Fun things to do in Kauai

  • Pier at Hanalei Bay
    Pier at Hanalei Bay
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Most Viewed Things to Do in Kauai

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    Hanalei bay

    by mindcrime Written Nov 29, 2009

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    Exiting the Princeville we stopped at the Hanalei Valley Overlook. Pic 1 shows a familiar image of Kauai because every book and postcard includes this one. It’s really beautiful to look down the gorgeous valley and the Hanalei river splitting the numerous green fields and mountains around it. The hawaian people have grown taro in the valley for many centuries If you want to see the Hanalei town there is another viewpoint just a kilometer north from the right side of the road.

    Dont miss the Historic Hanalei bridge (pic 4), now old and rusty but beautifully standing there. It was built in 1912, one among 7 onelane bridges on the 560 Highway. Watch out and respect the rule which is the first car on the bridge has priority and the same cars with the cars that follow.

    After eating something light at the beautifully located Dolphin restaurant (check my restaurant tip) we walked a bit along the river and getting jealous of those in the river (pic 2) we visited the Wai’oli Hui’ia church (pic 3) in Hanalei town. It is a green wooden building that was built in 1912, The bell tower houses the original mission church bell. Right next to the church is the Wai’oli Mission Hall that was built in 1841 from the first missionaries that arrived in Hanalei. By the way, the town of Hanalei is small enough but seemed a lively surf town with many restaurants along the main road. Check again if you have gas at your car and continue along the 560 highway, a scenic route with green on left side and the ocean at your right hand (pic 5).

    Hanalei Valley lookout calm waters of the river Wai���oli Hui���ia church Historic Hanalei bridge scenic route

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    Princeville

    by mindcrime Written Nov 29, 2009

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    Betwen Anini beach and Hanalei bay you can visit the 11,000 acres of Princeville. First you will see the fountain (pic 1) and then you will start drive at the almost empty wide roads (pic 2) with trees on both sides. We started to wonder how much the residents of the houses (pic 3) pay here and then I’ve read that it’s a place for really rich people here. There are also time share complexes, golf courses and two luxury hotels. At the end of the main road is the Princeville hotel that overlooks Hanalei bay (pic 4). It was built in 1985 and if luxury is your style the goldcrowned columns will do the job. For me Kauai is so beautiful that there’s no need for something more than wood and stone but they say the sunset is beautiful from the resort.

    Their shopping center is probably useful for you too on your way further north on the island because you can get supplies from the super market, money from the bank and you can fill you car at the gas station which is the last one on the north shore (but also the most expensive one).

    The Plantation of Princeville ownded by the scotsman foreign minister Robert Wyllie. He wanted to honor the visit of King Kamehameha in 1860 and names the area by the royal status of Kamehameha’ son Prince Albert. The prince died inthe age of four only but even today a festival is held in his memory every year in May with local dances and music.

    Princeville's entrance Princeville road Princeville's houses Princeville Resort
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    St Raphaels Church

    by mindcrime Written Nov 29, 2009

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    St. Raphael’s church is the oldest catholic church in the island of Kauai. It was founded in 1841 by Robert Arsenius Walsh who did the first Mass on december 25 of the same year. Walsh established the parish two years after Catolics were granted religious freedom in Hawaii. of the first catholic missionaries that arrived in Hawai’i in 1827 but they forced to leave due to the earlier seeds of anticatholicism that the Protestant Missionaries had planted.

    You can see the relics of the old church (pic 1) but the one that stands there today was build in 1854 (but it was blessed in 1856) and renovated in 1936. It is simply decorated inside (pics 2-3). There were no visitors inside and noone that could give me more info about the church but on our way out I noticed some simple leaflets that have some general historical info.
    We walked a bit around and visited the small cemetery (pic 4) of the church where are buried some of the first Portuguese immigrants that settle on Kauai. The last burial in this cemetery occurred at about 1935

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    Old Town of Koloa and Poipu

    by mindcrime Written Nov 29, 2009

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    The day we drove to the south of Kauai we passed through a Tunnel of Trees. From Lihue we took Kaumuli’i Highway(hw 50) and then turned left on highway 520(maluhia road) which is actually a highway covered with trees from both sides (pic 1). The double row of eucalyptus trees were planted by Alexander McBryde in 1911 and they cover about 1,5km along the road! It was great to see from helicopter too but I missed the photo from up there.

    This road leads to Koloa (tall sugar cane) town, which had one of the first sugar plantations in the island, founded in 1835 and shut down only a few years before, in 1996. At Koloa’s main intersection is a brick chimney (pic 2), we parked to check it and read the sign that says that it is the Old Koloa Sugar Mill, a national historic landmark. It was built in 1841 and it was the the plantation’s third sugar mill. There is a monument (pic 3) in front of the park where the mill is. The bronze sculpture shows the life of the workers, from many different races that were there (japanase, filipinos, latins etc). Koloa town has not much for the visitor although its tourist oriented with several souvenir shores. The main road looks like it comes from the Old West with the wooden buildings and their falsefronts!

