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Things to do in Kauai

Things to do in  Kauai

Welcome to Kauai

Time has dramatically carved the landscape of Kauai, the northernmost and oldest of the main Hawaiian Islands. It has a more rural and intimate feel than neighboring Oahu, and still teems with authentic Hawaiian culture and heritage. Lush and enchanting, many of the aptly named Garden Isle’s natural wonders are seen only by air or water, and myriad tours and backcountry adventures abound. A first stop for many visitors is the western Na Pali Coast, where snorkel, kayak, and sunset sailing cruises navigate the waters beneath steep, brilliantly hued mountain ridges framing waterfalls and deep valleys. Some boat tours visit sea caves and nearby Niihau, the Forbidden Island, or ply the Pacific in search of spinner dolphins and migrating humpback whales. Back on land, coursing down trails on a mountain bike is an exhilarating way to explore Waimea Canyon—the Grand Canyon of the Pacific—and neighboring Koke'e State Park. Head east to the serene Wailua River for kayaking and hiking among fern grottos and hidden waterfalls. Down south, fly through the treetops on a Koloa zipline tour. And then, of course, there are Kauai’s heavenly beaches—Hanalei Bay and Spouting Horn are two of the island’s most scenic. Come evening, head to Luau Kalamaku for Hawaiian cuisine and Polynesian entertainment. And don’t be fooled by Kauai’s small size: There is a lot to do, so a multi-day tour may be the best way to see it all—or if you’re short on time, a helicopter tour reveals Kauai’s natural beauty from above.

Top 10 attractions in Kauai

#1
Na Pali Coast

Na Pali Coast

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With steep emerald cliffs, lush valleys, and remote cascading waterfalls, the Na Pali Coast is one of Hawaii’s most beautiful regions, and no visit to Kauai is complete without a visit to this magical coastline. There are only three ways to explore the Na Pali Coast—by air, by sea, and on foot—and each offers its own unique perspective.More
#2
Hanalei Bay

Hanalei Bay

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Located on the north shore of Kauai, Hanalei Bay is one of the island’s most picturesque stretches of water. This crescent-shaped bay boasts over 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) of white sand beach backed by mountains, waterfalls, and laid-back towns and offers an array of watersports, including kayaking, stand up paddleboarding, and surfing.More
#3
Kilohana Plantation

Kilohana Plantation

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A historic sugar plantation set in the Garden Isle's lush tropics, Kilohana Plantation is a hub for Hawaiian culture and history. Visit the estate—centered around a historic Tudor-style mansion—to see tropical orchards, take historic train rides, visit a rum distillery, sample restaurants, participate in a theatrical luau, and more.More
#4
Waimea Canyon

Waimea Canyon

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A geological kaleidoscope of reds and browns, Kauai’s impressive Waimea Canyon—at 14 miles (22.5 kilometers) long, one mile (1.6 kilometers) wide, and 3,600 feet (1,097 meters) deep—is Hawaii’s version of the Grand Canyon. In fact, some say Mark Twain was the first to lend it its nickname: the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. Stop on its winding rim road for views of a far-below river, sheer drop-offs, spectacular views, excellent hiking, and waterfall-lined crevasses, all just a short way away from the Garden Isle’s legendary Na Pali Coast.More
#5
Daniel K. Inouye Kilauea Point Lighthouse

Daniel K. Inouye Kilauea Point Lighthouse

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Perched at the tip of Kauai’s northernmost point on a rocky peninsula high above the Pacific Ocean, the Daniel K. Inouye Kilauea Point Lighthouse was built in 1913 as a navigational aid for passing ships. Although its light was replaced with an automatic beacon in the 1970s, the lighthouse remains one of Kauai’s most popular attractions.More
#6
Wailua River

Wailua River

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Wailua River (Attraction - Kauai, USA)Protected by Wailua River State Park, the Wailua is the largest navigable river in the Hawaiian archipelago (a feature found only on the island of Kauai). As the 20-mile (32-kilometer) river meanders through a lush valley, it passes through jungle landscapes and past two notable waterfalls: Opaekaa Falls and Wailua Falls.More
#7
Mt. Waialeale

Mt. Waialeale

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Be prepared for more colors of green than you’ve ever seen before in the area surrounding Kauai’s central Mt. Waialeale—it’s one of the wettest places on planet Earth, receiving more than 450 inches of rainfall each year. It’s dominating sheer green 5,066 cliff wall has also been called the Wall of Tears, for the many waterfalls that fill its crevices and stream down its face during frequent rains. And, if the setting looks familiar, that could be because it starred as the backdrop for opening scenes of the original 1992 Jurassic Park movie. To get to the base of Waialeale, and to the the Wailua River, you’ll have to take a 4x4 down the bumpy Wailua Forestry Management Road and then trek in. Alternatively, several helicopter tours take you much closer to its cliff face—and its waterfalls—than you could easily get to on a hike.More
#8
Spouting Horn

