Kauai might only be the fourth largest island in the Hawaiian archipelago, but in terms of its beauty, attractions, and culture, it’s arguably number one.
Whether your ideal vacation consists of outdoor adventures (zipline tours, rafting, surfing, or hiking), relaxation and pampering (spa days and beach days), or culture and history (museums, local restaurants, Luau shows, or traditional horse riding), there is absolutely no shortage of things to do in Kauai.
So, what are you waiting for? Start planning your next adventure to this heaven-on-Earth!
1 – Soar over the island with a helicopter tour
If you want to get the best views of this remarkable island, then strap yourself in for a once-in-a-lifetime helicopter tour across the skies!
Most adventures last about 50 minutes, boasting highlights like the gorgeous Manawaiopuna falls (which you’ll see up close).
Movie buffs, rejoice; you’ll be pleased to know that the tour includes a visit to the one and only Jurassic Park set!
2 – Sail on the beautiful Na Pali coast
The Na Pali coast is known for its dazzling waterfalls, secluded beaches, and intriguing sea caves.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to know how to sail to enjoy the Na Pali coast — just sign up for a sailing tour that includes the captain.
Plenty of tourists even get an up-close and personal look at the marine life — none more entertaining than the turtles and dolphins.
3- Enjoy a romantic sunset dinner cruise!
Looking for a way to spice up the romance on your couples’ vacation?
Well, a sunset dinner cruise is one way to do it! Enjoy the radiant sunset while you cruise along the Na Pali coastline, with nothing but glistening views as far as the eye can see.
Not only will you get to witness the beauty of the island but you’ll also be treated to dinner and drinks along the way.
4 – Fly through the air on a zipline adventure
Strap into a harness and get ready to ramp the adrenaline into overdrive!
Going on a zipline adventure in Kauai (and by adventure, we mean it, with zipline after zipline traversing above the lush forest canopy).
As you soar above this island oasis you’ll reach incredible speeds, you’ll be able to take in a different perspective of the area while admiring the contrast between the vibrant blue ocean and the lush greenery.
5 – Go snorkeling amongst colorful fish!
Get up close and personal with the marine life on the Kauai coast with an always-enjoyable snorkeling adventure.
Whether you’re a beginner or seasoned expert, snorkeling tour companies accept everyone. In fact, it can be a great day out for the whole family as the kids can join in as well.
6 – Go on a kayaking adventure on the Wailua River
Spend the day exploring and kayaking at the Wailua river and falls.
Most tours will include kayaking, swimming, and hiking, so make sure to bring a decent pair of outdoor shoes (no fresh kicks today, unfortunately).
Typically, to make life easier, lunch and drinks are provided as well.
Hot tip: ask your guide nicely and you may even get to venture into the Fern Grotto — a former space reserved only for royalty!
7 – Get a bird’s eye view of Kauai on an airplane tour
Marvel at the beauty that Kauai has to offer in a relaxing airplane tour. Kauai isn’t called the “island of paradise” for nothing, and in an airplane tour, you will understand exactly where that moniker was born.
Enjoy the breathtaking views of the crystal waters, seemingly endless greenery, and brilliant waterfalls as you glide through the air in style!
8 – Get face to face with turtles while scuba diving!
Are you ready to dive deep into the ocean and marvel at Kauai’s vibrant sea life?
With so many different tours available — including tours for those who have never been scuba diving before and also tours for certified divers — there’s a day out suitable for every level of experience.
Keep your eyes peeled — lucky divers often are greeted by the famous Hawaiian green sea turtles!
9 – Ride the waves at one of the surf beaches!
Surf’s up, people!
It’s common knowledge that Hawaii is THE place people go to make their dream of surfing a reality.
Luckily for travelers, there are many private and group lessons available when it comes to learning how to surf — so even if you’re not ready to tackle the monster waves, you can still hop on a board.
Ask the locals and they’ll advocate for Hanalei Bay: with consistent waves, beautiful views, and family-friendly facilities, it’s considered one of the best surf spots on the island.
10 – Keep your eyes peeled for whales and dolphins!
Take a tour, cruise around, and keep the camera at the ready for these gentle giants.
Most tours last around 3 hours (with refreshments included) and — since the guide narrates a lot of information about these marine mammals — also feature an educational element.
