BEST OF KAUAI
Let's be honest, any Hawaiian island you visit is going to be beautiful but there's something special about Kauai that earns it the top spot on my Hawaii travel list. It's the perfect combination of adventure and relaxation with it's lush tropical mountains and white sand beaches.
Click here to jump to quick list of activities
As the oldest and perhaps the most eco-friendly island, you won't find overbuilt resorts or a city scape on the island (it's actually illegal to build anything taller than a palm tree). And despite what the Instagram influencers and Pinterest posts say, there is no perfect itinerary to follow when you visit Kauai. Everyone travels differently and we all have unique preferences, budgets, and ideas of what vacation looks like.
There's a lot to explore on Kauai and it can be overwhelming sorting through all the options. Below is a list of activities and tour companies that you can't go wrong with, plus a few Pro Tips to help you get the most out of your time on Kauai!
Nā Pali Coast Boat Tour
Explore caves, snorkel with turtles, and learn about the history of the island all while snacking on some delicious local pineapple!
Company: Na Pali Experience
If you enjoy adventure, then experiencing the Na Pali Coast by way of sea is MUST. There are multiple companies and different types of boat tours that range in cost, activities, and length of trip but all the tours will give you an incredible view of the Na Pali Coast. That being said, not all tours are created equal. If you want quality, value, culture, and a whole lot of fun, the Na Pali Experience offers a 5 hour tour of the coast that will not disappoint. They cater to smaller groups and private tours so they aren't as well known as some of the other boat tour companies, but they are definitely one of the best!
If you book a private tour, ask for Captain Nate
The water can get choppy in the afternoon so if you are someone that gets sea sick easily, book the early morning tour (much calmer waters!)
If you have a large group or want to do a sunset catamaran sail, Capt. Andy's has some great options for boat tours as well
Play the Ocean Course at HŌKŪALA
Nicklaus + Oceanfront + Eighteen = Amen. And that is what you’ll say completing the namesake course that culminates in the longest stretch of continuous oceanfront holes in all of Hawaii!
Golf Course: Ocean Course at Hokuala
There's plenty of opportunity to play golf on Kauai, with nine golf courses ranging from public to world renowned. Open to the public, the Ocean Course at Hokuala is the perfect blend of a pro course and Kauai island spirit. Most avid golfers would probably overlook this course in favor of playing Princeville or Makai Golf Course but truth be told this course is extremely underrated (No, seriously... it was named one of the most underrated golf courses by Travel + Leisure Magazine).
Save time and money by renting your golf clubs from Kauai Golf Club Rentals. They offer multi-day rentals, as well as bundle golf round packages, and will drop-off/pick-up directly to you at any Kauai Resort or vacation rental! Ron, the owner, is extremely knowledgeable and is super helpful if you have any questions about what golf package might be right for you or what courses would be best to play, etc.
If you are an Adam Sandler fan then pay close attention to Hole 13... it's the backdrop for his media company Happy Madison Productions.
Paddle down the Wailua River and explore the Secret Falls!
Company: Kauai SUP
If you like the idea of doing something adventurous, but on your own time not in a pod of other tourists, then this is the perfect setup for you. The total trip will take you about 4-5 hours but it’s well worth it. Paddle up the river to the hiking path then hike approx. 45 min to the Secret Falls. Warning: it’s busy with kayak tours and other travelers so if you don’t fancy crowd, I recommend going to the fern grotto instead. Kauai SUP has decent prices and will navigate your stand up paddleboard to the waters edge for you.
Go in the morning (8am start time), the wind picks up in the afternoon making it a harder paddle back to the marina
Have newbies with you? No problem! Kauai SUP has great quality stability boards which make it easy for any beginner to learn :)
Book as a group online - they have an amazing online booking system making it very easy to organize group activities
Kauai Helicopter Tour
Get a bird's eye view of Waimea Canyon, Na Pali Coast, and Manawaiopuna (“Jurassic”) Falls!
Company: Mauna Loa Helicopter Tours
If you are like me and love that magical combination of adrenaline and adventure, then trust me when I say you should book a helicopter tour! There are multiple tour companies that all give roughly the same tour but again, not all companies are created equal. Mauna Loa Helicopters offers private (3ppl max) DOORS OFF helicopter tours for the same cost as a group tour from other outfitters. You don't have to pay extra to sit at a window and you get a personalized experience with your own pilot. It's the perfect way to see the entire island (geographically speaking) in one fell swoop. You will get an incredible view of everything this beautiful island has to offer. Talk about a bucket list item!
It's rare to find helicopter tours that offer doors off... so I highly suggest doing it here.
Just bring the iPhone - I tried switching between my iPhone, DSLR, and Go Pro but found I was too stressed trying to get the best shot. My iPhone captured the best overall quality so stick with just the one camera.
Book for the beginning of your trip. Our original book date was cancelled due to weather so we ended up having to push out our trip just to do this (but totally worth it!)
Experience small-scale sustainable cacao farming, thoughtfully crafted chocolate, and educational farm tours!
Company: Lyndgate Farms
Lyndgate Farms is a 5th generation cacao farm that is rooted in sustainability and overall deliciousness! If you like combining eating with learning then look no further. Their farm tour will have you tasting fresh honey and walking through botanical gardens, not to mention eating lots and lots of chocolate. Their employees are passionate and very knowledgeable so if you nerd out on topography, botany, and food like I do, you will be a very happy traveler with this experience.
If you don’t have time to do the 3 hour farm tour still go and visit the tasting room. It’s a condensed version without the tour, and it’s FREE!
If you are wondering what gifts to bring back for your loved ones or friends, all of their items travel pretty well (just watch the heat if you plan to bring back chocolate). I suggest some local Kauai honey or the Cacao dusted coconut nibs as great gift options!
Breakfast: Hanalei Bread Company
Get the croissant breakfast sandwich with an oat milk latte.
Lunch: Ishihara Market
Head to the back where the deli is and grab some insanely fresh Poki.
Dinner: Hukilau Lanai
Make a reservation and treat yourself to the filet mignon (Kauai raised beef).
Boat Tour: Na Pali Experience
Golf Course: Ocean Course at Hokuala
Paddleboarding: Kauai SUP
Helicopter Tour: Mauna Loa Helicopter Tours
Chocolate Tasting: Lyndgate Farms
Follow me as I explore the beauty of the world!