Warm weather, unmatched hospitality, and a plethora of adventures. In terms of things to do in Kauai, Hawaii there is no shortage of activities for visitors of all interests. Kauai — the Garden Island — is one of Hawaii’s 8 main islands chock full of beauty, activity, and history. With its great reputation, you will not have to look far for fun things to do in Kauai.
When traveling in groups, trying to plan an activity each person will enjoy is stressful. Nevertheless, Kauai has something for everyone. Its expansive tropical rainforests and geological wonders offer visitors the chance to experience breathtaking views and adventure galore. Next time you are headed to Hawaii and ask yourself what to do on Kauai, look no further. Without delay, here are 12 of our favorite fun things to do in Kauai:
1. LUAU KALAMAKU
Credit: Luau Kalamaku
Obviously, it would be blasphemous to visit the Hawaiian archipelago without seeing at least one luau. However, you shouldn’t settle for just any luau. Rather, go with the greatest — Luau Kalamaku. Luau Kalamaku holds the status of being voted the best luau on Kauai. Given its characteristics, it is not difficult to understand why this is one of the most fun things to do in Kauai.
While Luau Kalamaku provides visitors with the lovely hula and Tahitian rhythms expected of a luau, it features much more. The 60-acre orchard and agricultural park known as Kilohana Plantation hosts the luau. This ensures ample room for a comprehensive experience. To enumerate, visitors can see craft demonstrations, a torch lighting, an imu ceremony, fire poi ball twirlers, and fire knife dancing. For an added fee, you can even ride on the Kuai Plantation Railway.
Luau Kalamaku takes visitors back to ancient Polynesia with several options. For example, choose to see the show only for the cheapest option. Conversely, those who wish to taste the delicacies of the lavish island buffet and open bar, see an interactive show, and view cultural demonstrations should choose Luau Kalamaku. For those with a taste for the finer things, a premium 4-course culinary tour at Gaylord’s Restaurant on the plantation can be purchased.
Perfect for: those who enjoy dinner and a show. All ages are welcomed. While certainly one of the Kauai tourist attractions, Luau Kalamaku is sure to delight and one of the best things to do in Kauai at night.
Not so great for: anyone who doesn’t like having a fun time. Even if you fall into this category — no worries. There are plenty of other things to do in Kauai.
2. KAMOKILA HAWAIIAN VILLAGE
Most importantly, each trekkers should prioritize understanding the traditions and values of the locales through which they travel. Kamokila Hawaiian Village gifts this insight to tourists in the form of cultural village tours. This wisdom is illustrated through a traditional Hawaiian village built on an authentic site. Coupled with the village being the former residence of King of Kauai, King Kaumuali’i, the site closely mirrors the day to day life of traditional Hawaiians. For this reason, Kamokila is on the list of the top things to do in Kauai.
First, visitors are welcomed to the village. This location features cohabitation of jungle fowl, wild boar, peacocks, fruit trees, coconut, Aloe Vera, mango, hibiscus, and more. Huts are constructed in like manner to original techniques. These huts are further surrounded by an underground oven, temple, and houses of all kinds — a birth house, eating house, sleeping house, dancing house, and more. In addition, visitors participate in Hawaiian games such as spear throwing and Hawaiian bowling.
Next, a luau is available for those interested. For those who crave physical activity, outrigger canoe rides on the Wailua River are also an option. These double hull canoes are models of those which came from Polynesia to Hawaii. The experience is described as being similar to kayaking, but more stable. From there, you can even get out and take a short hike to Ulu’wehi Falls, or “Secret Falls.” This is the rumored bathing spot of the Ali’i (king) and one of many Kauai secrets.
Perfect for: those who like activity with their history and seek to learn more about Hawaiian life and ways.
Not so great for: those looking for an action-packed excursion.
3. THE ISLAND KAUAI SNORKEL CRUISE
Credit: Flickr, Mr.Thomas
The Island Kauai Snorkel Cruise gives travelers the opportunity to see the numerous spires, valleys, and beaches of the Na Pali coast. For this reason, this full day snorkeling and sailing excursion is the perfect experience for those with a curious spirit. It’s also one of the best things to do in Kauai.
First, a catamaran departs from Port Allen. A light breakfast and loaded lunch buffet keep trekkers well fueled for the fun to come. Most notably, the Lehua Crater and various sea caves are the primary destinations for snorkeling. 284 acres on a crescent-shaped island act as a sanctuary for sea birds and rats. The geological formation, known as the “keyhole,” is additionally a great photo op.
Throughout the course of the day, it is possible to see dolphins, sea turtles, and from December to April, migrating whales. Lucky snorkelers may even be able to swim alongside these creatures. Given the snorkeling and potential to see these creatures up close, this trip is a must do in Kauai.
Perfect for: those who want to experience the exhilaration of being able to get in the water vice seeing something from afar.
Not so great for: non-swimmers or those sensitive to the sun. Again, not to worry, as there are plenty of other fun activities in Kauai.
