest hikes to do on the island and the perfect complement to a day lazing on the sand.

The trail meanders along the coast with never-ending views of the Pacific, lush mountains, and red cliffs. You may even see whales. Start early to avoid the heat, as there is little shade along the path.

Along the way cross paths with the limestone cliffs, laden with fossilized marine life. Continue past kiawe trees to reach the Makauwahi Caves, where you’ll find more fossils. The trek ends at Maha’ulepu Beach, a remote cove and great rest stop.

17. Experience Hawaiian Culture

Best things to do in Kauai Experience Hawaiian Culture

You’ll spend plenty of time exploring the island’s epic landscape. But taking time to experience local culture is one of the best things to do in Kauai.

There are a number of ways to do this, with many resorts putting on their own experiences. Some will have a nightly hula dance along with the opportunity to create a lauhala (traditional basket) or learn how to use historic hunting tools.

Other ways to learn about Kauai culture are by visiting the Kauai Museum and the Koke’e Natural History Museum. Combine that with visits to small villages like Koloa and Hanapepe for the complete experience.

18. Hike To The Kilauea Lighthouse (North Shore)

Best things to do in Kauai Kilauea Lighthouse on Kauai's North Shore

On the tip of Kauai’s North Shore is a rugged peninsula home to the Kilauea Lighthouse. The historic structure stands almost 200 feet above the Pacific Ocean and was completed in 1913.

There is a car park close to the lighthouse, providing easy access. But it’s best to arrive early or late in the day to avoid the crowds. Unfortunately, you can’t enter, but the sweeping views will quickly blow away any sense of sadness.

The lighthouse is located within the Kilauea Point Wildlife Refuge. So bring along your binoculars, as this is one of the best spots on the island to enjoy some bird watching.

19. Find Secret Beach (Kauapea Beach)

Best things to do in Kauai Secret Beach (Kauapea Beach)

Just minutes from the Lighthouse on the North Shore is Secret Beach. The name no longer fits, as word has very much gotten out. However, it remains one of the top beaches on the island.

After a steep 10-minute walk down to Kauapea Beach, enjoy the expanse of golden sand and the tranquility of the baby blue water. Behind you are soaring, craggy cliffs providing a scenic backdrop. Such is the size of the beach, that even in peak season, you’ll have plenty of room for yourself.

In the summer, swimming here is an option but note that there are no lifeguards on duty here and it is difficult to reach if you need any type of rescue. We recommend you just enjoy the beach and stay out of the water. But come winter, it’s a surfer’s paradise and a source of free entertainment for onlookers.

20. Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge

Best things to do in Kauai Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge
Photo Credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson

Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge is a 203-acre natural sanctuary perched on the northernmost tip of Kauai. Established in 1985, the refuge serves as a safe habitat for a variety of seabirds and native Hawaiian species. The dramatic cliffs and the crashing waves below create a breathtaking backdrop for the diverse wildlife that calls this refuge home.

One of the primary attractions of the refuge is its population of seabirds. The area serves as a critical nesting site for several species, including the red-footed booby, Laysan albatross, great frigatebird, and wedge-tailed shearwater. These birds flock to the refuge to breed, nest, and raise their chicks, making it an important conservation site for seabirds in the Hawaiian Islands.

The refuge is also home to the historic Kilauea Lighthouse, which I mentioned in an earlier section. Moreover, during the winter months, Kilauea Point becomes an excellent vantage point for whale watching, as humpback whales migrate through the area. Be sure to bring binoculars and a camera to capture the magnificent sights and sounds of this ecological haven. You will need a reservation to visit now which you can book here.

21. Fern Grotto

Best things to do in Kauai Fern Grotto
Photo Credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Daeja Fallas

Fern Grotto is a fern-covered cave that is one of those experiences you do not want to miss.]. The grotto is situated along the Wailua River, which is often referred to as the “River of Life” for its importance in Hawaiian history and mythology. The best way to reach the Fern Grotto is by taking a riverboat tour along the Wailua River, offering a scenic and leisurely journey through the island’s lush landscapes.

The grotto itself is a lava rock cave that is adorned with hanging ferns and tropical foliage. The cave’s microclimate provides the ideal conditions for ferns to flourish, creating a verdant and enchanting atmosphere.

Fern Grotto was considered a sacred place and a ceremonial site for Hawaiian weddings (known as “ho’ao pa’a”) and other traditional celebrations. The grotto’s cultural importance is still acknowledged today, and visitors often have the opportunity to witness or participate in Hawaiian musical performances or hula dances during their visit. Over the years, the accessibility to the Fern Grotto has changed. The cave’s interior has been closed to the public for safety reasons but it can be viewed from an observation deck, allowing visitors to admire its beauty from a short distance.

22. Try Surfing at Hanalei Bay

Best things to do in Kauai Hanalei Bay

Located on the north shore, the charming coastal town of Hanalei is home to the largest harbor on the island. Hanalei Bay is big enough to feature a trio of white sand beaches to complement the local hikes, beach bum culture, and farmers’ markets.

