The Best Things to do on Kauai, Hawaii

The 25 Best Things to Do on Kauai

Kauai is home to some of Hawaii’s most captivating natural wonders, including the famed Napali Coast and Waimea Canyon. Whether you prefer to spend your days basking on a white sand beach or embarking on epic rainforest or waterfall hikes, you choose your adventure on the “Garden Island!”

In addition to its popular stretches of sand, Kauai boasts a dramatic landscape of emerald valleys, towering mountains, and tropical rainforests. Outdoor adventures are endless – you can tick snorkeling with sea turtles, body surfing, mountain tubing, or river kayaking off your Hawaii bucket list.

Helicopter tours take you to hidden pockets of the island only accessible by air, while river cruises and cycling trails showcase the island’s incredible natural beauty. Combine your adventures with a dose of local culture by exploring the island’s booming food truck scene, or treat yourself to a refreshing Hawaiian shave ice dessert.

With so many exciting things to do and see on Kauai, you want to make sure you get the most out of your island getaway. We’ll help you discover the best things to do on Kauai, including the island’s most beautiful beaches, spectacular outdoor adventures, and the best places to eat. Stick to this Kauai bucket list for the best “Garden Island” experiences and plan a trip of a lifetime!

25 cool and unique things to do

1. Hike or Sail the Napali Coast

Best Things to do on Kauai: Napali Coast

One of the best things to do on Kauai, exploring the iconic Napali Coast offers some of the best views on the island. Spanning 17 miles along the North Shore, it features emerald-hued cliffs that reveal beautiful beaches, cascading waterfalls, and incredible Pacific Ocean vistas.

There are many ways to explore the Napali Coast, but hiking and boating are the most popular options. Most boat tours on Kauai depart from Port Allen on the West Side. Some (like Capt Andy’s) offer snorkeling options, so you can get up close to the island’s hidden sea caves and remote beaches.

For a front-row seat to the captivating coastal views, hikers can follow the Kalalau Trail, one of the most adventurous routes on the island. Set within the Napali Coast State Wilderness Park, it stretches for 11 miles and is one of the only ways to access the beautiful Napali Coast via land.

Along the way, you’ll traverse five lush valleys before dropping to sea level at Kalalau Beach, one of the best beaches in Hawaii! However, for a shorter option, the first two miles of the trail – from Ha’ena State Park to Hanakapiai Beach – make for a popular day trip.

Book a Full-Day Napali Coast Boat Tour


2. Marvel at Sea Cliffs & Enjoy Beach Camping at Polihale State Park

Fun Things to do on Kauai: Polihale State Park

Polihale State Park is an ultra-secluded shoreline located on Kauai’s west coast. It’s the last beach before the Napali Coast begins. From the northern tip of this beach, you can enjoy the gorgeous landscape of Napali’s cliffs while you’ll find 17 miles of quiet, blissful shoreline to the south.

Its generous size is what makes this isolated beach park so alluring, as it rarely feels crowded here. The road to the scenic beach stretches for about five miles down a bumpy dirt road, which means you’ll need a 4×4 car to visit this Kauai destination.

The beauty of this expansive beach is worth the journey, offering an incredible setting of towering sea cliffs, sand dunes, and soft sands where you can enjoy beachcombing, sunset watching, and shore fishing. Swimming, however, is not recommended due to the strong offshore currents.

You can make a day of it and pack a picnic or even plan an overnight camping adventure (for a fee), as the park offers cold running water, toilets, picnic shelters, and outdoor showers. The town of Kekah is the last stop before you reach Polihale State Park, so stock up on food and drinks before driving out.


3. Drive Waimea Canyon

What to do on Kauai: Drive Waimea Canyon

Nicknamed the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” due to its mesmerizing 3,000-foot-tall cliffs, Waimea Canyon is one of Kauai’s signature attractions. It’s the perfect place for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike. The area features a stunning landscape of cascading waterfalls and deep valley gorges that make it a must-do thing on Kauai!

This natural wonder was formed by volcanic activity millions of years ago, with erosion and rainfall contributing to its unique formations. At 14 miles long and one mile wide, this top Hawaii destination is best explored via the famous Waimea Canyon Drive.

