Photo by Pascal Debrunner on Unsplash

Photo by Pascal Debrunner on Unsplash

Which Kauai Tour is Right For You?

Shaka Guide

Kauai, the stunning Garden Isle. Did you know Kauai got it's nickname because of all the beautiful greenary that covers the island? While you're exploring you'll find there's no shortage of natural beauty. In this guide we'll share the key differences between our Kauai tours to help you decide which is best for your trip! 

  North Shore Kauai Wailua Valley & Waterfalls Waimea & Na Pali Poipu & Koloa
Summary Explore Kauai's stunning North Shore. Visit secluded beaches, the charming towns of Princeville and Hanalei and the stunning Na Pali Coast.  Do you love waterfalls? On this tour you'll get the chance to see three waterfalls, go on multiple hikes and check out the seaside town of Kapa'a.  Explore the Grand Canyon of the Pacific - Waimea Canyon - and its stunning scenic spots and hikes.  The towns of Poipu and Koloa are quaint stops with history to learn! On this tour we'll take you to a gorgous beach, a seaside hike, and an ancient fishpond. 
Number of Stops 18 19 19 15
Approx. Time to Complete 6-8 hours, full day 6-8 hours, full day 6-8 hours, full day 4-6 hours, half-day
Tour Starting Point(s) Kapa'a and Princeville Lihue and Kapa'a Lawai Poipu and Lihue
Tour End Point(s) Where you began Where you began Where you began Where you began
Tour Direction Counterclockwise Counterclockwise Counterclockwise Counterclockwise

Now that you know the basics, we’ve looked at each tour to determine which would be the best for your trip, based on your interests. Check out our recommendations below! 

If you like… 


North Shore Kauai Tour 

Our North Shore Kauai Tour has a total of eight beaches! Yep - eight. Many of these are secluded spots that line the island’s north shore. You can take your pick as you travel at your own pace with Shaka Guide. 

Second Place: Poipu and Koloa

While the North Shore Tour might have the most beaches, we’ll give our Poipu and Koloa Tour an honorable mention. This excursion visits an awesome beach - Shipwrecks. While you’re there watch surfers, cliff jump (at your own risk), or go on a short hike. 


Wailua Valley and Waterfalls Tour

If you’re a foodie you have to check out our Wailua Valley and Waterfalls Tour. You can visit local spots - Konohiki Seafood, Pono Market, and Ono Ono Shave Ice. At each of these spots, you can try some popular Hawaiian eats. Head to Konohiki Seafood for poke, Pono Market for a plate lunch and Ono Ono Shave Ice for, you guessed it, shave ice! 

History and Culture 

All, but North Shore Kauai 

Every Shaka Guide tour shares a bit about the history and culture of the islands. But, on the North Shore Kauai Driving Tour, you’ll hear tales of King Kamehameha and his attempts to overthrow Kauai. Learn about his favorite wife, Queen Ka’ahumanu and her dedication to Kamehameha and a unified Hawaii Kingdom. In addition to history, you’ll hear fun facts about the island - did you know the first season of Gilligan’s Island was filmed on Kauai? We’ll take you to that beach and more on this 6-8 hour tour!


Waimea and Na Pali 

Love to hike? Then we highly recommend you check out our Waimea and Na Pali driving tour. You’ll visit Waimea Canyon - the Grand Canyon of the Pacific - where we’ll guide you to three hikes. Our favorite? Canyon Trail for it’s epic views of this geologic wonder. 

Second Place: Wailua Valley and Waterfalls Tour

We’d also like to give our Wailua Valley and Waterfalls Tour an honorable mention. On this day-trip you’ll also visit three hikes, but we love this one for it’s family-friendly hike to a waterfall that you can actually swim under called Ho'opi'i. Here, you’ll walk to two sets of falls, the first are small and scenic, but the second give you a chance to swim. 


It depends on the type, jungle -- Wailua; beaches -- North Shore Kauai; and can’t discount Waimea Canyon and Na Pali. 

The answer to this is totally based on preference. If you like jungle hikes and waterfalls, our Wailua Valley and Waterfalls is the right choice for you. If you love the ocean, we highly recommend the North Shore Kauai Tour for all the beautiful beaches and the seaside towns you’ll visit. And, we can’t forget to mention our Waimea Canyon and Na Pali tour that visits this impressive, 14-mile long and 3,600-foot deep canyon that’s unlike any other state park in Hawaii. 


North Shore Kauai 

As we mentioned, this is the best tour for beach lovers. It’s also our top pick for snorkelers! Among the eight beaches you can visit, two great snorkel spots - Anini Beach and Tunnels. Here, you’ll see a variety of tropical fish and take in all the beauty of Hawaii’s shores. 

You’re Short on Time 

Poipu and Koloa Tour 

Our Poipu and Koloa Tour takes about four hours to complete, but there’s no shortage of fun. You’ll visit the resort town of Poipu where you can stop at the beach for some snorkeling. Explore Shipwreck’s Beach, an expansive white-sand beach where you can swim, watch surfers and even go on a short hike. And, stop at an ancient fishpond where you’ll learn about Hawaiian fishing practices that date back thousands of years. 

If you’re staying in … 

If You’re Staying in Poipu: Poipu and Koloa 

Poipu is a popular resort area and if you happen to be staying here there are two great tours that you can take that start nearby. The Poipu and Koloa Tour takes you around this area and to neighboring Koloa Town. It’s a bite-size tour that focuses on this small corner of the island. If you’re looking to venture out, but not too much, check out our Waimea and Na Pali Tour. It starts in Lawai which is about ten minutes from Poipu by car. 

If you’re staying in Hanalei or Princeville: North Shore Kauai 

If you’re staying in the seaside towns of Hanalei or Princeville, check out our North Shore Kauai Tour. There’s a starting point right in Princeville and it will take you along the coast to beaches, a nature preserve and scenic hikes. 

If you’re staying in Lihue or Kapa’a: Any! 

Lihue and Kapa’a are both conveniently located near Kauai’s single airport and are both great centralized locations to base your stay. If your accommodations are in either of these spots, you can do any of the Kauai tours without having to drive too far. However, we’ll give a shout outs to our Wailua Valley and Waterfalls Tour and North Shore Kauai Tours because both have starting points in Kapa’a and the Wailua Valley and Waterfalls Tour also has a starting point right in Lihue


1. Can I do multiple tours in one day? 

Yes, if you'd like to combine tours, you can mix the Wailua Valley & Waterfalls Tour and the North Shore Kauai Tour. It will be a jam-packed day, but it's possible. If so, we recommend starting early - by 8 a.m. so you can make the most of your day. Also, remember you'll need a reservation to drive past Hanalei. Pay attention to your reservation time whether you're combining tours or not! 

2. What should I pack? 

Great question. You’ve probably seen that our tours have a bit of everything - hiking, beaches, attractions. That can make packing tricky. Check out our packing list here, and remember, you choose what you want to do along the tour route! 

3. Where do the tours go? 

Check out our itineraries below: 

4. I have questions about the app. 

No problem! Check out our app FAQ’s here. And, if you still have questions don’t hesitate to email us at aloha@shakaguide.com.

Ready to take the tour? Check out Shaka Guide's Kauai Tours!


The Ultimate Kauai Travel Guide

Kauai Camping Guide

Kauai Waterfalls Guide

Kauai Maps


28 Things to do in Kauai

12 Family-Friendly Activities in Kauai

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

shaka guide app qr code

Download The Shaka Guide App

Get The
Shaka Guide App