The Best of Kauai: Resorts, Food, Activities & More
It’s hard to not immediately feel right at home the moment you step off the plane in Kauaʻi - the oldest island of the Hawaiian Islands. The laid-back aloha spirit is very much alive welcoming you to experience its sweeping sceneries, dramatic sunsets and stunning beaches. Kauaʻi, nicknamed “The Garden Island," is one beautiful tropical island just waiting for you to explore its pristine beauty. With so much to explore, my biggest recommendation is to divide your trip in half: the North Shore for hyper-local experiences and the coastline and Poipu for sunshine, surf and seal spottings! This island is a wonderful place for families, couples, solo travelers and groups… making it very hard to leave!
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Where to stay in Kauaʻi
Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa
A quintessential island resort on 50 lush acres of white-sand beachfront on Kauai’s beautiful southern shore.
$100 hotel / resort credit.
Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.
Marriott's Waiohai Beach Club
A tropical beachfront resort designed with island-chic rooms and villas set next to Poipu Beach.
Luxury B&B nestled on five private acres with Polynesian-style rooms on the north shore of Kauai.
Unlock perks by contacting Courtney to book your trip.
Things to do in Kauaʻi
Beaches: Makua 'Tunnels' Beach (plan for very limited parking!), Kee Beach, Anini Beach and Hanalei Beach Park are our favorites. You can try to find Hideaways beach, but we will wish you luck! There is another, but it’s super secret and super local - you just have to book a trip with me to find out :)
Queens Bath, Hanalei Valley Overlook and Kilauea Lighthouse are some of my top favorite sights.
Hang out in Hanalei town. This is the laid-back surfer town of your dreams! Walk around and talk to a local. A number of my recommendations are food related, so be sure to keep reading through this guide!
You can do the first two miles of hiking the Kalalau trail, but if you are scared of heights, I do not recommend it!
Take a yoga class at Waves Kauaʻi. Take a class with Lulu and be prepared to sweat (happy!).
Lyndgate Beach State Park for baby tide pools and playgrounds.
Some of the most popular Kauaʻi waterfalls are Wailua Falls, Opaekaa Falls and Kipu Falls. Enjoy them either by hiking or kayaking.
The Sleeping Giant Trail is one of the most famous hikes that you can’t miss.
Did you know Forbes named Kapaʻa as one of America’s prettiest towns? Thus, you should probably explore it! Enjoy the Kapaʻa Art Walk aka the first Saturday of each month through Kapaa town.
If you’re looking for something a bit more active, enjoy the Wailua River and experience the Fern Grotto.
Visit the Kilohana Plantation via their train ride. You can disembark to spend some time feeding the animals. It’s fun for all ages. Oh, and there’s a rum tasting. And, if you prefer an inland luau, this is your spot.
See Spouting Horn. Insider’s tip: go at sunset. Or, go for a quick jump-in, jump-out picture on your way up to the Waimea Canyon.
Shop ’til you drop at Warehouse 3540. It’s a creative space that celebrates the local art scene. You might find some great souvenirs to take home, or just a full belly by diving into one of their food trucks (we’re looking at you, Big Monster Sushi!).
You’re in Hawaii, so you must go to a luau. Our favorite is actually at the Sheraton Poipu - it’s on the beach!
Explore Allerton Garden and McBryde Garden. Remember, you’re on "The Garden Island"!
Make some time to visit Old Koloa Town (lots of sugar history!), a quaint plantation-era village a short drive up from Poipu. Grab yourself a shaved ice at The Fresh Shave.
If you’re there on a Wednesday, head to the culinary market at The Shops at Kukui‘ula for locally grown fruits and veggies. Must try: sugar loaf pineapple!
Be ready for photo ops crossing the bridge in Hanapepe (entrance near Banana Patch).
Hanapepe Art Night (on Friday nights) for live music! Or just explore the art capital of Kauai via oohing and aahing at the galleries!
Polihale State Park is another great place to watch the sunset! This park has some of the widest stretches of beaches, plus you can have a view of the Nā Pali cliffs!
Visit The Waimea Canyon. Depending on how adventurous you are down to get, there are options for everyone for a drive-through, a bike hike, a bike ride down the canyon, etc…
Go to Kikiaola Boat Harbor (Kekaha) to see local fishermen with their daily catch. If you are going on a fishing charter or an Nā Pali coast boat tour (omg go! You must see this coastline!), this is where you will head out!
Tour the Kauaʻi Coffee Estate if it’s your first time on the island!
Salt Pond Beach for snorkeling - such calm waters!
Places to eat & drink in Kauaʻi
The Palate in Kilauea for wine and tapas.
Dolphin, for sushi, in Hanalei.
Bar Acuda in Hanalei. Omg. Run, don’t walk.
Kilauea Fish Market for the ahi wraps!
Hanalei Taro & Juice Co… for taro!
AMA for steamed buns and views!
Lava Lava Beach Club for happy hour!
Pono market to feel like a local. Go early and take it to go. Familiarize yourself with their website and offerings before you go so you’re ready to rumble!
Waipouli Deli & Restaurant for breakfast and Hawaiian classics
The Fish Express in Lihue.
Try the saimin (a classic Hawaiian noodle soup) at Hamura Saimin in Lihue.
Do take out at Kiawe Roots!
The Fresh Shave for shaved ice.
Brennecke’s Beach Broiler - you just have to!
The Beach House Restaurant for your final, farewell sunset dinner (or welcome to Hawaii dinner!). Order any fish! Definitely make reservations in advance to get that perfect spot to take in the sunset.
Poipu Dolphin Restaurant for super Hawaiian flavors. There is also a grab-and-go fish market if you prefer to cook at home.
Little Fish Poipu for acai bowls!
Ishihara Deli for sushi in Waimea. Take it to go and make it a picnic!
Kauai Ramen - a local dive for ramen!
Japanese Grandma’s Cafe for sushi and ramen. Don’t miss it.
Midnight Bear Breads for pastries and breads.
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