Choose from 30 Fun Things to Do in Kauai
Perfect acoustics and gorgeous scenery come together at Fern Grotto, the highlight of a cruise on the Wailua River.
A natural amphitheater, the fern-filled grotto provides a unique venue for visitors to hear traditional Hawaiian music in one of the islands’ most beautiful outdoor settings.
The beautiful grotto was created by volcanic activity, and is draped in tropical ferns.
Fern Grotto is on the eastern side of Kauai, reached by 40-minute boat tour along the Wailua River.
Kipu Falls is a gorgeous retreat on the Huleia River, just outside Lihue.
Reached by a short walk along a former sugarcane trail, a lovely waterfall tumbles over a sheer 20-foot (6 m) cliff at Kipu, into the pool below.
Cool off with a paddle in this natural swimming pool, or join adventurous locals who fling themselves into the water using handy ropeswings attached to the surrounding trees.
Kipu Falls is west from Lihue, off Kipu Road. To get here, follow the State Highway 50 to Kipu Road.
One of Kauai’s most beautiful stretches of water, Hanalei Bay is a hub for watersports on the island’s north shore.
Flanked by idyllic stretches of beach and backed by mountains, the bayside town of Hanalei is filled with shops renting kayaks, sailing boats, surfboards.
Come here to soak up the rays on the beach, dip your toe in the water, take a stroll on the pier or bring a picnic to enjoy on the sand.
Hanalei Bay is on the northern coast of Kauai, reached via State Highway 56 from Lihue.
Novelty-seekers can revel in the knowledge that Polihale State Park is the westernmost public beach in the entire state of Hawaii, while adventurers will love how the park is accessed by a rugged dirt road where 100-foot sand dunes line the empty shoreline. If you’re a photographer, Polihale State Park is one of the few places on Kauai where you can photograph the sunset disappearing into the water and somehow be the only person around.
Different from the popular tourist centers of Poipu, Kapa’a, and Hanalei, the main draw for visitors to Polihale is not its popularity, but how it somehow continues to be completely and totally wild. There are no facilities to be found anywhere at Polihale, and the only place which is safe for swimming is a protected area towards the south end of the beach which is known as the Queen’s Bath.
Camping is permitted along the length of Polihale, although campers will need to pack in all of their own supplies since the closest town is over 30 minutes away. A windswept wilderness of sculpted sand and powerful surf, a visit to Polihale State Park is a reminder of what it means to be free.
Poipu Beach Park is Kauai’s most popular beach resort for families, with a natural ocean pool, golden sand and an endless array of watersports.
This beach is watched over by lifeguards, to ensure safe seaside fun for all the family. You’ll also find a playground, washing facilities, picnic tables, shady lawns and mini golf,.
The vacation activities are boundless at Poipu, from summertime surfing and year-round snorkeling to hiking, horseback riding and golf.
Other beaches nearby include protected Baby Beach for youngsters, body-surfing waves at Brennecke’s, snorkeling from Lawai and shoreline walking at Shipwreck’s Beach.
As this is a resort area, you’ll also find great shopping and dining at Poipu Beach, including popular oceanfront restaurants and seafood beach bars.
Poipu is on Kauai’s southern coast, a 25-minute drive from the airport. Getting here from Lihue is easiest by rental car or taxi.
How to get to Kauai
Ships dock in Nawiliwili Harbor on the island’s southeast coast, near the town of Lihue. A rental car is the best way to get around if you aren’t taking an organized tour.
One day on Kauai
Spend your day on Kauai getting back to nature. Start with a drive from Lihue a couple of miles north to Wailua River State Park. Here you’ll find Wailua Falls, a pristine triple waterfall. Then head south, back through Lihue, to the south coast of the island.
Make your way to the National Tropical Botanical Garden, which is really made up of two gardens: Allerton and McBryde (the third garden, Limahuli, is located on the north shore). See an astounding array of tropical plant life as you explore the two expansive gardens, which can be reached by bus from the visitor’s center.
End your day at Poipu Beach, near the botanical garden. Stretch out and relax on this stretch of sand that’s often considered one of the top beaches in Hawaii.
Guarding the tip of Kilauea Point since 1913, this historic Kilauea Lighthouse is one of Kauai’s most visited attractions.
One of the most intact historic lighthouses in the USA, the lighthouse was decommissioned in 1976 and now forms part of a wildlife refuge for migrating seabirds.
Gaze out to sea and imagine the ships that were guided by its light, pick up a souvenir in the gift shop, and learn about the restoration project that’s currently under way.
Kilauea Lighthouse is on Kilauea Point on the northern coast of Kauai, reached by State Highway 56 from Lihue.