I’m not sure when my obsession with Polynesian culture, luaus, and Hawaiian beaches started, but as a child I’ve always dreamed of visiting Hawaii; it was my dream! Growing up in North Carolina, traveling to Hawaii was further than traveling to Europe. When Brady and I got married two years ago, I told him we HAD to go to Hawaii at some point before we left Utah to live back east. He promised we would go, and lo and behold we found ourselves celebrating our two year wedding anniversary on the gorgeous island of Kauai.
We debated for a while on what island to visit, but after raving recommendations and reviews, we decided to go to Kauai for our first Hawaiian experience. I am SO HAPPY we did. There was SO much to do and see on this luscious island. It’s amazing how versatile and different each side of the island is. The beauty, the people, the food, and the places were all phenomenal. Our entire visit I just walked around with my jaw dropped open in awe that this beautiful place was actually real.
With so much to see and do, I’ve narrowed it down to my favorite 8 things to do. If you’re planning your vacation to Kauai anytime soon, these are my must-do recommendations!
1. Na Pali Coast
The Napali Coast is magnificent, truly a jaw dropping sight to see. The only way to access the Napali Coast is by ocean or hiking. I would recommend both. Unfortunately our original boat tour of the Napali Coast got cancelled due to high tides and extreme wind conditions. Luckily for us, we were able to reschedule with a different boating company and I’m so glad we did. Although not as intimate and adventurous as we imagined, we were able to witness the majestic beauty of the coast from the ocean, including 10-15 dolphin sightings, sea turtles, a seal, and a glimpse of some sea caves. If you can book a tour with the Napoli Coast Experience, they will take you inside the sea caves and snorkeling right on the coast. Make sure to book at least 2-3 weeks from your trip as spots fill up quickly and the boat only holds 6 people, plus the captain. We took the Holo Holo Charters boat tour and had a great experience with them. I will say they boat on choppier conditions because the vessel is a lot bigger, holding nearly 40 passengers. At times the ride was pretty wild. If you’re prone to sea sickness, this boating company is not the tour for you.
2. Queens Bath
I honestly wasn’t prepared for how interesting and beautiful Queens Bath is. Google images definitely don’t do this place justice. It’s a natural attraction for both locals and tourists alike. Located on the North Shore, Queens Bath is a unique tide pool surrounded by black igneous rock and filled with small sea creatures. For the adrenaline junkies, you can even jump from the towering igneous rock cliff into the Queens Bath.
3. Secret Beach
A literal hidden gem, this beautiful beach is tucked away on the North side of Kauai. It is accessed by a steep hike through vegetation off of a small dirt road. The beach is so big that you really feel like it’s empty. The ocean was a little more rough when I went, but it made for some fun boogie boarding. If you take a long walk away from the entrance of the beach, beware of hippie nudists. We saw a few bare butt cheeks and some topless girls, but it just made for an even more enriching experience…
4. Kauai Bike Path
Located on the East shore, this paved path runs right along the shoreline and is an easy and enjoyable ride for people of all ages. We rented our beach cruisers from a little bike shop behind Ono’s Restaurant. For two bikes for two hours, it was only $15 total. Such a steal! At the end of the Kauai bike path, make sure to lock your bikes up and explore Donkey Beach. There are no signs indicating you can access the beach at the end of the path, but there is a dirt road you can walk on to access it. We had no idea Donkey Beach was located there until we returned our bikes.
5. Kalalau Trail
This should be at the top of your list of things to do if you’re visiting the island anytime soon. This trail runs along the Napoli Coast and offers unbelievable views throughout the entire hike. The trail runs 11 miles but you can hike until your heart’s content. We hiked until we hit the beach (about 6 miles round trip), but if you hike another two miles there is this huge waterfall you can see. The trail is pretty muddy in parts so make sure you wear shoes that you can wash or throw away afterwards. Because of the somewhat rocky terrain and a few stubbed toes, I’d recommend closed toe shoes and not chacos when you do this hike.
6. Poipu Beach
This is the most popular beach to go to on the South shore. The waves are great for surfing, paddle boarding, and boogie boarding. Not to mention, you’re more than likely to spot a sea turtle or two here swimming in the ocean. Although dubbed the most “touristy” side of the island, Poipu beach and the surrounding town of Koloa is filled with great eats, quaint shops, and locals alike.
7. Hanalei Lookout
8. Shipwreck Beach & Hike
Shipwreck is located on the South shore near Poipu beach. Although it shows no signs of a shipwreck, this beach offers few visitors (at least while we were there) and a short and easy hike! If you’re not much a hiker, but want some spectacular views of the South side shoreline, this is your type of hike. Brady and I even hiked it in our flip flops. How’s that for island life!?
- Spouting Horn
- Tunnel of Trees
- Hanalei Town & Pier
- Kilauea Lighthouse
What are your favorite things to do in Kauai? If you have any questions about the island, feel free to ask me by posting in the comments! Also keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming post about my favorite Kauai eats! Happy Monday!