Waimea Canyon, Kauai - Photo by Sean Bernstein on Unsplash

Waimea Canyon, Kauai - Photo by Sean Bernstein on Unsplash

28 Things to do in Kauai

Spencer Lowe

There is no shortage of wonderful attractions on the Island of Kauai, but if you aren’t familiar with the island it can still be difficult to know what’s available. If you’re planning a vacation, or already on the island and looking for something to do, you’re in the right place! Here are 28 Things to do in Kauai. 

1. Take a Na Pali Boat Tour

A serene ocean view from a boat, with majestic mountains in the background.Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Ben Ono

The Na Pali Coast is a truly surreal destination. Even as you look across the dramatic ridges, jungle foliage, and blue ocean waters, sometimes this magnificent natural wonder doesn’t seem real. Boat tours are one of the best ways to take in all of this beauty. Some tours offer meals, snorkeling, or sunset excursions, so you can customize your voyage to your liking. 

2. Try a Kipu Ranch ATV Tour

A scenic dirt road on Kauai seen from a vehicle.Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Aj Feducia

Kipu Ranch owns over 3,000 acres of property on Kauai, through which it offers unique ATV tours. This is an awesome way to take in the island’s inland scenery, while also partaking in a 4x4 adventure that will leave you feeling like a tropical cowboy.

3. Check out the Secret Falls Kayak tour

Two people kayaking on a river in Kauai. Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson

Ancient Hawaiians considered the Wailua River Valley sacred land, and you’ll understand why if you take a kayak tour through the valley. The green hills and ridges surrounding the valley give you a sense of spiritual wonder as you paddle down the river. After kayaking, you’ll take a moderate hike to a waterfall hidden in the jungle. 

4. Get Away on a CJM Mahaleapu Beach Horseback Ride

People on horses riding along the coast during Kauai horseback riding adventure.CJM Country Stables 

Whether you’re looking for fun for the whole family or a romantic getaway for two, horseback riding along the coast of Kauai is an awesome experience. You’ll cross beaches, valleys, and coastal ridges as you traverse Kauai’s shores on your four-legged companion. 

5. Try Snorkeling

A man snorkeling in clear water, enjoying the underwater view.

A can't-miss thing to do in Kauai? Snorkeling! When planning your snorkeling excursion on Kauai it's all about timing. While the north shore is often said to have the best snorkel spots, the south shore is excellent as it is accessible year-round. Poipu is a particularly great destination since there is plenty of tropical fish to see, and winter swells don’t make the area as dangerous for swimming. 

RELATED: Nine Kauai Snorkel Spots

6. Check out Queen's Bath

People swimming in the ocean near rocks at Kauai beach.drone pics, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Queen’s Bath is an awesome tidepool formed by a sinkhole in the lava rock coastal region of Princeville. A short .8-mile hike can bring you to this destination, which is home to small tropical fish that use the saltwater pond for protection. Do not attempt to visit when the trail is closed, however, as this spot can sometimes become dangerous during swells.

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7. Take in Tunnels Beach

A stunning beach and mountain view in Kauai.

Tunnels Beach also offers protection to tropical marine life via the underwater lava tubes for which it is named. This makes it a great place to snorkel and dive, but the scenic beach is also great if you're looking for a relaxing thing to do in Kauai. The waters in this area can become dangerous during winter, however. 

8. Enjoy Ke’e Beach 

People gathered on Kauai beach close to a cliff.Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson

If you’re going to Ke’e Beach you’ll need to acquire a reservation to enter the Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park, here. This beautiful white sand beach is surrounded by palm trees, tropical foliage, and coastal ridges. Ke’e Beach is a great snorkeling destination, as well, when conditions permit. 

9. Embark on a Beach Hike

Beautiful beach on Kauai with a serene body of water.Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Kirk Aeder

Along the north coast of Kauai, there are tons of beaches and many of the beaches have wonderful associated hikes. You can check out Willie’s Beach, Hideaway’s Beach, and Anini Beach if gorgeous views and crystal blue waters happen to be your thing.

10. Gaze at the Poli Hale Sunset

A beautiful sunset over the ocean with clouds and sand on Kauai.

Poli Hale State Park is a long white sand beach on Kauai’s western shore. Although the waters are often too rough for swimming, the scenic waves, backdrop of coastal cliffs, and west-facing position make this an ideal place to experience a Hawaiian sunset.  

