Frequently called “The Garden Isle,” this westernmost island has been the setting for films such as Jurassic Park, Lilo and Stitch, South Pacific, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. It is easy to see why, as Kauai is famous for its lush rainforest and breathtaking landscapes. The Na Pali Coast, whose name means “the cliffs,” is a must-see. Sail along the beautiful, rugged coastline or brave the 11-mile hike which winds past rocky beaches, waterfalls, and the ancient fishing village of Nu’alolokai.  One of the most beautiful places in Na Pali is Kalalau Valley. You can take in the magnificent views from the Kalalau or Pu’u o Kila lookouts, at a towering elevation of 4,000 feet.  Just watch out for nene (Hawaiian geese) in the parking lot! The other natural wonder of Kauai is Waimea Canyon, whose rocky features are said to rival the beauty of the Grand Canyon. The state park features 45 miles of hiking trails, which range in difficulty from easy to strenuous and include the popular Pihea and Alakai Swamp trails. On the other side of the island, you can float down Hawaii’s only navigable river by boat tour or kayak. The Wailua River features sights such as the Fern Grotto (a lava rock cave festooned with hanging ferns) and the peaceful Opaekaa and Wailua waterfalls.

Kauai Beach Scene

“Kauai Beach Scene” by Kathy McGraw

If you want even more adventure on your visit to Kauai, take a whale watching or snorkeling tour, ride horses at Princeville Ranch, go tubing down irrigation canals at Kauai Backcountry Adventures, or hook onto a zipline and go soaring over the treetops at 35 miles per hour!

For some slower paced fun, spend a day shopping and exploring the historical sites of Kauai’s towns. Lihue, the government center of Kauai, is home to the Kauai Museum, sandy Kalapaki Beach, whose gentle waters are perfect for swimming, and several enjoyable evening luaus. Poipu Beach is another great place to spend an afternoon, as the beach attracts sea turtles and endangered monk seals in addition to sunbathers and snorkelers. Poipu also has some of Kauai’s best resorts, shopping, dining, and golf. A visit to Kauai is not complete, however, without a visit to its small towns. Many films have been set in Hanapepe, whose charming storefronts have changed little since WWII, when it was bustling with soldiers and sailors. Every Friday night is Art Night, when local artists open their galleries and the town is aglow with food, music, and of course, art. Nearby Koloa is built on the grounds of an old sugar plantation and its Sugar Monument honors the immigrants who worked there. Other interesting places to visit on Kauai include the Spouting Horn Blowhole, Prince Kuhio Park, the historic Waioli Mission House with its bright green church, and a multitude of botanical gardens.

With gorgeous scenery, fun adventures, and quaint towns, the Garden Isle awaits you!