Kauai Travel Guide: Explore the Garden Isle

Kauai, the Garden Isle of Hawaii, is a tropical paradise that beckons travelers with its lush landscapes, pristine beaches, and rich culture. This travel guide is your passport to navigating the island’s treasures, from breathtaking natural wonders to cultural experiences that will leave you enchanted. We first visited Kauai in 2009 on the hunt for our ideal wedding venue. We had already been to Maui and Maryam was skeptical that Kauai would be the place. The lush beauty and even the wild chickens were unique to the island. We ended up choosing the St. Regis Princeville, now 1HOTEL Kauai, as it overlooked the beautiful ocean and Bali. Kauai has a very special place in our hearts and we are so thankful to be able to have property here to enjoy with our family and share with others. 

Here’s your brief travel guide to make the most of your Kauai adventure:

Getting Around

Kauai is a relatively small island and you an easily drive across the entire island in a day. Renting a car is the easiest way to get around, but you can book tours for specific excursions if you’d like to spend more time at the resort. We have had great experience booking car rental through: https://www.discounthawaiicarrental.com/

Top Attractions and Activities

1. Na Pali Coast: Explore the rugged coastline by hiking the Kalalau Trail or taking a boat tour. Witness dramatic cliffs, sea caves, and waterfalls. Helicopter tours offer breathtaking aerial views of this iconic coastline. Some recommended tours: https://www.napalicatamaran.com/ and www.holoholokauaiboattours.com  This is also where parts of Jurassic Park movie was filmed! 

2. Waimea Canyon State Park: Known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” this geological wonder offers hiking and scenic viewpoints. Waimea Canyon Lookout and Pu’u O Kila Lookout provide stunning vistas.

3. Hanalei Bay: Relax on the picturesque Hanalei Bay Beach. Stroll through the charming town of Hanalei with its boutique shops and restaurants. The movie, South Pacific, put Kauai on the map. Hanalei Bay Resort boasts views of Makana, the twin peaks that are also known as “Bali Hai” after the movie’s famed song.

4. Wailua Falls and Opaekaa Falls: Easily accessible waterfalls with viewing platforms for great photo opportunities. The Wailua falls is not too far from Kapa’a and Waipouli Beach resort, the view point is located off Maalo Road or Hwy 583 and is easily accessed.

5. Poipu Beach Park: Ideal for swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing. Keep an eye out and your distance from Hawaiian monk seals and green sea turtles.

6. Spouting Horn Blowhole: Watch waves shoot through a natural lava tube, creating a spectacular water spout.

7. Koke’e State Park: Hike through lush rainforests and enjoy trails like the Alakai Swamp Trail. Birdwatching opportunities abound, including the native ‘I’iwi bird. If you’ve made it to the end of the Alakai Swamp Trail and the weather is on your side, you’ll be blessed to see one of the most beautiful viewpoints from Kauai. However, we haven’t been so lucky! 

8. Beaches and Snorkeling: Explore the underwater world at sites like Tunnels Beach, Lawai Beach, and Anini Beach. Encounter colorful coral reefs, tropical fish, and sea turtles. Tunnels Beach is a favorite of ours for snorkeling. Anini beach is a nice calmer beach for those traveling with little ones. Another popular but risky destination depending on the water conditions, Queen’s Bath. We’ve heard many horrible stories of people going here, if you do want to visit, please take extra caution in the waters and the hike down. 

9. Kayaking and Paddleboarding: Paddle up the Wailua River to Secret Falls or venture along the Napali Coast. Kayak and paddleboard rentals are widely available in Hanalei Town. 

10. Ziplining and Tubing:  Get an adrenaline rush while ziplining through lush forests. A unique and memorable family adventure would be tubing through 17,000 acres of plantation lands: https://kauaibackcountry.com/ 

11. Luau Experiences: Immerse yourself in Hawaiian culture with a traditional luau. Enjoy music, hula dancing, and a feast of local cuisine. Our favorite Luau has been the Smith’s Family Luau where you can do a show only as well: https://www.smithskauai.com/garden-luau/ 

12. Biking the Kapa’a Trail: A hidden gem of activity. Just along the beach there is a lovely boardwalk that goes all the way from Lydgate Beach Park all the way to Donkey’s Beach. If you’d like to rent bikes, you can contact Biking in Paradise, at (808) 651-2676. You can text, call or message them for more details reserve.

13. Botanical Gardens: Enjoy the lush landscape and discover native Hawaiian plants and learn about conservation efforts. Limahuli Garden and Preserve: https://ntbg.org/gardens/limahuli/ and Princeville Botanical Gardens (where we had our pre-wedding photos done) has an amazing bamboo forest and short walk that over looks the beautiful ocean https://kauaibotanicalgardens.com/ 

14. Farmer’s Markets: If you want to break up your time from away from the pools and beaches we love exploring the local farmer’s markets. 


Don’t leave Kauai without savoring some of the island’s delectable dishes. Try poi (taro root paste), poke (raw fish salad), loco moco (rice, hamburger patty, fried egg, and gravy), Spam Musubi, and fresh tropical fruits like pineapple and coconut.

Some of our Favorite Restaurants







Water Safety Tips

  1. Water safety: Pay attention to ocean conditions and follow lifeguard instructions. Be cautious of strong currents. You can check the surf and wave conditions here: https://kauainownews.com/surf/
  2. Wildlife: Keep a safe distance from marine life and respect their habitat. Please do not touch and leave a safe-distance away from all marine life, including turtles and monk seals. Please do not feed the birds or chickens. 
  3. Respect the environment: Preserve Maui’s natural beauty by following Leave No Trace principles.
  4. Sun protection: Apply reef-safe sunscreen, wear sunglasses, and a hat to protect yourself from the sun.