Getaway Compass

15 Best Things to Do on Kauai for the Ultimate Getaway

Kauai, also known as the Garden Island, is the oldest Hawaiian Island featuring dramatic cliffs, lush rainforest, and picturesque golden beaches. Kauai is the ultimate getaway if you are looking for a mix of relaxing and adventure. Which of these 15 best things to do on Kauai will you do first?

1. Flight Tour Over Kauai

Kauai Best Things to Do

Flying over Kauai is the best thing to do on your Kauai vacation. This is the only way to some areas of the Garden Isle as they aren’t reachable by road. There are several companies that operate flights and you can choose between a helicopter tour or an airplane tour. Don’t forget to make your reservation in advance so that you don’t miss out!

The benefit of a helicopter tour is that you will be able to get closer to the natural wonders of Kauai such as Manawaiopuna waterfall, Waimea Canyon, and the Na Pali Coast. However, it is more expensive than a flight tour and typically a bit shorter time.

Air Kauai Helicopter Tour

Get a unique perspective of Kauai in 50 minutes

Alternatively, with an airplane tour you will be able to see more of the island due to the longer flight time. Also, airplane tours are cheaper than helicopter tours. There is a private airplane tour that you can take with just you and your significant other. If you want to do a flight tour but don’t want to spend too much money consider the Entire Kauai Island Air Tour. The GA-8 Airvan can accommodate up to 6 guests per plane. The company has two of these planes so it is perfect if you are in a larger group and all want to do a flight tour at the same time (up to 12 people).

Private Kauai Airplane Tour

1 hour private flight over Kauai

Entire Kauai Island Air Tour

60-70 minute flight tour of the entire Island with narration by experienced pilot

2. See the Na Pali Coast by Boat

If you are visiting Kauai during the summer, a boat cruise is another exciting way to see the Na Pali coast. Boat tours usually depart from Eleele on the south coast of Kauai. You can find a range of tours from 4-6 hours depending on the kind of experience that you are looking for. Choose from these top tours on Viator. Make sure to book in advance, especially during the summer as it can get busy.

Deluxe Na Pali Morning Snorkel Tour: Explore the beautiful coastline on this early morning cruise, allowing you plenty of time to continue exploring Kauai for the rest of the day. Bring your own snorkel gear or use the provided equipment. Build your own sandwiches included.

Na Pali Coast Super Raft Adventure: Spend 4.5 hours exploring the Na Pali coastline on a raft. Enter sea caves and snorkel (weather permitting). Have a chance to spot dolphins, whales, sea turtles, and more.

Na Pali Coast Sunset Boat Tour: Enjoy dinner and drinks on a Catamaran cruise during sunset with views of the 4,000-foot cliffs.

3. Explore Hideaway Beach

Hideaway Beach

Hideaway is the most picturesque beach on Kauai. Be careful during the climb down to the beach as it is difficult and steep. Make sure that you are wearing supportive shoes so you don’t slip and don’t bring too much with you. These walking sandals are perfect for exploring the unique beaches in Kauai as they are not always easy to get to. Don’t be surprised if you see chickens and roosters here like most of the beaches in Kauai!

4. Relax on Mahaulepu Beach

Mahaulepu Beach Sand

Relaxing on this off-the-beaten-path beach called Mahaulepu is one of the best things to do in Kauai. We spotted this beach during our airplane tour over Kauai and the pilot provided us information on how to get here.

Directions to Mahaulepu Beach: Drive on Poipu Road past the Hyatt Resort Poipu. You will come to a split in the road where across the way is a horse stable. Take the road on the left and park on this road as close as your car can handle as it is a dirt road and gets bumpy. Then walk along the trail to the left down to the beach. There are multiple sections of this beach if you continue to walk to the left. The first section has nice soft sand, the second section is more scenic with views of surrounding mountains and large dark rocks.