Prepare to be blown away by the dramatic views of the canyon’s crested buttes on this scenic drive. The Waimea Canyon Overlook is a popular pullover spot where you can sit back and marvel at the deep, colorful gorge in all its glory. 

Those looking for more of a challenge can follow the Cliff Trail, which leads to the top of the Waipoo Falls for incredible panoramic views. You can learn more about this stunning natural attraction through interpretive exhibits at the Kokee Natural History Museum, then continue on to reach the Pu’u O Kila Lookout, where you can take in sweeping views of the Kalalau Valley.

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4. Follow Rainforest Hikes in Kokee State Park

Most travelers combine a trip to Waimea Canyon with an afternoon at Kokee State Park. Equally as beautiful, this 4,345-acre park features thousands of acres of lush rainforest on a plateau sitting between 3,200 to 4,200 feet above sea level.

Beloved for its forest views, wildflower-strewn landscapes, and scenic hiking trails, Kokee State Park is also an excellent spot for wildlife watching. The park is home to all sorts of colorful endemic Hawaiian forest birds. You can explore the park by car or on foot, as it features about 45 miles of hiking trails.

The main road through Kokee cuts through the stunning park, and popular stops along the way include the Kalalau Lookout and Pu’u O Kila Lookout. Both offer a chance to gawk at the gorgeous views of the famous Napali Cliffs stretching out to the sea.

However, those looking to get a little closer can follow one of the rainforest hikes in Kokee that offer sweeping views of the valleys opening up to the North Shore. The Awa’awapuhi Trail is a scenic route that takes you to the edge of the cliffs, while the Alakai Swamp Trail goes deep into the park’s lush rainforest landscapes.

You can also camp overnight here for a small fee. Bring layers as the temperature drops as you climb to the higher elevations in the park!

Book a Private Tour of Waimea Canyon and Kokee State Park


5. Snorkel with Sea Turtles at Tunnels

Cool Things to do on Kauai: Snorkel with Sea Turtles at Tunnels

For some of the best snorkeling in Hawaii, head to Tunnels Beach. Also known as Makua Beach, this Kauai bucket list destination is a popular place to dive beneath the surface and search for underwater treasures. For good reason too, as it’s home to a medley of colorful fish and sea turtles!

The beach area offers shallow swimmable areas, which makes it ideal for all skill levels and ages who want to explore Kauai’s waters. When you’re there, swim to the reef that sits beyond the wide beach, as it’s protected by a small crescent-shaped bay and ideal for snorkeling adventures.

Put on your mask and peer under the surface to see the area’s colorful coral formations and schools of colorful fish swimming past you. If you’re lucky, you might spot reef triggerfish, parrotfish, and arc-eye hawkfish in the waters. A bonus for animal lovers, it’s not uncommon to spot Hawaiian monk seals basking in the sunshine on the shore at this beach!

To reach Makua Beach, drive toward Haena State Park along the northern coast, and you’ll find it one mile before its entrance. If snorkeling with sea turtles is on your Kauai bucket list, add popular spots like Anini, Turtle Cove, and Ke’e Beach on the North Shore and Kuhio Shores, Kipu Kai Beach, and Koloa Landing on the South Shore to your list.


6. Go Surfing at Hanalei Bay

What to do on Kauai: Surfing at Hanalei Bay

Located about four miles southwest of Princeville, Hanalei Bay is a two-mile crescent-shaped bay that is the perfect spot for a surfing adventure. Composed of three different beaches – Waioli Beach Park, Hanalei Beach Park, and Black Pot Beach – the waves are consistently powerful here.

A beloved spot for local surfers, the surf breaks on the eastern side of the bay for up to 900 feet over the lava reef. The waves have occasional barrel sections, with popular reef breaks in the area called the Hideways, PineTrees, and Waikokos.

It also offers a great setting for kicking back on the soft sands and enjoying the beautiful backdrop of the lush mountains. In the summer, the water is generally flat for easy access to swimming. So, if you’re coming here to surf, the winter season offers a better chance of seeing big waves.

Lifeguards are typically on duty at this beach and restroom facilities are available. For more amenities, head a few blocks south on Kuhio Highway to find popular restaurants, shops, and water sports rentals such as kayaks and catamarans.

