If you have not yet been to Kauai Island Hawaii, you must.
Kauai is the oldest of the Hawaiian Islands and is also known as the “garden isle” and quite different from Oahu, Maui, and the Big Island.
In this post I’ve created a list of the top things to do on the island of Kauai.
Best Things to do in Kauai
1. Visit the Napali Coast
Visiting the Napali Coast in Kauai with a boat tour is a must to see the magnificent Na Pali coastline.
There are various types of boat tours including a more relaxed dinner and/or sunset cruise, a catamaran that affords a smaller group, or even smaller raft for an adventure.
Besides seeing the Napali Coast with one of the Kauai boat tours, you can usually spot sea turtles as well as spinner dolphins!
I went on a sunset cruise tour and it was relaxing with cocktails, beer, or wine.
The catamaran tour is the best because it allowed us to go through the smaller sea caves.
I didn’t do the raft option since I didn’t want to risk getting seasick, but it might be exhilarating for the more adventurous family!
Sunset Cruise in Kauai
2. Hang out in Kapa’a
Visit Kapa’a if you’re not staying in the area. It’s a little small hippie town with fun little shops and restaurants.
While there visit Lava Lava Beach Club. This beachfront restaurant serves up breakfast, lunch, and dinner with amazing views and often has live music in the evenings.
The bar and interior of the restaurant are covered with tables, couches, and fire pits spreading out onto the beach.
3. Ride Horses
Take a horseback riding tour at Silverfalls Ranch on North Shore Kauai.
We had two horse guide tours and they were hilarious as well as informative and kept the group together.
There are stops at small baby waterfalls and lunch is included. The teriyaki chicken and rice were delicious and if you’re vegetarian, the taro burger is also a winner.
The horses are sweet, well-trained, and seemed to be treated very well.
Be sure to arrive on time since the group will have to start riding without you.
Since it is located in Princeville, it often rains so be prepared for the possibility of muddy trails and keep a poncho or light raincoat if it seems like it may rain.
4. Visit St. Regis hotel for happy hour and watch the sunset
Head up to the luxurious St. Regis hotel in Princeville, one of the best hotels in Kauai, for happy hour and enjoy a drink (or mocktail) outside on their lanai that overlooks the ocean with a glorious sunset.
The best time to go is 30-45 minutes before so you can snag the best seats.
Every night they do a little ceremony, pop a bottle of bubbly, and everybody gets a glass.
Valet is complimentary but be sure to tip them! It’s a fun and inexpensive way to experience a fancy hotel.
5. Hike the Sleeping Giant
Hiking the sleeping giant in Kauai
For sweeping views, hike the entirely of Sleeping Giant.
It’s an easy-moderate hike and I recommend hiking in the morning since it’s an exposed hike and it’ll get hotter throughout the day.
Bring a hat, sunscreen, and plenty of water.
6. Visit and Hike Waimea Canyon
The views at Waimea Canyon
Waimea Canyon is the (mini) “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” and one of the top things to do in Kauai.
It’s vast and a must-visit even if you only visit the lookout point.
There are various trails for hiking at every level if you feel so inclined. As with all hiking, be sure to bring a hat, sunscreen, plenty of water, and snacks.
7. Kayak and hike to Secret Falls – aka Uluwehi Waterfalls
Kayak in a single, double, or triple on the Wailua river upstream with Kayak Wailua. After two or so miles, dock, and hike up to Uluwehi Waterfalls.
Wear your swimsuits under your t-shirt, tank top, or shorts. I recommend wearing old sneakers that you don’t mind getting wet or proper water shoes.
Wear a hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses. Bring bug spray for the hike portion as well as water and a small towel.
Pack light since you’ll be carrying everything with you on the hike.
8. Ride an open-door helicopter
My favorite activity and one of the best things to do in Kauai.
Ride an open-door helicopter and witness all the waterfalls that are not accessible via hiking or kayaking.
It is very safe and if you bring your camera, make sure it has a neck strap. For cell phones, they have wrist straps to attach to your phone case.
9. Steelgrass Chocolate Farm Tour
This is an awesome family-friendly activity where people can enjoy their “branch to bar” educational guided tour of everything there is to know about chocolate, including growing cacao trees, harvesting and post-harvest processing of cacao beans.
And then finish with a delicious tasting of chocolate, chocolate tea, and Miel de Cacao sorbet.
10. Go on a Kauai Food Tour
If you are a foodie, going on a Kauai Food Tour is the way to taste and sample all the best food in Kauai has to offer.
There are tours that focus on north shore Kauai, the south shore, and the east side. There will be tastings from local cuisine, fine dining, and specialty shops.
11. Mountain tube down backcountry
Another family adventure!
“Float da ditch” with Kauai Backcountry Adventures. They have exclusive access to the historic irrigation system of the former Lihue Plantation.
This ditch and tunnel system that once irrigated vast sugar crops had been unused since sugar was taken out of production in 2000.
The tubing adventures have spectacular views of the mountains and Waialeale Crater. Recommended for kids 5 and above.
12. Visit Na ‘Aina Kai Botanical Gardens
For a more peaceful and chill activity, visit the Na ‘Aina Kai Botanical Gardens.
To see the gardens, you must book a guided tour. There are no self-tours in the garden. There is a children’s garden as well! Mondays are closed by the way.
13. Visit Queen’s Bath
Queen’s Bath is a tidepool located in a neighborhood in Princeville.
It’s actually a sinkhole and boasts incredible ocean views. There is very limited parking so I suggest going first thing in the early morning or late afternoon.
The neighborhood will issue parking tickets if you’re parking anywhere you’re not allowed. Be careful of the warnings.
Plenty of people have died or gotten seriously injured at Queen’s Bath. Wear proper shoes or take off your slippers and go barefoot because it gets slippery!
14. Ride ATVs
I recommend the waterfall tour where the family can explore for 23 miles. The trip begins near the old Koloa Sugar Mill and ventures to the benches of
Kahili Ridge where there is a waterfall and historic WWII bunkers to explore.
15. Visit the Kīlauea Lighthouse
Kīlauea Lighthouse is located on Kīlauea Point on the island of Kauaʻi, Hawaiʻi in the Kīlauea Point National Wildlife Refuge.
The ocean cliffs and tall grassy slopes of a dormant volcano provide a protective breeding ground for many Hawaiian seabirds.
It is an easy walk and pit stop for spectacular photographs. This is another fun-family activity especially if you have small children or babies.
It’s open Tuesday to Saturday 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, closed on Sunday and Monday and all federal holidays.
Admission is $5.00 per person. Children 15 and under are free.
Need More Tips for Hawaii?
- 20 places to visit in Hawaii
- 5 day itinerary for the Big Island
- 20 things to do in Oahu
Booking a Trip to Kauai
Accommodation: Book hotels and apartments in Kauai directly on Booking.com, or read hotel reviews for Italy on Trip Advisor.
Flights: Skyscanner and Momondo are time saving flight search engines and help you find your cheapest flight.
Tours: Viator is a Trip Advisor owned company and offers small group tours to popular attractions.
Travel Insurance: Don’t leave home without it. It covers unexpected medical emergencies, trip cancellations, lost or damaged luggage by an airline etc. Get a quote from Alliance.
Travel Gear: Columbia has been making quality and affordable travel clothes and gear for over 70 years.