The 30 Best Things To Do On Kauai | A Bucket List Guide 2023

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The 30 Best Things To Do On Kauai | A Bucket List Guide 2023

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I have been to Kauai several times in my lifetime and plan on hiking the Kalalau trail this summer, look for that review soon! Coming up with a list of the best things to do on Kauai is tricky and honestly really depends on so many factors, but I will give it a shot.

As a nature enthusiast and avid traveler, I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing the wonders of Kauai, the Garden Isle of Hawaii. With its breathtaking landscapes, pristine beaches, and rich cultural heritage, Kauai offers a plethora of activities for every kind of adventurer.

I remember visiting the Fern Grotto as a youngster and taking the Wailua river boat tour, good memories. Now I mostly visit for quiet stays and hiking.

Let me take you on a journey through some of the best things to do on this stunning island and hopefully create some lifelong memories as I have.

If you’re considering staying to see all the islands, you need to take a look at my list of the best things to do on Oahu or Maui.

Visit Ha’ena State Park

Ha'ena State park is one of the best things to do on Kauai

Nestled on Kauai’s north shore, Ha’ena State Park is a true gem. With its golden beaches, lush greenery, and azure waters, this park is a paradise for nature lovers. Explore the famous Ke’e Beach, perfect for swimming and snorkeling, or embark on the challenging yet rewarding Kalalau Trail that offers awe-inspiring views of the Na Pali Coast. Remember to secure your permit for the Kalalau trail in advance, as it is required.

Tips For Ha’ena State Park:

  • Arrive early to secure a parking spot, as the park can get crowded.
  • Check weather and trail conditions before attempting the Kalalau Trail.
  • Respect the fragile ecosystem and pack out what you pack in to preserve the park’s natural beauty.

Click Here For Recent Trip Advisor Reviews

Visit Limahuli Garden and Preserve

The 30 Best Things To Do On Kauai | A Bucket List Guide 2023

Immerse yourself in the natural beauty and cultural heritage of Kauai by visiting Limahuli Garden and Preserve. Located on the north shore, this botanical garden showcases a diverse collection of native Hawaiian plants and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and coastline. Take a guided tour to learn about the cultural significance and conservation efforts in this enchanting setting.

Tip For Limahuli Garden and Preserve:

  • Book a guided tour to gain a deeper understanding of the plants, history, and culture of the garden.

Click Here For Recent Trip Advisor Reviews

To book your tickets ahead of time, use this tour company and get your tickets early just in case they sell out.

Snorkel on Kauai

The 30 Best Things To Do On Kauai | A Bucket List Guide 2023

Discover the vibrant underwater world of Kauai by embarking on a snorkeling adventure. With numerous snorkeling spots around the island, you can witness colorful coral reefs, tropical fish, and perhaps even sea turtles. Popular snorkeling spots include Tunnels Beach, Poipu Beach Park, and Anini Beach. Remember to follow guidelines for reef conservation and wear reef-safe sunscreen.

Tip For Kauai Snorkeling:

  • Check the weather and ocean conditions before snorkeling to ensure optimal visibility and safety.

Click Here For Recent Trip Advisor Reviews

There are so many options for snorkeling to choose from; however, I recommend using this 5-star company for your trip.

Visit Hanalei Bay

The 30 Best Things To Do On Kauai | A Bucket List Guide 2023

Hanalei Bay, with its picturesque crescent-shaped beach, emerald green mountains, and charming town, is a must-visit destination on Kauai’s north shore. Whether you’re a beach lover, a water sports enthusiast, or simply seeking relaxation, Hanalei Bay has it all. Swim in the turquoise waters, try your hand at surfing or paddleboarding, or take a leisurely stroll along the shore.

Tip For Hanalei Bay:

  • Check the surf conditions before attempting to surf or engage in water activities.

Click Here For Recent Trip Advisor Reviews

If you’re looking to do more when visiting Hanalei Bay, consider booking a kayak or snorkeling tour with this 5-star provider.