5. Enjoy the Views at Koke'e State Park

Koke'e State Park

Visiting Koke’e State Park is one of the best things to do in Kauai if you are looking for views of the Na Pali coast that you can get to with a car. The first viewpoint is Kalalau Lookout which is also where the Kalepa Ridge Trail starts. The next viewpoint is Pu’u O Kila Lookout which is further up the mountain. This second viewpoint is where a hike called the Pihea Trail starts. It is nice to walk part of the trail to enjoy more of the scenic Na Pali Coast. Be patient if it is cloudy as the clouds move throughout the day.

6. Hike Awa'awapuhi Trail

Awa'awapuhi Trail Napali Coast

If you are going to do any hike on Kauai it has to be Awa’awapuhi Trail. This difficult 6.2 mile trail takes you to an incredible view of the Na Pali Coast. The beginning of the trail is through the forest but about 2 miles in it starts to open up and you can see views of ocean and surrounding mountains. At the end of the hike there are walking paths to different viewpoints.

7. Enjoy the Views at Waimea Canyon State Park

Waimea Canyon Waterfall Viewpoint

Waimea Canyon State Park is known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, with its red and green canyon walls, waterfalls, and river. There are several viewpoints of Waimea Canyon as you drive up highway 550 through the park. Most of these only require a short walk to see the view. You should take the time to stop in several different viewpoints to enjoy the views. At many of the viewpoints you will be able to see Waipo’o Falls in the canyon.

8. Hike Canyon Trail to Waipoo Falls

Waimea Canyon Trail

The best trail in Waimea Canyon is the 3.2-mile Canyon Trail. This hike begins in the forest and takes you to a spot in the canyon with breathtaking views. You will continue to hike to a small waterfall and if you are up for the challenge, you can continue to the large waterfall called Waipo’o Falls. 

9. Secret Beach (Kauapea Beach)

Secret Beach Kauai

If you are looking to relax on a scenic beach on Kauai then you have to go to Secret Beach. This peaceful beach is wide allowing plenty of space to relax.. From Secret Beach you can catch a glimpse of the Kilauea Lighthouse. Make sure to wear shoes that you can walk in as there is a 10-minute long walk through a wooded path to get to Secret Beach.

10. Admire Wailua Falls

Wailua Falls Kauai

Seeing Wailua Falls is one of the best things to do in Kauai if you are excited about seeing waterfalls. is. At Wailua Falls you can park in the small lot and walk up to the railing for a nice view of the waterfall.

11. Watch Surfers at Hanalei Beach

Hanalei Pier

Hanalei Beach is a nice long beach with views of the surrounding lush green mountains. This beach is known for Hanalei Pier which is a nice spot to sit and watch the surfers. Since it is easy to get to it can get crowded so try to visit early in the morning.

12. Take Pictures at Hanalei Valley Lookout

Hanalei Valley Lookout

Hanalei Valley Lookout is a quick stop for a view of the valley, taro fields, Hanalei River, and surrounding mountains. You will see this pull out across from the shopping center in Princeville on highway 560.

13. Snorkel at Anini Beach

Anini Beach Kauai

One of the best things to do in Kauai is to snorkel at the wide reef of Anini Beach. You can find Anini Beach on the North Shore of Kauai. The beach can get narrow during high tide, so try to visit during low tide. Bring your own snorkel gear so you can snorkel at Anini Beach and more places around Kauai. I bring this snorkeling set with me for any ocean adventures.

14. Koloa Zip Line in Kauai

See Kauai from another perspective while zip lining through the forest on the longest zip line on Kauai. The 8-track course offers views of Waita Reservoir.

15. Kilauea Lighthouse

Kilauea Lighthouse

While exploring the north shore of Kauai don’t miss Kilauea Lighthouse. It is located at Kilauea Point and is open Tuesday-Saturday, 10 am-4 pm. If you don’t make it in time to enter the lighthouse, it is still worth ending the day here with a nice sunset view.

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links for products and services I recommend. At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Reut and Zack Elopement-5

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