    From Koloa you can continue south to Poipu, which is the main base for the majority of the visitors in Kauai. Here, we saw more hotels than anywhere else in the island. Buildings like the ones of Marriott or Sheraton hotels aren’t my piece of cake but there are some nice beaches like the ones at Mahaulepu coastline (you have to take the dirt road after Hyatt Regency). Further west at Lawai Road you can visit the Prince Kuhio Park where a moinument of Prince Kuhio stands or see the Spouting Horn blowhole, where the waves surge under a flat lava shelf though a lava tube, they can go up to 10meters but we didnt see them that high (they say during summer is more impressive.

    tunnel of trees Old Koloa Sugar Mill monument next to Koloa Mill
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    helicopter ride

    by mindcrime Written Nov 29, 2009

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    Definitely one of the most expensive things to do in Kaua’i is to take a helicopter tour. You have to pay about $200 dollars depending on the company, the type of helicopter and where your seat will be. We tried the first class seat which is next to the pilot and we didn’t regret it, the ride was amazing and the reason is that in the island of Kauai doesn’t have roads in a big part (the majority of the island is mountainous) of it and only the helicopter can take you there. Check carefully many companies before you choose, we booked ours through a tour agent at the lobby of our hotel. She explained the advantages of every company (some have newer helicopters, some have bigger windows, some less noise, some bigger space etc).

    Sunshine Company had a great service with free pickup from the hotel and the type of our helicopter is called Black Beauty (pic 1), officially the model is ASTAR 350FX, a 2008 model. I’ve read that it operates faster with less fuel burn so we felt less guilty about how bad is for the environment flying with a helicopter (or a plane etc). It was big enough for the two of us in the front and we had extra room for leg and arm, yes we were very satisfied but the people at the back weren’t so comfortable though (but they payed $50 less each)

    All the helicopters depart from the Lihue airport, first they give you a safety demonstration and you return at the same spot after the ride. Our pilot (pic 2) were giving info all the way during our 50’ ride but we really didn’t really care about all these ancient kings and queens because the beauty in front of us was amazing. He drove us through Waimea Canyon, over the mountain through the fog, near the west coast, along Na Pali Coast, actually he covered almost the whole island.

    Black Beauty on air our pilot view from helicopter

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    Opaeka’a falls

    by mindcrime Written Nov 29, 2009

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    I have to say that I enjoyed the Opaeka’a waterfalls much more than Wailua waterfalls. The view point is much better here, just walk along the short path. The Opaeka’a waterfalls (pic 1) are 61meters high and you can see the twin cascades fall smoothly while the whole area is full in green. The pool area at the base supposed to have shrimps so no wonder why they called Opaeka’a (rolling shrimp). Like in other waterfalls a small sign reminds us how dangerous is to go down there….

    After seeing the waterfalls we passed the other way of the road. There is a scenic stop over the spot where Wailua river splits into north and south fork, the view from there is very nice (pics 2) and the there is an info sign:
    The mountain ridges of Maunakapu and Nounou divided the Wailua ahupua’a into two sections, Wailua Kai, traditionally referred to as, „Wailuanuiahoano“ encompasses about 2800 acres of land seaward. Wailua Uka is comprised of more than 17,455 acres. Altogether, the verdant valley provided all of the resources and necessities to support the chiefly retinues, along with the populace of maka’ainana who cultivated the lands and provided labor for the ruling ali’i.

    Opaeka���a falls Wailua river

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    Hindu monastery

    by mindcrime Written Nov 29, 2009

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    I always thought of Hindu monasteries that are something exotic and far from the Greek culture and then I’ve heard about this one on the banks of the Wailua River here in Hawaii, a weird feeling visiting this monastery temple complex that covers 458 acres. It was founded in 1970 by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami (1927-2001) and has two temple the Kadavul Siva Temple where you can see the 2m tall bronze image of Lord Nataraja and the new San Marga Iraivan Temple both of them in south indian style. The second temple expected to be finished at the end of 2012.

    The monks have a a strict daily program with several specific services and religious worships (to Lord Ganesha, Lord Muruga and Lord Siva). You can be there during some worships (especially if you are Hindu and they are open to any visitor) but you have to make an arrangemet before arriving there, they usually suggest to attend the 9am Siva puja in Kadavul Temple (90 minutes long). There’s no fee but as expected donations are welcome.

