Welcome to my article on the best things to do in Kauai. My name is Rocio and I was born and raised in sunny San Diego. My parents immigrated from Mexico so my sisters and I could have US citizenship and so that we could go to college. Basically the idea was to live the American dream!
My passion for travel has been with me since a young age. Since I grew up in a low-income family, I never traveled much as a child but we did take camping trips. This is where my passion for hiking and love of the outdoors comes from. I started traveling when I was a sophomore in college.
I studied abroad for four months and traveled all over Europe. That is when I knew I didn’t want to stop! There is something beautiful about seeing new places, learning about different cultures, eating delicious foods and meeting amazing people. It’s a great way to broaden your perspective. Travel is definitely something I want my future children to experience.
Ten Amazing Days in Kauai
My husband and I visited Kauai in December of 2020. My husband’s parents have a timeshare in Kauai and they invited us and my parents to tag along. I traveled to Oahu back in college and fell in love with the island. So I saw this as another chance to explore the most beautiful place in the world!
We went to Kauai for exactly ten days with the tedious COVID restrictions in place. However, we felt safe because of how strict they were. Some of my favorite experiences were hiking ridge trails with majestic views of the Napali Coast, going on a Jurassic Park helicopter tour, sailing on the coast, swimming with turtles and taking in all the beauty that Kauai has to offer.
My Favorite Place in Kauai – Napali Coast State Wilderness Park
There is only one way to describe Kauai and that is: paradise! You won’t be able to find another destination anywhere in the world with such remote beauty and majestic views as you can on this Hawaiian island. Kauai allows you to experience a wide variety of landscapes all within an hours drive.
For hiking enthusiasts, this island offers endless adventures. You can hike to the top of 5,000 footers overlooking the breathtaking Napali Coast State Wilderness Park and trek along ridges that take you directly to private beaches where you can absorb the most spectacular sunset of your life.
My favorite place in Kauai is the Napali Coast. I was able to experience this coast in a range of ways such as: taking an unforgettable sailing trip, hiking various ridge trails and flying above the coast on a helicopter tour. I had to take a moment to process the awe I felt because I was overwhelmed by its beauty. It was amazing no matter which way I experienced it.
Must-Do Adventures in Kauai
No matter your travel style or adventure preferences, Kauai has something special to offer you. The only prerequisite is loving nature. From hiking and exploring, to sailing and kayaking, to helicopter rides and road trips, to snorkeling and surfing – there is never a dull moment in Kauai. Below are my top six recommendations for your visit to this Hawaiian paradise.
1. Experience a Couple of the Best Hiking Trails
There are various hikes to enjoy right across the island of Kauai. My favorite hiking trails were the Kalalau Trail to the beautiful Hanakapiai Falls, the Awaawapuhi Trail with spectacular ridge views and the Kalepa Ridge Trail with a broader view of the incredible Napali Coast State Wilderness Park.
2. Learn to Surf the Enormous Waves of Kauai
This island is blessed with many beaches that have huge waves and crystal clear waters. An interesting fact is that the team at Disney went to Kauai to get inspiration for their movie Lilo & Stitch. I just remembered that when I saw all the surfing scenes in the movie and connected the dots when I visited the island. Kauai is big for surfing because of the enormous waves!
3. Take a Flight with Island Helicopters Hawaii
If you have seen Jurassic Park then you will be transported to the opening scene where they land next to an epic waterfall! This is a must-do for adventure seekers. We went with Island Helicopters Hawaii. It was also fun to see all the celebrities that have flown with them. I love Harrison Ford – so I was fan-girling when I saw his picture! Check out my blog for more info.
4. Sail the Napali Coast with Blue Dolphin Charters
Getting on the water in a boat of some form is another must-do! We took a boat ride with Blue Dolphin Charters and cruised the waters for six hours. Some of the highlights of our tour included snorkeling, swimming with turtles, seeing dolphins and experiencing the Napali Coast from the ocean.
5. Kayak at the Cute Kamokila Hawaiian Village
We went kayaking at Kamokila Hawaiian Village for only $20 per hour. We got to see the famous Fern Grotto, enjoyed the beautiful river that runs alongside the village, and even witnessed a hula dancer and singer while taking in the view. If you don’t wish to kayak here, you can take a boat tour.
6. Watch the Sunset Every Night in Kauai
You can’t miss watching the sunset by the beach every night! The sunsets will literally take your breath away. Seriously, anywhere around the island is good for sunset viewing. One of the best sunsets we saw was on the way to Wailua Falls. We were driving before sunset and stopped several times to take photos. The sunset was just majestic as it blanketed the landscape.
Trying the True Tastes of Kauai
When we visited Kauai, unfortunately, a lot of the local restaurants were closed and some were permanently closed. But we did get to try their famous Puka Dogs – Hawaiian style hotdogs. Located across from Poipu Beach, you can visit Puka Dog and try a tasty hotdog for yourself. Bring the hotdog to the beach and eat it while taking in the lovely beach views.
You also can’t leave the island without trying their most delicious dessert: Shave Ice! We went to an all natural shave ice spot called Waikomo Shave Ice located in Poipu. My mouth is watering just writing about it! Please don’t forget to try it at least once on your trip to Kauai – you won’t regret it.
If you are a big coffee drinker, I highly recommend visiting the Kauai Coffee Company. You can get a guided tour or self-guided tour to see how they make their famous coffee. Did I mention they offer free coffee tastings too? Yes, you can try the coffee and then buy some yourself. I made sure to buy lots of their coffee bags for my family. This is a must-visit for coffee lovers.
Where to Stay on the Island
I suggest staying at Airbnb’s to help locals. However, we stayed at The Point at Poipu by Diamond Resorts because my in-laws own a timeshare. It was comfortable with an amazing view of the ocean. If I had the budget, which I hope you do, I recommend staying at the Grand Hyatt because it’s epic. They have pools and a lazy river. It’s out of this world!
Need to Know Before you Go
Make sure you read the regulations and requirements for the state of Hawaii. They tend to change. So if you are looking to visit Kauai then check their website regularly for any changes that might occur especially during this pandemic. See the website here: hawaiicovid19.com/travel.
Stay safe. Remember that your safety is priority when hiking, driving, swimming, surfing, etc. Always have a first aid kit with you and let your loved ones know where you are at all times. The weather changes drastically which can throw a spanner in the works. Be sure to check the weather forecast because it can get dangerous when hiking the ridges.
Bringing the right gear is a given. We took hiking boots because we read that most of the trails get muddy due to the rain. Above all, have fun and be flexible. One thing I have learned about traveling is that things change all the time. Be okay with changing plans to make the most out of your trip.
Looking back on this ten day Kauai vacation, I think my best memory was being able to see the island with my parents, husband and in-laws by helicopter. It was my first time in a helicopter and it was both exhilarating and scary. We made the most of it and had a blast. What an experience!