10 Must-See Places in Kauai

If you haven’t considered a trip to Kauai for your next vacation, you really should. Known by many as one of Hawaii’s nicest islands, Kauai is the perfect escape to a tropical paradise that offers ample day trip activities as well as romantic scenery and outdoor adventure. The best way to see the island is by far to take advantage of one the many vacation rentals in Hawaii. Staying in a luxury vacation rental ensures that you see the best parts of the island, and also provides some much-needed space from the busy tourist filled hotels and resorts. The well-versed traveler knows that to fully experience a place you should live like a local, and what better way to do that than to stay in a real Hawaiian home?

Kilohana Overlook of Hanalei Bay - Kauai

Kilohana Overlook of Hanalei Bay, Kauai | (cc) Photo By Hawaii Savvy

When you get to Kauai you may find the number of things to do there overwhelming. With so many famous beaches and unique natural landmarks it can be hard to decide how to spend your time. Here’s a compiled list of a few top places in Kauai to get you started.


Waimea is an impressive start to any Kauai vacation, mainly for its enormous canyon that offers ample hiking and photo opportunities. Often compared to the Grand Canyon in regards to size and appearance, Waimea Canyon State Park is home to a large canyon spanning more than 10 miles long and in some areas up to 3,000 feet deep. The canyon offers a number of tours to visitors and is definitely worth a trip early on in your vacation.


Koloa is an all-around great place to see as a visitor to the island. Offering amazing tours including everything from ziplining to snorkeling, Koloa is the ultimate activity-based destination. This charming beach town is also rich in native wildlife and visitors can expect to see at least a few varieties of plants and animals not found in the busier parts of the island during their visit to this remote corner.


Hanapepe is a must for anyone visiting Kauai for the first time, especially for all of the rugged beauty it offers that’s so typical of this tropical paradise. One of the most impressive things the area is known for are its waterfalls. Hiking trails are abundant in Hanapepe and fortunately many of these lead to some of the most magical waterfalls on the island.


Hanalei is a must-see if you’re at all interested in the local culture. Known as a world-famous surf town, Hanalei is a great place to spend a few hours watching the surfers, basking on the beach, and admiring the gorgeous natural scenery of the mountains.


Kalihiwai is another great option for getting outdoors on the great island of Kauai. With so much to choose from it can be hard to decide how to spend your time in this beautiful little corner of the island. One of the best ways to explore it is by kayak, but ample hiking trails and laid-back surfing is also an option. This region is also known for its waterfalls so be sure to pick a trail that leads to something awesome if you do choose to wander on foot.


You shouldn’t leave the island without seeing Alakai Wilderness Preserve, one of several protected land areas on Kauai. The best part about exploring Alakai is having the chance to see the island has been for hundreds of years— before it was built up and developed as it is now. Walking the trails of Alakai you can fully appreciate the wild beauty of this tropical escape and even see some of its more remote wildlife up close.


Anahola is the ideal beach for a relaxing day in Kauai. It offers a stunning backdrop of mountains and jungle forests, paired with perfect white sand and crashing waves. This famous surfing town also provides plenty of free entertainment onshore, as guests can watch surfers and windsurfers from the shore or even walk further down the beach for a chance to spot sea turtles.


It’s easy to spend an afternoon wandering around Kapaa. Filled with incredible shops and restaurants, this little beach town is the perfect place to get your souvenirs for family back home. Known for having some of the best mainland-style food on the island, this town has several great burger joints. Take a break from the shopping to watch surfers on the beach or even just to walk along the pristine sandy shores that line the town.


Princeville is the ultimate tourist destination, and has pretty much everything you might want to do. Amazing yoga retreats and drop-in classes, a luxurious golf club, and best of all— tons of ziplining tours. As long as you aren’t afraid of heights, ziplining makes for a great way to discover the rare and unique geologic features of this island. It’s also a great rush to add some zest to your beach days.


For the perfect day by the coast, look no further than Nawiliwili. This charming little harbor town has all the water sports to keep you busy and also offers some of the best snorkeling on the island. Little inlets of the harbor make for excellent snorkeling conditions and the beaches here are about as perfect as it gets. Be sure to leave some time to visit this town, as it’s remote offerings make for a perfect low-key beach day.

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