Before I go into travel agent mode and provide you with a plethora of recommendations from coffee shops to scenic spots and dining options, here are a few fast fun facts about Kauai:
- Kauai also known as the “Garden Island” due to its white sandy beaches, tropical landscape, and evergreen mountains
- Kauai is well over 6 million years old, making it geologically the oldest of the major Hawaiian islands
- Kauai consists of more beaches, rivers, streams and waterfalls than any of the other Hawaiian islands
- For all you coffee lovers out there (including myself), Kauai coffee is the largest coffee plantation in the U.S. and Kauai grows more taro than any other island
- It’s a Hollywood hotspot! Over 60 movies have been filmed here, including Jurassic Park, Outbreak, Blue Hawaii, 6 Days 7 Nights, the upcoming Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, and TV shows such as Fantasy Island, Gilligan’s Island, and also Bay Watch.
Looking where to stay? Marriot’s Kauai Lagoons Kalanipu’u is your go-to. This beautiful resort embodies impeccable elegance with its offerings of spacious villa rentals and world-class amenities, all in a laid-back, distinctly tropical atmosphere. Just a short walk away from some of Hawaii’s most famous beaches, you’ve found yourself in pure paradise.
Get all the updated inside scoop with what’s happening in Kauai here for upcoming events, happenings, and festivals: https://kauaifestivals.com
Kauai Culinary Market at The Shops at Kukuiula on Wednesdays. The market at the Kauai Community College and the Sugarloaf pineapple soft serve are also .
The iconic Napali Coast is an absolute no questions asked must-see.
There are a few ways to see this coastline considering the fact that it’s inaccessible by car:
- Doing a catamaran tour on companies such as Capt. Andy’s, Holo Holo Charters, Kauai Sea Tours, etc. offers great views and snorkeling all in one tour. During the summer, raft expeditions (that are also offered by the mentioned companies) venture through natural sea caves. Holo Holo Charters also offers a catamaran tour to Niihau.
- A helicopter tour of the island showcases the Napali Coast like no other. It’s a breathtaking experience. If you’re looking for a little more excitement, Jack Harter Helicopters offers doors-off tours, best for photography/filming. Island Helicopters is the only tour company permitted to land at the famous Jurassic Falls. Safari Helicopters offers a Refuge Eco Tour that includes a 50-minute flight in addition to a 40-minute stop over at the Kauai Wildlife Refuge overlooking Olokele Canyon.
- For the avid-adventurer and skilled hiker, the renowned Kalalau trail is something to consider. The 22-mile round trip trek is both strenuous and rewarding. Hikers attempting this trail are encouraged to wear the appropriate footwear and bring the necessary equipment, monitor the weather conditions, pack ample amount of trail snacks and water, and keep in mind that overnight permits are recommended.
Other great sights include the Hanalei Lookout, Waimea Canyon, Wailua Falls and Opaekaa Falls.
On a more low-key scale, visiting the Hanapepe Swinging Bridge is enjoyable. The sense of community and locally-owned shops give Hanapepe Town its charm. Right near the Swinging Bridge is Blue Umi and the recently opened Japanese Grandma’s Café. Popo’s Cookies is also one of my favorite cookie shops.
Guests that visit Kauai Coffee can learn about the coffee-growing process and sample various brews for free. Koloa Rum Company also offers complimentary rum tastings of their award winning products in their tasting room daily.
For foodies, I suggest checking out Wailua Shave Ice. I stop there every time I am on Kauai. Hamura Saimin in Lihue is a local favorite as is Makai Sushi in Koloa. Food trucks on the island are becoming increasingly more popular. Al Pastor Tacos is highly recommended. Locals love Kickshaws and Proky’s as well. Kauai Juice Co., Java Kai, and Hanalei Taro & Juice Co. are also great stops. Hanalei Taro & Juice Co. is also part of the Haraguchi Rice Mill & Taro Farm, which offers tours throughout the historic rice mill and a working taro patch. Juice Bar and Ha Coffee are great spots. JO2 is a super acclimated spot for a tapas-style Hawaiian fusion dinner with thoughtfully sourced ingredients in an uber-modern setting. Aloha Juice Bar is also nearby to get your acai bowl or smoothie and juice fixes!
Kauai offers some great landscapes to zipline Koloa Zipline, Princeville Ranch Adventures, and Skyline Eco Adventures are all a bit different so no zipline is the same. Outfitters Kauai just debuted the longest zipline at 4,000 ft in the state called the FlyLine. ATVing to waterfalls can be done through Kauai ATV or Kipu Ranch Adventures.