Anyone who climbs aboard a vessel this time of the year and heads for the open ocean off Kaua’i can expect to see humpback whales. There are so many of them that most boat companies don’t hesitate to guarantee sightings. (Truth is, it’s hard to miss a 40-ton humpback when it propels its 45-foot bulk… Continue »
Kaua‘i The Garden Isle
Kaua‘i possesses a quaint, unpretentious charm unique unto itself. It’s hard to pinpoint the source of this magnetism that draws visitors from near and far, year after year.
Perhaps the answer lies in its miles upon miles of unspoiled golden-sand beaches (an incredible 113 miles of shoreline, to be exact) and stunning rainforests that conceal breathtaking waterfalls, winding rivers and exotic flora and fauna found no where else on Earth.
Or maybe the reason travelers continue to migrate to this tiny island is because Kaua‘i, though the smallest of the main Hawaiian Islands, is home to some of the state’s most-renowned attractions. Here you’ll find Hawai‘i’s very own “Grand Canyon,” as well as the spectacular Na Pali Coast and the very waterfall made famous in the blockbuster hit Jurassic Park.
Indeed, Kaua‘i is a true treasure worthy of exploration, and to help you sort through the never-ending array of activities the Garden Isle has to offer, we’ve narrowed the selection down to only the best of the best, which we then compiled into this handy guide.
Throughout these pages you’ll find heart-pumping adventures, one-of-a-kind ocean sports, world-class shopping destinations, award-winning culinary options and much, much more.
Thrill-seekers won’t be disappointed when they find themselves soaring over treetops on a ziplining tour or venturing deep into a tropical jungle while perched high on horseback.
Other island outfitters offer kayak trips along Kaua‘i’s rugged southern shoreline, hiking treks through picture-perfect wilderness and biking excursions that travel from mauka (the mountains) to makai (the sea).
For those who would rather take it easy—Kaua‘i is well-known for its welcoming, laid back character, after all—there is no shortage of things to do as well. Stroll through a botanical garden; enjoy a cocktail on the deck of a luxury yacht as the sun sets over the calm Pacific waters; take in a hula show, complete with traditional lu‘au; meditate with a yoga session on the beach; or play a round of golf on Hawai‘i’s No.1-rated, and arguably most scenic courses.
In December, just as the huge winter swells move in, another natural phenomenon graces the waters surround Hawai‘i’s islands—humpback whales. The best way to catch a glimpse of these graceful giants is from the seat of a tour boat or from a lookout point along the shore.
No visit to Kaua‘i would be complete without a stop at some the island’s more spiritual destinations. Walk a reconstructed Hawaiian village, complete with thatched-roof huts and lush gardens ripe with native Hawaiian fruit and flowers. Or make a journey to a higher realm of being at a healing sanctuary in Lawa‘i Valley; tour a historic plantation village that has survived the passages of time; then end the day by watching the sun set from the peaceful shores of Polihale.
Kaua‘i is just a short plane or boat ride away from the “Forbidden Island” of Ni‘ihau, where the highly sought-after shells for jewelry and lei come from, and where a small community of Native Hawaiians continues to perpetuate the Hawaiian language.
And don’t forget to pick up a souvenir or two at one of Kaua‘i’s homegrown shopping destinations before your trip comes to a close!
No matter your reason for visiting these tropical shores, welcome. And if you find your time with us too short to experience all that Kaua‘i has to offer, don’t despair; we’re sure Kaua‘i’s “magic” will be calling you back soon, and we’ll be eagerly waiting with even more 101 Things to Do.
Photo: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson
View our top picks below or see all 101 Things To Do on Kaua‘i!
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The majestic Na Pali Coast on Kaua’i’s northwest shore is one of the most spectacular wilderness areas in the Pacific. This 6,175-acre state park is open only to foot traffic, but there’s a way to sidestep this restriction—head to the ocean. A number of outlets can provide access to the famous scenery via the water,… Continue »
A shopping spree on Kaua’i mimics the island experience to a T—you can’t possibly know what to expect, and you have to keep a keen eye peeled for treasures hidden along the way. There are shopping malls—none of them guilty of a sprawl—along with big-box discount stores and Macy’s, the island’s only nationwide department store…. Continue »
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Kaua’i is renowned for its hiking trails and backcountry vistas. This list covers all the basics of the island treks. To start, Waimea Canyon, the 3,000-foot-deep centerpiece of Koke’e State Park, is a premier hiking experience. One trail at the canyon ends at an 800-foot waterfall, and while strenuous, the hike will provide visitors with… Continue »
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