30 EPIC THINGS TO DO IN KAUAI + 10-DAY ITINERARY

Hawaii

Kauai’s North Shore is home to some of the best beaches in Kauai, Hawaii. However, one of the most popular Kauai, Hawaii must-dos, Kalalau Trail sits here too!

Let’s talk more about the Kauai attractions on the North Shore now!

1. TAKE A DIP IN QUEEN’S BATH

Girl floating in Queens Bath Kauai Hawaii

Queen’s Bath is a beautiful tide pool is a must-do on the North Shore of Kauai, Hawaii. If you’re an adventure lover, you’re going to want to add it to your list of Kauai activities! Unfortunately, this trail is almost always super muddy, so wear shoes you don’t care to get dirty, or maybe a hiking sandal.

It’s around a 20min hike and isn’t hard. If the swell is low, you can go swimming in the pool too. Otherwise, the Queen’s Bath area offers so many different tide pools you can take pictures around and admire from afar.

Check the Kauai beach water conditions before you go on this Kauai adventure because the swell can be extremely dangerous! You used to be able to visit Turtle Cave while you were in the area. However, the cave will get flooded from time to time, making Turtle Cave’s current conditions unpredictable.

In this Kauai travel guide, we’ll discuss a bit more about when to visit the island, which can contribute to water activity.

2. HIKE THE EVER SO POPULAR KALALAU TRAIL

Hiking the Kalalau Trail is easily one of the unique things to do in Kauai, Hawaii, and for a good reason: it’s pretty damn beautiful. This 11-mile trail is most likely one of the most scenic hikes in the world (not just a beautiful Kauai hiking trail).

Therefore, you can probably guess that the Kalalau Trail is one of the popular activities in Kauai for international travelers.

The Kalalau Trail will take you from Kee Beach to Kalalau Beach, and yes, you can only access the beach on foot. During your Kauai hike, you’ll wander through beautiful valleys and witness waves crash on coastline formations you didn’t know existed!

If you’re not keen on going 11 miles, don’t worry! You can opt to do chunks of the hike. Of course, I’ve included the details you need to know about this Kauai attraction — I got you, boo. Keep scrolling.

KALALAU TRAIL DETAILS

The first two miles of the hike will start at Kee Beach. The trail might be extremely muddy, so watch your footing! And while the trail starts steep, don’t let that keep you from hiking! Continuing will reward you with a view of Hanakapi’ai Beach. You can end here or go further.

After finishing the first 2 miles of the hike, continue on the footpath to get to Hanakapi’ai Falls! The fall stands at 300-feet tall, AND you can go swimming in its pool! Talk about a reward.

The remaining miles of your hike will take you over more valleys, and you’ll see ever more coastlines. But nothing will beat the ULTIMATE coast view waiting for you at the end of this Kauai adventure!

Your Kauai hiking trail will finish on Kalalau Beach, giving you epic views of the Na Pali Coast. The water is also so blue that you’ll think you’re swimming in a pool of gems.

KALALAU TRAIL PERMITS

Ahhhh yes. This might not be what you want to hear, but you will need a permit to hike the Kalalau Trail. Now, this Kauai travel guide would be way too long if I went into it here (we have so many more amazing things to do in Kauai, HI to cover!).

However, I recommend checking out the official Kalalau Trail website. This resource will give you general information about the Kalalau Trail, including weather reports, closures, and permit information.

If you plan on hiking the Kalalau Trail, it’s worth noting that a sudden storm can result in a sudden closure that could bring your hiking plans to a halt. That’s another reason to keep tabs on the Kalalau Trail website!

3. WATCH SUNSET AT THE KILAUEA LIGHTHOUSE

As one of the best Kauai attractions, the Kilauea is the perfect place for bird lovers! Scott and I loved to come here and watch the coastline. It’s a great photo spot around sunset too.

4. SUNBATHE AT ONE OF KAUAI’S BEST BEACHES

What would a Kauai must-do list be without talking beaches? Below you’ll find a quick list of beaches on the Kauai, Hawaii North Shore.

They’re all drop-dead gorgeous in their way, and worth the stop if you can make it to them!