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7. Photograph the Picture-Perfect Queen’s Bath

Cool Things to do on Kauai: Queen’s Bath

A secret volcanic pool on Kauai, Queen’s Bath is a thrill-seeker’s paradise along the coast. Located in Princeville on the North Shore, this crystal-clear tide pool is gorgeous, but it can also be dangerous!

Separated from the ocean by lava rock, its water spills out over the rocks in a dramatic show of natural beauty. This natural wonder was once used as a royal bathing place but is now a destination for adrenaline-fueled swimming adventures.

Its 10-foot-high lava shelf protects the pool from the ocean tides in most areas. However, in the winter the waves can reach as high as 15 feet, leaving the tide pool with little protection.

While enticing, we encourage you to visit Queen’s Bath and simply admire it from above instead of taking a dip. With unpredictable tides, it can be hazardous for even the most experienced surfers and swimmers.

Even if you’re only coming out here to take a look, plan to wear durable shoes. The short hike that leads to the pool and lookout point features slippery mud trails.

To reach Queen’s Bath, drive down Ka Haku Road and make a right on Punahele Road. Less than a mile down the road, you’ll reach Kapiolani Loop and the trailhead entrance. Parking is limited, so get there early.


8. Explore Secret Beach (aka Kauapea Beach)

Unique Things to do on Kauai: Explore Secret Beach

Known as “Secret Beach,” Kauapea Beach is a 3,000-foot-long slice of paradise on the North Shore. A favorite with locals for its serene setting and rugged natural scenery, it was once Hawaii’s best-kept secret because the public access trail was hidden and not well known.

The secret is out these days, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth making the trek to this sun-kissed shoreline. No roads lead to the beach. Instead, you’ll have to hike for 10 to 15 minutes to reach the picturesque seascapes.

Its soft sands are paired with towering, palm tree-lined sea cliffs and a wall of lava rock that marks the edge of the beach’s western end. If you look east, you can admire views of Mokuaeae Island and the Kilauea Lighthouse, which is perched on top of a sea cliff.

You’ll find hidden gems along this beach, including tidal pools and a small waterfall. Sunbathing, fishing, and hunting for seashells along the shore are popular activities.

Swimming in the water is ideal in summertime and surfing is an option in the winter. The tidal pools that form around the lava rock create a fun splashing area for little ones.


9. Visit the Kilauea Lighthouse

What to do on Kauai: Kilauea Lighthouse

One of Kauai’s signature attractions, Kilauea Lighthouse is perched at the northernmost tip of the island. Built in 1913 as a beacon for traveling ships, it takes about 45 minutes to reach this landmark from Lihue. The lighthouse offers stunning views of Kauai’s rugged northern coastline.

An ideal spot for taking photos, the lighthouse has now been replaced by an automatic beacon and is set within the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge. This seabird sanctuary makes for a fun excursion if you enjoy birdwatching. There’s plenty of signage identifying bird species in the area like frigate birds, Newell’s shearwaters, and red-footed boobies.

The scenic peninsula sits 200 feet above sea level and is considered a must-see for its sweeping cliffs and ocean vistas. If you want to make your visit extra special, visit during the whale watching season from December to May for a chance to catch a glimpse of these gentle giants.

To reach this attraction, you need to turn right onto Kilauea Road just after Mile Marker #23. Follow the road until it ends, then you’ll find the paved parking area near the visitor center. It’s just a short hike to reach the lighthouse, where you’ll find a popular lookout area.

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10. See Waterfalls in Wailua River State Park

Best Things to do on Kauai: Wailua River State Park

A great way to see Kauai’s spectacular rainforest scenery without breaking a sweat, Wailua River State Park offers scenic boat tours where you can marvel at the lush valley. Located about 15 minutes north of Lihue on the east side of the island, it’s home to Hawaii’s only navigable river.

The 20-mile natural gem winds past beautiful waterfalls and emerald green landscapes. If you’re up for a drive, two popular points of interest in Wailua River State Park include Opaekaa Falls and Wailua Falls.

Opaekaa Falls is picture-perfect at 151 feet tall and 40 feet wide and is a favorite for being one of the most accessible waterfalls on the island, boasting a lookout point right off Kuamoo Road. Alternately, Wailua Falls is at the south end of the river and cascades into two streams, dropping at 80 feet.