Tour Na Pali Coast by Helicopter or Boat

The 30 Best Things To Do On Kauai | A Bucket List Guide 2023

For a truly awe-inspiring experience, embark on a helicopter or boat tour of the majestic Na Pali Coast. Marvel at the towering sea cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and remote valleys inaccessible by land. Whether you choose a thrilling helicopter ride or a leisurely boat tour, the views of this rugged coastline will leave you breathless.

Tips For Na Pali Coast:

  • Book your tour in advance to secure your preferred date and time.
  • Bring a camera or smartphone to capture stunning aerial or boat views.

Click Here For Recent Trip Advisor Reviews

Traveling by means other than walking or driving can totally elevate your travel experience; here is my pick for Na Pali helicopter tours, along with a 1/2 day snorkeling tour.

Kayak and Hike to Uluwehi Falls

The 30 Best Things To Do On Kauai | A Bucket List Guide 2023

Experience the enchantment of Kauai’s lush interior by embarking on a kayak and hike adventure to Uluwehi Falls, also known as Secret Falls. Paddle along the Wailua River, surrounded by tropical foliage, and then embark on a short hike to the hidden waterfall. Take a refreshing dip in the pool beneath the falls and bask in the tranquility of this secluded paradise.

Tips For Uluwehi Falls:

  • Book a guided tour for a hassle-free experience and to learn about the area’s history and culture.
  • Wear water shoes or sturdy sandals for the hike and bring insect repellent.

Click Here For Recent Trip Advisor Reviews

Explore Kauai’s natural beauty by visiting Secret Falls via kayak, use this tour provider to book your tickets ahead of time.

Visit Waimea Canyon

The 30 Best Things To Do On Kauai | A Bucket List Guide 2023

Often referred to as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” Waimea Canyon is a geological wonder that showcases the island’s dramatic landscapes. Hike along the trails to enjoy panoramic views of vibrant red and orange cliffs, lush valleys, and cascading waterfalls. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Kalalau Lookout, where you can marvel at the Na Pali Coast from a different perspective.

Tip For Waimea Canyon:

  • Bring layers of clothing, as the weather can vary and temperatures can be cooler at higher elevations.

Click Here For Recent Trip Advisor Reviews

If you’re looking for a private full-day tour of Waimea Canyon, use this 5-star provider.

Go Horseback Riding on the Beach

The 30 Best Things To Do On Kauai | A Bucket List Guide 2023

Saddle up and embark on a memorable horseback riding adventure along Kauai’s stunning coastline. Feel the gentle breeze on your face as you traverse sandy beaches, lush pastures, and scenic trails. Horseback riding allows you to connect with the island’s natural beauty while enjoying a unique perspective of Kauai.

Tip For Beach Horseback Riding:

  • Wear closed-toe shoes and comfortable attire for the ride. Follow the instructions of your guide and enjoy the scenic trails and beach views.

Click Here For Recent Trip Advisor Reviews

Looking for the best pick for a horseback tour? Use my 5-star pick with this tour company.

Hike Sleeping Giant Trail

The 30 Best Things To Do On Kauai | A Bucket List Guide 2023

For a rewarding hike with panoramic views, head to the Sleeping Giant Trail, also known as Nounou Mountain. This moderately challenging trail takes you through lush forests and uphill climbs to reach the summit, where you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking vistas of the island’s east side. Don’t forget to bring water, sunscreen, and sturdy footwear for this adventure.

Tip For Sleeping Giant Trail:

  • Start your hike early in the day to avoid the midday heat and ensure you have enough time to complete the trail.

Click Here For Recent Trip Advisor Reviews

Go Mountain Tubing

The 30 Best Things To Do On Kauai | A Bucket List Guide 2023
Photo courtesy of Kauai Backcountry Adventures.

One of the most thrilling activities on Kauai is mountain tubing. Float down the irrigation canals of the former Lihue Plantation, surrounded by lush greenery and tropical landscapes. Enjoy the leisurely ride as you navigate gentle currents and tunnels, marveling at the beauty of Kauai’s interior. This unique adventure is suitable for all ages and guarantees an unforgettable experience.