  • Haena Beach Park
  • Hanalei Bay
  • Kalihiwai Beach
  • Secret Beach
  • Anini Beach
  • Ke’e Beach
  • I will say that I’m a bit biased, though. Scott and I went to Secret Beach Kauai, Hawaii, and LOVED it. There are some low-hanging trees on the sand that you can use to hang a hammock.

10/10 would go again!

5. WALK AROUND PRINCEVILLE

Honestly, Princeville is such a boujee and beautiful community on Kauai’s North Shore! If this were my Kauai adventure trip, I would do a day hike to Queen’s Bath or hike a short section of the Kalalau Trail, head to Princeville, and snag some acai bowls.

People rave about The Spot — just looking at their menu makes my mouth water.

6. HAVE A DATE NIGHT ON HANALEI BAY

Hanalei Bay Kauai Hawaii

I LOVE Hanalei Bay. Visiting Hanalei Bay is one of the most scenic and popular Kaua must-dos. I promise it’s worth it!

The crescent shape beach stretches out to 2 miles and features a gorgeous mountain view. Talk about dreamy! If you’re looking for unique things to do in Kauai, HI, I suggest having a date night and heading to the Bay for a sunset session. You can ride bikes around the bay, pack some food to eat, or just chill by the dock.

7. WATCH SUNRISE ON LARSON’S BEACH

A dirt road and a short walk will take you to Larson’s Beach. It’s typically one of the less crowded Kauai attractions because people don’t want to drive the dirt road to get there.

That just means you won’t have to deal with a swarm of people, and you can enjoy the white sand all morning.

8. EXPLORE THE BLUE ROOM

View of Waimea Canyon State Park in Kauai Hawaii

Again, what would a Kauai travel guide be without mention of the Blue Room? Ha!

Have you ever wanted to visit a grotto and feel like Ariel for the day? Well, who hasn’t? LOL. The Blue Room is a Kauai treasure.

When the water levels are just right, you can go inside this sea cave and watch the light reflect the water’s magnificent blue color all around the cave walls. Add this one to your list of Kauai must-dos!

HOW TO GET THERE

“From Ha’ena, take Highway 560 west. Both wet caves are located on the left just before Mile Marker #10, past the Ha’ena Beach Park. A short trail uphill leads to this cave.” From Hawaii Guide

WESTSIDE KAUAI DESTINATIONS

Kauai’s West Shore is where a lot of the fun can happen (in my opinion). Here is where you will find some of the best Kauai hiking trails that will give you access to some of the best Kauai, Hawaii viewpoints.

Notably, the West Shore is where Waimea Canyon, the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, lives, which is where you’ll see a lot of Kauai adventures.

9. HIKE KALEPA RIDGE TRAIL

Girl sitting on Kalepa Ridge Trail

Okay, I just have to say that if you like once-in-a-lifetime type views and are in the mood to hike a short Kauai hike, you NEED to add the Kalepa Ridge Trail to your list of things to do in Kauai, HI.

Before you even get there, go to Aloha Aina Juice Café for an Acai or Pitaya bowl. Then drive to the tip-top of the Waimea Canyon. There you’ll find Kalepa Ridge Trail, where you’ll hit it for sunset.

You’ll see the most epic ridge views. There is no doubt in my mind that you will think this trail is one of the best Kauai attractions! On this trail, I wore my favorite hiking boots and recommend you give them a try!

10. CAMP IN WAIMEA CANYON

You can opt to camp in Waimea Canyon after your Kalepa Ridge hike or you can come any other time that works for you. Note that you will have to get permits to stay at the Waimea campground.

As stated before in this Kauai travel guide, Waimea Canyon is arguably one of the most popular attractions on the West Shore, so I find it much easier to camp there if you plan on exploring the Canyon for multiple days.

Trust me, the drive to and from Waimea Canyon can get long, so it’s better to make plans for staying IN the Canyon or near it at the least.

My party and I camped on Kalepa Ridge one of the nights we were there. However, I wouldn’t count on doing so because there are just about two spots for tents! *no campfires allowed.

11. EXPLORE WAIPO’O FALLS VIA CANYON TRAIL

Waipo’o Falls via Canyon Trail is a must-do in Kauai, Hawaii. This Kauai hike will take you up close and personal with one of the largest waterfalls in Waimea Canyon.

