Top 20 Attractions You Can’t-Miss in Kauai

Although Kauai is one of the quieter Hawaiian Islands, it’s still full of amazing things to see and do all throughout the year. So, if you’re looking to go on a trip there soon, you’ll want to plan your itinerary beforehand to avoid missing out on all the fun. Not sure what to experience on your island travels? Get started by simply using this guide on the top 20 attractions you cannot miss in Kauai.

Go on a Helicopter Tour of the Island

To kick off your Kauai adventures in style, go on a helicopter tour over the island’s gorgeous landscapes, waterways, and so much more. You have many tour companies to choose from, including Blue Hawaiian Helicopters, Island Helicopters Kauai, and Mauna Loa Helicopter Tours.

Sail the Napali Coast

Photo Credit: @jeff.dennett

After seeing the island from above, start your sea-level explorations by sailing the Napali Coast. You just have to join a trip led by Capt. Andy’s, Holo Holo Charters, or any of the other boat tour companies. Then, you’ll get to sail, snorkel, and enjoy the scenic views while keeping an eye out for dolphins, whales, and other awe-inspiring sea creatures.

Grab a Morning Coffee at Java Kai

Whenever you want to get energized for all the fun ahead, grab a morning coffee at Java Kai. Located in Old Kapaa Town, this coffee shop goes all out in roasting their own coffee and baking delicious snacks from scratch. Not sure what to get? Pair their Iced Mac Nut Latte and Hummingbird Cake to enjoy all the best island flavors before you hit the road.

Take the Koloa Rum Safari at Kilohana Plantation

alcohol in bottles on top of table at kauai safaris

By signing up for the Koloa Rum Safari at the Kilohana Plantation, you get to explore just how they bring their single-batch, craft rum varieties to life. On this trip, you’ll spend two hours touring their sugar cane plantation while sipping on a mai tai made with Koloa rum.

Admire the National Botanical Gardens

If you love to inhale the intoxicating scent of tropical flowers, put the national botanical gardens on your radar. You can check out all the lush island vegetation with a trip through McBryde and Allerton Gardens. Then, do it all over again at the Limahuli Garden Preserve.

Drive the Waimea Canyon

Well known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, the Waimea Canyon is a must-see destination for picturesque views all around. You can take in all the sights from your vehicle while traveling along Waimea Canyon Drive, and then get a closer look from the overlook point.

Hike Across Kokee State Park

Photo Credit: @sharonlli

Over 20 miles of trails crisscross the landscape in Kokee State Park, giving you plenty of room to explore the beauty of paradise. Just be sure to swing by the Kokee Lodge and Natural History Museum for info before hitting the trails.

Trek Along the Kalalau Trail

If you’re down for a big adventure, trek along the Kalalau Trail. At 22 miles round-trip, this trail takes you along the Napali Coast to see lush valleys, rugged cliffs, and the ocean beyond.  

Spend a Day at Poipu Beach

With its wonderful views, lifeguard-protected waters, and golden sands, Poipu Beach is the perfect place to spend the day on the waterfront. You might even get a chance to spot sea turtles, monk seals, and other fascinating marine life while having fun in the sun.

Check Out Glass Beach

Although not well-suited for swimming, Glass Beach is a true sight to behold. All the tumbled sea glass on the shores sparkles beautifully in the sunlight, making it a fantastic place for selfies, group photos, and landscape pictures galore.

Visit Wailua Falls

Lookout for Wailua Falls

If you want to catch sight of pure waterfall drama, visit Wailua Falls. The water cascades over the rocks from the Wailua River and then flows down 80 to 200 feet to the pool below.

View the Spouting Horn Blowhole

With a visit to the Spouting Horn Blowhole, you get to watch in awe as the ocean demonstrates its power and beauty. As the waves come up on the shore, seawater shoots into the air from the blowhole, daring you to get a photo at just the right moment.

Eat Shave Ice

With its ultra-soft icy texture and bright, bold flavors, shave ice is an absolute must-try experience. Each shave ice spot does it a little bit differently, so aim to try them all, starting with Uncle’s Shave Ice in Lihue.

Explore Hanalei

View of Hanalei Bay from Nourish Hanalei

For a glimpse into the magic of small-town charm in paradise, take a trip to Hanalei. Set near Princeville, this quiet town lies along the bay where you can watch sea birds, surfers, and everything in between. Then, visit the art galleries, mom-and-pop eateries, and the Waioli Mission House and Church to complete the experience.

See the Views and Birds at Kilauea Lighthouse

Set along the North Shore Coast, the Kilauea Lighthouse treats you to breathtaking oceanside views. On top of that, its location near the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge almost guarantees you’ll see rare island birds, like the Red-Footed Booby and Laysan Albatross.

Make a Stop at Hanalei Valley Lookout

Want to gaze in wonder across fields of taro adorned with waterfalls, rainbows, and more? Just make a stop at the Hanalei Valley Lookout. Then, continue into Hanalei for shopping, dining, and beachside fun.

Stop by Queen’s Bath

At Queen’s Bath, you get to see a truly unique tidal pool full of all the tiniest ocean wonders, including sea urchins, ghost fish, and angelfish. Although it’s less than a mile long, the trail down to the pool is steep, slippery, and full of hazards. Check signs at the trailhead for warnings and be sure to turn back if the gate is closed.

Chill Out at Lydgate State Park

With its protective boulders all around, Lydgate Beach is a wonderful spot for snorkeling and swimming. Bring a picnic lunch, an umbrella and chairs, and all your gear, so you can make a full day of your beachside adventures.

Hop on the Boat Tour to Fern Grotto

Formed millions of years ago, Fern Grotto gives you a glimpse into the past, while serving as a rejuvenating place to spend the day. For the best grotto experience, sign up for a tour with Smith’s. With that move, you’ll get to hop abound their boat where you’ll get to enjoy Hawaiian stories, songs, and hula lessons.  

Taste the Best Pineapple of Your Life at Sugarloaf Pineapple Farm

For a taste of the absolute best pineapple of your life, scoot on over to the Sugarloaf Pineapple Farm. You can take their farm tour to see 250,000 pineapples growing strong, and then sample their ultra-sweet pineapples for yourself. After that, you can buy a fresh pineapple for the road – or even have a few sent back home.

If you can fit all these attractions into one trip, you’ll leave Kauai with stories to last a lifetime – and the memories to match. So, hit the ground running as soon as you land in paradise and see how much you can experience on your travels.