    Check out the times too beause the temple is open to the public only till noon. Photography isn‘t allowed inside the temple but you can take photos outside on the gardens that has some interesting corners anyway. Pic 2 shows the Pua Kenikeni Mandapam that we wrote our problems on a paper and we burnt them away! Pic 3 shows the Nepalese Ganesha (remover of Obstacles and God of Good Timing) which is actually located just before the entrance to the path that leads to the temple area. As you walk on the path you will see the Indian Banyan Tree on your left (Hinduism’s symbol of strength and breadth) and the statue of Lord Shanmuga (a sixfaced God that guides the transformation of the instinctive ibto a divine wisdom through the practice of yoga). Then further up the path you will see the Temple Tank (a sacred pool with a statue of the child saint Sambandar dancing Om) and of course the Kadavul Temple.

    The dresscode doesn’t allow shorts, short dresses, tshirts etc and yes they can provide you with wrap-arounds(sarongs). I noticed there wasn’t enough parking space but we left our car on a side street. You can also see the under construction Iraivan Temple.
    Most of my information here is from their detailed leaflets (they even have a small map to do a small self guided tour on your own) and their site.

    Hindu monastery, path to temple Hindu monastery, Pua Kenikeni Mandapam Hindu monastery, Nepalese Ganesha Hindu monastery-front garden
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    Memorial Gardens and Lydgate State Park

    by mindcrime Written Nov 29, 2009

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    We stopped at the Memorial Gardens on our way back from Wailua waterfalls. This cemetery was full of flower upon small graves of Japanese people. The worker seemed focus on his job but the sun was so strong that we could barely stand there more than some minutes. So, we just walked around a bit, we saw the statues and went back to our car.

    Back into highway 56 we turned onto Leho Drive to check the Lydgate State Park. It is named after the name of a protestant minister that found the Kaua’I Historical Society and helped to protect several historic sites of Kaua’i. The Kamalani playground is the highlight of the park if you have kids, they can play in a play lava tube, crawl up a small volcano (7meters high) and slide from the other side. The facilities of the park (restrooms, picnic tables, drinking water etc) will help you if you have kids.

    We relaxed for a while at the beach (which has a rock enclosed swimming area, actually a seawater pool) and hit the road again. The last thing we visited there were some boulders with carved petroglyphs on them. They are located at the shore and sometimes the flow of the river covered them with sand.

    Memorial Gardens-statue Memorial Gardens Memorial Gardens-worker Memorial Gardens-monument

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    Wailua river and waterfalls

    by mindcrime Written Nov 29, 2009

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    Wailua river (pic 1-2) was always important since the ancient Hawai’i. The kings chose this area as their capital, I guess because it was a garden of plenty because the river gave them the water and the ground was fertile. So they have everything they need, vegetables, bananas, coconut trees and fish from the ocean.
    Wailua river is 16km long and its source is at Mount Wai’aleale. 3km from the ocean it splits into north and south fork, actually Wailua means “two waters”. A good way to see/explore it is with a kayak of course, choose one of the lisenced companies of the area.

    Wailua falls (pic 3) used to call Wai’ehu (spraying water) and they are 25m high. You can see a double cascade of water but the high presure of water turns them into one at the bottom. The last king of Kaua’i Kaumuali’i supposed to jump off the falls... There is a sign that warns that people have been killed because of slippery rocks. The photo opportunities aren’t that much here especially if you want to be part of th photo because of the fence that protect people from falling down the hill. If the falls look familiar to you you probably have seen them on the Fantasy Island series.

    Wailua river Wailua river Wailua Waterfalls

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    Menehune Fishpond

    by mindcrime Written Nov 29, 2009

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    I have read about Menehune before we visited the Menehune fishpond. Actually, you can’t visit the fishpond because it’s private but you can see (and admire) it from the view point which is up the road. It is a huge dam that used to have three gaps. That was until 1800s when some Chinese farmers filled two of them so they could raise mullet in the fishpond.

    The area was used for fishing since the ancient times when the Hawaiians were trapping fishes with wooden fences with slats across the gaps. The slats were used to trap the big fishes when they moved between fences. The pond must been there the last 1000 years more or less and that makes impressive the fact that the wall between the stream and the pond is 2meters high and 300 meters long. It was really tranquil looking at it…

    The Hawaiian name of the fishpond is Alekoko (rippling blood!) because the legend says that Menehune people (a race of little impish people) tried to build the fishpond in one night by putting stones upon the request of the king Alekoko. They only said to him that they will do it only if the king would stay inside his house during their work. But Alekoko couldn’t stand the noise of the stones falling one over the other and went out so the Menehune people stopped work and washed their bleeding hands (because of the rough stones) at the unfinished fishpond.