From my experience, it’s a pretty accessible Kauai hiking trail that offers beautiful views of the Canyon without breaking your feet.

You’ll also see more of Waimea’s colorful canyon walls, which will leave you speechless.

Be super careful during your Kauai adventures in the canyon! I’ve seen many people sit oddly close to the canyon edge, and I would NOT trust it. The rock and soil are so crumbly. Standing at the edge of the Canyon is not worth the drop-off risk.

12. HIKE AWAAWAPUHI TRAIL FOR SUNSET

If you want some fantastic views of the Na Pali Coast, look no further! Hiking the Awaawapuhi Trail is one of the top things to do in Kauai for those wanting epic views of the Napali Coast.

Unlike the Canyon Trail, Awaawapuhi is much longer and will offer you a clear sight of the Napali Coast. The classic ridgelines you see people always sharing on Instagram are what bring hiking lovers to this Kauai attraction!

This hiking trail goes for about 6.4 miles round trip and is considered difficult. Fair warning: if the weather in the Canyon will be cloudy, your chances of seeing any sort of view from this hike are slim to none. I am speaking from experience here.

13. SPEND A DAY AT POLIHALE STATE PARK

View of Polihale State Park in Kauai Hawaii

Okay, if there is one non-touristy thing in this Kauai travel guide that you MUST add to your list, let it be Polihale State Park.

The beach is surrounded by epic mountains, which means you’ll have a view the entire time you’re there.

A rough dirt road will take you to a secluded beach with sand so deep; you’ll think you sinking! Again, speaking from experience.

I never see a whole ton of people mention this, but you have to make sure your rental car company will allow you to go here. You can get stuck in the sand, and the dirt road is so crappy that the Hawaii Gov suggests having four-wheel drive.

Camping is available at the park too, but PLEASE be respectful! In the past, the park was shut down due to over abuse and illegal camping.

14. TAKE A KAUAI BOAT TOUR ALONG THE NAPALI COAST

Girl sitting on a Kauai boat tour along the Na Pali Coast

Alert: I HIGHLY recommend this Kauai adventure. You will not regret it!

Here’s the tea: seeing the Napali Coast up close and personal had been on my list for a while. But, thanks to Na Pali Craze, I’m more than happy that I finally got to cross that off the bucket list!

Since my last trip to Kauai, Hawaii it looks like Na Pali Craze is no longer around, but I have heard great things about Na Pali Riders. I’ll continue to tell you about my experience, and should you book something with Na Pali riders, you’ll most likely have a similar Kauai boat tour experience.

Our guides took us to see dolphins and stopped at every coastal view we asked. They also took us to see the Kauai Open Ceiling Sea Cave, which I will never forget – this makes a boat tour easily one of the more unique things to do in Kauai, Hawaii!

Make sure you don’t forget your sunscreen. The sunscreen I use is reef safe. Despite the most epic sunburn of my life, I loved being able to jump into the blue waters, see dolphins, and admire sea turtles from afar! And don’t worry, in this Kauai travel guide, we’ll be talking about what to pack too.

15. HIKE MORE OF WAIMEA VIA KUKUI TRAIL

You can find the Kukui Trail at the beginning of the Iliad Nature Loop. The hike will be approximately 5 miles round trip and can be steep.

Along the first mile of this Kauai attraction, you’ll see some of the most amazing views of Waimea Canyon. You can even see waterfalls throughout the Canyon’s walls! Waialae Falls is the most dominant one.

KAUAI SOUTH SHORE BEACHES AND ATTRACTIONS

Now let’s get to the South Shore part of this Kauai must-do list. I thoroughly enjoy the Kauai, Hawaii South Shore! I find it the most accessible place to stay and treat like a ‘hub’ while you’re exploring the rest of Kauai, HI.

There are great places to eat and amazing Kauai beaches here too. So let’s talk a bit more about the South Shore Kauai adventures!

16. BASK IN THE SUN AT SHIPWRECK BEACH

Located on the Kauai South Shore by the Marriott, you’ll find Shipwreck Beach. It’s pretty chill if you’re looking for relaxing activities in Kauai!