Tip For Mountain Tubing:

  • Wear water shoes or closed-toe shoes and bring a waterproof camera or phone case to capture the fun moments.

Click Here For Recent Trip Advisor Reviews

Kauai Backcountry Adventures is my #1 choice for mountain tubing, book your tickets in advance here.

Ride the Kauai Plantation Train

The 30 Best Things To Do On Kauai | A Bucket List Guide 2023

Immerse yourself in the island’s agricultural heritage by taking a ride on the Kauai Plantation Train. Hop aboard an open-air train and embark on a scenic tour through lush fields and tropical plantations. Learn about the island’s history, local crops, and the cultural significance of agriculture on Kauai. Don’t forget to sample some fresh fruits or treats along the way!

Tip For Kauai Plantation Train:

  • Sit on the left side of the train for the best views during the tour.

Click Here For Recent Trip Advisor Reviews

The Kauai Plantation Train is a beautiful way to take in the island, make sure to book with this top tour company.

Attend a Luau

The 30 Best Things To Do On Kauai | A Bucket List Guide 2023

No visit to Hawaii is complete without experiencing a traditional luau. Immerse yourself in Hawaiian culture, music, and dance while savoring a delicious feast. Enjoy the mesmerizing hula performances, learn about Polynesian traditions, and partake in interactive activities. Each luau offers its unique touch, so be sure to choose one that resonates with your interests.

Tip For Luaus:

  • Make a reservation in advance, as Luau events tend to fill up quickly, especially during peak seasons.

Click Here For Recent Trip Advisor Reviews

Looking for a luau to enjoy can be stressful, luckily we’ve done the work for you and narrowed it down to this highly-rated option.

Hike Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail

The 30 Best Things To Do On Kauai | A Bucket List Guide 2023

For a scenic coastal hike, venture to the Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail on Kauai’s south shore. This trail offers breathtaking views of rugged cliffs, pristine beaches, and stunning ocean vistas. Explore the archaeological sites along the way and learn about the history and cultural significance of the area. Remember to bring water, sunscreen, and sturdy shoes for this moderate-level hike.

Tip for Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail:

  • Start the hike early in the morning to avoid the midday heat and enjoy a quieter trail.

Click Here For Recent Trip Advisor Reviews

Visit Spouting Horn Blowhole

The 30 Best Things To Do On Kauai | A Bucket List Guide 2023

Witness the power of nature at the Spouting Horn Blowhole, located in Poipu. As waves crash against the rocky coastline, water shoots upward through a natural lava tube, creating an impressive display of water spouts. Enjoy the view and listen to the sound of the ocean as you observe this natural wonder. Local vendors often sell crafts and souvenirs nearby, adding to the charm of the area.

Tip For Spouting Horn Blowhole:

  • Be cautious and maintain a safe distance from the blowhole to avoid getting wet or injured.

Click Here For Recent Trip Advisor Reviews

If you’re looking for a full day of scenic travel, I highly recommend this 5-hour tour that includes Spouting Horn Blowhole and other attractions.

Snorkel Lehua Crater

The 30 Best Things To Do On Kauai | A Bucket List Guide 2023

For a unique snorkeling experience, consider visiting Lehua Crater. This uninhabited island off the coast of Kauai is a protected marine reserve, home to an abundance of vibrant marine life. Dive into the crystal-clear waters and encounter colorful coral reefs, tropical fish, and perhaps even sea turtles. Remember to respect the sanctuary’s guidelines to preserve its fragile ecosystem.

Tip For Lehua Island Bird Sanctuary:

  • Book a guided snorkeling tour that includes transportation to and from Lehua Island for a seamless and informative experience.

Click Here For Recent Trip Advisor Reviews

If you’re considering snorkeling in Lehua Crater, use my #1 recommendation with this company.

