You’re going to Kauai??! You’re going to have soooo much fun! I’ve put together my ultimate bucket list of things to do on Kauai, all 101 of them! Now of course you won’t get to all of these one one trip, but use this list to pick and choose what sounds best to you so you’ll be on your way to planning the perfect Kauai vacation!
1.Helicopter Tour: This is easily the #1 MUST DO on Kauai. Not only will you see the amazing Waimea Canyon and stunning Napali Coast, but you’ll see parts of Kauai you won’t be able to see any other way.
2.Waimea Canyon: Mark Twain called Waimea Canyon the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” and it doesn’t disappoint.
3.Queen’s Bath: Only venture out to this swimming hole on the north shore when the water’s calm!
4.Napali Coast Boat Tour: The best bang for your buck way to see the Napali Coast.
5.Search for Hawaiian Monk Seals: The sunny south shore of Kauai is a favorite resting area for the endangered Hawaiian Monk Seals.
6.Wailua Falls: The 80-foot waterfall just outside of Lihue is practically a drive up waterfall, making it a popular spot.
7.Kayak the Wailua River: It’s the only navigable river in the state.
8.Fern Grotto: Kayak or take a boat tour up the Wailua River to this iconic spot.
9.Go tubing down old sugar can irrigation ditches: “Float da ditch” with Kauai Backcountry Adventures.
10.Smith Family Luau: Kauai’s most charming luau.
11.Kilauea Lighthouse: Kauai’s only lighthouse can be found on the north shore.
12.Spouting Horn: Kauai’s famous blowhole is easily accessible (there’s a big parking lot and souvenir booths set up) and quite a sight.
13.Opaekaa Falls: Another drive by waterfall, this one has a great overlook and is easy to find.
14.Kalalau Overlook: This gorgeous overlook at Waimea Canyon will give you a bird’s eye view of part of the Napali Coast.
15.Hanalei Pier: Walk out onto Hanalei pier for spectacular views of the bay and mountains.
16.Paddleboard or surf in Hanalei Bay: Rent boards at a place in town and paddle around the bay, or take surf lessons with Hawaiian Surfing Adventures.
17.Kapaa Beach Path: Bike or walk for miles on this paved oceanfront pathway.
18.Horseback riding at Silver Falls Ranch: Do a trail ride through this tropical oasis, which stops for lunch near a waterfall.
19.Koloa Zipline: This lush course is the place to go if ziplining is on your Hawaii bucket list.
20.Ride ATVs: Kipu Ranch offers some great ATV tours of “undiscovered” Kauai.
21.Kauai Humane Society field trip: Pick up a pup from the Humane Society for the day and take them out for a play date.
22.National Tropical Botanical Garden: With two locations on Kauai, this is a must do for lovers of botanical gardens.
23.Na ‘Aina Kai Botanical Gardens: One of the lovliest places on the north shore.
24.Koloa Rum Company: Stop by this local distillery for a tasting.
25.Kauai Coffee Company: Stop by for a tasting or a tour at the Kauai Coffee Estate.
26.Hanalei Valley Overlook: Make sure you take a few minutes to pause at this overlook on the north shore. It’s one of the prettiest sights on Kauai.
27.Princeville Makai Golf Club: If you’re a golfer, you won’t want to miss the courses in Princeville.
28.Kamokila Hawaiian Village: This recreation of an ancient Hawaiian village is a great place to rent a kayak for a trip down the Wailua River to Secret Falls.
29.Tasting Kauai Food Tours: Pick a side of the island and embark on a multi-stop tour of Kauai’s finest culinary experiences.
30.Steelgrass Chocolate Farm Tour: This extensive tour about the chocolate making process (from branch to bar) also features a lot of local tropical flowers and fruits.
31.Kitesurfing lessons: It’s not cheap, and you won’t learn quick, but if you’re looking for a new extreme sport to try, you can’t beat the thrill!
32.Hanalei town: Full of cute little shops and restaurants, Hanalei is a great surf town and in the winter months it draws surfers from all over the world.
33.Hanapepe town: This classic little beach town was the inspiration behind Disney’s Lilo and Stitch and really feels like a step back in time to old Hawaii. There’s an art walk including over 16 galleries every Friday night!
34.Koloa town: Take the famous tree lined road to this cute well preserved town where there’s plenty of shopping and dining.
35.Kapa’a town: Historic downtown Kapa’a is the central hub of the coconut coast and feels like a charming beach side town.
36.Boogie boarding: Nothing is more fun than grabbing a boogie board and riding the waves.
37.Go camping: If you want to get really rustic, consider camping at one of Kauai’s state parks.
38.Deep sea fishing: Head out on a half day charter to fish for tuna, ono, and marlin.