Next, we’ll get into this, but you can find a popular Kauai hiking trail at Shipwreck Beach. The water here can get a bit rough, but if you like surfing, this is the beach! I loved coming here on a down day between my Kauai activities.

17. ADMIRE THE CLIFF VIEWS ALONG MAHAULEPU TRAIL

The Mahaulepu Trail is located on Shipwreck Beach and offers some of the best coastal views you can get on the South Shore of Kauai, Hawaii. I recommend hitting this Kauai hike for sunset! Along the trail, you’ll also find caves and other epic views.

The best part about this trail, though, is that you can go as far as you want to go! Should you choose to walk the whole shore, you’ll clock in about 4 miles round trip.

Next up, we’ll be talking about one of the best snorkeling spots listed in this Kauai travel guide.

18. GO SWIMMING IN POIPU BEACH PARK

The water at Poipu Beach Park is much calmer than that of Shipwreck Beach, making it one of the more popular Kauai attractions for families!

Flights out of Kauai, Hawaii, run notoriously late at night, so I love coming to Poipu Beach Park to kill some daylight.

If you choose to swim at this Kauai, Hawaii beach, bring a pair of goggles for a bit of snorkeling. Poipu Beach Park is a famous spot for sea turtle sightings! Snorkeling for sea turtles is also one of the best things to do in Kauai, HI and is always a favorite every time I visit the island!

19. VISIT THE SPOUTING HORN

Well, if you’re looking for a new place to photograph, consider the Spouting Horn! It has a unique shape and behavior that came from a lava years ago.

As the tide comes in, the water fills the lava tube and shoots water into the sky! Spouting Horn a great place to take the family if you’re looking for something relaxing and fun to do.

This goes without saying, but yes, Spouting Horn is a touristy Kauai adventure. However, touristy spots are usually popular for a reason. So if you’re passing by, you might as well check it out!

If you visit between December and May, you might even see humpback whales!

KAUAI EAST SIDE HIKES AND MORE

Kauai’s East Shore is pretty lush compared to other parts of Kauai, Hawaii. I love the East Shore for hiking and more beach days.

Let’s get into our last section of Kauai must-dos Then we’ll start talking more about tips for your visit.

20. KAYAK KAUAI AND THE SECRET FALLS

The Wailua River runs through the island of Kauai, and if you’re looking for unique activities in Kauai, Hawaii that requires kayaking, you’re in luck!

You can easily rent a kayak along the river and ask for a map to Secret Falls. After paddling up the river for a bit, you’ll come to a slight pull-off, park your boat, and hike a short trail to Kauai’s “Secret Falls.” Spoiler alert: it’s not very secret, BUT still awesome.

Bring your swimsuit; you’re going to want to take a dip in the water! And in this Kauai travel guide, we’ll discuss more kayaking options in case you want to do something more adventurous.

21. HIKE THE LUSH KUILAU RIDGE TRAIL

Girl hiking the Kuilau Ridge Trail in Kauai Hawaii
In the morning, you can hit up Kuilau Ridge trail for an easy Kauai hike to ridge views. The hike itself is about a 2mi round trip and will not take long to complete!

I couldn’t believe how green it was here! Along the trail, you will find multiple places to pull off and either picnic, take a break or admire the view.

But, of course, a long day of hiking requires the right gear, so make sure you snag some reliable hiking boots and socks.

Girl hiking the Kuilau Ridge Trail in Kauai Hawaii

22. BREATHE THE FRESH AIR AT WAILUA FALLS

Wailua Falls Kauai Hawaii
Wailua Falls consists of twin waterfalls that cascade over a ridge on Kauai’s East Shore. I have come here a couple of times now, and I find it a more and more unbelievable Kauai attraction every time I go!

While it’s not allowed anymore, people sometimes hike to the bottom of the waterfall and explore for a unique Kauai adventure. Do so at your own risk!

23. HIKE TO THE TOP OF SLEEPING GIANT

The Sleeping Giant mountain gets its name because of the way the peak forms into what looks like the head of, well, a sleeping giant. It’s pretty cool and jumping on this hiking trail is one of the best things to do in Kauai, HI!

