Kaua’i, Hawaii 2019:
I grew up dreaming of the beautiful beaches and amazing waterfalls of Hawaii. I think we’ve all seen the famous photos of the Na Pali Coast, straight out of a Jurassic Park movie, mysterious and beautiful. I found myself constantly saying “wow” as we experienced Kaua’i for the first time, with endless adventures to do and different landscapes to see.
Here are some of my favorite things to do in Kaua’i, as well as some great tips if you are looking to visit!
Where to Stay
Kaua’i is not as touristy and populated as some of the other islands, but there are still no shortages of beautiful resorts. My friends and I were wanting more of an adventurous but cheaper option to see as much of the island as possible as opposed to staying in a resort all week.
The first half of our trip we rented a 4WD Toyota with a roof rack tent from Kaua’i Overlander. This allowed us to camp at a different spot around the island each night and experience as much as possible in a short amount of time. They were wonderful to work with, the truck was fully decked out with a stove for cooking, storage and much more. They helped us plan our whole trip, giving pages of recommendations of where to go/not go, where to eat and top “off the beaten path” sites. The only thing we would do differently next time is to rent two trucks, as there were four of us and it was a tight squeeze in the cab of the truck with all of our stuff and one couple had to sleep on the ground in the extra tent they provided. But overall it was my favorite experience to date and we will for sure be back!
The second half of our trip we stayed in an Airbnb up in the northern part of the island in Princeville, right by Hanalei Bay. It was economical as it was close to the other half of the island that we wanted to explore, plenty of room for all of us and had all the comforts of home which was kind of nice after camping for 4 days! We personally use Airbnb a lot more than resorts or hotels if we are going to be moving around.
The Best Things to do on Kaua’i
You can find something for everyone here, whether it’s laying out on the beach, staying active or seeking an adrenaline rush. There are still a ton of things I wasn’t able to do in my time there but I have my list ready for when I go back!
Hiking! Kaua’i has some of the best hikes in my opinion. The two that we did are some of the most famous for their viewpoints all along the way.
One of the longer ones on the island (6.5 miles) that we did was Awa’awapuhi Trail. As a lot of hikes do in Kokee State Park, the Awa’awapuhi Trail winds its way down through thick backwoods until it suddenly hits the coast. At the official lookout, you’re welcomed by sensational drop-offs on either side of the Awa’awapuhi Ridge and views of the Na Pali coastline.
Keep in mind it’s pretty rainy up there and the trail can get really slippery with all the mud, especially since you are gaining/losing 1500 ft of elevation throughout the hike.
The Waipo’o Falls Trail leads you to an expansive view overlooking the Waimea Canyon before ending at Waipo’o Falls. This 3.6 mile out and back trail has a few separate viewpoints, all of which are worth checking out. It should be noted that the trail ends right above the waterfall, so you don’t actually get to see it but you have the option to branch off right behind the waterfall to a small waterfall and pool to swim in.
Waipo’o Falls Trail can actually be attempted from several different trailheads, but the most straight forward is from the popular Pu’u Hinahina parking lot inside the Koke’e State Park.
Take a Helicopter Tour of the Island
We had hoped to do a doors off flight, but only one company (that I know of) offers that and it just didn’t work with our schedule. So we ended up using Island Helicopter Tours Hawai’i. They were awesome and decently affordable compared to some others and worth every penny. It ended up being one of our favorite moments of the trip! It’s indescribable to see the island from overhead, over the Na Pali coast line, being able to see the countless waterfalls and where Jurassic Park was filmed! If you splurge on one activity while you’re there, I’d definitely recommend this!
See the Na Pali Coast by Catamaran
We also took a half day sail on a catamaran with Captain Andy’s. They provide you with breakfast, lunch and inclusive drinks as well as snorkeling equipment. We were able to see the Napali Coastline in a different view, as well as snorkel at the reefs and witness hundreds of dolphins racing our boat. It was beautiful and a fun activity if you’re a big boating person like I am.
EXPLORE KAUAI’S WAIMEA CANYON
Even if you’re not up for a hike, you shouldn’t miss out on Koke’e State Park! The park is located at the end of a long, windy (but well maintained) road on Kaui’s Northwestern Coast. There are four lookouts you can stop at along this road to enjoy some jaw-dropping views of Waimea Canyon and Kalalau Valley.
There are some unofficial pull outs along the road that takes you up to Koke’e State Park (Hwy 55). You can stop at any of these to snap some photos, but the first two official lookouts you will see are the Waimea Canyon Lookout at mile marker 10, and the Puu Hinahina Lookout, around mile marker 13.
Hang Out at One of the Great Beaches!
Hanalei Bay, Hideaway Beach, Tunnels Beach, Larsen’s Beach, Poipu Beach (great for seeing turtles, just please respect their space) and many others! You cant go wrong with any of the great spots on the island, some of them are hard to get to or require 4 wheel access so make sure you are well prepared and do your research.
The Spouting Horn and Queens Bath are also a popular must see on the island! Please take precaution as Queens Bath can get pretty rough and isn’t usually safe for swimming in the winter.
I hope this gave you some great inspiration for your next trip to Kaua’i! It truly is my favorite place on Earth and I hope everyone can experience at some point in their lifetime.