This scenic river is also a popular place for adventurous excursions like kayaking, standup paddleboarding, and canoeing. The Wailua River doesn’t have any rapids, which means it’s usually calm and gentle flowing for a relaxing excursion. Kayak Wailua, Ali’i Kayaks, and Wailua Kayak Adventures all offer guided kayaking adventures.


11. Cycle the Koloa Heritage Trail

Unique Things to do on Kauai: Koloa Heritage Trail

Offering a mix of history and stunning scenery, the Koloa Heritage Trail explores over five million years of Hawaii’s heritage. Located on the South Shore, it’s the most popular cycling route on Kauai and features some of the most important cultural, historical, and geological sites on the island.

The self-guided 10-mile bike tour features 14 stops in the Koloa and Poipu area. Each spot has significant importance, and you’ll find descriptive plaques giving you insight into its role in Kauai’s history.

Some of the highlights include Spouting Horn Park, which is a famous South Shore blowhole, as well as Prince Kuhio Birthplace & Park, where the “People’s Prince” was born in 1871. Stop at Hanakaape Bay & Koloa Landing to see a historic whaling port or admire the foliage in the Moir Gardens.

Kihahouna Heiau was the site of an ancient Hawaiian temple, while Keoneloa Bay is home to some of Kauai’s oldest occupied sites, dating back to 200-600 AD. On your cycling journey, you can also see natural wonders like the fossil beds at Makawehi & Paa Dunes and the Puuwanawana Volcanic Cone, which date back more than five million years.

Don’t miss the Sugar Monument, which commemorates the site of Hawaii’s first sugar mill. Lastly, the Yamamoto Store & Koloa Hotel (now Crazy Shirts and South Shore Pharmacy) are former plantation-era sites from the 1920s.


12. Fuel Up at Kauai’s Food Trucks

What to do on Kauai: Kauai's Food Truck
Image courtesy of Hanalei Taro & Juice Co

Kauai is known for its thriving food truck scene. You can choose from an array of delicious eats that won’t break the bank! After a long day of sightseeing and exploring, fuel up at some of the island’s most popular food truck stops.

Located in the North Shore, Hanalei Taro & Juice Co. specializes in taro, with authentic Hawaiian dishes on the menu such as laulua (local pork steamed in taro leaves) and kulolo (coconut pudding made with taro). NOM is another favorite, beloved for its award-winning burgers with a Southern flair.

Kickshaws has a sandwich-based menu with surprising combinations, while Al Pastor Tacos is a food truck staple serving delicious Mexican cuisine in the Kapaa Food Truck Court. Alternately, opt for pork steamed buns and sushi wraps at Kikuchi’s.

Thai Street Food serves authentic Thai favorites like pad Thai, curry, and papaya salad. However, if you’re after classic Hawaiian dishes like poke bowls, head to Hanalei Poke to indulge in their fresh ingredients.

For a refreshing break, stop by Aloha Juice Bar for açaí bowls and fruit smoothies. If you’re looking for something sweet to complement your meal, Holey Grail Donuts serves decadent donut treats.

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13. Go Mountain Tubing in a Lush Valley

Best Things to do in Kauai: Mountain Tubing in a Lush Valley
Images courtesy of Kauai Backcountry Adventures, photographed by Jaxon Communications

If you’re seeking an adrenaline-fueled activity to add to your Kauai bucket list, mountain tubing might be a perfect fit! Not only is it one of the coolest things to do on Kauai, but it’s also available to all skill levels. Participants do have to be over five years old.

The one-of-a-kind experience caters to adventure-seekers who want to see Kauai from a different perspective. The unique excursion is only offered with Kauai Backcountry Adventures. You’ll have the chance to tube down the island’s flowing waters past some of Hawaii’s most beautiful landscapes.

This three-hour tour starts with an adventurous four-wheel drive through the former Lihue Plantation lands. Once you reach the island’s pristine interior, you’ll hop in the emerald green waters and start your exhilarating tubing adventure.

While it’s easy to say the highlight of the mountain tubing tour is the striking views of the ocean, coastline, mountains, and valleys, you’ll also get to float through fascinating tunnels and flumes. As you wind your way through the tunnels, look up with your headlamp to admire the interior that was hand-dug by workers more than a century ago! After your adventure, enjoy a picnic lunch or cool off in a natural swimming hole.