39.Kayak the Napali Coast: If you’re really looking for adventure, kayaking the Napali Coast (in the summer months) is a real thrill!
40.Anara Spa at the Grand Hyatt: For the most luxuriously tropical experience on Kauai, head to the Anara Spa at the Grand Hyatt for a day of pampering.
41.Ke’e Beach: As far as the road goes on the north side, this beach is a stunner and a great spot for beginner snorkeling.
42.Haena State Park: You won’t find a more gorgeous backdrop anywhere in Kauai.
43.Tunnels Beach: You’ll find some of the best snorkeling on Kauai right off this famous north shore beach.
44.Lumahai Beach: Made famous from scenes in South Pacific, this beach is beautiful but not good for swimming.
45.Hideaways Beach: Accessed by a small trail near the St. Regis’s guard shack in Princeville, just finding this beach is half the fun. Read more detailed instructions for finding it in this post.
46.Lydgate Beach Park: This bustling beach on the east side is a favorite with locals and tourists.
47.Poipu Beach: This favorite south shore beach has excellent snorkeling and is the best place on the island to spot Hawaiian Monk Seals sunning themselves in the sand.
48.Maha’ulepu Beach: Few people make the trek to this remote beach so it’s not unusual to have it all to yourself.
49.Glass Beach: Located at the end of Aka Ula road in Port Allen, this spot (actually located right behind an industrial park) features the remains of broken up bottles and other glass. It’s a good spot for beach combing but not much else.
50.Polihale Beach: Perhaps one of Kauai’s most beautiful beaches, Polihale definitely has an off the grid feel.
51.Anini Beach: This gem on the north shore is never crowded.
52.Shipwreck Beach: Not great for swimming, but this south side beach is super pretty.
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53.Kalalau Trail: This famed trail along the Napali Coast is 22 miles round trip and requires a permit, but the first two miles (four round trip) are open to day hikers.
54.Hanakapiai Falls hike: This two mile detour from the Kalalau Trail will take you up to an amazing waterfall.
55.Canyon & Cliff Trails: These trails in and around Waimea Canyon are some of the most popular hikes on the west side of the island.
56.Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail: This heritage trail takes you past an open ceiling cave and down to a usually deserted beach.
57.Sleeping Giant Trail: Great views of the east side of Kauai.
58.Wai’ale’ale Summit: If a 20 mile round trip hike in rainy swamplike conditions while monitoring a GPS to make sure you’re still on the trail sounds like fun, you might be crazy enough to do this hike.
59.Blue Hole: While hiking all the way back to the “Weeping Wall” really isn’t advisable; you can get a good look at it on a half-day hike with a tour guide.
60.Ho’opi’i Falls Hike: This quick jungle hike rewards you with not one, but two waterfalls.
61.RumFire (Poipu): You’ll have a great dinner and an even better view of the sunset. It’s right on a gorgeous beach and it’s a lovely spot.
62.Tidepools (Poipu): This is your spot for a fancy schmancy romantic dinner. Located at the Grand Hyatt, the ambiance here is pretty special (and you’ll also have a fantastic meal with stellar service).
63.Beach House (Poipu): This spot right on the beach is a tourist and local’s favorite spot for a nice dinner. It’s a real treat, but you’ll pay less than at other fancy places in the resorts down here.
64.Eating House 1849 (Poipu): This new concept by Hawaii’s famous chef Roy Yamaguchi is located in the Kukui’ula Village Shopping Center in Poipu. Its upstairs location means great sunset views and the menu focuses on fresh local ingredients in a farm to table like atmosphere.
65.Merriman’s Gourmet Burgers & Pizza (Poipu): Chef Peter Merriman has several restaurants throughout the island, but I tend to prefer his more casual spots (this place and Monkeypod on Maui and Oahu) to his fancy ones. All of his restaurants have an inventive drink menu and the pizza here was fantastic.
66.Hukilau Lanai (Kapaa): This is a great dinner spot (closed on Mondays) serving up fresh fish and other locally sourced favorites, poolside at the Kauai Coast Resort. They do a fun happy hour from 3-5 everyday.
67.Lava Lava Beach Club (Kapaa): This beachfront restaurant serves up breakfast, lunch, and dinner with amazing views! It’s located at the Kauai Shores (a great budget hotel if you’re looking for one!) and often has live music in the evenings. The bar and interior of the restaurant is covered with tables, couches, and fire pits spreading out onto the beach.
68.Bar Acuda (Hanalei): This tapas restaurant in Hanalei is a favorite spot on the north shore and serves up both traditional small plates and unique combinations inspired by the island.
69.The Dolphin (Hanalei): This low-key spot not only serves up fresh fish dishes but also has some of the island’s best sushi. This Hanalei restaurant is a favorite with visitors and locals alike.