11 – Take an off-road adventure in an ATV
Not only can an off-road adventure in an ATV be packed full of adrenaline, but it will show you the rich history of the island as well.
With so many different places and terrains to visit (depending on which tour you choose), you could find yourself walking if the shoes of our favorite heroes from Jurassic Park or Indiana Jones!
12 – Explore the forbidden island of Niihau
Take a trip and uncover the great secrets, legends, and mysteries of the island of Niihau!
Besides the rich history of this hidden island, the area also boasts stunning waterfalls, underwater caves, and endless green terrain to get lost in.
With tours usually lasting about six hours, most travelers opt to make a whole day out of it.
13 – Sample tasty treats on a food tour
A food tour is a perfect way to sample all the local delicacies that Kauai has to offer — go where the locals go and eat all the delicious food that the locals eat!
Most food tours, run by Kauai residents, not only show off the island’s best restaurants, bars, and cafes, but also provide a range of cultural and historical insights along the way.
14 – Immerse yourself in Polynesian culture and go to a Luau show
A luau show is a perfect way to experience Polynesian cultures and traditions — hands-down, it’s one of the most exciting things to see in Kauai.
Luau shows usually include hula dancers, traditional fire knife dancing, and plenty more.
Watch in awe and enjoy a buffet of drinks and local dishes — with incredible dance and entertainment, it’s an absolute must for travelers and tourists!
15 – Memorialize your vacation with a photo tour
Who’s ready to explore and discover the most gorgeous photogenic landscapes that Kauai has to offer?
A professional photographer will give you tips on how to take the best photos of these places (and take photos of YOU, of course).
If you don’t have a professional camera or any experience behind the lens, don’t fret; camera phones also work for this tour.
16 – Spend the day playing Golf
If you’re a fan of the fairway, this is for you.
There’s arguably no more relaxing day than an afternoon riding around in a golf cart on one of the island’s many golf courses; Some tourist favorites include the Hokuala golf course, Poipu Bay resort golf course, Wailua golf course, Kukuiolono golf course, and the Princeville Makai golf club.
Most of these courses have drinks and mouthwatering food available, but more importantly, offer stunning views of the ocean.
17 – Take a stroll in the National Tropical Botanical Garden
Expand your knowledge of the botanical heritage in the picturesque gardens on Kauai island with a visit to this vibrant, diverse garden!
There are many knowledgeable tour guides available that can provide ample information and insights on the local flora and fauna, and they’ll be happy to talk all day about the island’s culture and heritage too.
Take note: If you’re planning on taking a tour of the Allerton Garden and the MacBryde Garden (which every visitor absolutely should), advanced bookings are required.
18 – Saddle up for a horse riding adventure!
There are many places in Kauai that offer scenic horseback riding tours on the island.
But if you’re a total newbie, there’s no need to worry; if you have no experience trotting on a mighty steed, the horses are well trained and the experienced tour guides allow you to go at your own pace, pressure-free.
Enjoy stunning views, winding trails, and fresh air all the way through/
19 – Enjoy picturesque views of the Waimea Canyon
Fun fact: at approximately ten miles long and up to 3,000 feet deep, the absolutely enormous Waimea Canyon holds the title of the second-largest canyon in the United States!
There are many different choices available — take your pick of airplane or helicopter flight, bus tours, and private tours; each option has its own benefits and offers its own breathtaking views of the canyon.
20 – Hike 1800 feet over the ocean on the Kalalau Trail
For the ultimate view, take a scenic hike on the Kalalau trail all the way up to the Kalalau lookout.
This challenging hike is almost 11 miles long and treks through all sorts of terrain — the arguable highlight being a private beach!
Make sure to pack good hiking shoes for this trail! It is strenuous, however, according to the thousands of previous hikers, definitely worth it — as the views are absolutely stunning!
21 – Taste the flavors of Hawaii at the Koloa Rum Company
Rum is the staple of most tropical cocktails, so why not go to the place where these flavors originated? That’s right, none other than the Koloa Rum Company!
A unique, fascinating distillery, Koloa offers tours of their brewery every hour, where visitors can taste a selection of different rums and sweet treats.