14. Sample Spirits at Koloa Rum Company

An activity for the 21 and up crowd – you can taste the history of Kauai’s handcrafted authentic rum at the plantation-style tasting room at Koloa Rum Company. The award-winning company is the island’s first commercial distiller, blender, and bottler of premium Hawaiian rum.

At this exciting attraction, you can savor and sample some of the company’s dark, gold, and white rum. What makes this product so unique is that it’s made from Hawaiian sugarcane and pristine rainwater from Mount Waialeale, then distilled in a vintage copper pot.

The single-batch, craft distiller offers a full range of premium Hawaiian rums and ready-to-drink cocktails, as well as rum cakes, rum fudge sauce, and tropical fruit jellies and jams at its on-site store. You can also sign up for one of their tastings to savor the award-winning dark, spice, coconut, coffee rum, and cacao rum yourself.

The Tasting Room is located on the grounds of the historic Kilohana Plantation near Lihue. It’s open daily from 10 am, with tastings for up to 10 people occurring every hour, on the hour. If you’re looking for a souvenir, its gift shop also sells an array of specialty gifts.


15. Drive Through the Famous Kauai Tree Tunnel

Must do things on Kauai: Kauai Tree Tunnel

The majestic tree tunnel in Kauai is so famous that it’s been splashed on countless postcards, photographs, and travel brochures throughout the years. Beloved for its photogenic collection of stately eucalyptus trees lining both sides of the road, the mile-long excursion marks the unofficial gateway to southern Kauai and its sun-kissed beaches.

The natural formation along the tree tunnel has created a canopy of over 100 feet across the narrow highway, giving the illusion that it extends forever. The history of this unique roadside attraction dates back to 1911 when the first 500 trees were gifted to the community from pineapple baron Walter McBryde.

Getting out of the car to take pictures of the tree tunnel is tempting, but be careful, as there are limited places to safely pull over here. The tree tunnel can be found at the first few miles of Maluhia Road, also known as Highway 520. From here, you can continue onwards to the towns of Koloa and Poipu.

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16. Go Body Surfing at Shipwreck Beach

Kauai Things to do: Shipwreck Beach

A windy, eight-mile stretch of shoreline, Shipwreck Beach is a great destination for boogie boarding and body surfing in Kauai. Featuring a shallow, rocky channel, its steep shore break is a favorite for water sports recreation.

Explore this off-the-beaten-path destination in Kauai to discover a quiet shoreline. You’ll likely spot green sea turtles sunning themselves on the beach and local fishermen reeling in a catch. The area is also a popular spot for beachcombers, as its strong winds regularly wash tiny shells, rocks, and debris ashore.

While its shore break does not make it an ideal spot for swimmers, surfers and windsurfers delight in the wave action! However, if you’re not up for an activity at all, the soft white sands make it a perfect beach for lounging.

If you want to go deeper, there’s a short trail near the Shipwreck sign that leads inland to the Kukui Point petroglyphs. You’ll also find the start of the Mahaulepu Heritage Trail nearby – a scenic hiking trail that traverses the coastline.


17. Follow the Coastal Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail

Cool Things to do on Kauai: Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail

For a relatively easy hike paired with incredible ocean vistas, add the Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail to your itinerary. Located on the South Shore of Kauai in the Poipu area, it begins at Shipwreck Beach and follows the island’s rugged coastline.

It’s a two-mile trek one way, but if you’re crunched for time, you can do part of it and still reap the rewards of stunning views. Leaving Shipwreck Beach, you’ll traverse past beautiful groves of kiawe trees, rolling sand dunes, and limestone formations carved by the crashing surf, with side trails dropping down to small secluded coves and beaches.

From there, you have the option of either walking along the cliffs to enjoy endless ocean views, or you can take the more direct route that leads inland. Many hikers suggest taking the scenic coastal route on the way out and the faster inland route on the way back.

There are many photo ops along the way, with a chance to see sea turtles from the cliffs, whales in the winter, and all sorts of sacred religious structures. About halfway in, there’s a flat area with tide pools where you can take a break. The last stop is Mahaulepu Beach, with its turquoise blue waters and high cliffs. Be sure to visit the lookout point to marvel at the seascapes and windsurfers!


