Lifestyle Travel

The LA Girl’s Travel Guide to Best Things to Do in Kauai

Best Things to Do in Kauai - Sleeping Giant Hike

If I could move to anywhere in the world right now, it would be to the magical island of Kauai. It’s my favorite of the Hawaiian Islands so far!

You can catch a direct 6-hour flight from LAX with United Airlines, American Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines.

The best time to visit Kauai is between April to September to avoid the rainy season.

Where to Stay in Kauai 

It really depends on which part of Kauai you want to stay in.

The most beautiful scenery is on the North Shore of Kauai which includes Princeville and Hanalei.

The East Side of Kauai includes Lihue and Kapaa, where the Wailua River is located.

If you want gorgeous beaches, the South Side featuring Koloa, Poipu and Waimea is where you want to be.

To get the most out of Kauai, it’s best to spend a few days in each area.

Best Things to Do in Kauai - Where to Stay - Hilton Garden Inn

Where to Stay in Kauai’s East Side

The Hilton Garden Inn Kauai at Wailua Bay is in close proximity to the Lihue Airport and is the perfect place to stay if you want to enjoy the Wailua River.

It’s right on the beach with a gorgeous open-air lobby, restaurant and multiple pools.

It’s perfect for families, adjacent to Lydgate Beach Park, Kamalani Playground and the Ke Ala Hele Makalae walk and bike path.

The Garden Grille is convenient for breakfast and dinner with open-air seating and ocean views.

Where to Stay in Kauai’s South Side

The Grand Hyatt Resort Kauai Resort & Spa is a breathtaking beachfront destination set along the white sand beaches of Poipu.

It features a massive water playground with multiple pools, lazy river, and saltwater lagoon.

And for beachgoers, the Keoneloa Bay and Shipwreck Beach is just steps away.

The dining options at this resort including the romantic Tidepools restaurant with floating bungalows amidst koi-filled lagoons and Seaview Terrace for a more casual option where there’s live music and entertainment daily.

Things to do in Kauai

Things to do in Kauai’s East Side 

While you’re on the East Side of Kauai, head up the Sleeping Giant Trail for a nice hike and view of the island. There is a bit of scrambling on this trail so be sure you’re ready to use your hands and feet.

Also on the East Side is the Wailua River, don’t forget to book a kayaking tour with Kayak Wailua. This was one of my favorite things that I did in Kauai! This tour includes a 2-mile kayak, a short hike and a trip to the Secret Falls, also known as Uluwehi Waterfalls.

Wailua Falls is just north of Lihue and located at the south end of the Wailua River. It cascades into two streams and the flow is dependent on the level of rainfall. The waterfall is easily recognized as the one used in the opening credits of television show “Fantasy Island.”

Things to do in Kauai’s North Side 

On the way up to Princeville and Hanalei, make a stop at the Kilauea Lighthouse and Wildlife Refuge. It’s open Tuesday to Saturday 10:00 am to 4:00pm, closed on Sunday and Monday and all federal holidays with an admission fee of $10.00 per person (children 15 and under are free.)

Catch the sunset at beautiful Hanalei Bay while watching surfers amidst the beautiful backdrop of the Na Pali Coast. You can also hang out at The Pier in Hanalei and explore Hanalei Town just a short walk away where you’ll find shops and restaurants.

Things to do in Kauai’s West Side 

One of the most popular destinations on Kauai is Waimea Canyon, also called the “Grand Canyon of Pacific.” Located in Waimea Canyon State Park, plan on spending a whole day here hiking and enjoying amazing views.

My favorite hike here is the Awa’awapuhi Trail which is an upside down hike about 7 miles and has an incredible view of the coast!

A trip to Kauai would be incomplete without a visit to the Na Pali Coast.

It’s most famous for being in the opening and multiple scenes of Jurassic Park.

With the recent flood, the only way to visit would be via sea or air and I had to do both.

I booked a Na Pali Snorkel Raft Adventure with Kauai Sea Tours and we got to see whales, dolphins and sea turtles. Our group was also able to go snorkeling and visit famous sea caves.

My favorite thing that I did in Kauai was a helicopter ride with Island Helicopters, piloted by Brodi of On Hawaii Time. We did the Jurassic Falls landing and saw the Na Pali coast, Waimea Canyon and Mount Waialeale from up above. The tour was done so well with the soundtracks of some of my favorite movies.

Most of the island is not accessible by land, so a helicopter ride is the only way to truly see the most of this beautiful island.

Best Things to Do in Kauai - Island Helicopters

Where to Eat in Kauai 

If you’re looking for a casual place to eat on the East Side, head to Island Country Market at Coconut Market Place. We went here for breakfast almost every day before heading out for a hike or to get lunch for an adventure.

For shrimp lovers, head to The Shrimp Station for a plate of sautéed garlic shrimp and basket of coconut shrimp. There’s one location in Kapaa and one in Waimea.

If you’re staying at the Grand Hyatt, definitely splurge for a fancy dinner at the Tidepools and enjoy the live music at Seaview Terrace.

Head to Ama after a Hanalei Bay sunset for some delicious hamachi carpaccio and nuoc cham Brussels sprouts.

Kauai is definitely one of my favorite places in the world, the energy on this island is undeniable. It’s something you’re going to have to see and feel for yourself!

I’ll be heading back there soon to hike the Kalalau Trail which is currently closed but is supposed to be one of the most beautiful hikes in the world along the Na Pali coast.

I hope you get to experience the magic of Kauai very soon!