11. Explore Waimea Canyon

Sunbeams shining through clouds over a lush green valley in Kauai mountain.

There are tons of things to do in Waimea Canyon from lookouts and scenic drives to waterfall hikes and backwoods treks. Waimea is known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, and you’ll see why if you visit. At 3,600 feet deep the canyon is absolutely massive! Keep an eye out for the frequent rainbows that form in this area, as well.

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RELATED: Waimea Canyon Travel Guide

12. Visit Koke’e State Park

Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Ben Ono

Similarly, Koke’e State Park, just north of Waimea, is home to beautiful hikes, camping grounds, and lookouts. In particular, we recommend the Alakai Swamp Trail to the Kilohana Lookout, which offers amazing views of the surrounding landscape. If you’d rather drive up to a lookout, check out Pu’u O Kila Lookout or Kalalau Lookout near the end of Kokee Highway 550. 

13. Take a Helicopter Tour

Aerial view of Kauai's majestic mountain range as seen from inside a helicopter.Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Jakob Owens

If you’re looking for a view of the island in its entirety, there’s no better way than to take a helicopter tour. From so high up, you can really take in the island’s landscapes. Sometimes, things are just better with a little perspective! 

Helicopter tours of the island can cost anywhere between $150 and $400. This tour which lands at a secluded waterfall, for instance, costs $250.

14. Go to a Luau

A person holding a spoon over a plate of food on Kauai.Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Mark Kushimi

Kauai is home to several outstanding luaus that offer authentic food, entertainment, and art. These cultural experiences are some of the most fun you can have on the island. You certainly won’t regret it once you put that first bite of imu oven slow-cooked kalua pork!

RELATED: The Best Kauai Luaus

15. Play a Round of Golf

Golfer enjoying a game on a lush green field in Kauai.Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Blake Bronstad

There is no shortage of golf courses on Kauai, so if you’re looking to get a few holes in while you’re on vacation the island has you covered. Princeville, Poipu, Koloa, and Lihue are all home to several outstanding coastal courses. 

16. Go Ziplining

A woman ziplining through the jungle in Kauai.Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) /  Tor Johnson

There are also several great places to zipline on Kauai. If you want to experience some of Kauai’s landscape from above, while also getting your adrenaline pumping, ziplines are an awesome option. There are tours available in the areas surrounding Princeville, Koloa, and Lihue.  

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17. Visit a Botanical Garden

A path through a dense jungle with a tall tree in the middle, surrounded by Kauai bamboo.Allerton Gardens, Koloa; Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Jakob Owens  

Kauai is full of amazing botanical gardens. On the south shore, you can check out McBryde & Allerton Gardens, National Tropical Botanical Garden, or Moir Garden. Further west in the Wailua Valley, the Smith Family Garden is beautiful, as well. On the North Shore, Princeville Botanical Gardens and Na 'Aina Kai Botanical Gardens are both excellent options. 

18. Visit a Historical Site

 visit a historic site_things to do in KauaiKoloa Sugar Mill, Koloa; Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) /  Tor Johnson 

If you want to know more about the island’s history, there are plenty of outlets for educational experiences. Old Town Koloa is both a historic landmark of the plantation era and a great place to do some shopping. In the same area, you might take the 10-mile heritage trail that offers 14 historic sites including the location of the first Kauai sugar plantation.

RELATED: 10 Must-Visit Historic Sites in Kauai

19. Go Whale Watching

Humpback whale breaching in the ocean with a rainbow in the background.Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) /Joe West

Whale watching is possible via land and sea on all of the Hawaiian islands from November to May, however, you’re most likely to see them from January to early April. There are tons of boat tours to consider if you want a close-up view, or just grab your binoculars and post up along the coast!

RELATED: Where to Go Whale Watching in Hawaii

20. Go Surfing and Paddle Boarding

A group of people standing on a surfboard in the ocean, enjoying the waves.Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Mark Kushimi 

Of course, water sports are an integral part of Hawaiian culture. There are loads of places to surf, some of which are great if you are just learning. Other beaches offer extremely advanced surfing, especially during the winter, so be sure to do a little research before heading out. If you’re looking for something a bit easier to learn, paddle boarding on flat water is also a wonderful experience. 