18. Say Hello to Monk Seals at Poipu Beach Park

Kauai Bucket List: Monk Seals at Poipu Beach Park

One of the best destinations on Kauai for beach lovers, Poipu Beach Park is famous for its golden sands and unique wildlife encounters. Located on the South Shore, the award-winning crescent-shaped beach lures sun-seekers in with its inviting crystal clear waters and the occasional sighting of Hawaiian monk seals lounging on the shore.

Once listed as one of “America’s Best Beaches” by the Travel Channel, it offers the perfect setting for a family beach day out. The area boasts on-site amenities such as lifeguards, picnic facilities, and showers. There’s even a natural wading pool for younger swimmers to swim, splash, and play.

Older kids and adults can take advantage of the bodyboarding site located directly in front of the park while surfing and snorkeling the reef are also popular water activities. From December through April, it’s also possible to spot humpback whales from this beach in the distance.

Be aware that if you do spot a monk seal, you need to stay at least 100 feet away and avoid any flash photography. Be mindful, as they are currently on the endangered species list!

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19. Pick Up Treasures at The Shops at Kukui‘ula

Kauai Things to do: The Shops at Kukui‘ula

Most travelers will want to do a bit of shopping on their Kauai vacation, and one of the best spots to do this is at The Shops at Kukui‘ula. Located at the traffic circle in Poipu, it offers the perfect setting for a leisurely afternoon of shopping and dining.

You can pick up women’s apparel at Coutured by Bjork, fun beach looks at Cruise Kauai, or surf gear at Dejavu. After that, browse beautiful pieces of local artwork at the Halele’a Gallery or Latitudes Fine Art Gallery. In addition to its dozens of boutiques and galleries, it’s also a popular destination for local events, including live music performances.

When hunger strikes, you’re spoiled for choice with on-site dining options at The Shops at Kukui‘ula. Head to Dolphin Sushi & Fish Market or Merriman’s for fresh seafood, then satisfy your sweet tooth with gelato at Lappert’s or an authentic Hawaiian dessert at Uncle’s Shave Ice.

Every Wednesday at 3:30 pm marks the opening of its weekly culinary market, where you’ll find an inviting display of fresh fruits and vegetables on offer. Come and support local farmers, producers, and vendors while picking up local favorites that are Kauai grown and made.


20. Tour the Allerton-McBryde Gardens

Kauai Bucket List: Allerton-McBryde Gardens

Nestled in the picturesque Lawai Valley, McBryde Garden is part of the network of National Tropical Botanical Gardens in Hawaii. It’s one of the best things to do on Kauai if you’re a nature lover, featuring the world’s largest collection of native Hawaiian species outside of the wild.

At 259 acres, this lush oasis serves as a habitat for endangered tropical plants. On a guided tour of the garden, you’ll find a scenic pathway where you can stroll past a meandering stream and admire the palms, flowering trees, ornamentals, and orchids.

Adjacent to McBryde Garden is Allerton Garden, which was actually once transformed by a Hawaiian Queen, a sugar plantation magnate, and most significantly by an artist and an architect! It boasts tropical fruit trees, a bamboo grove, cut-flower garden, and water features, as well as large fig trees that were featured in the film Jurassic Park.

Tours of the two gardens are available by appointment only, with guests transported into the garden landscapes via a short, narrated shuttle ride. Along the way, you can take in stunning views of the South Shore coastline, where it’s possible to spot whales, dolphins, and other marine life as you venture into the gorgeous valley.


21. Marvel at the Jurassic Park Falls

Kauai Things to do: Jurassic Park Falls

Nicknamed “Jurassic Falls” because it was featured in the famous 1993 Steven Spielberg flick, the actual name of this cascading natural gem on Kauai is Manawaiopuna Falls. Sitting on private land owned by the Robinson family, the only way to see this famous Hawaiian waterfall is by helicopter.

It’s one of Kauai’s top natural attractions for a reason, as it’s a beautiful sight to behold as you watch the water cascade down 400 feet. Surrounded by a tall cliff covered in Hawaii’s diverse flora, the powerful plunge can be found within Hanapepe Valley on the west side of the island.

The waterfall’s inaccessible area makes it a popular stop on Kauai’s helicopter tours. However, if you want to land at its base, the only tour option is Island Helicopters Kauai, as they’re the only tour operator that offers this excursion.

