A strong case can be made for Kauai being the number-one destination in Hawaii when it comes to sheer scenic grandeur and outdoor recreation. Granted, all of the main Hawaiian Islands have those attributes to spare, but the Garden Isle—for being a mere 560 or so square miles in area—packs a pretty darn remarkable punch in the beauty and adventure departments.
Fine as it is for family getaways and romantic couples’ escapes, Kauai also happens to be a wonderful place to visit as a solo traveler. Indeed, when it comes to experiencing this verdant, rugged island, the sky’s the limit for such visitors, who don’t, after all, need to worry about satisfying competing sightseeing goals or coordinating schedules. Exploring Kauai by yourself allows you to focus each day on following your own whims to the fullest and crafting a completely personalized itinerary.
Here are some of the best things to do on Kauai for those flying solo:
Arguably the single best way to appreciate Kauai’s magnificent terrain and seascapes—some of the world’s most utterly gorgeous and dramatic, mind you—is from the air, and, more specifically, via helicopter. The lower flying altitude and more nimble maneuvering a chopper offers in comparison to a fixed-wing aircraft give passengers an unrivaled top-down look at the Garden Isle’s dreamy form.
Here are several highly recommended options for Kauai helicopter tours suitable for the solo visitor:
- Island Helicopters Kauai: Island Helicopters Kauai offers two showstopper tour packages: the Jurassic Falls Landing Adventure, which lands passengers at the base of the 400-foot drop of Manawaiopuna Falls—instantly recognizable from the 1993 blockbuster Jurassic Park—and the Kauai Grand Deluxe Tour, cruising all around the Garden Isle for postcard-worthy views of Waimea Canyon, the NaPali Coast, Hanalei Bay, and other iconic landmarks. As a singleton, you can take a seat on a group flight and make fast new friends, or opt for either package as a private tour.
- Alii Kauai Air Tours & Charters: With better than three decades in the business, Alii Kauai Air Tours & Charters is another fine choice for helicopter flights over the Garden Isle. Each and everyone is a private tour, in fact, and you can choose between doors-on or doors-off options aboard the Robinson R44. The hourlong Kauai Helicopter Tour shows off unforgettable views of Manawaiopuna Falls and the Hanapepe Valley, Waimea and Olokele canyons, the NaPali Coast, the Alakai Swamp, Mount Waialeale, Hanalei Bay, and more.
- Mauna Loa Helicopter Tours: Kauai’s one of three Hawaiian Islands (along with the Big Island and Oahu) Mauna Loa Helicopter Tours runs flights. Here again, you’ve got a doors-off option for the most unobstructed, eye-popping vistas. Solo tours are definitely an option, so long as you pay for the two-seat minimum.
Another option for a top-down view of Kauai’s splendor, albeit a little lower to the ground, is ziplining. As with helicopter tours, you’re spoiled for choices when it comes to this fast-paced activity, including:
- Shaka Zipline Kauai: This Poipu-based attraction offers both five- and eight-line zipline adventures, with up to 200-foot drops and the opportunity to reach a cool 50 miles per hour!
- Koloa Zipline: No fewer than eight courses come arrayed over tropical canopies and the Waita Reservoir at Koloa Zipline, including the Waita Zip, a full half-mile long. With full-body harnesses and the island’s only headfirst ziplining available, this company might just be your jam if you’re a hardcore thrill-seeker.
Solo Kauai Beachgoing
Do we even need to spell this out as its own category? Ravishing as its jungle, canyons, and knife-sharp ridges are, the Garden Isle also plays host to some of the most drop-dead spectacular beaches on the planet. Whether you want to try your hand at surfing, snorkel your way amid tropical fish and the odd sea turtle, or you’re looking to simply stretch out and soak up some sun, Kauai’s mountain-backed beachfront checks all the boxes.
Among the island’s premier strands are Wailua Beach, Tunnels Beach, Poipu Beach, Kee Beach, the deliciously remote NaPali Coast’s Kalalau Beach, and—regularly showing up on roundups of the world’s best beaches—the sandy doorstep of Hanalei Bay.
Spend some quality time with yourself against the backdrop of one of the Hawaiian archipelago’s most jaw-dropping landforms: the huge, colorful chasm of Waimea Canyon. This “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” carved by the Waimea River and its tributaries into the flanks of Kauai’s shield, runs more than a dozen miles, spans up to 2.5 miles across, and plunges to 2,500 feet deep, producing absolutely world-class scenery and an outdoor lover’s wonderland.
Whether you appreciate the rim-edge sightlines from various roadside pull-offs in Waimea Canyon State Park or you lace up those hiking boots for treks along the Iliau Nature Loop, Kukui Trail, and other footpaths, this magnificent wildland, soared over by tropicbirds and laced with waterfalls, is an absolute must-see.
Seeing the Garden Isle as a Solo Traveler
Maybe your go-to traveling companion isn’t available. Maybe you just need some soul-recharging “me-time.” Whatever brings you to Kauai as a solo traveler, rest assured this compact but bowl-you-over-beautiful island can serve up a genuinely life-changing sojourn.