Spouting Horn

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When the island of Kauai erupted from the sea between 4 and 5 million years ago, parts of the coastline were riddled with tubes where molten lava once flowed. One of those spots is the Spouting Horn on the island’s southern coast, where waves are channeled into the tube before violently erupting in a saltwater geyser over 50 feet in the air. Compared to other Hawaiian blowholes, what makes Kauai’s Spouting Horn unique is the guttural moan that precedes the powerful eruption. A second, smaller hole in the rocks funnels air as opposed to water, and the result is a sound that makes it seem like the rocks themselves are groaning. No wonder Hawaiians believed that amo’o was stuck inside of the rocks—a mischievous lizard of Polynesian lore that can still be heard to this day. Once finished admiring the geyser and feeling the ocean’s fury, peruse the homemade souvenir stalls erected by local vendors. Even if you don’t find that perfect give to bring back from your Hawaiian vacation, the locals are always a good source of friendly conversation.More
#9
Wailua Falls

Wailua Falls

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A prize of the Garden Isle, the dual curtains of Wailua Falls cascade into a glistening pool surrounded by lush tropical forests and—if you catch it at the right moment—dancing with rainbows. The picture-perfect falls got their fame when they were featured in the TV show “Fantasy Island” and they are now on the must-visit list of many Kaui vacationers.More
#10
Niihau

Niihau

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Known as the Forbidden Island, Niʻihau is mostly untouched by outsiders, creating a microcosm of Hawaiian history and culture. Just 17 miles (27 kilometers) off the coast of Kauai, the island’s fewer than 200 residents speak Hawaiian and live without cars, electricity, and modern amenities.More

Trip ideas

Top Hiking Trails on Kauai

Top Hiking Trails on Kauai

How to Get Off the Beaten Path on Kauai

How to Get Off the Beaten Path on Kauai

Best Beaches on Kauai

Best Beaches on Kauai

Top activities in Kauai

LUCKY LADY - Deluxe Na Pali Morning Snorkel Tour
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LUCKY LADY - Deluxe Na Pali Sunset Tour
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Luau Kalamaku with Plantation Owner's Dinner & Show
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Entire Kauai Island Air Tour

Entire Kauai Island Air Tour

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Na Pali Sunset & Sightsee Boat Tour
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Ni'ihau and Na Pali Coast Snorkel Boat Tour
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Luau Kalamaku with Buffet Dinner & Show
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Koloa Zipline
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Koloa Zipline

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Kauai ATV Backroads Adventure Tour
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Kauai ATV Backroads Adventure Tour

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Deluxe Waterfall Safari

Deluxe Waterfall Safari

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Half-Day Kayak and Waterfall Hike Tour in Kauai with Lunch
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Leila Na Pali Sunset Dinner Sail
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Leila Na Pali Sunset Dinner Sail

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Kauai's Ultimate South Island Zodiac Boat Snorkel Adventure
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Surf Lesson in Sunny Po'ipu
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Surf Lesson in Sunny Po'ipu

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Guided Kayak Adventure on the Wailua River
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Hanalei Bay Kayak & Snorkel Tour
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Things to do in Kauai this...

