Kauai’s 5 Must See Tourist Attractions – Kauai, also known as the Garden Isle, is the fourth largest of the Hawaiian Islands.
At only 25 miles wide and 33 miles long, it may seem like there couldn’t be much to explore.
But that’s really the secret surprise awaiting anyone exploring Hawaii.
Whereas the Waikiki tourist is happy to be stay close to the comforts of their hotel or Hawaiian Vacation Rental.
Kauai visitors can’t but be drawn from their nest, seeking out the scenery that has made Kauai famous in movies like Jurassic Park.
The following is a guide to 5 easily accessible, must see natural attractions.
Kauai’s 5 Must See Tourist Attractions
Waimea Canyon is known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific.
How did such a large Canyon manage for form at the center of such a small land mass?
Like much of Hawaii’s impressive scenery, volcanic activity combined with millions of years of wind erosion is the answer.
The drive from sea level to the Canyon will reward you with many memorable views including one of Niihau, the Forbidden Island, where a small Hawaiian community lives mostly isolated from the modern world.
The Napali Coast is 11 miles of isolated coastline, marked by beautiful cliffs, waterfalls and valleys.
Experienced hikers can follow an ancient hiking trail along the coast to the Kalalau Valley.
Most will experience this region with either a boat or helicopter tour, while casual hikers can do the first couple miles as a day hike to Hanakapiai Falls.
During the winter months thousands of Humpback whales migrate to the warm waters of Hawaii to give birth.
A good place to see them is at the Kilauea Point Nation Wildlife Refuge on the island’s north coast, from the scenic cliffs visitors will also see many seabirds as well as the Nene – the endangered Hawaiian Goose.
Kauai has many waterfalls.
After periods of rain a drive through the town of Hanalei may include views of a dozen different falls gushing from the north Shore Mountains.
Kauai’s most famous waterfall is Wailua Falls, a pleasant drive through mostly uninhabited countryside ends at the Falls.
Polihale State Park
Kauai is known for its secluded beaches.
Polihale State Park marks the end of the longest beach in Hawaii, one that stretches for nearly twelve miles.
Polihale is located on the west side of the island, away from the popular tourist resorts.
Getting to the beach requires driving over a dirt road, but you may even have the beach to yourself.
This post was brought to you by Kuhio Shores Resort, an oceanfront condominium development 50ft from the ocean in Poipu on the south side of Kauai.
Where To Stay In Kauai
Kauai is known as Hawaii’s “Garden Isle” because of its lush tropical vegetation and emerald-green mountains.
Considered by many Hawaiian natives to be the most beautiful of the islands, it is famous for its rain forests, towering sea cliffs and canyons, but it’s also home to some of Hawaii’s most beautiful beaches.
While many visitors to Hawaii head to Oahu to soak up the sights and sounds of Honolulu and visit the famous (and crowded) Waikiki, Kauai offers a quieter, more romantic atmosphere suffused with pristine tropical beauty.
The best Kauai beach resorts will only add to that feeling, by offering picturesque views, luxurious amenities, and easy proximity to the waves and natural wonders of the island.
When picking a resort, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind.
First, which shore will you want to stay on?
Beyond beaches, the island is full of walking trails, waterfalls, historical sites, and mountain scenery, so it’s worth thinking about what you’ll want to do besides beachcomb.
The Northern Coast is dramatic, home to rugged mountains and dizzying cliffs.
The most famous northern beach, Hanalei Bay Beach, has been voted the best beach in the U.S.
The Kilauea Lighthouse is also a beautiful place for whale watching.
In winter, however, ocean swells and currents can increase and make swimming dangerous, so you may want to plan your stay during other seasons.
The Eastern Coast of Kauai is also known as the “Coconut Coast” because of the coconut groves that fill the area.
In addition to Wailua State Park and the Fern Grotto, the East Shore is home to white.
Golden-sanded beaches that are safe enough for families and beginner snorkelers – and a few that are great for surfers.
Polihale Beach has 17 miles of white sand, majestic dunes, and grand views of Niihau and the sea cliffs of NaPali.
Also make sure to visit the sacred lava rock temple Polihau Heiau, of Kauai’s last king, Kaumualii.
The South Shore includes many historical sites, and two large botanical gardens:
McBryde Garden, which features more Hawaiian plants than anywhere else in the world, and Allerton Garden with the Moreton Figs made famous in the film Jurassic Park.
Poipu Beach has calm waters for most of the year, and is a playground of endangered monk seals, making it a favorite for families with children.
Hawaii’s Calendar of Killer Events ~ Best Annual Events in Hawaii
The Hawaiian tropics are the perfect place for an island getaway
In addition to sun, sand and surf available all year round, Hawaii also boasts an amazing events calendar.
From February to December, here are our 10 favorite and best annual events in Hawaii.
When planning your Hawaiian vacation, you will want to see if you can find a way to enjoy one of these fun things to do.
