Are you planning a trip to Kauai, Hawaii in 2022? Well, you’re in luck because we’ve put together a list of our favorite things to do on this beautiful island. As longtime residents, we know all the hidden gems and must-visit spots. From the breathtaking Napali Coast to the stunning Hanalei Bay, there’s something for everyone. Whether you’re a nature lover, beach enthusiast, or foodie, Kauai has it all. And don’t worry about fitting all these activities into your vacation, we have a downloadable itinerary to help you plan your days. So sit back, relax, and let us be your guides to the best of Kauai, Hawaii.
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Get familiar with Kauai geography
Welcome to the beautiful island of Kauai, situated in the Pacific Ocean and known for its stunning natural landscapes and picturesque beaches. Before diving into the must-visit attractions, it’s important to get familiar with the geography of the island. Kauai is the oldest of the Hawaiian islands and is often referred to as the “Garden Isle” due to its lush greenery and tropical rainforests. The island is roughly circular in shape, with a diameter of approximately 33 miles. It is encompassed by a coastline that stretches for about 90 miles, offering a plethora of beaches and panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean.
One of the most iconic attractions on the island of Kauai is the breathtaking Napali Coast. With its dramatic cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and turquoise waters, it is a must-see destination for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers. The Napali Coast stretches for 17 miles along the northwest shore of Kauai and is inaccessible by car. The best way to experience this natural wonder is by taking a boat tour or embarking on a challenging yet rewarding hike along the Kalalau Trail. Prepare to be awestruck by the sheer beauty of the towering cliffs and the wild and untouched landscapes that make up the Napali Coast.
Ke’e Beach and Ha’ena State Park
Nestled at the start of the Napali Coast, Ke’e Beach and Ha’ena State Park are two stunning locations that offer a glimpse into the natural wonders of Kauai. Ke’e Beach is a small and secluded beach with calm waters, perfect for swimming and snorkeling. Surrounded by lush vegetation and imposing cliffs, it provides a serene and picturesque setting for beach lovers to relax and enjoy the beauty of the island. Ha’ena State Park, located adjacent to Ke’e Beach, offers a range of recreational activities, including camping, hiking, and picnicking. The park is also home to the iconic Kalalau Trail, a challenging but rewarding hike that takes you through some of the most breathtaking landscapes on the island.
Limahuli Botanical Gardens
For those with an appreciation for native Hawaiian flora, a visit to the Limahuli Botanical Gardens is a must. Located in the North Shore of Kauai, these gardens are dedicated to the preservation and conservation of native Hawaiian plants and showcase the island’s rich botanical heritage. As you wander through the gardens, you’ll encounter a diverse range of plants, from vibrant tropical flowers to ancient trees, all surrounded by the majestic backdrop of the Napali Coast. The guided tours offered at the Limahuli Botanical Gardens provide valuable insights into the cultural and ecological significance of the native Hawaiian plants and the efforts being made to protect them.
Ha’ena Beach and Maniniholo Dry Cave
Ha’ena Beach is a hidden gem on the North Shore of Kauai. With its pristine white sands, crystal-clear waters, and towering palm trees, it offers a postcard-worthy setting for sunbathing, swimming, and snorkeling. The beach is also a popular spot for picnicking and beachcombing, making it an ideal place to spend a relaxing day with family and friends. Close by, you’ll find Maniniholo Dry Cave, an intriguing geological formation that showcases Kauai’s volcanic origins. This large sea cave is accessible to visitors and provides an opportunity to explore its dark depths and marvel at the natural beauty sculpted by ancient lava flows.
Hanalei Bay and Hanalei Beach
As you venture further along the North Shore of Kauai, you’ll come across the enchanting Hanalei Bay and Hanalei Beach. Hanalei Bay is a stunning crescent-shaped bay, surrounded by lush mountains and dotted with swaying palm trees. The bay offers a range of recreational activities, including paddleboarding, kayaking, and boating. Hanalei Beach, located within the bay, is a long sandy stretch that entices visitors with its calm waters and picturesque scenery. Sunbathers can lounge on the beach, while surfers can ride the waves that attract professionals from around the world. The charming town of Hanalei with its charming boutiques, cafes, and art galleries adds a touch of local culture and vibrant atmosphere to the area.
Hanalei Town and Bridge
Immerse yourself in the vibrant local culture by exploring the charming town of Hanalei. Known for its laid-back atmosphere and quaint plantation-style buildings, Hanalei town offers a range of boutiques, galleries, and eateries. Stroll along the main street and discover unique souvenirs, handmade jewelry, and locally crafted artworks. One of the town’s most iconic landmarks is the Hanalei Bridge, which connects the town to the rest of Kauai. As you cross the bridge, take a moment to admire the panoramic views of the Hanalei River and the surrounding lush landscapes.
For a breathtaking view of the Hanalei Valley and Hanalei Bay, make sure to visit the Hanalei Lookout. Located along the Kuhio Highway, the lookout provides a scenic vista that captures the essence of Kauai’s natural beauty. From this vantage point, you’ll be able to witness the verdant valleys, cascading waterfalls, and the azure waters of Hanalei Bay. The Hanalei Lookout is a popular spot for photographers and nature enthusiasts, offering a postcard-perfect backdrop for capturing unforgettable memories of your visit to Kauai.
Situated on Kauai’s North Shore, Anini Beach is a hidden gem that offers tranquility and seclusion. With its long stretch of golden sands and calm waters protected by a large coral reef, Anini Beach is ideal for swimming, snorkeling, and paddleboarding. The beach’s gentle slope ensures easy access to the water, making it perfect for families with young children. If you’re lucky, you may even spot some sea turtles lazily swimming in the shallows or colorful fish in the vibrant coral reefs just offshore. Anini Beach provides a peaceful retreat, away from the crowds, where you can soak up the sun and enjoy the beauty of nature.
Last but certainly not least, the Kalalau Lookout, situated in Koke’e State Park, offers a truly awe-inspiring vista that is worth the journey. As you drive up Waimea Canyon, also known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” the road will lead you to this breathtaking lookout point. From here, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of the Kalalau Valley, with its lush green cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and vibrant vegetation. The rugged and untouched beauty of the Kalalau Lookout will undoubtedly leave you with a sense of wonder and appreciation for the natural wonders of Kauai.
As you explore the diverse geography of Kauai, from the dramatic Napali Coast to the tranquil beaches and charming towns, you’ll quickly come to realize why this island is often hailed as a paradise on Earth. Whether you’re a nature lover, adventure seeker, or simply seeking a peaceful getaway, Kauai presents endless opportunities for relaxation, exploration, and unforgettable experiences. So pack your bags, immerse yourself in the beauty of the island, and create memories that will last a lifetime. Kauai awaits you with open arms, ready to enchant you with its breathtaking geography and warm Aloha spirit.