Operators have paid Viator more to have their experiences featured here

Recent reviews from experiences in Kauai

star-5
Great tour. Scott was awesome.
Christopher_M, Jun 2022
Private Luxury Tour of Kauai: North & East Shores
He took us all around and we were able to see some highlights.
star-5
What a day!
Steven_k, Jun 2022
Private Waimea Canyon Tour
We stopped everywhere and got to see all of this great area in Kauai.
star-5
Great Kauai adventure
Dayna_T, Jun 2022
Wailua River and Secret Falls Kayak and Hiking Tour on Kauai
the River, the birds, the foliage, views, waterfall.
star-5
Highlight of trip
Gina_R, Jun 2022
Wailua River and Secret Falls Kayak and Hiking Tour on Kauai
The hike to the waterfall was fun and informative.
star-5
Awesome experience for us
Doug_D, May 2022
Half-Day Kayak and Waterfall Hike Tour in Kauai with Lunch
Wonderful way to see beautiful Kauai.
star-5
Doors off is the way to go!
Clay_W, May 2022
Doors Off Air Kauai Helicopter Tour
Best way to see Kauai!
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Beautiful boat ride
Rosemarie_M, May 2022
Leila Na Pali Sunset Dinner Sail
We got to see bottlenose dolphins and even glimpse a whale!
star-5
Great Adventure!
Ralph_L, May 2022
The Secret Waterfall Private tour with photos
The most memorable experience was swinging across the water by the waterfall.
star-5
Awesome experience!
Wade_J, May 2022
Kauai ECO Adventure Helicopter Tour
Seeing the ocean, the coast, the rugged canyons, the lush hillsides and incredible waterfalls from the air was the perfect way to cap off our visit to Kauai.
star-5
Amazing
Debra_S, Apr 2022
Private Kauai North Shore Tour
Since it was a private tour we did the Waimea Canyon, Wailua Falls
star-5
Great tour to explore Na Pali coast!
Ramani_A, Apr 2022
LUCKY LADY - Deluxe Na Pali Sunset Tour
This tour was a great way to visit Na Pali coast..
star-5
Fantastic Experience!
Nikhila_K, Apr 2022
Kauai ECO Adventure Helicopter Tour
The bird's eye view of Kauai was the best way to see the island.
star-5
Awesome Flight - get to see much of the island and the beautiful waterfalls
Curtis_C, Apr 2022
Entire Kauai Island Air Tour
Great flight - pilot was a wonderful tour guide also We fly over much of Kauai and went down low to view the waterfalls
star-5
The trip was fabulous. ...
Jackie_D, Mar 2022
Entire Kauai Island Air Tour
It was a wonderful way to see Kauai.
star-5
Great way to see and...
mchang01, Mar 2022
Best Food Tours on Kaua'i
Great way to see and experience Kapaa.
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Majestic
Mona_L, Mar 2022
Amazing Air Kauai Helicopter Tour
To capture Kauai's beauty from air, so close to the valleys and waterfalls- our pilot Kirby was phenomenal- with great playlist on headphones- the entire staff/ crew line is superb - its a must have experience 👍
star-5
Skip the heli and Get on THIS boat!!!
Jeff_B, Mar 2022
LUCKY LADY - Deluxe Na Pali Sunset Tour
My hubby hates tourist activities but loved everything about this one!!
star-5
Beautiful views
Clint_J, Feb 2022
Guided Kayak Adventure on the Wailua River
Hiking the falls.
star-5
Waterfalls and wonderful...
Paul_F, Feb 2022
South & East Kauai - History-Legends & Waterfalls - 6 hrs.
Waterfalls and wonderful tour guide with great stories and knowledge Felt safe in her driving and we learned a lot of Kauai legends
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Epic Experience
Lindsey_M, Feb 2022
Doors Off Air Kauai Helicopter Tour
Trip was awesome and got to see things there’s no other way of seeing - created an intimate and exhilarating intimacy with Kauai.
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All about Kauai

Currency
US Dollar ($)
Time Zone
HST (UTC -10)
Country Code
+1
Language(s)
English

People Also Ask

What is Kauai known for?

Kauai is known for its dramatic natural beauty and is often called “The Garden Island” due to its verdant landscapes. The island is studded with lush, emerald-colored valleys, jagged mountain spires, cascading waterfalls, and tropical rainforest. Kauai’s most famous natural attractions are the tall sea cliffs of the Na Pali Coast.

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What is the best month to go to Kauai?

Any time of year is a great time to visit Kauai but, considering such factors as crowds, rainfall, and temperature, the ideal months are April, May, June, September, October, and November. September may just be the best time to visit Kauai as you’ll avoid crowds and heavy rain, and have the opportunity to attend the Kauai Mokihana Festival.

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Is Kauai or Maui better for families?

Maui. While it depends on your family’s preferences, Maui has more family-friendly resorts, accessible attractions, and beaches that are suitable for swimming. That said, Kauai offers more adventurous options, such as paddling and hiking, and children will likely love exploring the locations where Jurassic Park was filmed.

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How many days do you need to visit Kauai?

Five days on Kauai should be enough time to see the most important attractions, but longer is better to truly get a feel for the island. With five days you could split your time between the North Shore and the South Shore in Poipu to thoroughly explore each side of the island.

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What do you recommend to do and see in Kauai?

Much of the island can only be seen from the air, so take a helicopter tour. Drive to Waimea Canyon on the south side of Kauai and along the North Shore to the Hanalei Valley Overlook. Take a surf lesson at Hanalei Bay and a snorkeling cruise along the Na Pali Coast. Finally visit Allerton Garden to see where Jurassic Park was filmed.

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What is the best way to explore Kauai?

Public transportation on Kauai is of limited use to tourists so the best way to get around is by renting a car. If you don’t want to drive, book a few guided tours with hotel pickup. Some of Kauai’s top sights cannot be reached by road, so you’ll need to book a boat or helicopter tour.

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Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
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