Visit Waimea Town

The 30 Best Things To Do On Kauai | A Bucket List Guide 2023

Step back in time and explore the historic town of Waimea. Known as the “Little Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” Waimea town offers a glimpse into Kauai’s rich past. Stroll along the main street, visit the local shops, and learn about Captain Cook’s landing at the nearby Waimea Bay. Don’t forget to savor some local cuisine or enjoy refreshing shaved ice while you’re there.

Tip For Waimea Town:

  • Visit the Waimea Plantation Cottages, which provide insight into the island’s sugar plantation era.

Click Here For Recent Trip Advisor Reviews

Many options exist for Waimea Town but I highly recommend using The West Kaua’i Heritage Center and their expansive tour options.

Visit Kalalau Lookout

The 30 Best Things To Do On Kauai | A Bucket List Guide 2023

For a breathtaking vista of the Napali Coast, make your way to the Kalalau Lookout. Located within Koke’e State Park, this viewpoint offers a panoramic view of the majestic cliffs, verdant valleys, and the deep blue ocean. Take your time to absorb the natural beauty of the Napali Coast and capture stunning photographs. The lookout is especially magical during sunrise and sunset.

Tip For Kalalau Lookout:

  • Dress in layers, as the weather can change quickly at higher elevations. Be prepared for cooler temperatures and windy conditions.

Click Here For Recent Trip Advisor Reviews

Looking for a full tour of the island along with Kalalau Lookout? Then you need to use this tour provider that boasts a 7-hour full tour.

Visit Ke’e Beach

The 30 Best Things To Do On Kauai | A Bucket List Guide 2023

Located at the end of the road on Kauai’s north shore, Ke’e Beach is a true tropical paradise. With its golden sand, crystal-clear waters, and backdrop of lush mountains, this beach is perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and picnicking. Explore the vibrant underwater world filled with colorful fish and coral reefs or simply relax and soak up the sun. Ke’e Beach also marks the starting point of the Kalalau Trail, a renowned hiking trail along the Napali Coast.

Tip For Ke’e Beach:

  • Arrive early to secure a parking spot, as it can get crowded due to its popularity.

Click Here For Recent Trip Advisor Reviews

Spend an entire day on the island looking at all it has to offer with this tour provider, the 6-hour tour covers almost every single attraction Kauai has to offer.

Visit Maniniholo Dry Cave

The 30 Best Things To Do On Kauai | A Bucket List Guide 2023

Embark on a unique underground adventure by visiting Maniniholo Dry Cave. Located near Haena Beach Park, this cave was formed by ancient lava flows and offers an intriguing exploration opportunity. Marvel at the natural rock formations and observe the interplay of light and shadows within the cave. Remember to bring a flashlight or headlamp for better visibility and be cautious of slippery surfaces.

Tip For Maninihole Dry Cave:

  • Wear sturdy footwear and be mindful of your surroundings while exploring the cave.

Click Here For Recent Trip Advisor Reviews

Visit Kilauea Point Lighthouse

The 30 Best Things To Do On Kauai | A Bucket List Guide 2023

Perched atop a dramatic cliff on Kauai’s north shore, the Kilauea Point Lighthouse is a historic landmark and a stunning vantage point. Take a leisurely stroll along the paved path to reach the lighthouse and enjoy panoramic views of the coastline, including the opportunity to spot wildlife such as seabirds, dolphins, and even humpback whales during the winter months. The surrounding area is also a protected wildlife refuge, making it a haven for various bird species.

Tip For Kilauea Point Lighthouse:

  • Bring binoculars for better wildlife viewing and be sure to check the lighthouse’s opening hours before visiting.

Click Here For Recent Trip Advisor Reviews

You need to go with this tour provider if you want an in-depth tour of all the movie locations on Maui, including Kilauea Point.

Visit Opaekaa Falls

The 30 Best Things To Do On Kauai | A Bucket List Guide 2023

Located in Wailua River State Park, Opaekaa Falls is a beautiful waterfall that cascades into a picturesque pool. Accessible by a short walk from the parking lot, this waterfall offers a scenic spot for photography and admiration of nature’s beauty. Take in the lush surroundings and listen to the soothing sound of the cascading water. It’s a perfect stop for a quick photo opportunity or a peaceful moment of tranquility.

