Flying into Lihue, make Kalapaki Beach your first destination for epic windsurfing. Next, visit Kauai’s North Shore for its rugged mountains, stunning cliffs, and perfect beaches. The North Shore is home to the Napali Coast which is famous for its cascading waterfalls. And not to confuse Kauai’s North Shore with Oahu’s famous surfing North Shore, but there are some notable surfing spots with waves that can reach as high as 30 feet.
The east side of the island, known as the Coconut Coast because of the coconut palm groves, has the Wailua River which is perfect for kayaking, swimming, and boating.
You can’t miss visiting the Waimea Canyon on the west side of the island. The canyon is 10 miles long and 3,600 feet deep, but, even more, spectacular are the vivid colours of the red soil contrasting against the brilliant green of the forest. A perfect spot for photographers to play with colour and light.
Places to Visit in Kauai
- Wailua River State Park
- Waimea Canyon State Park
- Na Pali Coast State Park
- National Tropical Botanical Garden
- Coconut Coast
Unique Things to See and Do in Kauai
- Watch the sunset from the Beach House Restaurant
- Cliff jumping at Kipu Falls
- Snorkeling at Tunnels Beach
- Fly above the Na Pali Coast in a helicopter
- Admire the Hanakapiai Falls
- Hire a fishing charter in Port Allen
- Golf along the coastline at Kauai Lagoons Golf Club
- Drink fresh coconut water…perhaps with a bit rum?
Nothing feels like a vacation unless there are white sandy beaches and bright warm sun. Kauai has luxury hotels available in the south-east which offer the best in man-made amenities, but visiting Kauai is truly about experiencing the amazing landscapes and exploring the outdoors.
With over 50 miles of accessible beaches, each cove and beach has a different physical feature or something uniquely beautiful. For example, on the northern end of the island, you can make your way to Turtle Cove where you can see hundreds of turtles feasting. This particular cove has perfect conditions to provide the turtles with food and shelter.
Another popular beach for the more adventurous traveller is to hike down into Queen’s Bath, a pool that is accessed by a somewhat treacherous path (wear good shoes and watch for high waves). One really strange beach to explore that is off the beaten path is Glass Beach – and yes, it is made up of tiny little glass pieces. Thousands of rounded glass pebbles wash ashore to form this highly unusual beach.
Heading down to the southern end of the island you’ll find one of the most popular beaches for families – Hanalei Bay. This beach is great for picnics, BBQs, and campfires. The water here is perfect for water sports, and surfboards and paddle board rentals are available. Hanalei Beach Park is a classic example of a Kauai shoreline – mountains in the background, surfers in the ocean, and beautiful waterfalls to photograph!
We have only named a couple of the beaches, but there are many more to explore. Ask the locals which beach is their favourite!
Getting Around Kauai
Truly, the best way to get around the island is either by car, moped, or motorcycle.
There are taxi services, but they can get quite expensive especially if you’re trying to access remote areas of the island. Bus service on the island, the Kauai Bus, is doable, but there are limitations too. They require exact change, they stop frequently along the routes, and the service routes are somewhat sparse.
Did you know…?
Kauai has over 111 miles of coastline and over 50% of it is comprised of sandy beaches.
Did you ALSO know…?
Hawaiian folklore says Kauai was previously inhabited by Menehune, tiny dwarf-like people who lived and hid in the forests. Apparently they were crafty too, building fishponds, roads, temples, and canoes.
Cycling is not recommended since the highways can have tight turns and be quite narrow in spots, and cycling a highway with a surfboard is never a good idea!
Best Time of Year to Travel to Kauai
The lush green tropical landscapes of Kauai could not exist without the rain and sun, so planning when to visit and where to visit can be really important for those looking to escape rainy days.
The lower elevations are a better choice for less rain and more sunshine. Areas in the south, like Kekaha, Waimea, and Hanapepe, receive up to 30 inches of rain per year. Most travellers, however, are looking to escape their dismal weather at home, which means the high season for travelling is December through to April. Weather-wise, April to June and September to December are the best months to visit and the rates are less pricey.
The temperature is relatively the same throughout the year, varying only by about 15C and ranging between 21C – 29C. The further up you travel the cooler the temperatures will be. On the leeward side (west/south) the weather is hotter and drier, whereas on the windward side (east/north) the weather is cooler, wetter, but offers more lush greenery. This is why the south end is the popular area for most resorts.
Ready to plan your visit to Kauai? Check out these popular guides and trips.