Guide to Slowing Down in Kauai

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Advisor - Krystal Romagnoli
Curated By

Krystal Romagnoli

  • Domestic Travel

  • USA

  • Hawai'i

  • Kaua'i

  • Adventure Travel

  • Beaches

  • Nature Escapes

  • Outdoors

  • Relaxation

  • Local Food

Palm trees next to beach and body of water during daytime
Curator’s statement

Kauai locals have a saying "slow yourself down" and it is nearly impossible to not do just that when you visit. There are endless activities and adventures to experience on this magical island but its beauty will make you slow down a bit to really soak it all in. Kauai is easiest to navigate when broken down by its four major areas: North Shore, South Shore, Eastside and Westside. All having their own distinct features, these four areas are easily explored as you can drive from one end to the other in less than two hours.

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Where to stay in Kauai

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Things to do in Kauai

Aerial view of trees, grassy area and ocean during daytime

If you can split your time between the lush and majestic North Shore and adventure-filled sunny South Shore, I would highly recommend doing so. Each home base gives you the opportunity to explore without spending a ton of the time in the car. Speaking of a car: be sure to book in advance.

Farmers Markets/Craft fairs - They are the gem of Kauai and they are everywhere and nearly everyday. Make sure to check to latest schedule as they are ever changing.

Hanalei - An artsy surfer town on the north shore full of delicious food trucks and boutique shops. Grab some lunch to go and spend the day at the bay mesmerized by its beauty.

Anini Beach- Perfect beach for snorkeling and shallow, calm waters for the little ones.

Nā Pali Coast - Best seen from helicopter or boat.....your choice but it is a do not miss while in Kauai. You will dream of these views. Captain Andy's is a great company to book with. On a clear day this is one of the best activities to see the gorgeous island from the water along with dolphins, turtles, whales and more.

Tip: Book excursions far in advance and early on in your trip because you may have to change dates/times due to weather.

Hiking - If you are a hiker there is no shortage of trails. Some of the hiking areas need advanced reservations so be sure to reserve in advance.

Self Driving Tours - You can learn a lot about the island as you drive around it. Shaka Guide App is a fun and informative app that connects to your GPS.

Surfing and boogie boarding - Beginner or pro, there's a beach for you in Kauai. Bring your own board or rent one there.

Poipu beach on the South Shore - Body surf with turtles and watch them all come in to shore at sunset. Great protected area for little ones to swim. There is also a playground and picnic tables.

Waimea Canyon - Referred to as the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific". Not everyone ventures to the west side on their first trip to Kauai but once you see it you will absolutely be returning. You drive up the mountain leaving the shore behind to discover incredible views where you can go hiking and camping.

Places to eat & drink in Kauai

White sign with red writing next to trees during daytime

When it comes to eating in Kauai, food trucks are where its at. There are some amazing restaurants too but always make reservations for busy seasons and be patient with long waits.

Places to Eat on the North Shore

Wishing Well Shave Ice - No trip to Kauai is complete without shave ice and this is one of the best.

Holy Grail Donuts - Super unique and almost too pretty to eat.

Fresh Bite Food Truck - Grab lunch here before heading to the beach fo the day, great salads, wraps, and sandwiches.

Hanalei Bread Co. - For coffee and breakfast (lots of gluten free options).

Nourish Food Stand - Favorite for salads and acai bowls with a gorgeous view of the bay.

Chicken in the Barrel- Large portions and family style options, feed the whole crew.

Bar Acuda - More upscale dining but still family-friendly.

The Dolphin Restaurant - For sushi. Always a wait but you can go have a drink at sunset and wait for a table.

Places to Eat on the South Shore

Monster Sushi Food Truck.

Da Crack Mexican Grinds - Local fav serving Mexican food. To-go only and you can order ahead online.

Bubba Burgers- In-n-Out type burger spot.

The Fresh Shave Shave Ice - Unique and super fresh unique flavors.

The Beach House - Upscale and romantic.

Kalaheo Cafe & Coffee - Fresh pies and other treats. Great for breakfast/lunch.

Places to eat on the Eastside

Kalalea Juice Bar - Has the best acai bowls, the king kong is insane.

Java Kai - Cute coffee shop and boutique shopping.

Food trucks galore in the center of Kapaʻa.


Koke'e Lodge - Once you make the trek up the mountain grab some lunch or a smoothie at the lodge with the most beautiful surroundings.

Advisor - Krystal Romagnoli

Travel Advisor

Krystal Romagnoli

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