When you aren’t enjoying the local culture, choose between Hanalei Beach Park, Waioli Beach, and Black Pot Beach. They all combine to create the crown jewel of Kauai surfing.

Watch from afar or enjoy a lovely swim by the beach. Later, wander along the sand to find the Hanalei River and its historic pier. Finish with a refreshing beverage at any of the beachfront bars that dot Hanalei Bay.

23. Tackle The Alakai’i Swamp Trail

Beginning at the show-stopping Pu’u O Kila Lookout in Koke’e State Park, the Alakai’i Swamp Trail promises to be the most unique hike yet. Essentially an alpine swamp, the trail begins along the Pihea Trail where you’ll have beautiful views of the Kalalau Valley.

Soon the trail switches left, and you’ll be met with raised boardwalks. From there, you’ll venture through the highest rainforest and swampland on earth.

The key to this hike is knowing you’ll get dirty. As helpful as the boardwalk is, there’s no getting out clean. Wander among the giant hapu’u ferns, before reaching the unrivaled Kilohana Lookout where you’ll feel on the edge of the world.

24. Swim At Anini Beach (North Shore)

Best things to do in Kauai Anini Beach

As you step onto the soft marshmallow sand, you’ll spot the colors of the vibrant reef streaming through the surface. The off-shore reef is also the reason Anini Beach features some of the calmest year-round swimming in Kauai.

The beach is on the North Shore and spans two miles. The slight gradient allows for an abundance of shallow water, perfect for families with young kids. On top of the views and easy swimming, Anini Beach offers a full range of amenities, from bathrooms and showers to picnic tables.

If you want to explore the reef, you can rent snorkels right on the beach.

25. Polihale State Park

Best things to do in Kauai Polihale State Park

To experience one of the most secluded and pristine beaches on the island, venture into Polihale State Park. The park is renowned for its golden shore, but as access is tricky, you’ll rarely see large crowds.

The only way to reach the coast is along a rough and undulating 5-mile dirt road, fit for only 4WD. Do note that most rental companies will NOT let you take a vehicle to Polihale so please check beforehand to see if this is permitted! Whether you venture in on four wheels or two feet, you’ll be rewarded with mesmerizing, unspoiled heaven and over 15 miles of golden sand.

From your private paradise, admire the emerald Makaha Ridge, which leads to the sharp cliffs of the Na Pali Coast. Get your camping permit, so when day turns to night you can kick back with friends without a care in the world.

26. Tackle The Sleeping Giant Trail

Best things to do in Kauai Sleeping Giant Trail Overlook

The Sleeping Giant Trail soars up the ridgeline on Nounou Mountain to 360-degree views. Legend has it that the mountain was created by a giant who ate too much at a celebration held in his name. He essentially fell into a food coma, drifting into an eternal slumber. From a distance, you can make out the shape of the giant.

The initial trek takes you through a sprawling tree plantation that began in the 1930s. As you gain elevation, the trees begin to disperse, leaving you with a quintessential ridgeline hike. As the mountain falls away to either side, the trail levels out with wondrous views in every direction.

Complete the hike at sunrise or sunset, for a story you’ll be telling for years.

27. Witness Mount Waialeale

Best things to do in Kauai Mount Waialeale

Known as the wettest spot on earth, Mount Waialeale is a collection of sweeping cliffs. Each year, Kauai’s second-tallest mountain receives around 450 inches of rain. In fact, in the 1980s, it once got over 660 inches!

It’s no surprise then that Waialeale means “overflowing water”. You’ll be a lucky traveler to see the summit as it’s often encased in clouds. While hiking to the peak is not common, it’s known to be home to ancient ruins.

There are two trails on the eastern side. One of them, a 6.2-mile hike to Blue Hole, rewards hikers with an up-close view of the weeping wall. (This hike is quite difficult and should only be attempted by experienced hikers). While those exploring in a helicopter should make sure to fly over Mount Waialeale.

28. Try Shave Ice

Best things to do in Kauai Shave Ice

You cannot come to Hawaii and not try shave ice. It is one of the most popular treats in the Hawaiian Islands. Shave Ice is a pretty simple dessert but a satisfying one after hiking or a day at the beach. Essentially, it is shaved ice that is topped with flavored syrup and is often served with a scoop of ice cream in the middle.

If you are in Kauai we recommend Waikomo Shave Ice in Poipu or Hee Fat General Store which has some of the best Shave Ice on the island. No matter where you get it you won’t regret it.

29. Explore the Kauai Coffee Estate Hawaiian islands

Best Things to do in Kauai Kauai Coffee Estate Hawaiian islands
Photo Credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)

Coffee aficionados will be thrilled to visit the Kauai Coffee Estate, the largest coffee farm in the United States. Located near Koloa, this estate spans over 3,000 acres and is a testament to Kauai’s thriving coffee culture. Kauai’s unique climate, with its rich volcanic soil and ideal weather conditions, contributes to the production of premium-quality coffee.