    Menehune Fishpond

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    Lihue

    by mindcrime Written Nov 29, 2009

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    Lihu’e is the capital of Kauai and the only big city actually. It’s the commercial center and the main roads are always busy (it was the only place we noticed traffic in the island). The ancient name of the area was Kala’iamea (calm reddish brown place) but in 1837 Kaiki’oewa planted sugar cane here, moved the capital from Waimea and the first houses and a church appeared. He gave the name Lihu’e (goose flesh) to remember his homeland back on Oahu. The city grew up only after 1930 when the Nawiliwili harbor opened and 20 years the airport turned the small plantation town into a commercial center.

    We didn’t spend much time in the city but the two buildings of Kaua’I Museum (entrance from Wilcox building, it was built in 1924 and was the first public library) that was opened in 1960 has some interesting scale models, exhibits about the locals, the monarchy period, the sugar cane industry etc It is located at 4428 Rice St and it is open 9.00-16.00 Monday to Saturday. The entrance fee is $10.

    On the southern edge of Lihu’e is the Nawiliwili harbor where you can see the port (pics 1-2), the Kapapaki beach and the huge Marriott resort. We drove in some private dead end roads full of freighters. It happened by accident while we were trying to find Ninini Point Lighthouse (pic 3). It was built in 1932 and marks the north side of the bay’s entrance. It is 36 meters high with a visible light far to 17 miles. Although it was nice to see the jet planes above us (the airport is right next door) we didn’t enjoy the view because it was still cloudy early in the morning.

    On our departure from there we passed from Ahukini Recreation Pier State Park which was build in 1920 for shipping needs but since 1978 is a huge area where many locals go for fishing.

    port of Kaua'i port of Kaua'i Ninini Point Lighthouse

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    Snow in PARADISE !!!!!

    by KauaiTraveler31 Written Sep 5, 2009

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    One must do when on Kauai is try some "Shave Ice". Don't make the mistake of calling it a snow cone. Shave ice is a block of ice that is shaved on a machine that works kind of like a lathe, then the finely shaven ice is topped with sweet syrups. One of the best places to try shave ice while on Kauai is Shaka shave ice. right near the beach. make it your first stop when u land, about 2 mi. from the airport.

    Kalapaki Beach

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    Hike the Kalalau trail,

    by KauaiTraveler31 Updated Sep 5, 2009

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    One must to do activity on Kauai is hike on the Kalalau trail. The Kalalau trail is in 11 mi. treck through the Na Pali coast: "the cliffs" 2,ooo ft. cliffs fall dramaticaly into the ocean. You dont have to hike the whole 11 miles to get an apreciation of the coast line. about a half mile up there is a stunning view of the entire coast.. Two miles in is Hanakapiai Beach this is a great day hike and the end of the road for about 99.9% of hikers. For the brave few that make it all the way they are rewarded with the Beautiful Kalalau valley which can only compare to the garden of Eden. And the untainted Kalalau beach. Plan on camping there. I recommend Near the waterfall the social gathering place. If your there in the summer hike to the end of the beach and swim around to Honopu you will not see a soul, and you will be blown away. Start out early once noon hits the parking lot is like a zoo, whith not many spots.

    kalalau beach Na Pali coast honopu

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    Ke'e Beach

    by Etoile2B Written Jul 27, 2009

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    Ke’e Beach is the end of the road in this direction. It’s the gateway to the Na Pali coast. Bring your hiking shoes when you visit as adventure and breathtaking views await. The trailhead for the Na Pali coast hikes is clearly marked. But bring proper footwear because the trail quickly becomes steep and slippery. You won’t be disappointed if you decide to take a hike on this trail. If you don’t have the time to do the Na Pali coast hike there are several places along the trail to stop and enjoy the view before heading back to Ke’e beach. The beach, itself, is a wide expanse of sand that is just waiting to be explored. When we visited there were hardly any other tourists in the area and at times we had long stretches of beach entirely to ourselves. The water didn’t seem terribly swim-able as the waves were gigantic and rough but our walk along the beach provided us with spectacular views of the Na Pali coast. Our visit to Ke’e Beach was one of the highlights of our trip. I only wish we had more time to explore.

    View of the Na Pali coast from Ke'e Beach Ke'e Beach Me on Ke'e Beach with the Na Pali coast behind. Marc as we went exploring down Ke'e Beach People playing on Ke'e Beach
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    Walking the beach

    by Kauaigrl00 Written Jun 1, 2009

    Walk along the beaches to see if a Monk Seal has come up to rest. Please respect these animals because they are endangered. They will be roped off by wonderful dedicated volunteers on the island. The seals come up to sleep on the beach after they have eaten because they slow down so much that a shark could attack them. They sleep on the beach and then go back in. One of my favorite animals on the island

    Monk seal Seal throwing kisses monk seal
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