It’s worth noting that going between the islands in Hawaii almost always involves a flight, so choose your island wisely.
Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival
Where: The Big Island
Having just hit its 20th anniversary, the Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival was established to celebrate the rich Japanese heritage and subsequently the amazing 60-year-old cherry trees in the area of Waimea.
A great one for the family, the festival is rich with multicultural performances, craft stalls and an abundance of food booths featuring local, Japanese and international cuisine.
Another family-friendly event, this three-day festival is jam-packed with performances, tours, craft fairs and parades and concludes with an incredible fireworks display over the beautiful Waikiki beach.
Grab the kids and go!
Merrie Monarch Festival
When: After Easter Sunday in March/April
Where: Hilo (The Big Island)
Another one to get you into the Hawaiian spirit, the Merrie Monarch Festival, honors the contributions of King David Kalākaua.
He was an avid campaigner of Hawaiian traditions, the native Hawaiian language and the traditional arts.
The festival spans over a week.
It includes art and crafts, food, hula shows and a parade.
Kapalua Wine & Food Festival
Another fantastic food festival? Yes, please!
Considered the longest running food/wine event in the U.S., the Kapalua Wine & Food Festival is a four-day festival.
It features food and wine tastings, seminars, educational sessions and demonstrations by top sommeliers and internationally renowned chefs.
Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Festival
Where: Various locations
Now in its 22nd year, the international renowned Slack Key Guitar Festival was designed to preserve a Hawaiian acoustic guitar style called Ki-ho’alu.
The festival was launched in memory of Phillip Kunia “Gabby” Pahinui, known as the father of Ki-ho’alu, due to his lifetime contributions to Hawaiian music.
The festival features the best in Hawaiian and international talent.
It’s considered to be one big traditional dance party.
The Hawaii Food & Wine Festival
Where: Oahu and Maui
Only in its third year, the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival is one of the highlights of the annual events calendar.
The festival features over 50 internationally celebrated chefs, wine makers and spirit producers.
Here you will enjoy wine tastings, cooking demos and wine-and-dine opportunities.
There’s a focus on home-grown produce.
Where: Kauai The Emalani or “Eo E
Emalani I Alakai” Festival is a significant event honoring Hawaii’s much-loved ruler Queen Emma, who made the trip to Kauai, and more specifically, to the treasured Kokee State Park, in 1871.
The day is a traditional Hawaiian celebration with hula, music and food alongside a royal procession.
It’s a great way to experience Hawaiian culture.
Hawaii International Film Festival
Where: Various locations
The Pacific’s premier film fest, the Hawaii International Film Festival is one of the key sources for the discovery and promotion of Pacific and Asian films, including “Once Were Warriors” and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”
There are screenings across the state, including Waikiki, Maui and the Big Island.
Kona Coffee Cultural Festival
Where: The Big Island
Running over 10 days, the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival is held in celebration of one of the Kona area’s most thriving industries: coffee.
Due to its climate, rich volcanic soils and farming culture, coffee has put Kona on the map.
The festival events include:
Coffee picking contest
The renowned Miss Kona Coffee beauty pageant
One of the most popular marathons in the world, the Honolulu Marathon takes place annually on the second Sunday in December.
It attracts participants from all over the globe. It is particularly popular with Japanese entrants.
Things To Do In Maui
If you are planning a trip to Maui around one of these fun and culturally enriching festivals, plan to stay awhile.
Maui is one of the most romantic holiday destinations, with luxury resorts and hotels, beautiful nature, and great cuisine.
It is the second largest of the Hawaiian islands.
Since there are many flights to Maui from destinations all over the world, it is one of the best islands to choose – especially if you want to keep the prices reasonably low.
The fewer flights that leave and go to an island, the more expensive they tend to be.
Fun things in Maui
Maui has many good hiking trails, several of them in the Haleakala National Park.
One of the coolest places in the park to visit is the crater at the summit, which is some 19 square miles.
Just beware of the drive to the top – it’s the steepest in the world!
If you want to spend some time on the water, canoeing and kayaking are popular activities on Maui.
Snorkeling is perhaps even better, and is one of the most affordable activities in Maui – all you need are snorkels and fins!
Some great places to try out are the cove south of Black Rock (near Sheration Resort at Kaanapali Beach), Turtle Town (with lots of coral fish and the occasional giant turtle), and Ulua Beach.
One of the most unique and amazing experiences has to be the whale watching.
Thousands of humpback whales migrate to Hawaii’s waters every winter, and most of them can be found off the coast of Maui.
The peak season for whale watching is in February and March, but you can see them already from November.
The great thing about Maui is that many of the nature experiences doesn’t involve several hours or even days of hiking.
Many beautiful waterfalls and lakes can be found just a short walk from a parking lot or off the road, so anyone no matter in what condition they’re in, can experience the extraordinary flora and fauna of Maui.
So choose your Hawaiian island, and enjoy some of the best annual events in Hawaii brimming with culture, food, music, history and more.