RELATED: The History of Surfing in Hawaii

21. Visit a Farmer’s Market

A man and woman standing in front of a fruit-filled table.Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Ben Ono 

Fresh produce and island crafts are essential parts of Hawaiian culture, and one of the best ways to acquire both are Kauai’s farmer’s markets. These markets always have locally grown and prepared foods and meals, as well as beautiful art, souvenirs, and music.

RELATED: Best Farmers Markets in Kauai

22. Take a Bike Ride

A couple with a bike on the beach in Kauai.Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) 

There is a beautiful bike route along the east coast of Kauai known as the Kapa’a Bike Path. If you’re looking for a cost-efficient thing to do in Kauai, the path is completely free. The first section of the bike path takes you through 2.5 miles of Lydgate Park and Wailua Beach Park, and the second connects South Kapaa to Kealia Beach over 4.5 miles. 

23. Rum Tasting

 A charming Kauai house with a 'the best of Hawaii' sign.Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Heather Goodman / @hbgoodie 

The Koloa Rum Company offers tastings of their signature rums and mai tai mixes, as well as treats like rum cake, rum fudge, and rum jams. The distillery is located in the Kilohana Plantation in Lihue. Tasting sessions are offered every half hour. 

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24. Grab a Shave Ice

A couple enjoying ice cream cones on the beautiful island of Kauai.Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)

Shave ice has become one of the most popular treats in Hawaii. If you’re looking for a great place to try one, Hee Fat General Store is one of the most renowned on Kauai. JoJo’s Shave Ice and Wailua Shave Ice are also fantastic establishments.

25. Go on a Road Trip

A woman happily waving her arms out of a car window, enjoying the scenic beauty of Kauai.

Everyone loves a road trip and nobody puts together a better one than Shaka Guide. Our narrated driving tours are a perfect way to see tons of attractions in a single day. We highlight all the best spots on the island, both popular and lesser-known, on our four Kauai driving tours

26. Go Tubing

A group of people enjoying tube ride in Kauai river.Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson 

Few things are more relaxing than floating down a river in an inflatable tube. Kauai Back Country Tours offers exactly this experience along an awesome route with tunnels, small drop-offs (for a little excitement), and views of the beautiful surrounding landscape. Tours are about $156 per person. 

27. Hike the Kalalau Trail

A dirt path winding through lush jungle on Kauai, with towering trees and vibrant plants.Winding Kalalau Trail to Hanakapi’ai Falls /  Photo by California Cow - CC BY 2.0

If you’re looking for a real adventure, the Kalalau Trail is a 22-mile round-trip journey through the most remote part of the island, the Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park. You’ll cross three beaches, several waterfalls, and one particularly nerve-racking ledge along this epic trek. Overnight camping requires a permit, which fills up weeks or months ahead of time. 

You can also hike two miles onto the trail to Hanakapi’ai Beach with only a reservation, which is much less competitive to acquire than a permit. The hiking reservation also grants access to Hanakapi’ai Waterfall two miles inland from the beach. 

RELATED: Kalalau Trail Travel Guide

A breathtaking waterfall in Kauai, Hawaii surrounded by lush greenery and clear blue waters.Wailua Falls aka Kauai's Twin Falls

28. Hike to a Waterfall

A stunning waterfall in Kauai, Hawaii.Charming Ho’opi’i Falls | Kyle Pearce, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Flickr

Waterfalls are an essential part of visiting Hawaii, and there are loads of waterfall hikes on Kauai with a variety of difficulty levels and distances. You can check out our post here for the low down on all the best falls to consider!

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Now Get Packing!

If you’re planning your trip to Kauai, you'll have more than enough activities to fill your vacation. But, if you’re still worried Shaka Guide has four audio driving tours that visit almost every corner of the island. These tours range from half-day to full-day excursions and will take you to all the major stops! 

And please remember...when you’re in Hawaii it's important to respect the locals, land, and wildlife. Please pick up your trash; never touch any marine life, plants, or other animals; and avoid spots that are unsafe. Hawaii’s natural resources are precious, it’s up to all of us to help preserve these resources.

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The Ultimate Kauai Travel Guide

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Kauai Camping Guide

Kauai Waterfalls Guide

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Nine Kauai Snorkel Spots

Must-See Scenic Spots in Kauai

Best Farmers Markets in Kauai

Best Places to Catch a Sunset in Kauai

10 Must-Visit Historic Sites in Kauai



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