Discovering Kauai: A Comprehensive Guide to the Garden Island

Advisor - Isabel Hall
Curated By

Isabel Hall

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  • Active Travel

  • Adventure Travel

  • Beaches

  • Nature Escapes

  • Kaua'i

  • Hawai'i

  • Island

  • Sightseeing

  • Beachtown

Boats and Palm tress at Garden Island.
Curator’s statement

Looking for an unforgettable vacation destination that boasts stunning natural beauty, pristine beaches, and a laid-back island vibe? Look no further than Kauai, the fourth-largest island in Hawaii. Known as the "Garden Isle," Kauai is home to lush rainforests, towering cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. From hiking the rugged Na Pali Coast to relaxing on the sandy shores of Poipu Beach, there's no shortage of things to see and do on this enchanting island. Join us as we explore the best that Kauai has to offer, and discover why this island paradise should be at the top of your travel bucket list.

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Where to stay in Kauai, Hawai'i

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Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa

A quintessential island resort on 50 lush acres of white-sand beachfront on Kauai’s beautiful southern shore.

Fora Perks
  • $100 hotel / resort credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Timbers Kauai Ocean Club & Residences

Set on an expansive oceanfront property on Kauai, this luxury resort offers nearly everything you could need while on a tropical vacation.

Fora Perks
  • $100 hotel / resort credit.

  • Welcome treat in room on arrival.

  • Upgrade & guaranteed late check-out.

Koloa Landing Resort at Poipu, Autograph Collection

Surrounded by lush gardens, this resort on Kauai features studios and villas with three outdoor pools and near Poipu Beach.

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Advisor - Isabel Hall

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Things to do in Kauai, Hawai'i

Na Pali Coast view
  • Na Pali Coast - A stunning coastline with breathtaking views, accessible by boat, helicopter or hiking. I HIGHLY recommend doing a boat tour to see this part of the island. A tour group that I recommend is Go Blue Adventures. It was an amazing experience, and we were able to see a lot of wildlife including sea turtles, whales and dolphins.

  • Waimea Canyon - Known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, offering hiking trails and scenic lookouts.

  • Kilauea Lighthouse - A historic lighthouse with stunning views of the ocean and wildlife.

  • Try a Kipu ranch ATV tour Check out the Secret Falls Kayak Tour.

  • Go Snorkeling! The North Shore is known for some of the best snorkeling year round, and there are many tropical fish to see.

  • Visit Queen's Bath - It is a breathtaking tide pool formed by lava rock. Check the trail conditions before visiting because it can be closed due to high tides.

  • Visit Koke’e State Park.

  • Take a surf lesson!

  • Visit one of the farmers markets on the Island, this is a great way to get to know the cuisine and the culture of Kauai Make sure to try lots of shaved ice! It is nothing like the shaved ice you may have tried here; Hawaiian shaved ice is a whole other level of tasty Check out one of many beautiful hiking trails (more on this below).


  • Kalalau Trail - A challenging but rewarding hike along the Na Pali Coast, offering amazing views of the coastline. This hike is a 22 mile round trip hike around the na pali coast state park. Permits are required for overnight camping and this fills up quickly.

  • If 22 miles sounds a little too adventurous, you can also do a 2 mile hike to Hanakapi’ai Beach with only a reservation, which is much less competitive to acquire than a permit. The hiking reservation also grants access to Hanakapi’ai Waterfall two miles inland from the beach.

  • Awaawapuhi Trail - A moderate hike in Waimea Canyon with incredible views of the canyon and the ocean Hanakapiai Falls Trail - a challenging hike with a rewarding waterfall at the end.

  • Sleeping Giant Trail - A moderate hike with stunning views of the island's lush greenery.

  • Mahaulepu Heritage Trail - An easy coastal hike with views of the ocean and wildlife.

Places to eat & drink in Kauai, Hawai'i

A cafe in Kauai


  • Hanalei Bread Company: A bakery and café serving delicious sandwiches, salads, and baked goods. This is the perfect spot to grab a quick lunch before hitting the beach.

  • Bar Acuda: A tapas-style restaurant featuring local ingredients and a great wine list.

  • The Dolphin Restaurant: A seafood-focused eatery with beautiful views and fresh catches of the day.


  • Puka Dog: A must-try for hot dog lovers, serving unique Hawaiian-style hot dogs with a variety of toppings. Located right next to Poipu beach, it's the perfect place to grab a quick bite to eat and relax on the beach. Kauai Poke: If you're a fan of poke, make sure to grab a bowl from this nearby spot!

  • Little Fish Coffee: A coffee shop with tasty breakfast and lunch options, including bagels, sandwiches, and smoothies.

Kauai Food Trucks

  • Porky's Kauai: A popular food truck serving up slow-roasted pork dishes, such as pulled pork sandwiches and tacos. Kickshaws: A vegetarian food truck featuring creative dishes made with locally sourced ingredients. Fresh Bite Kauai: A truck specializing in healthy and organic food, with options like acai bowls, smoothies, and vegan wraps.


  • Holey Grail Donuts: If you're a fan of donuts, you won't want to miss this food truck located in Princeville. Their unique and delicious flavors are worth the trip.

  • Nourish Hanalei: This is one of my personal favorites, perfect for a healthy bite or a refreshing smoothie bowl.

  • Tiki Iniki: A tiki-themed restaurant with a fun atmosphere and tropical cocktails.

  • AMA: Asian inspired dishes in the heart of Hanalei, boasts stunning views.


  • Duke's Kauai: While it may be a little pricier and not known as a "local" spot, Duke's Kauai has wonderful views and fun vibes that make it worth the visit.

  • Kintaro Japanese Restaurant: A popular spot for sushi and other Japanese dishes.

  • Kauai Beer Company: A brewery with a taproom serving up craft beers and pub-style food.

  • KP Lihue: If you are looking for some tasty Italian food!

Need to Know

For more travel tips, check out Fora Advisor Krystal Romagnoli’s guide, Guide to Slowing Down in Kauai.

Advisor - Isabel Hall

Travel Advisor

Isabel Hall

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Kaui, and our longer series on travel to Hawai'i.