4. WAIALEALE BLUE HOLE HIKE
The Waialeale Blue Hole Hike is an extremely difficult hike to the “wettest spot on Earth.” Beware — Waialeale, while a major Kauai point of interest, is not for the faint of heart. Proceed at your own caution.
The base is called Blue Hole, or as the locals call it, the Wailua Headwaters. At this point, the falls come down the walls giving the effect of crying to create a weeping wall. Similarly, the Waialeale Basin is a popular destination. In the vicinity of this hike, one trekker estimated the waterfalls to be an astonishing 40′ high by 80′ wide. Regardless, hikers should use extreme caution and preferably join a guided tour.
Moreover, trekkers should be mindful of the environment, as rain rolls in quickly and has been known to cause flash floods. Likewise, be wary of drop-offs and ravines hidden by vegetation. Due to the overgrowth of vegetation, it can be easy to become stuck at the bottom of slopes. Consequently, you should always turn back before dark.
Perfect for: expert hikers and climbers, as well as Navy Seals. Even still, this is one of many must do things in Kauai for those asking what to see in Kauai, Hawaii.
Not so great for: kids, pets, elderly, and those with difficulty walking given the points mentioned above. For these groups, there are plenty of other Kauai Island things to do.
5. WAIMEA CANYON AND FERN GROTTO
Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Aaronbernstein
This full day trip is sure to impress and is a necessity for Kauai sightseeing. Owing to this is the fact that Waimea Canyon is referred to as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” and is surrounded by the lush Fern Grotto. Atop the 3,500′ cliffs, travelers marvel at the vast canyon and attempt to fathom their existence.
Along the way, trekkers may choose to take the Wailua River Cruise to catch a glimpse of Kauai’s south shore. The river cruise is complete with narration regarding Hawaiian traditions. Noteworthy sites include Coco Palms Grove where Elvis filmed “Blue Hawaii,” Captain Cook’s landing, Spouting Horn, and Old Koloa Town. As a lover of nature’s ability to mold the earth, Waimea Canyon will certainly be on my to-do list for a trip to Kauai, Hawaii.
Perfect for: those who love natural wonders and want to see one of the most beautiful places in Kauai.
Not so great for: those with difficulty walking.
6. LAWAI INTERNATIONAL CENTER
A site of notable interest is the Lawai International Center. This non-profit community project maintains 88 dollhouse size shrines built in 1904 by Japanese immigrants. Each one is an homage to a larger archetype that sits beside a 1000 mile pilgrimage in Shikoku, Japan.
This is a place for all backgrounds to receive the spirit of Aloha by connecting with cultural and spiritual roots. The Center also aims to raise public awareness of Hawaiian, Chinese, Japanese, and other cultures. This is done through music, art, literature, drama, dance, humanitarian efforts, and more.
This spiritual sanctuary is one of the oldest Buddhist temple sites in the country and also features the Hall of Compassion. This structure of generosity and hope emulates 13th Century architectural style. Given this, the Lawai International Center is one of the best things to do on Kauai for spiritual gurus.
Perfect for: spiritual beings. The Lawai International Center is a tranquil Kauai secret spot that makes it one of the best places to visit in Kauai.
Not so great for those who want a physically strenuous activity.
7. KAUAI ISLAND AIR TOUR
Credit: Flickr, Alastair Lang
Various companies offer Kauai air tours. If you want aerial shots or to change your perspective, this is a great option. Accordingly, the helicopter ride allows trekkers to see several of the top attractions in Kauai all at once.
The most comprehensive of air tours generally includes full narration and breathtaking views of:
- Kipu Kai (baby Na Pali)
- Jurassic and Opaekaa Falls
- Waimea Canyon
- The Na Pali coast
- Mt. Waialeale
- Wailua Falls
- Captain Cook’s Landing
- Hanalei Bay
- Mahualepu Beach
- The Anahola Mountain Range
- The Eucalyptus Tunnel of Trees
- Menehune Fishpond
- Lumahai Beach
- Kilauea Lighthouse
- Mokuaeae Island
- Waialeale Crater
All things considered, air tours make a great option for short stays. This is perfect if you do not have time to visit each of the best things to see in Kauai.
Perfect for: those short on time and aerial photographers.
Not so great for: anyone scared of heights and flying.
8. OFF ROAD TOUR OF KAUAI WATERFALLS
This 4 hour, off-road ATV adventure is a ton of fun! After a quick safety briefing, this excursion leaves from Old Koloa Town. Ride through the lush tropical jungle with up to 3 friends to see some of the best attractions in Kauai.
Along the way, this trip ventures through a bamboo forest and jungle to reach various waterfalls. It is here that you can relax and swim. With sites like Kahili Falls, be sure to bring a swimsuit and towel. In addition, this activity is an opportunity to see where movies like Jurassic Park were filmed. Some companies throw in lunch with the cost of the adventure.