Remember to book in advance as there are only limited spots for each tour.
22 – Ride the train at the Kauai Plantation Railway
Looking for an experience that’s both educational and interactive? Look no further!
Learn about the history of Hawaii on this relaxing 40-minute train ride, during which the well-versed tour guides will talk about centuries gone by on the island and point out the important destinations that the train scoots past.
Camera at the ready — the train travels through orchids, farmlands, and forests, so there’s plenty of views to enjoy!
23 – Eat (too much) chocolate as you stroll the Princeville Botanical Gardens
Chocolate and flowers are the ultimate romantic package and the Princeville Botanical Gardens has both these things in spades!
Most tours last about 3 hours, with friendly guides sharing information about all the plants in the garden.
If you’re feeling peckish there are plenty of local fruits to sample, as well, of course, as a chocolate tasting — all of which is made from local cacao trees.
24 – Swim at the relaxing Poipu Beach Park
Spend a day in the sun and frolic in the crystal clear waters at Poipu beach park — easily one of the most beloved things to do in Kauai.
This beach is a hidden gem among the locals, and we all know what that means: almost no tourists!
It is also renowned as a spot where visitors are often greeted by turtles and seals, so make sure to charge the camera batteries!
25 – Swim like royalty at the Queen’s Bath
Despite what you might think, the Queen’s bath isn’t some sort of royal bathtub — rather it’s a very unique tide pool that not many people know about (which means smaller crowds)!
Dwarfing the common swimming pool in size substantially, the Queen’s Bath is, believe it or not, actually a giant sinkhole that is surrounded by rocks — still, tourists and locals can’t get enough.
Just make sure that you check the forecast for the day before you go swimming to ensure conditions are safe.
26 – Be amazed by the art at the Kauai Museum
Art lovers, rejoice! Showcasing a mix of both indigenous and immigrant art (inspired by Hawaiian heritage), visitors are always enjoying the amazing exhibits at the Kauai Museum.
For those interested in history, a number of the displays also feature artifacts relating to the indigenous people of the area.
On those rainy days, it’s the perfect educational and fun place to spend the day, and arguably one of the most fascinating things to see in Kauai.
27 – Get lost on the Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail
The Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail offers many different kinds of attractions, so there is sure to be something for almost everyone!
Visitors can spend the day putting on the golf course, or hike along the beautiful trail.
The trail itself has plenty of paths that go down to the ocean, however, regardless of which path you take, make sure to check out the stunning Shipwreck Beach!
28 – Spend the day at Old Koloa Town
As one of the most underrated places to see in Kauai, Old Koloa Town is loved by tourists and locals alike.
Boasting a plethora of different activities to do and landmarks to see, this quaint little town has plenty to offer:
There are art galleries, jewelry stores, gift stores, clothing stores, restaurants, cafes, and so much more!
29 – Take jealousy-evoking pictures at the Spouting Horn
A blowhole that finds itself on postcard after postcard, the Spouting Horn is easily one of the most photographed places in Kauai.
It can be quite a spectacular sight to see when the water comes through it and bursts into the air (at heights of up to 50 feet!), so don’t forget to stop and take a picture in front of it!
Located on the southern coast, it’s the perfect activity to combine with a trip to Old Koloa Town.
30 – Grab a hot cup of coffee at the Kauai Coffee Company
If you’re on the hunt for gifts for the family, the Kauai Coffee Company is a great place to pick up a souvenir before you leave this paradise island.
Spend the day on a tour around their orchard, learning all about how their beans are grown and made, before wrapping up the day with a nice cup of coffee at the estate.
Love the taste? There are plenty of take-home bags available for purchase.
31 – Reel in a trophy fish!
Kauai is known for its abundant marine life, so it makes sense that it’s renowned around the world by fishing enthusiasts.
If it’s always been a dream of yours to catch a trophy fish, then you’ve come to the right place.
Jump on board the 45-foot yacht, enjoy the views along the way, and let the tour guides show you all of the most popular fishing spots in the area — and more importantly, how to reel in a catch!
32 – Hike the trails in Kokeʻe State Park
Nature lovers, this one’s for you; take in a breath of fresh air and gaze in awe of the scenic views at Koke’e State Park!