Tip For Opaekaa Falls:

  • Visit in the morning for the best lighting conditions and smaller crowds.

Click Here For Recent Trip Advisor Reviews

This movie destination tour will blow your mind with the scenic views and locations you get to experience, along with Opaekaa Falls

Visit Wailua Falls

The 30 Best Things To Do On Kauai | A Bucket List Guide 2023

No visit to Kauai is complete without seeing the iconic Wailua Falls. This majestic waterfall, plunging approximately 80 feet into a pool below, is a sight to behold. Located just a short drive from Lihue, it is easily accessible and offers ample parking. Take in the awe-inspiring view from the viewpoint or venture closer to feel the mist on your face. The falls are especially impressive after heavy rainfall when the water flow intensifies.

Tip For Wailua Falls:

  • Be cautious when climbing down to the lower viewpoints, as the area can be slippery. Follow designated paths and safety guidelines.

Click Here For Recent Trip Advisor Reviews

If you’re looking for an exciting and new experience, choose this tour company that gives you a self-paced driving tour paired with narrations and fun facts.

Go Tubing in Plantation Canals

The 30 Best Things To Do On Kauai | A Bucket List Guide 2023
Photo Courtesy Of Kauai Backcountry Adventures

Experience a unique adventure by tubing through the historic irrigation canals of Kauai’s old sugar plantations. Float along the gentle currents, passing through tunnels and scenic landscapes. Learn about the island’s agricultural history and enjoy the leisurely ride surrounded by lush greenery. This activity is suitable for all ages and provides a refreshing way to explore Kauai’s natural beauty.

Tip For Plantation Tubing:

  • Wear a swimsuit, sunscreen, and water shoes for a comfortable tubing experience. Consider bringing a waterproof camera to capture the memories.

Click Here For Recent Trip Advisor Reviews

If tubing is your thing, you need to experience going down the old sugar plantation canals with this popular company.

Visit Allerton-McBryde Botanical Gardens

The 30 Best Things To Do On Kauai | A Bucket List Guide 2023
Photo Courtesy Of Koloa Landing Resort

Immerse yourself in the enchanting world of flora and fauna at the Allerton-McBryde Botanical Gardens. Explore the meticulously curated gardens, featuring a diverse collection of tropical plants, colorful flowers, and tranquil pathways. Learn about the ecological significance of Kauai’s unique ecosystems and enjoy the serenity of nature. Guided tours are available for a more in-depth experience.

Tip For Allerton-McBryde Botanical Gardens:

  • Wear comfortable walking shoes and bring insect repellent to protect against mosquitoes.

Click Here For Recent Trip Advisor Reviews

Take a Shelter Dog on a Field Trip

The 30 Best Things To Do On Kauai | A Bucket List Guide 2023

Make a positive impact during your visit to Kauai by participating in a shelter dog field trip program. Various organizations allow visitors to take a shelter dog on a day trip, offering companionship, exercise, and a chance for the dogs to socialize outside of the shelter. It’s a rewarding way to explore the island while making a difference in the lives of these animals. Check with local shelters for program availability and guidelines.

Tip For Shelter Dog Field Trips:

  • Follow the shelter’s instructions and guidelines for the safety and well-being of the shelter dog.

Click Here For Recent Trip Advisor Reviews

Zipline Through the Jungle

The 30 Best Things To Do On Kauai | A Bucket List Guide 2023

Embark on an exhilarating adventure by ziplining through the lush jungles of Kauai. Soar above the treetops, taking in panoramic views of the island’s natural wonders. Experience the adrenaline rush as you glide from one platform to another, surrounded by verdant landscapes. Professional guides ensure safety and provide interesting insights into the island’s flora and fauna.

Tip for Jungle Ziplining:

  • Wear closed-toe shoes and comfortable clothing suitable for outdoor activities. Follow all safety instructions provided by the zipline tour operators.

