Things To Do

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WAIMEA CANYON STATE PARK

Waimea Canyon State Park is the largest canyon in the Pacific and will undoubtedly capture your gaze, with its 10 mile long stretch at a mile wide and measuring more than 3,500 feet deep. The history of Kauai can be seen in the walls and crags of the canyon as you explore the more than 45 miles of trails. A truly remarkable sight offering numerous scenic overlooks and photo opportunities.

Surrounding the Waimea Canyon is the Kokee State Park which occupies 4,345 acres of land. Norfolk pines, Koa hardwoods,native plants and wildlife are just a small fraction of what you will see here. State operated cabins and hiking by permit is available year-round with advance reservations. Waimea Canyon hiking maps can be found at the Kokee Natural History Museum next to the Kokee lodge.

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WAILUA FALLS

Wailua Falls a 140 foot waterfall that appears on many postcards, print and media collections and was used as the opening scene for the 1970’s Television series Fantasy Island. The Wailua falls are located off Maalo Road or Hwy 583 and is easily accessed. The Wailua Falls are an easy to photograph waterfall with no hiking involved. The size and appearance of the falls is determined by the amount of rainfall further up the mountains.  The Wailua Falls are also seen along the flight path of a Kauai helicopter and Kauai airplane tours

Vehicles should only park in designated parking area. Enjoy the view and photo opportunities from the scenic lookout above.

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NA PALI COAST

Na Pali Coast stretches fifteen miles along the north west coast of Kauai between Ke`e Beach in Haena State Park to  Polihale State Park in Mana. This rugged coast will leave you breathless as you gaze upon the pali (high cliffs) that  rise as much as 4,000 feet (1,200 m) above the Pacific Ocean,  sea caves, lush green valleys and cascading waterfalls that journey to the shores from from thousands of feet above.

The Nā Pali Coast State Park is assessable to hikers along the Kalalau Trail.  The trail begins on Kauai’s north shore at the end of  Hwy  56 at Ke’e Beach in Haena State Park. The most popular section of the trail is the first two mile stretch from  Ke’e beach to Hanakapiai Valley. If you are feeling like you just need a bit more adventure you can trek two more miles inland to the Hanakapiai Falls.  The last nine miles of the the 11 mile Kalalau Trail is for experienced hikers with the proper permits and camping gear.

To see Napali from above drive to Kokee State Park  for overlooks into Kalalau Valley  The best way to experience the Na Pali is top take a tour with one of the Kauai boat tour companies that offer Napali sightseeing and snorkeling tours on sailing catamarans,  power catamarans or rigid hull inflatables. Most tours originate from Port Allen on the west side and during the summer a few tour companies operate out of Hanalei Bay on Kauai’s north shore.  To get a true perspective on this amazing island and the Napali Coast an Airplane Tour or  Helicopter Tour will give you a truly amazing  experience of one of the worlds most beautiful coastlines

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Kauai Beaches

While Kauai is famous for its dramatic cliffs, canyons and rainforests, it’s also home to some of Hawaii’s most picturesque beaches. The island is surrounded by 50 miles of shimmering white-sand coast where you can enjoy jaw-droppingly beautiful unspoiled views. Find activities for both daring and more relaxed travelers, from surfing Hanalei Bay’s waves in the North Shore to spotting whales and sea turtles at Poipu Beach Park in the south. 

North Shore Beaches
Haena Beach Park 
Anini Beach Park
Kee Beach

East Side Beaches 
Lydgate Beach Park 
Lydgate Pond 
Kealia Beach Park
Kalapaki Beach 

South Shore Beaches
Poipu Beach Park 

West Side Beaches
Salt Pond Beach Park 
Kekaha Beach

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Kayaking on Kauai

Kauai is home to the only navigable rivers in Hawaii, so kayaking is an integral part of a unique Kauai vacation.

Relax and take in the exquisite scenery as you paddle down the Wailua River. This popular river for kayaking weaves by lush, jungle landscapes along with island’s East Side. Other river routes include the Huleia River from Nawiliwili Harbor in Lihue, as well as the Hanalei River on the North Shore, the longest on the island.

If you’re up for a more difficult challenge, ocean kayaking is a seasonal alternative to experience Kauai by sea. On the South Shore, try the Poipu to Port Allen course with a stop in Lawai Bay. When conditions are calm, kayaking along the 17-mile Napali Coast is unforgettable. "National Geographic" deemed kayaking the Napali Coast the second best adventure in the country. Because this can be a physically demanding activity and the seas can be unpredictable, hiring a guide for this once-in-a-lifetime experience is a must.