70.Duke’s Kauai (Lihue): Duke’s is a Hawaiian institution.
71.La Spezia (Koloa): A real taste of old Italy in the middle of Hawaii.
72.Sam’s Ocean View (Kapaa): This casual bistro has good food and great views.
73.Brennecke’s Beach Broiler (Poipu): You can’t beat dinner with a view! This place is right across from famous Poipu beach.
74.Porky’s Kauai (Waimea): A great little hot dog stand on the west side. It’s a good stop after driving up to Waimea Canyon.
75.Makai Sushi (Poipu): This sushi stand inside a local market has amazingly fresh sushi and poke bowls.
76.Koloa Fish Market (Koloa): A great spot for a plate lunch.
77.Ishihara Market (Waimea): This market is a great place to pick up bento boxes, sushi, poke & grab hot lunch specials.
78.Da Crack (Poipu): Good Mexican food in a casual setting.
79.Tiki Tacos (Kapaa): THE place for tacos on the east side.
80.Tacos Al Pastor (Kapaa): An amazing taco truck right on the Kapaa Beach Path.
81.Chicken in a Barrel (Hanalei & Kapaa): Two locations on the island serving up BBQ chicken and rib plate lunches.
82.Puka Dog (Koloa): This charming shop serves up hot dogs with a Hawaiian twist.
83.Anake’s Juice Bar (Koloa): Located in the back of a market, Anake’s serves up some of the best smoothies and acai bowls on the island.
84.Shrimp Station (Waimea & Kapaa): No frills, but great coconut shrimp.
85.Kalaheo Café (Kalaheo): I’m always looking for a great breakfast spot and this is a nice place to stop if you’re staying on the south side or passing through on your way to Waimea Canyon.
86.Grindz (Port Allen): I had breakfast here on the way to Waimea Canyon. They have local specials as well as a pretty hearty breakfast sandwich. And everything in their dessert/bakery case looked super yummy. You can also get coffee and pastries to go.
87.Pizzeta (Koloa): This gem in Koloa town has amazing food and drinks. This place does Italian with an island spin.
88.Art Café Hemingway (Kapaa): This Hemingway inspired café in Kapa’a is a big hit for breakfast but also does dinner with a reservation. The food has a French flair (think crepes, croissants, and quiche), but you’ll find plenty of classics with a fun spin.
89.Mermaid’s Café (Kapaa): This little hole in the wall in Kapa’a is the go to spot for fresh, healthy food. You’ll find wraps, tacos, and salads made with fresh ingredients, homemade sauces. They have seafood specialties but also have quite a few vegetarian options.
90.Bubba’s Burgers: Bubba’s is a little burger stand that makes one of the most delicious burgers I’ve ever had! They also have excellent fries and onion rings as well as yummy milk shakes.
91.Duane’s Ono-Char Burger (Anahola): This legendary burger spot in Anahola (between Kapa’a and Kilauea) is just a little roadside stand yet visitors and locals alike flock here to stand in line for a burger. Unless you’re stopping by at an off time, be prepared to wait in line.
92.Wailua Shave Ice (Kapaa): There are plenty of shave ice places on Kauai but this one wins in my book as being the most unique. They use fresh fruit in their combinations so they’re more limited than most places but soooo delicious.
93.Tahiti Nui (Hanalei): This iconic tiki bar is a Hanalei institution. It claims to be the oldest tiki bar in Hawaii and its mai tais are legendary. Stop by during the day for drinks (it’s always 5 ‘o’ clock in Hawaii) or grab a pizza (they’re really good).
94.Banandi (Hanalei): This is one of my favorite breakfast spots in Hanalei. They have sweet and savory crepes as well as waffles. The waffles weren’t my favorite but the crepes are amazing. Everything is made to order so it’s a little slow but well worth it.
95.Hanalei Gourmet (Hanalei): Hanalei Gourmet is a great local lunch and dinner spot. Fresh and tasty grub in a laid back atmosphere is the name of the game here.
96.Hanalei Bread & Coffee (Hanalei): This yummy coffee shop has the best homemade breads, bagels, and pastries. They also have some breakfast options and sandwiches.
97.Aloha Juice Bar (Hanalei): Stop by this little food truck/stand in Hanalei for an amazing acai bowl or smoothie.
98.Street Burger (Kapaa): Gourmet burgers with craft brews right in Kapaa.
99.Java Kai (Kapaa): A great local coffeeshop with breakfast, smoothies, and light lunch options.
100.Sleeping Giant Grill (Kapaa): This casual café has great fish tacos.
101.Anuenue Café (Poipu): A cozy breakfast spot serving up hearty fare.
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