If you’d like, you can do this Kauai must-do for sunrise, which will require waking up early. The trail is about 4 miles round trip and rated as moderate. Make sure you give yourself ample time to get to the top!

24. SWIM AT ONE OF THE KAUAI EAST SHORE BEACHES

The East Shore beaches are close to hotels and reasonably accessible! So you should have no problems getting to them and enjoying a day by the water. Below is a list of the best beaches in the area.

  • Lydgate Park
  • Waipouli Beach Park
  • Kealia Beach
  • Kapa’a Beach Park
  • Wailua Beach
  • I have been to Kapa’a Beach Park and used it to break between some of the Kauai hiking trails I was visiting!

25. STAND IN AWE AT OPAEKAA FALLS

This attraction is located in Wailua River State Park. Because of the waterfall’s size, you can views it from afar. However, if you can find the trail, you can stand at the base of it!

If that doesn’t suit you, go on a helicopter ride to see more of Kauai’s waterfalls! Most of them are located in deep canyons and can only be seen from above.

In this Kauai travel guide, we’ll get more into helicopter tours next!

KAUAI ADVENTURES THAT’LL MAKE YOUR JAW DROP

Kauai, Hawaii is a beautiful island if you couldn’t tell by now. So I’d like to wrap up this list of Kauai attractions with an overview of some more unique Kauai adventures you can have.

I briefly mentioned a few of these activities in Kauai, but I will lay out some additional details here before we get into everything else you need to know about the island.

26. GO ON A KAUAI HELICOPTER TOUR

Okay, question: why wouldn’t you want to go on a Kauai helicopter tour? Maybe you’re afraid of heights, but if you’re an adrenaline junky or photographer, this Kauai must-do might be for you!

During your tour, you can get views of the Napali Coast, waterfalls, and more! You can even take a helicopter tour to Jurassic Park Falls. Popular choices for tours are Blue Hawaiian Helicopter Tours, Safari Helicopters, and Mauna Loa Helicopter Tours.

27. HOP ON A KAUAI BOAT TOUR

Boat going along the Napali Coast Kauai, Hawaii
You’re going to want to see all the dolphins and cliff views a Kauai boat tour has to offer, making it one of the most unique things to do in Kauai, HI.

I’ve mentioned a company already, but another Kauai boat tour company worth noting is Na Pali Odyssey.

What’s cool is some Kauai, Hawaii boat companies will let you book unique experiences like a sunset dinner on the Napali Coast. December through May, you can also opt in to see whales along the Kauai, HI coast.

Boast tours will go around just about every coastline, but the most popular and my recommendation would be to stick to the Napali Coast. It’s arguably the most scenic coastline on the island.

28. EXPLORE A COFFEE PLANTATION

Hawaii, in general, grows quite a bit of coffee, and it’s pretty good! So if you’re a morning cup of Joe lover, then this is the perfect Kauai activity for you! At Kauai Coffee Company, you can book a tour Sunday through Friday at 10am. Tours cost $25 and yes you do get to taste the coffee!

29. GET IN SOME KAUAI SNORKELING

The island is the PERFECT place for snorkeling – it’s one of the major Kauai attractions! You’ll be able to see reefs, fish of all colors, and maybe even turtles if you’re lucky!

If you’re just getting started with snorkeling, you can visit Lydgate Beach. Otherwise, more advanced snorkelers tend to head to Tunnels Beach, which has some of the best snorkeling in Kauai, Hawaii.

30. KAYAK KAUAI ON JUST ABOUT ANY SHORELINE

If you want to kayak Kauai, Hawaii, you have more options than you might think.

We’ve talked about the Napali Coast quite a bit at this point in our Kauai travel guide, but believe me when I say that you just may want to consider exploring it by kayak.

Remember when I said that you could only get to Kalalau Beach on foot? Well, what you might not know is that if you’re up for a real Kauai adventure, you can kayak to the beach.

Before you get all excited, just know that this kind of adventure is about a 17-mile excursion. You will not be able to camp at the beach, and these kinds of tours are typically not for beginners.

If it’s something on your bucket list and you want to get a guide’s help, you can check out Napali Kayak.

Otherwise, your next option is to kayak in the Waimea River, which we’ve discussed earlier!

 By: dani-the-explorer.com

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