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Kauai Surfing

As any local will tell you, your first taste of surfing, or hee nalu in Hawaiian, is something you never forget. From the gentle, beginner-friendly waves of Poipu and Kalapaki to the wild North Shore breaks that attract world champions in the winter months (and should not be attempted by inexperienced surfers because of their extreme danger), Kauai is a surfing paradise set against some of the most majestic scenery on earth.

Believed to have originated in ancient Polynesia, surfing was once reserved for Hawaiian alii, or royalty—giving it the nickname “the sport of kings.” In the 20th century, surfing surged in popularity, spreading from Hawaii’s shores around the world.

You can feel the exhilaration of catching a wave by taking a lesson at surf schools and resorts around Kauai. Experienced instructors will take you to safe breaks and get you on your feet during lessons that last 1–2 hours. If you’re not quite ready to brave the waves yourself, watch seasoned surfers charge massive swells on the North Shore during big wave season (November–February) from the safety of the beach.

Kitesurfing, body surfing and stand-up paddleboarding are other popular activities, and outfitters can be found on many of Kauai’s more popular beaches.

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Snorkeling and Scuba on Kauai

As amazing as this island is on land, you’ll discover even more incredible sights in the waters of Kauai. While flourishing gardens and rainforests get most of the attention on Kauai, the island offers a wide range of snorkeling and scuba spots to explore under the sea.

On the North Shore, fantastic shoreline snorkeling beaches include the reefs off Kee Beach and Haena Beach Park. Anini Beach offers a lagoon great for beginning snorkelers. Makua, or “Tunnels,” Beach in Haena also has a wide reef area that’s a treat to the senses.

On the East Side, Lydgate Beach Park offers a protected snorkeling lagoon great for keiki (children) snorkelers.

On the South Shore, Poipu Beach State Park offers protected areas for snorkelers. Be sure to check ocean conditions and currents prior to going out, especially during the big north shore swells of the winter.

Scuba
Kauai also offers a variety of scuba sites for beginners and experienced divers. Dive tours offer plenty of tropical fish, reef creatures, dolphins and honu (Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles) to discover. Experienced divers will generally find more thrilling spots on the east and west shores, including cave exploration and lava tubes.
Those new to scuba should start on the north or south shores (Hanalei, Kee Beach, or Poipu Beach). 

You can rent all the necessary gear and equipment on Kauai, as well as get your certification on the island, but bring your medical paperwork with you if you choose to get certified. Also, keep in mind that if you drive to Waimea Canyon or Kokee State Park, or want to take a helicopter excursion, you need to wait 24-hours due to altitude change. 

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Whale Watching on Kauai

From December to May, you are likely to catch a glimpse of a majestic kohola, or humpback whale, off Kauai’s shorelines. These gentle giants come to the warm Hawaiian waters every year to breed and give birth to new calves.

Schedule a tour or charter a boat to spot these magnificent creatures. Treat yourself to scenic ocean views as guides take you to the best spots to observe whales playfully surfacing, tail slapping, or blowing spouts in the air. Regulations prohibit boats from approaching within 100 yards of a whale and you should never swim with or touch whales or any other marine animals.

You can also spot whales from Kauai’s many beautiful beaches, including Poipu Beach on the South Shore, and from scenic spots like Kilauea Lighthouse and the Napali Coast’s Kalalau Trail on the North Shore. On the East Side, the Kapaa Overlook between Kapaa Town and Kealia Beach is another notable viewing spot. Whales are attracted to Hawaii’s warm, shallow waters, so keep your eyes open on the sands of Kauai.

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Kauai Land Activities

Not to be outdone by the famous beaches that ring the island, Kauai’s lush landscapes are a feast for the senses. Whether it’s a leisurely horseback ride to a remote waterfall or an exhilarating zipline adventure through the jungle, the Garden Isle is a true adventurer’s playground.

Hiking is one of the best ways to discover the island, as 90% of Kauai is inaccessible by car. Lace up your hiking boots and explore Kokee State Park and Waimea Canyon on the West Side, with hundreds of trails and breathtaking vistas waiting around every turn. 

Adrenaline junkies will find plenty of thrills on mountain biking trails, flying through the rainforest on a zipline safari or traversing rocky ridges on an ATV adventure. There’s really no limit to the land activities on Kauai—just remember to pack comfortable shoes.

For those seeking a quieter pace, the island offers plenty of additional opportunities to explore local culture, history and more — including museums, plantation tours such as Kilohana Plantation, historical landmarks, farmers markets and more. 

Explore all the island has to offer in this section of the site. No matter what you choose, the island’s peaceful vibe and breathtaking natural beauty will create indelible memories of your visit.