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Top 6 Activities to do in Kauai

Looking for outdoor Hawaiian adventures? From canyon hikes to helicopter rides (and a few waterfalls thrown in the mix) Kauai is the place for you.

After 5 glorious days in Maui, we headed to Kauai for a more laid-back Aloha spirit. Kauai is lush, green, and wet. Really, really wet. Somehow I missed (in all my research) that Kauai is one of the wettest places on earth.  This is clear by the gorgeous greenery and rainforest vibes, however,  this impeded our trip a little because we were planning all outdoor activities. But, the awesome thing about Kauai is that there are so many micro-climates. Meaning, if it was raining in one town, you could drive 30 min north or south to a spot where it was sunny and 10 degrees warmer. The other awesome thing is that most of the activities are free! But you will absolutely need to rent a car.

6 Must-Do Activities on Kauai

 

1 // Zipline in Poipu

There are 3 Skyline Eco Adventures 3 locations in Hawaii. There’s no better way to take in the lush greenery of Kauai than by whipping across cable lines 200 ft above the ground. A few minutes outside of Poipu, the home base is a very bright and clean storefront in lovely the Shops at Kukui’ula.

First, you get fitted for your harness before hopping on the bus which takes you to the course (about 10 minutes away).  The guides are hilarious, and keep you safe and entertained. We went through the 8-line course (which took about 2 hours) and were able to complete all but one of the lines due to the wind. Instead, we repeated a line.  Zip lining is awesome – you feel like you’re floating across the sky 🙂  Tickets start at $125 per adult for the 2-hour tour, but there are amazing deals to be had when you book online.  Check out my full post here!

2 // Hike the Kalalau Trail

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The Kalalau Trail is a section of the Na Pali coast that is an 11 mile (17.7 km) long that leads from Ke’e Beach to Kalalau Beach. The Na Pali coast may look familiar to some from featured films (Jurassic Park, anyone?) and one of the best ways to see it is on foot.  Because we were only in the area for the day – and we are not super serious hikers – we chose the shorter part of the hike which is 4 miles roundtrip. 

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There is so much information out there on the trail, and I highly urge you to do your research if you plan on hiking past the 2-mile mark, but for those who are looking for a great activity to do in a morning or afternoon, the 2-mile hike is for you.

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There were so many families and kids along the trail, even a baby-wearing hiking mama!  Not that I would totally recommend that, but, power to her. We trekked from Keʻe Beach to Hanakapiai stream and beach. It took us just over 3 hours including a 15 minute sit-down at the turnaround mark.  This section is moderately difficulty and you don’t need a permit.

3 // Visit the Waimea Canyon

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Located on the West side of the island, the Waimea Canyon is touted as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific.  It is 14 miles long, 1 mile wide and over 3,600 feet deep.  We drove from the base of the canyon road to the Waimea Canyon Overlook, stopping at a few turnouts for photos or a nature walk.

Unfortunately, the weather was not on our side that day.  The temperature dropped 20 degrees F and turned cloudy and rainy by the time we reached the top.  We started the drive with our convertible top down, dressed in tank tops and shorts. By the time we were at the lookout point the top was up, the heat was blasting, and we had layered on literally every piece of clothing or fabric we had on hand.  I fashioned our beach towels in a pretty amazing pair of pants, lol.  Though the weather was slightly tumultuous, the view was still stunning.

4 // Visit a Waterfall, or Two, or Three

Do a simple web search for waterfalls + Kauai and you’ll have no limit of options for “must-see places”.   My favorites are the Wailua Falls (pictured above), and the Opaeka’a Falls. Again, due to the weather, we weren’t able to get to as many falls as we hoped, and we certainly weren’t able to walk down under or swim in them.   The one major falls we are bummed we missed are the Manawaiopuna Falls, also called the Jurassic Falls.

5 // Hit the Beach

In this case, it really doesn’t matter which one. You’re in Hawaii, after all. That being said, Kauai isn’t the island with the renowned beaches (like Maui or Oahu), but I love the smaller sand areas for reading, relaxing, and drinking my fave Kona beer.  We spent a lot of time at Poipu Beach and also Keālia Beach. Secret Beach is very popular also. Because we were only on Kauai for a few days, the beach stops were infrequent and therefore almost sacred.

6 // Take a Helicopter Ride

blue hawaiian helicopter tour kauai

This is the one major regret we have from our trip. We waited too long to book our Helicopter tour over the Na’ Pali coast, and it was canceled due to weather. My tip to you would be book this as early on in your vacation as possible because more often than not the rides are canceled or rescheduled due to rain, wind, or capacity issues.  These trips are also not cheap, so do your research beforehand.  Some companies to check out: Blue Hawaiian, Safari Tours, and Jack Harter.  Rides start around $160 per person for a 60-minute tour.

These are just a few of the things we got up to on Kauai, but definitely the most memorable.  What other activities would you love to do in Hawaii? If ziplining is your thing, be sure to check out my full post here.  

Don’t miss my Top 5 Activities on Maui!

 

Comments

  1. Captain Andy’s Sunset Cruise. It was one of the most amazing parts of our trip. Fabulous way to see the Napoli Coast without hiking it. We also loved driving up to Waimea Canyon. (We had better luck with weather.) And if in Poipu, you HAVE to have a shrimp burrito from DaCrack. It’s a little hole in he wall, but the food is AMAZING. 😋

  2. Kauai sounds like my kinda place. I’m English, so the rain wouldn’t bother me at all. The picture reminds me of New Zealand. If Kauai is anywhere near as beautiful as NZ, then it’ll be great!

  3. Well, it’s certainly not a place I would have associated with being one of the wettest in the world either! But it’s worth putting up with the deluges and the disruption for such picturesque scenery. The helicopter shot by the waterfall is very reminiscent of Jurassic Park too, by the way 🙂

  4. I would love to go back to Hawaii again and not just stay in Oahu. I want me and my family to experience the other islands of Hawaii and discover the real paradise. Oahu is so touristy. It is still nice and we had a great time. The best vacation we ever had ! If ever we go back, I’m thinking Kawaii or Maui. This is a great post. I enjoyed reading it!

  5. All of these activities sound right up my street; beautiful scenery, hiking and beaches to relax on. I’m glad that even the hiking trails are family friendly – I bet my two would love it! It’s a shame the weather was unsettled for you but I don’t think that it managed to spoil the beauty here. Kauai is one of those places that you don’t seem to hear much about so I’m glad I read your post.

  6. Kauai really sounds like a perfect tropical holiday. You can be as adventurous or laid back as you like. I love your advice on doing your research before going on any of the hikes, because those mud-rivers on the trail look pretty intense. Zip-lining looks like it would be heaps of fun in this place!

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