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- and 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.