What are the top attractions to see on Kauai?

Kauai is one of the islands of Hawaii, sometimes referred to as the “Garden Island.” The main attractions of the fourth-largest island include emerald valleys, sharp mountain spires, jagged cliffs, tropical rainforests, diverging rivers, and gushing waterfalls.

The island is full of many adventures and photo-perfect scenery that people of all ages would love.

The Regions of the Island

Lihue

Lihue is Kauai’s capital, the center of government, and the island’s commercial center. It is the second largest town on the island, with its name meaning “cold chill” in the Hawaiian language. Lihue is the most traveled town in Kauai since the main airport is there. The island’s major commercial shipping center and cruise ship port are established in the area. 

East Side

The east side of Kauai is also known as the “Coconut Coast” because of the groves of coconut palms that grow in its resort areas. The towns found in the region are Wailua, Kapaa, Waipouli, Kapa, Kalapaki, and Nawiliwili.

North Shore

The North Shore is comprised of the following towns: Kilauea, Haena, Hanalei, Anini, and Princeville. The North Shore includes rocky caves, snorkeling beaches, and kid-friendly lagoons.

South Shore

The towns of Old Koloa, Kalaheo, Lawai, and Omao are all located on the south shore. The south coast is home to incredible beaches, great food, and various vacation rentals, resorts, and condominiums.  

West Side

The west side includes the towns of Eleele, Hanapepe, Waimea, Kakeha, Port Allen, Kapaka, and Mana. The scenic view of Waimea Canyon is highlighted on the west side. 

Top Attractions on Kauai

Napali Coast State Park

Napali Hawaii

Napali Coast State Park is one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world, found in the northwest region of Kauai Island. It is a 6,175-acre park that extends southwest from Kee Beach to Polihale State Park. It is said that the first settlers on the coast were Polynesian navigators around 1200 AD.

Using vehicles to reach the coast is impossible as the coast only allows footpaths for hiking. Tourists can go above and beyond by hiring a helicopter to get a better landscape view. The beach is also accessible by water via kayaking and paddleboard. 

The grand cliff on the coast is approximately 4,000 feet above the sea. The park has rocky sea caves and underwater tunnels carved out by storms. 

Waimea Canyon and Waimea Canyon State Park

Waimea Canyon Hawaii

The term “Waimea” means reddish water in the Hawaiian language. The visible color of the Waimea Canyon is red, thus earning the name. The canyon is described as “the Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” stretching 14 miles long, 1 mile wide, and over 3,600 feet deep. Waimea Canyon State Park overlooks the colorful Waimea Canyon, found southwest of Kauai. The park features a scenic drive, canyon lookouts, a view of Ni’ihau Island, wildland picnicking, and trails. 

There are two highways tourists can take to go to Waimea Canyon. The first is the Waimea Canyon Road, which starts from Waimea Town, and the second is the Kokee Road from Kekaha. The canyon is prone to fog, obstructing the views from the lookouts, especially as the day progresses, so tourists are encouraged to visit the place early.

Kauai’s Gardens

Allerton Hawaii

Kauai is called the Garden Island for a reason, which lies in the area’s different garden attractions. Three of Hawaii’s five National Tropical Botanical Gardens are found on Kauai. Two are located on the South Shore; the Allerton Garden and the McBryde Garden. The third one is found in Ha’ena, called the Limahuli Garden.

The Allerton Garden is a botanical garden, and landscape-architecture masterpiece put together by artists and architects Robert Allerton and John Gregg Allerton. 

Adjacent to Allerton Garden is the lush 259-acre McBryde Garden. The garden is the world’s most extensive collection of native Hawaiian species, serving as a botanical ark for threatened and endangered tropical plants. 

The third garden, Limahuli Garden and Preserve, are located on the north shore of the island. The park is home to dozens of endangered plants and birds—culturally unique species in an authentic Hawaiian landscape.

Beaches

Poipu hawaii

Kauai is also a popular destination because of its beautiful beaches. Examples of the most visited beaches in Kauai include Poipu beach, found on the southern coast of Kauai in a reef-protected area; Maha’ulepu beach, which encompasses other beaches such as Gillin’s Beach, Kawailoa bay and Kipu Kai Beach; Hanalei Bay, which is a protected cove in the northern shore of Kauai; Polilahe Beach which is a 17 miles stretch; Tunnels Beach also known as Makua beach considered to be a top destination for snorkelers and divers during calm summer months.

Other beaches of Kauai include Kee Beach, Kalapaki Beach, Anini Beach, Lydgate Beach, Shipwreck Beach, Kealia Beach, and Anahola Beach.

Koko’s State Park

Koko Hawaii

Koko’s State Park is a 435-acres park containing 45 miles of scenic trails just north of Waimea Canyon State Park. The well-paved road, picnic tables, and some restaurants in the area invite tourists to visit the place. There are even major hiking trails in the park: Alakai Swamp, Awa’awapuhi, Kwaioi Stream, Nualolo Cliffs, Nualolo, Pihea, and Poomau Canyon Lookout Trails.

Manawaiopuna Falls

Jurassic Falls in Kauai

Located in Hanapepe Valley, Manawaiopuna Falls is a privately owned waterfall accessible only by helicopter. The falls is a 400-ft tall and featured as one scene in the movie Jurassic Park in 1993. 

Polihale State Park

Polilahe Hawaii

The road to the park is a bit of a dirt road that may be flooded during rains and become impassable. But no worries, as the dirt road rewards tourists with a splendid beach park for a picnic, camping, and swimming. 

Hanalei Valley Lookout

palm trees view in Hanalei

Countless waterfalls, rainbows, fields of taro, and hidden treasures charm Hanalei Valley, waiting to be explored. The lookout gives tourists the most photographic view in all of Hawaii.

Queen’s Bath

Queen’s bath hawaii

Queen’s bath is a natural tide pool in Princeville, Kauai. Before landing on the scenery, visitors will have to hike a trail which will take 10 minutes. The natural rocky pool is suitable for picture taking. Still, the strong current and sharp edges may not be advisable for swimming, especially for kids. 

Final Thoughts

The island of Kauai is another must-see island when visiting Hawaii. There are plenty of good experiences and beautiful views from the landmarks mentioned above.