Hawaii Vacation Rentals on the Big Island
If you’re planning a vacation on the Big Island of Hawaii, then it’s worth it to consider a Hawaii Vacation Rentals on the Big Island over a hotel.
No one can deny that Hawaii has fantastic resorts, but there are definite advantages to be had with a vacation rental.
With a wide range of Big Island Vacation Rentals available in some of Hawaii’s most desirable locales, vacation homes and luxury villas can turn an ordinary stay into an unforgettable adventure.
In most cases, a vacation rental on the Big Island costs the same as or even less than Hawaii’s most upscale resorts.
However, for that price, you get a lot more space and the potential for enjoying some incredible amenities.
Imagine having a swimming pool, hot tub and other fantastic extras all to yourself.
Plus, if you’re traveling with family or a larger group, you’ll quickly discover how cost-effective a vacation rental can be.
Many rental properties feature multiple bedrooms and large living areas that can accommodate the whole family in comfort and luxury.
Rent Luxury Villa in Hawaii
With all of that space comes a great deal of privacy.
While togetherness is wonderful, it can be just as restorative and relaxing to enjoy a bit of quiet time.
Vacation estates make this extraordinarily easy.
Every property has quiet corners and niches where it’s possible to enjoy a secluded cup of coffee and a good book.
Look for properties that have a wealth of balconies and patios to ensure great views to go with these quiet moments.
If you’re planning a Hawaiian honeymoon, then you’re in luck too.
These luxury villas have everything you need to enjoy a romantic escape where no intrusions are allowed.
Vacation rentals can also make meals much more convenient and affordable.
Rental properties generally feature full kitchens, making it a snap to prepare snacks and meals.
Still, most rentals are located close to amazing dining experiences, so it’s possible to go out when you’re in the mood to take it easy.
Most guests love having the ability to wear their pajamas to breakfast and yet have quick access to fine dining a short drive away.
The Big Island boasts an incredible collection of vacation rental properties.
What follows is merely a sampling of what’s available.
Rent Hawaiian Condos on the Big Island
Hawaii has an assortment of stunning condominium-style homes.
Spending a vacation in one is a lot like owning an upscale apartment in one of the island’s most desirable neighborhoods.
Some are located close to the beach while others are found within convenient proximity to a range of nightlife and dining experience.
Occasionally, you’ll find a condo that offers the best of both worlds.
Condos can be an economical choice for the cost-conscious traveler.
Nonetheless, you’ll enjoy all sorts of upscale amenities like swimming pools, fitness facilities, hot tubs and more.
A stay at a Hawaiian vacation condo provides you with a rare opportunity to live like a local.
You’ll have a wealth of opportunities to make friends at the property.
You’ll probably be inviting your neighbors over for cocktails in no time.
Hawaiian Vacation Homes
For those who genuinely want to stretch out and relax in a space of their own, few things can compare to a vacation home.
Think of it as being like a condo but with more square footage and a yard.
Renters will have a wide range of homes to choose from.
With everything from cozy beachfront bungalows to luxury mansions with impressive amenities, the Big Island promises something for everyone.
You’ll be able to finally live your dream of being a beach bum or get a taste of how the island’s wealthiest residents live.
When you start browsing through Hawaiian vacation homes, you won’t be able to believe the extraordinary range of experiences you can choose from.
Some properties offer stunning beachfront and mountain top views depending upon which window or lanai you’re closest to.
While a few properties are located on lush farmland, others are found right on famous Waialea Bay.
You might select a Hawaiian plantation-style villa for one stay or a cozy cottage that’s located just outside the border of Volcano National Park the next.
Whether you want to stay close to the King’s Shops or the forest with its endless trails and swimming holes, you can find the perfect vacation home to suit your needs.
Luxury Vacation Estates Rentals in Hawaii
If you’re traveling with a large group or simply have a desire to experience the best that Hawaiian vacation rentals can offer, then you might want to consider a stay at a luxury vacation estate.
Frequently, these properties have more than one structure and feature a main house along with one or more cottages.
This makes it possible for large families or groups to travel together while still enjoying the ultimate in luxury and privacy.
Many of these deluxe properties feature incredible swimming complexes with water features and over-sized hot tubs.
Gourmet kitchens, custom-designed interiors, private shower gardens and spacious lanais make these properties the ideal place to enjoy a relaxing stay.
In fact, with a stay at a luxury vacation estate on Hawaii, it is almost not necessary to leave the property to enjoy an amazing experience.
Many of these homes boast beachfront locations, so it isn’t necessary to go anywhere to enjoy a host of water sports and other fun. Plenty of entertainment can be had on the properties themselves.
With game rooms, movie theaters, video gaming systems and more, your family will find everything they need to have a fantastic time without leaving home.
They range in price from less than $100 per night and up, making them a good choice for even the most cost-conscious traveler.
A vacation villa can be a great deal less expensive than a hotel, especially when the cost is split between several guests.