Perfect for: thrill seekers. Beware though, you will get dirty! Flying mud is fair game due to the vehicle’s open air exposure. Thus, this is certainly on the list of fun things to do in Kauai, Hawaii.
Not so great for” the elderly and small children. Those with difficulty sitting in rough conditions for extended periods of time should also sit this out.
9. EUCALYPTUS TUNNEL OF TREES
Credit: Flickr, Jon, lytfyre
Off Highway 50 of the Koloa South Shore on Maluhia Road sits a serene and fragrant tunnel. Provided that the tunnel is formed by the canopy of eucalyptus trees lining the roadway, this attraction is truly spectacular. Estimated to be 100-150 years old, this peaceful stretch should not be forgotten on your itinerary.
How this tunnel came to exist is a point often overlooked. Correspondingly, this is a matter of contention amongst local Hawaiians. Some believe the original 500 trees were a 1911 gift from pineapple baron Walter McBryde. Others believe the trees were planted by the Walter Duncan family to solidify the soggy roadway. Even still, many believe the Eucalyptus Robusta were planted to form a windbreak for sugar cane crops. It is apparent that the history is a bit bleary.
No matter the source, these trees have stood the test of time. In fact, Hurricane Iviki’s 225 mph winds were not enough to destroy the Eucalyptus. Time and time again, the tunnel of trees continues reviving itself and flourishing. Today, the tree tunnel is an added sense of tranquility along the peaceful drive. Be sure to check it out for one of the best things to see in Kauai, Hawaii.
Perfect for: those already traveling this stretch of road, as well as all ages and activity levels.
Not so great for: action seekers.
10. HANAPEPE TOWN’S WEEKLY ART NIGHT
Hanapepe Town is Kauai’s Biggest Little Town. Rumored to be the inspiration for Lilo and Stitch’s setting, Hanapepe is a hip and thriving locale. Due to this, Hanapepe hosts a weekly Art Night.
Every Friday from 5 PM to 9 PM, this “Art Walk” draws locals and tourists alike. If you enjoy getting to know the culture through art, Hanapepe Town’s Art Walk is for you. To illustrate the great talents of the island, local art, woodworks, beads, and trinkets are all on display and available for sale. Food vendors dish out Persian, Puerto Rican, Thai, and Hawaiian foods. This weekly art night is a wonderful way to eat and buy local.
Perfect for: art lovers and foodies. In fact, if you fall into either of these camps, be absolutely sure to attend the Art Walk. This is one of many super cool things to do in Kauai.
Not so great for: an adrenaline rush.
11. HANALEI FARMERS MARKET
In order to get a taste of the local flavor and hospitality, look no further than the Hanalei Farmers Market. Every Saturday from 9:30 AM – 12 PM, more than 50 stalls are filled with local commodities. Furthermore, Hanalei Farmers Market is one of the most popular things to do in Kauai.
As a testament to Hawaii’s variety, fruits, vegetables, flowers, crafts, and food vendors (with samples!!) line the way. Hawaiian music and the chatter of negotiations fill the air. Haggle at the numerous stalls for the best deals. Once complete, Hanalei Bay across the street offers an inviting spot to enjoy the goodies purchased. Hence, it’s easy to understand why Hanalei Farmers Market is voted the top market by Hawaii Magazine’s Reader’s Choice Awards. The market has earned its spot as one of the best places in Kauai.
Perfect for: those who want the chance to mingle with locals.
Not so great for: thrill seekers or those looking for beautiful Kauai places to see.
12. KAUAI MUSEUM
Similar to Kamokila Village, the Kauai Museum aims to provide understanding and tolerance of Hawaiian roots and culture. To accomplish this, the Kauai Museum – Hawaiian Heritage Museum – provides insight through displays and demonstrations. Perfect for history buffs and conscious travelers alike, the Kauai Museum allows you to learn about the best of Kauai.
In order to achieve its goal of promoting respect for indigenous people of Kauai and Ni’ihau, the Kauai Museum teaches the history of the island. Each aspect of life on Kauai is explained. This includes cooking, working, homes, clothing, and more. For instance, a weaving fishing net demonstration, surfing display, and overview of royal history in Hawaii and Kauai are a few topics trekkers can expect to cover.
In addition, the Kauai Museum also holds frequent events. These include, but are not limited to, concerts, painting, storytelling, throw net demonstrations and more.
Perfect for: history buffs.
Not so great for: those who want an adrenaline thrill. For the adventure lovers asking where to go in Kauai, stay tuned.
READY TO BOOK A TICKET TO TRY THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN KAUAI?
Credit: Flickr, SNORKELINGDIVES.COM
With a diverse cultural foundation, ample Instagram-worthy scenery, and a variety of activities, Kauai is bucket list worthy. Be sure to try each of these things to do in Kauai for unique experiences and excursions.
Tell us about your travels to Kauai, Hawaii in the comments.
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