Kauai Travel Guide
The Garden Isle lives up to the hype…
For adventure seekers, outdoor enthusiasts, and beach bums, Kauai is the island to explore. From the Grand Canyon of the Pacific to hiking remote valleys to sunset cruises along the Na Pali Coast, you will not regret a trip to the Garden Isle.
Everything you need to know about planning your trip to Kauai is here:
Trying to pick the best Hawaiian Island for your trip?
The decision to choose Kauai is usually weighed against Maui. Many visitors visit Maui or Oahu and then do three or four days on Kauai. These will help you decide what is best for you:
🍍 Oahu vs Maui (from someone who has lived on both)
🍍 Kauai’s Mt. Waialeale is the Wettest spot on Earth, averaging 450 inches of rain per year.
🍍 With a coastline of 111-miles, Kauai has more accessible beaches than any other island.
🍍 Over 90% of the land on Kauai is used for Conservation and Agriculture and 70% of the island is inaccessible by foot.
🍍 Chickens run wild on Kauai after Hurricane Iniki destroyed many of the chicken coops. You will get an early start in the morning as the roosters may wake you up.
🍍 Kauai Coffee is the largest coffee plantation in the United States
🍍 You cannot drive around the island. The Na Pali Cliffs and Waimea Canyon make it nearly impossible to build a road to connect west Kauai with the North Shore.
🍍 Kauai is the oldest of the main Hawaiian Islands. Once rising more than 10,000 feet above sea level, Olokele Volcano has since eroded down to two main peaks — Waiʻaleʻale (5,148 feet) and Kawaikini (5,243 feet).
We have a blast when we visit Kauai. We try to make a day in each major region and then relax at our resort or vacation rental the other days. Find the perfect itinerary for you below.
🍍 Kauai North Shore Itinerary video below
Where to Stay on Kauai (it’s complicated)
Think of Kauai as a compass when considering where to stay:
🍍 North Shore – Hanalei Bay and Princeville
🍍 East Side (Coconut Coast) – Kapa’a and Li’hue
🍍 South Shore – Poipu and Koloa
🍍 West Side – Waimea
The most popular resort areas are Poipu and Princeville. They have the best beaches and activities nearby.
For the best year-round weather, look to Poipu and the South Shore as these beaches stay relatively calm during the winter months while the North Shore gets the big surf.
There is so much more to consider so take a deep-dive before you book your accommodations:
Lihue Airport (LIH) is located in the capital city of Li’hue. A centralized location, it is easy to hop in a rental car and head south to Poipu (25-minute drive) or north to Princeville and Hanalei Bay (45-minute drive).
Kauai Travel Tips
As with the other Hawaiian Islands, a rental car is recommended to get around the island quickly and to do everything that is worth doing.
Vacation rentals and hotels are both popular options on Kauai. Hotel vs Airbnb: What is Right for Your Hawaii Vacation
🍍The roads are safe and well maintained on Kauai. As there is one road around the island, traffic and construction can cause delays.
🍍 Any time of year is a good time to visit Kauai with average yearly temperatures ranging between 84 and 69 degrees. Ocean temperatures range from 71 to 81 degrees.
🍍 The winter months make many of the north shore beaches unsafe for swimming or snorkeling so check the surf report before heading out.
🍍Most of the interior and best waterfalls are accessible only by foot so bring hiking shoes and walking sticks and get muddy!
When to Travel to Kauai
As with all the Hawaiian islands, the lowest prices, best weather, and smallest crowds are during the shoulder seasons of September to mid-November and March to May.
Our favorite month to visit Kauai is October. It checks all the boxes for the cheapest time to go, great weather, and the least crowded month.
If you can’t get away during the school season, then late May and June is a good time to go during the busy season.
Best Things to Do in Kauai
Kauai is for the outdoor enthusiast and adventure seeker. While one can relax and have a romantic time on Kauai on the beach or resort, I see Kauai as a playground to explore the Garden Isle.
Below are our favorite things to do and beaches to visit with Henry, our toddler.
🍍 Napali Coast sunset cruise, most leave from Waimea
🍍 Waimea Canyon State Park, the Grand Canyon of the Pacific
🍍 Historic Koloa Town for the sugar mill and general store eats
🍍 Wailua Falls
🍍 Hanalei Bay
🍍 Tunnels Beach
🍍 Anini Beach
🍍 Po’ipu Beach
🍍 Hideaway Beach in Princeville
🍍 Queen’s Bath near Princeville (check the weather before you go)
🍍 Kalalau Trail, permit required but worth it
🍍 Kailua Coffee Plantation for free tastings and tours
🍍 Kilauea Lighthouse and Bird Sanctuary
🍍 Fern Grotto
🍍 Coastal bike ride in Kapa’a
🍍 Historic art town of Hanapepe