Below are our top 10 favorite things to do in Kauai when we visit our home away from home.
1. Relax on the Beach
Kauai has more beaches per mile than any other Hawaiian island because it is older than the other main Islands. There are great beaches for snorkeling, surfing, sunbathing, and for children. You can relax on Waipouli beach in front of the condo or head down to Lydgate State Park (great for adults and children), just a 3-minute drive from the condo. Lydgate is protected year around from heavy surf. It’s a great place to swim laps while snorkeling! Hanalei Bay on the North Shore is spectacular and has won acclaim as one of the top ten beaches in the world. On the South Shore, Poipu Beach is protected by a reef, and is usually a calmer spot for swimming. Polihale Beach is known for its 7-mile stretch of white sand beach and hot cloudless days. Framed by the west end of the Na Pali cliffs, Polihale can be a breath-taking experience. Ask the locals for road conditions before going there.
2. Hike Through the Rain Forest
Kuilau Ridge Trail, only a 15-minute drive from the condo, offers spectacular hiking through a rain forest where you will be treated to views of cascading waterfalls and beautiful island vegetation. Also near the condo is the popular Nounou Trail that will lead you over the Opaeka’a Stream across a quaint wooden bridge and through a forest of strawberry guavas. The Nounou West Trail is in a beautiful cathedral forest of Cook Pines. At the top of the trail, you will be rewarded with sweeping views of mount Waialeale. On the North Shore, the world famous Kalalau Trail will treat you to amazing vistas of the Napali Coast. On the West side in Waimea Canyon, the Awaawapuhi Trail (more advanced) will take you on a journey through rain forest, high desert-like terrain and to some of the most awe inspiring vistas on Kauai’s Napali Coast. On the South Shore, the Mahaulepu Heritage Trail is a great coastal hike along sand-dune cliffs which starts at Shipwreck’s beach. While you’re on this hike, take a short break to visit the Makauwahi Cave Reserve. Check out the cave’s Facebook page for more info on tours, etc. Check this our for more on great hikes in Kauai.
Ready for a fun day of snorkeling on one of Kauai’s beautiful beaches? Ke’e Beach, a popular beach at the end of the road on the North shore, offers a protected lagoon teaming with tropical fish. Makua (Tunnels Beach) which is also on the North Shore, offers more privacy than Ke’e with similar ocean wildlife, and is one of our favorite snorkel spots on Kauai. Poipu Beach Park on the South Shore is also good and is protected by a shore break. Lydgate Beach, a 3-minute drive from the condo, is also protected from large waves which makes it another great beach for beginners. Generally speaking, South Shore beaches are calm in winter, and North Shore beaches are calm in summer. East and West shores vary year round, depending on trade winds. Life guards always post the current conditions. We like to check the Kauai explorer website when planning our day as well:
4. Take a ride on the Kapa’a Bike Path
Ke Ala Hele Makalae, or “the path that goes by the coast”, describes the scenic, multi-use path that runs along the beautiful east side of Kauai. You can rent a bike from the Snorkel Depot next door for $10 a day or from the Kapa’a Beach Shop and take the coastal bike path to Kapa’a. You can pack a lunch and picnic along the path, or stop at one of the many food trucks or restaurants along the way. We sometimes walk the path from the condo for fun, which provides an additional perspective. This link provides a list of good food stops along the Kapa’a Bike Path.
5. Stroll through Kapa’a Town
Downtown Kapa’a has a lot of little restaurants and eclectic shops. Grab a coffee or macadamia latte from Java Kai and take a peek in some of the nearby stores. Check out Aloha Images gallery which carries works of many local artists. On the first Saturday evening of every month, Kapa’a hosts an Art Walk, where the sidewalks are full of art and food for sale, live music and street performances. Enjoy a local mead tasting at Nani Moon Mead.
6. Eat like a local (Restaurants & Farmer’s Markets)
We have so many incredible dining options near the condo. Start your day by taking a stroll down to Passion Bakery Café just a few blocks from the condo and pick up a loaf of freshly baked bread or a savory pastry. Art Café Hemingway specializes in authentic European coffee and breakfasts, crepes, and romantic fondue dinners. Small Town Coffee has some of the best coffee around, always a mandatory stop on our way to the North Shore beaches. Kilauea Fish Market next door has incredible ahi wraps, and some of the best poke on the island. For a romantic evening, walk to the Hukilau Lanai next door and savor the sweet potato ravioli, lobster & goat cheese wonton or try the wine tasting menu (reservations recommended). If you’re looking for an authentic Hawaiian lunch plate, try Pono Market in Kapa’a. Kountry Kitchen has incredible breakfasts and lunches. Try the macadamia nut pancakes or the chili omelet! Right next door is Lava Lava Beach Club, which is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! It’s the only place where you can dine with your toes in the sand! And, for organic, farm-to-table dining, we love Caffe Coco, just a 10-minute walk from the condo. Click here for a great summary of Kauai’s best restaurants:
We love farmer’s markets, and in Kapa’a, we have a large and well attended one on Wednesdays from 3:00-5:00 PM. Don’t forget to pick up a beautiful bouquet of tropical flowers for $5-$10 and use the vases we supply in the condo. We also have a small farmer’s market next door at the Coconut Marketplace on Tuesdays & Thursdays from 9:00-11:00 AM. Here is a good link for a more extensive list of farmers markets in Kauai.
7. Explore Kauai from the Air
You can explore Hawaii from the sky for a unique perspective of the Garden Isle. For helicopter tours we recommend Blue Hawaiian & Jack Harter.
8. Paddle or Kayak the Wailua River
Kayak the Wailua River and then hike to a waterfall with Rainbow Kayak Tours. You can sign up for this adventure at the Islander Shops next to Islander on the Beach. If you prefer to paddle at your own pace, rent a paddle board or kayak from Ali’i Kayaks.
9. Spend a Day in Hanalei
Hanalei Town will be an unforgettable stop on your visit to the island of Kauai. Visit the botanical garden at Limahuli Garden and Preserve. The Hanalei Lookout is postcard perfect. Walk through town and check out the local shops and art galleries. Have a bite at Postcards Café or at Hanalei Dolphin.
10. Relax on the Condo Lanai – The Best View in Town!
One of our favorite things to do in Kauai is to simply relax on our condo lanai and watch the magnificent sunrise over a nice cup of coffee. We spend endless hours reading, watching and listening to the ocean, talking and relaxing. We have binoculars for you to use to spot dolphins and whales (in season). If you prefer to wind down the day on the lanai, grab a bucket of ice from the free ice machine in the building behind ours and blend your own tropical concoction in the blender.
While we covered our personal favorite top 10 activities, you’ll discover many other fun things to do in the guidebooks we have waiting for you in the condo!