Click Here For Recent Trip Advisor Reviews

Looking for a 5-star adrenaline-rushing adventure? Book your zipline tours now with this tour provider.

Visit Na Aina Kai Botanical Gardens

The 30 Best Things To Do On Kauai | A Bucket List Guide 2023
Photo Courtesy Of Na Aina Kai

Discover the wonders of Na Aina Kai Botanical Gardens, a hidden gem on Kauai’s north shore. Explore the beautifully landscaped gardens, featuring diverse plant species, intricate sculptures, and enchanting water features. Stroll through the various themed gardens, including a children’s garden and a tropical rainforest. Don’t miss the stunning bronze sculptures and the tranquil Japanese garden.

Tip for Na Aina Kai Botanical Gardens:

  • Check the garden’s website for special events or guided tours that may enhance your visit.

Click Here For Recent Trip Advisor Reviews

Kayak Wailua River

The 30 Best Things To Do On Kauai | A Bucket List Guide 2023

Embark on a peaceful journey along the scenic Wailua River by kayaking through its gentle waters. Paddle past lush landscapes, ancient Hawaiian sites, and picturesque valleys. Reach the enchanting Fern Grotto, a natural lava rock formation draped in ferns, and experience its serene beauty. Kayaking on the Wailua River offers a unique perspective of Kauai’s natural splendor.

Tip For Wailua River Kayaking:

  • Rent kayaks from authorized rental companies and obtain information about the river’s conditions and safety guidelines. Be mindful of the weather and water levels before embarking on your kayak adventure.

Click Here For Recent Trip Advisor Reviews

You need to book with this 5-star company if you want the best way to experience Wailua River and Secret Falls.

Hike to Mount Waialeale

The 30 Best Things To Do On Kauai | A Bucket List Guide 2023

For experienced hikers seeking an epic challenge, consider embarking on the trek to Mount Waialeale. This dormant volcano, often referred to as the “wettest spot on Earth,” rewards hikers with breathtaking views and a sense of accomplishment. The rugged terrain and unpredictable weather conditions make this hike suitable only for experienced and well-prepared adventurers. Ensure you have the necessary gear, permits, and knowledge before attempting this challenging endeavor.

Tip For Mount Waialeale:

  • Research and plan your hike thoroughly, including obtaining permits and checking weather conditions. It’s advisable to hike with a knowledgeable guide or join an organized tour for safety and guidance.

Click Here For Recent Trip Advisor Reviews

If hiking isn’t your fancy, consider a helicopter tour; click here to view our top pick of helicopter tours of Mount Waialeale.

Visit Fern Grotto

The 30 Best Things To Do On Kauai | A Bucket List Guide 2023

A visit to Fern Grotto is a must when exploring the island of Kauai. Located along the Wailua River, this enchanting natural wonder is a hidden gem of lush ferns draping from the surrounding cliffs. Accessible by boat or kayak, the grotto provides a serene and picturesque setting for a memorable experience. Enjoy the tranquility as you listen to the sounds of nature and admire the verdant beauty of the fern-covered walls.

Tip For Fern Grotto:

  • Consider taking a boat tour or kayak excursion that includes a stop at Fern Grotto. This way, you can relax and enjoy the journey along the scenic Wailua River before reaching the grotto.

Click Here For Recent Trip Advisor Reviews

If you’re looking for the whole package of Kauai sightseeing locations, book your 10-hour adventure with this tour company.

Whether you seek adventure, natural beauty, or cultural experiences, Kauai offers an abundance of activities to satisfy every traveler. From exploring hidden waterfalls to snorkeling vibrant reefs, this island paradise will leave you with memories that last a lifetime. Embrace the spirit of aloha and let Kauai’s enchantment captivate your soul.

If you have had any experience with these best things to do on Kauai let me know in the comments below.

2 COMMENTS

  1. The irrigation ditch tubing was super fun but I wouldn’t, as you did, call it ‘thrilling’. We loved it but it was very easy going, we recommend it to those willing to spend for it.

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