Embark on a self-guided tour through the coffee orchards and learn about the cultivation and production process. The Visitor Center offers coffee tastings where you can sample a variety of their brews. Don’t forget to grab a bag of freshly roasted coffee beans to take back home. It’s a perfect souvenir that lets you savor the taste of Kauai long after your trip.

Things to do in Kauai FAQ

Best Time to visit Kauai

What is Kauai best known for?

Kauai is best known for its stunning natural beauty, including the Na Pali Coast, Waimea Canyon, and lush botanical gardens. It’s also famous for outdoor activities like hiking, snorkeling, and surfing.

How many days should I spend in Kauai?

A trip of 5-7 days is recommended to explore Kauai’s main attractions and partake in various activities without feeling rushed.

Is Maui or Kauai better?

Both islands have their unique charm. Maui tends to be more bustling and is famous for its beaches and the Haleakal? volcano. Kauai is ideal for travelers seeking a more laid-back experience and stunning natural landscapes.

What is the best month to visit Kauai?

April, May, September, and October are considered the best months to visit Kauai due to the pleasant weather and fewer tourists.

How to get to Kauai Hawaii

How to get to Kauai

Kauai’s Lihue Airport can be found on the island’s east coast. Thanks to Kauai’s growing popularity, many airlines offer direct services from the mainland USA.

However, it’s just as common to fly into Honolulu Airport on Oahu before changing planes. The flight time between the two islands is a short 25 minutes.

There is no public ferry that connects Kauai to the other Hawaiian islands. If you’re willing to splash the cash, then you can charter a boat between each destination.

Getting around Kauai

Best way to get around Kauai

Like all Hawaiian Islands, Kauai has limited public transport. Visitors will find a range of guided tours, but in order to explore on a whim, you’ll need a rental car. You can compare Rental Car Prices Here for the best deal.

This will allow you to drive from the North Shore to the South Shore without issue. Although you can explore Waimea Canyon and Koke’e State Park with any vehicle, it pays to rent a 4WD. Your options will open up, allowing you to venture further off the tourist trail.

Drivers will also want to have a map of Kauai pre-downloaded onto their Google Maps. This will allow you to not get lost in times of spotty service.

Where to stay in Kauai?

Accommodation in Kauai


Poipu Beach Surf Song is a beautiful, budget-friendly hotel on the south coast. The south side of Kauai isn’t known for cheap accommodation, so this guesthouse is a goldmine in a hunt for budget options.


Simple, clean, and affordable yet right on the Pacific Ocean, Kauai Shores Hotel is value for money. The basic two-story hotel is comfortable with basic king bedrooms and a private balcony. Enjoy the on-site pool while being steps from shops, restaurants, and the beach.


The 1 Hotel Hanalei Bay is the choice for an opulent vacation. Each room has island decor with the views streaming in. When you aren’t out traveling, relax in the incredible infinity pool that looks over the bay.

Check out our dedicated guide on the Best Places to Stay in Kauai for even more choices!

Fun things to do in Kauai

Kauai, the Garden Isle, is a paradise that offers so many experiences that are as diverse as its landscapes. From the soaring cliffs of the Na Pali Coast to the depths of the Waimea Canyon, the island will immediately become your favorite Hawaiian island. Whether you’re an adventurer at heart like us or seeking a serene getaway, Kauai is one of those places that will not only create lasting memories but be a place that you will want to visit over and over again.

Header Image courtesy of Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Vincent Lim

Travel Planning Resources

Looking to book your next trip? Why not use these resources that are tried and tested by yours truly.

Book Your Flights: Start planning your trip by finding the best flight deals on Skyscanner. We have used them for years and have found that they have the best flight deals.

Book your Hotel: Find the best prices on hotels with these two providers. If you are located in Europe use Booking.com and if you are anywhere else use TripAdvisor.

Find Apartment Rentals: You will find the cheapest prices on apartment rentals with VRBO

Travel Insurance: Don't leave home without it. Here is what we recommend:

  • Safety Wing - Occasional Travelers.
  • Medjet - Global air medical transport and travel security.

Book Your Activities: Looking for walking tours, skip-the-line tickets, private guides, and more? Then we recommend Get Your Guide.

Need more help planning your trip? Make sure to check out our Resources Page where we highlight all the great companies that we trust when we are traveling.

About The Planet D

Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are the owners and founders of The Planet D. After traveling to 115 countries, on all 7 continents over the past 13 years they have become one of the foremost experts in travel. Being recognized as top travel bloggers and influencers by the likes of Forbes Magazine, the Society of American Travel Writers and USA Today has allowed them to become leaders in their field.

Leave a Comment

1 thought on “29 Best Things to Do in Kauai In 2024”