Updated: July 9, 2021
Known for its wild natural beauty and quiet tranquility, Kauai is the best of all the Hawaiian islands if you’re looking to get away from it all. From the must-see Na Pali sea cliffs to the earthy and expansive Waimea Canyon, the garden isle of Kauai has the most incredible vistas. Here you’ll find over 40 pristine white sand beaches stretching for a total of over 50 miles–more beach per mile than any other. If you’re planning your trip to Kauai, don’t miss these top things to do in Kauai.
#1 – Cruise the Na Pali Coast
Whether you choose to go by sea or by air, seeing the Na Pali Coast is a must-do on Kauai. Known for its astonishing lookouts, cascading waterfalls, and secluded sea caves, this range of incredible sea cliffs will take your breath away. One of the best ways to enjoy Na Pali is by boat where you can take in the cliffs from below. Makana Charters offers coastal cruises throughout the year which include snorkeling, lunch, and drinks. You’ll even get a chance to see whales during the winter months. Be sure to book up early, however, as this one sells out quickly.
Ages 3+ | Small-group tours | Food & drink included
#2 – See Kauai from the sky
Catch breathtaking bird’s eye views on a Kauai helicopter tour. To this day, there are parts of Kauai that are only accessible by sea and air—and certainly, some natural wonders that are at their most astonishing when viewed from above—making a helicopter tour the best way to see all Kauai has to offer. From the Waimea Canyon to the Manawaiopuna “Jurassic” Falls, sweeping shorelines to rolling mountain ranges, you won’t be disappointed. The best thing about this tour is it’s completely private so you won’t get stuck in a middle seat.
Ages 7+ | Private experiences | Book in advance
#3 – Explore Kipu Ranch by ATV
Kauai is known for its awesome ATV tours and is it any wonder why? With so much rugged beauty, sometimes you need to get a little rugged yourself to access it. Kipu Ranch is one of the best-preserved examples of Kauai’s natural contours and agricultural past. This active livestock ranch once belonged to the Hawaiian monarchy and is now private property accessible only by Kipu Ranch Adventures’s ATV Tours. Explore the ranch’s lush green pastures, venture down into the Huleia Valley, and ascend Ha’upu Mountain for a much-sought-after view of Kipu Kai, one of Kauai’s most isolated beaches.
Ages 9+ | Small-group tours | All equipment provided
#4 – Zipline Kauai’s south shore
No other island can compete with Kauai’s untouched beauty—and one of the best ways to see it for yourself is by zipline. Check out Koloa Zipline, boasting the longest zipline on the whole island, where you can fly over miles of rich wild forest and glistening water. You’ll get to explore the hidden trails of Mount Makaleha and cool off at a waterfall. For the history lovers out there, this zipline park is housed on what used to be Kauai’s first sugar plantation.
Ages 7+ | Small-group tours | All equipment provided
#5 – Snorkel Kauai’s south shore
Get out on the water with a snorkeling tour of Kauai’s south shore. Known for its excellent snorkeling year-round, the south shore is home to Hawaiian green sea turtles, playful spinner dolphins, and exotic reef fish and eels. This snorkel adventure company has scoped out the two best remote snorkeling destinations, including the Sheraton Caverns, and will take you to both with stops along the way to see the Queen’s Summer Home, the famous Sprouting Horn, and the mythic Kipu Kai Beach.
Ages 5+ | Small-group tours | Food & drink included | All equipment provided
Did you know that Hawaii has recently banned the use of sunscreens that aren’t considered reef safe? Check out our review of the best reef safe sunscreens to make sure you’re protecting yourself, and the environment.
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