This beautiful slice of Mother Nature, which spans the northwest side of the island, has a wide selection of hiking trails — and if you’re not sure which to take, the friendly staff at the visitor lodge will point you in the right direction.
Feel like some time indoors? There is also a museum that is rich with history and artworks from the local people.
33 – Soak up the sunshine at Hanalei Bay
Stretching almost 2 miles, Hanalei Bay is the largest bay on the north shore of the island; chock-full of wildlife, pristine beaches, and beloved eateries.
Thanks to its diversity of attractions and soft, walkable sand, it’s become a popular spot among local surfers and tourists alike.
After riding the waves or perfecting the tan, there are plenty of shops and restaurants in the area to help transition afternoon into evening.
34 – Treat yourself to Hawaiian Shave Ice
Hawaiian shaved ice is a classic local dessert — if you’ve got a sweet tooth, make sure trying this staple sits high atop your list of things to do in Kauai!
Typically, the tasty treat consists of shaved ice and some kind of flavored syrup.
It’s the perfect treat to cool yourself down on a hot day, and, thankfully, is served by countless places on the island.
35 – Embrace the serenity at Kauai’s Hindu Temple
Surrounded by beautiful tropical gardens, the Kauai Hindu temple is a traditional south-Indian-style monastery, and one of the most serene, peaceful places on the entire island.
Despite housing more than two dozen monks, the temple remains open to tourists.
If, after a few days of hiking or surging, you simply need to relax and get some peace and quiet, there’s no better place.
36 – Dig into a delicious (and nutritious) Hawaiian Poke Bowl
Typically consisting of raw fish and greens topped over white rice, the Hawaiian poke bowl is not only enjoyed by the people of Hawaii but has rapidly become a favorite for foodies all over the world!
But you haven’t *really* had a poke bowl until you’ve tried one here, in Kauai. Luckily for us, there’s an endless list of places on the island that serve it.
37 – Grab a bite to eat at the local food trucks
Street food has become popular all over the USA in recent years, and Kauai is no different.
With such a large variety of food trucks in the area, you’ll be spoiled for choice; choose from taro milkshakes, spicy coconut shrimp, ahi fish burritos, coffee, fried chicken, and so much more.
Don’t forget to save room for shaved ice for dessert!
38 – Go off the beaten track on a tubing adventure
A surefire hit for the entire family, tubing is an adrenaline rush (in a calm sort of way) that lets you see parts of Kauai that you might not otherwise get the chance.
As you travel along the slow-moving waters, deep into the mountains and greenery, take a second to appreciate the untouched slice of nature engulfing you — the scenery is, without a doubt, one of the most incredible things to see in Kauai.
Tubing tours are open to everyone, including kids, and can make your trip one to remember!
39 – Learn to shoot at Kauai Sporting Clays
Even complete amateurs can have an unforgettable time at Kauai Sporting Clays.
There are courses set up for beginners and experienced shooters, with a conscious dedication to safety.
For something a little more unique, the center also offers tours in the dark where guests can shoot targets (with a little bit of friendly competition, of course).
40 – Join a relaxing downhill cycling trip!
Downhill cycling is the perfect way to stay active without breaking much of a sweat!
As you cycle at your own pace, enjoy the views of the Waimea Canyon, hidden valleys, and sparkling waters; with the wind rushing through your hair the whole way through.
With companies like Keko Kauai offering a wide range of experiences, it’s a great way to enjoy the fresh air.
41 – Explore the wilderness with a canyoning adventure!
Requiring nerves of steel, canyoning in Kauai is definitely for the more adventurous of you out there!
Take a hike through the thick rainforests and propel down waterfalls with a trusted tour guide and instructor, soaking in the peaceful surrounding and endemic wildlife along the way.
As a welcomed change from the tourist hot spots, canyoning is considered one of the best things to do in Kauai.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our selection of exciting, relaxing, and fascinating things to do in Kauai, Hawaii!
If you have any other must-see suggestions, feel free to let us know in the comments!
Don’t forget to check out our guides to the other equally incredible Hawaiian islands! Don’t miss our selections of things to do in Oahu, things to do in Maui, things to do on the Big Island, and our bucket list of the best things to do in Hawaii.
As always, happy travels!