The 75-minute air and land tour gives you the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get up close to the Manawaiopuna Falls, something most travelers don’t get to experience. After settling down at the base of the waterfall, your pilot will lead you along a lush jungle path so you can feel the tropical mist up close and take pictures.

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22. Explore the Picture-Perfect Hanapepe Town

Unique Things to do on Kauai: Hanapepe Town

One of Kauai’s small-town charms, Hanapepe Town is known as the art and cultural hub of the island. Set in southwest Kauai between Koloa and Waimea, Hanapepe Town was one of the Kauai’s busiest towns from World War I to the early 1950s.

Now dubbed “Kauai’s biggest little town,” a visit here is like stepping back in time. You’ll find historic plantation-style buildings dotting the mostly unchanged area that have been transformed into quaint shops, farm-fresh eateries, and art galleries.

If you want to immerse yourself in the local scene, visit the weekly farmer’s market on Thursdays to see local artwork on display. For a memorable adventure, you can also take a walk on the town’s famous 300-year-old “Hanapepe Swinging Bridge.”

Drive to the coast and visit nearby Salt Pond Beach, which lies adjacent to the only natural salt ponds on Kauai. With serene waters and kid-friendly tide pools, it’s a popular spot for sunset viewing and beach adventures.


23. Cool Off with Shave Ice Treat

Fun Things to do on Kauai: Cool Off with Shave Ice Treat

Shave ice is one of Hawaii’s signature cold treats, a perfect complement to the island’s tropical year-round weather. Served in a cone, cup, or bowl, this nostalgic dessert is a local favorite and a must-try when visiting Kauai.

Brought to the island by Japanese immigrants, the colorful snack has been a staple in Hawaii since the plantation days. For the perfect shave ice, with a consistency of snow, make sure to try shave ice at one of the top-rated shops.

With multiple Kauai locations, Jojo’s Shave Ice is an island favorite with its fun selection of flavors and generous serving sizes, including the 40-ounce Big Kahuna. Alternately, The Fresh Shave in Koloa serves all-natural and organic ingredients, ditching high fructose corn syrup and artificial coloring. With a barbershop theme, each flavor is named after a popular mustache style!

Wailua Shave Ice offers unique textures and flavors like the Lava Flow topped with coconut foam, with its ice treats often covered with fruit juices instead of syrup. Set in Hanalei, Well Wishing Shave Ice serves organic and traditional shave ice, with toppings like honey, fresh papaya, and coconut cream.


24. Get Poke From Ishihara Market

What to do on Kauai: Poke From Ishihara Market

Foodies craving delicious Hawaiian poke should look no further than the Ishihara Market. Said to sell some of the best poke on Kauai, they offer a wide selection of this Hawaiian classic that will satisfy any seafood lover’s taste buds.

This charming store is located in the town of Waimea and dates back to the 1930s. It has become a local favorite for its fresh poke offerings. Because you simply can’t have too much poke while visiting Hawaii, choose from over 20 crave-worthy options, including lobster poke, Shoyu poke with ahi tuna, and hamachi poke.

While poke lovers will be in heaven, Ishihara Market also serves other local seafood favorites. You’ll find rows of delectable take-out meals like bento boxes and sushi, which are perfect for enjoying at a nearby beach or picnic table.

This is a one-stop shop, so even if you’re not a seafood fan, you can also find a selection of sandwiches and salads to choose from. Aside from its famous to-go goods, you can also pick up actual groceries here.


25. Watch the Sunset at Ke’e Beach

Best Things to do on Kauai: Sunset at Ke’e Beach

A favorite for its captivating Napali Coast views, Ke’e Beach is set at the Kalalau trailhead. With its sweeping Napali cliff vistas, it’s the perfect spot for sinking your toes in the sand and catching one of Kauai’s spectacular sunsets!

Watch Mother Nature put on a show as you watch the sun melt into the horizon over the island’s famous cliffs. While this beach can get busy, many hikers leave before sunset so you’ll have a serene setting to take it all in.

Come here early so you can swim and snorkel. Ke’e Beach features gentle waters that are protected by a reef, making it safe for beginners and kids. It’s a family-friendly spot with on-site amenities, including restrooms and showers.

There you have it! 25 of the best things to do on Kauai. What’s your favorite thing to do on this beautiful Hawaiian Island?


Planning a trip to Kauai? Check out our favorite books and travel guides!


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