Top Things to do in Kauai, According to my Friends

The Significant Other and I loved Kauai. We had grand plans to do ALL THE THINGS, but (partially due to mudslides and partially due to our own exhaustion) we wound up doing nothing. And, you know what? It was AMAZING.

I’d highly recommend doing nothing. Maybe snorkel at Lawaii Beach or take a short hike to Secret Beach to watch the sunrise. Definitely eat Mexican food at Da Crack, Thai food at Craving Thai and grab some Kombucha at Kauai Juice Company (recycle your bottles for 50 cents off!). For coffee, check out Lappert’s. For açaí bowls and poke, go to Kukuiula Market. Other than that, relax, and enjoy the Garden Island.

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What to Pack for Kauai

  • Hiking boots
  • Lightweight, quickdry pants
  • Poncho
  • >= 2 bathing suits
  • Mosquito spray
  • Shorts/T-shirts
  • Waterproof windbreaker
  • Rx scuba mask (you don’t need to bring a snorkel/fins because they’re so inexpensive to rent)
  • Mosquito spray
  • Shorts
  • T-shirt
  • Bathing suit
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat
  • Umbrella
  • Rx scuba mask (you don’t need snorkel/fins because they’re so cheap to rent)
  • Sunscreen/aloe vera (or just buy it there… it’s decently priced)

What and Where to Eat in Kauai

Casey Scheld: Tidepools is an amazing restaurant—definitely check it out if you get the chance!

Lily Steenblick Hwang: 

Shave Ice Paradise—this is our preferred shave ice place, but there are several to choose from!

Postcards Cafe: Nice place for dinner

The restaurant formerly known as Bouchon (on the second floor of Ching Young Village in Hanalei): Go here if it rained earlier, and only for a drink or an app or maybe the fish tacos which are usually ok. But the best thing about this place is the mountain view, and the most fun thing is sitting at the window and seeing how many waterfalls you can count after a good rain.

St. Regis – MakanaTerrace (this is a great place for fancy dinner and sunset over Hanalei Bay, my parents said it should be baby friendly)

Charles Q. Choi:

In terms of food, Monico’s Taqueria was great—we went again and again. Definitely get poke—you don’t need to stop at expensive restaurants, the locals go to Foodland and they are right. We also liked Pink’s Creamery for delicious ice cream.

Meena Ganesan

Order the honeycomb at Bar Acuda. Get poke at Pono Market.

Sana Uddin

If you like shrimp, check out this place, I loved it:

Restaurants with Gluten-free Options in Kauai

Things to do

Check out these sites: here and here

Kauai glass beach:

Do NOT go skydiving in Kauai. Some of the reviews are scary. Source TripAdvisor 

Mountain tubing: here and here

Waterfall rappelling:

Hiking: here and here 

“By and far the most popular attraction on the island is the one-of-a-kind Napali Coast, which is best seen on foot hiking the infamous Kalalau Trail or trekking the edges of Koke’e State Park. If you’re looking for a little less adventure, consider visiting the lower-impact Wailua River State Park or taking a dip in the calm waters of Po’ipu or Kalapaki Beach. Those more interested in the underwater scenery will be in awe of the views from Hanalei Bay, Ke’e Beach or Tunnels Beach, the latter of which is considered one of the top spots for snorkeling on the island.” Source US News

“Visiting Waimea Canyon is one of the top ten things to do on Kaua‘i and is a must for anyone that has a rental car and the time to visit this Westside gem. …easily accessible waterfalls like ‘Opaeka‘a Falls in Wailua to divine seascapes that don’t even require you to get out of the car.” Source


Charles Q. Choi:

“Kayaking down the Wailua River is great. We went with Kayak Wailua https://kayakwailua.combe forewarned, it’s *not* the same as Wailua Kayak and Canoe!

Waimea Canyon State Park and Koke’e State Park are fantastic. Would recommend Waimea Canyon State Park’s Awa’awapuhi Trail in the morning and Koke’e State Park’s Cliff and Canyon Trails in the afternoon. **This is contingent on there not being rain.** If there is rain, either of these trails can be a slog—we only did Awa’awapuhi Trail, but wished we could’ve also done Cliff and Canyon Trails. When going, arrive before 9, and don’t stop on any of the scenic overlooks until you drive back—it’s the best way to avoid crowds.

Na Pali Coast State Park is okay. It gets a lot of rave reviews, but after Awa’awapuhi Trail, it seemed like a letdown. The nearby Tunnels Beach is absolutely beautiful, though, and a must-do on a sunny day. The Hanalei Bay beaches were a letdown to me afterward.

Lily Steenblik Hwang:

Ultimate Kauai Guidebook. I’m not sure how recently it’s been updated but for things like beaches, trails, natural wonders it’s great. On the way to Waimea you can see Spouting Horn. 

Check out Queen’s Bath (on a day with low wave activity). The Kilauea Lighthouse and Wildlife Refuge is gorgeous and full of birds. You’ll see Red-footed booby), Mōlī (Laysan albatross), ‘Ua ‘u kani (Wedge-tailed shearwater) and sometimes monk seals. You can drive down to the end of the road and see the birds even when the refuge is closed for the day.

Princeville scenic outlook: make sure to stop here on the way down to Hanalei to take in one of the most iconic views on the island. You’ll be looking down into Hanalei valley and the taro fields.

There is another turn off down the road from here looking over Hanalei Bay, and the river but this turn off is more a large safety lane than an actual turn off – use your best judgment about how safe it is to pull over. Depends on traffic and road conditions. 🙂

Don’t miss Hanalei! I recommend going to the pier, hanging out on the beach and seeing at least one sunset here. Hanalei Bay is beautiful and Hanalei is an adorable tourist trap. It’s an easy place to spend an afternoon, or a full day. This is a good place for paddle boarding when it’s not too windy.

If you get a chance I recommend going to see Limahuli Garden and Preserve. It is a gorgeous place and highlights lots of native plants and biocultural conservation.

Jordan Davidson

And snorkeling. Poipu (I think that’s how it’s spelled) has a lot of fish.

Jackie Ching

Hike or kayak along Na Pali Coast!

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