On the Hawaiian Island of Kauai, where the entire island’s population just exceeds 70,000, it’s not difficult to get off the tourist track and explore some of the island’s hidden gems. But before you do that too quickly, there are some must-see sights that shouldn’t be overlooked. In a land where the terrain ranges from stunning white sand beaches to sheer mountains and lush waterfalls, it’s probably no surprise that the natural attractions found here are the true stars. Leave the resort areas in your rearview mirror and be sure make time to admire these top 5 tourist attractions on Kauai during your stay!
Situated inland of Kauai’s east coast, Wailua Falls is a spectacular waterfall that is easy to view. While many cascades require long hikes to reach or viewing points that feel too far away to truly capture the falls’ majesty, Wailua Falls offers a convenient parking area right near the top. While guidebooks differ in their opinion of the waterfall’s height, this striking waterfall drops at least 85 feet into the pool below. The amount of recent rainfall affects the heaviness of the flow. With an average amount of rain, the waterfall actually appears as two cascades as the river splits around a rock outcropping at the top before making its descent. When the sunlight is just right, you can often see a rainbow near the base of the falls. With the viewing area at the top and the rainbow at the bottom, this makes for a surreal photo opportunity!
Poipu Beach Park
Great for families, Poipu Beach Park is located on the south side of the island and offers a range of water activity possibilities for your day at the beach. The beach is comprised of two crescent shaped sections joined together by a tombolo, a small offshore island that is connected to the beach during low tide. Along the far east side of the beach, lava rocks protect the waters from larger ocean waves, making it a popular spot for families with young children. The area where the two crescents join together is dotted with reef, making it ideal for snorkeling. And along the western end of the beach, swimming and boogie boarding are popular. With a lifeguard and large grassy area with picnic pavilions and a playground, Poipu Beach Park is popular destination for residents and visitors alike.
Looking at a map of Kauai, a large notch is carved from the island’s northern coastline. This area is known as Hanalei Bay. Hanalei Beach extends for nearly two miles across the bay, creating a lengthy stretch of white sand paradise backed by breathtaking emerald mountains. Waves can differ greatly depending on which area of the beach you’re on. Generally, the furthest to the east you are in the bay, the gentler the waves. At the far east end of the beach, the Hanalei River empties into the ocean, and this is a popular spot for kayaking and stand up paddle boarding. The pier is also located here, making a great photo op and jumping point for local children into the water below. For those hoping to learn to surf while on the island, Hanalei Beach is an ideal place to begin. With no reef with which to contend and waves that break relatively close to shore, it is as beginner friendly as you can get!
Waimea Canyon State Park
Known as the Grand Canyon of the West, Waimea Canyon State Park houses a gaping canyon that is ten miles long and up to 3,000 feet deep. The deep reds and browns of these dry cliffs stand in stark contrast to much of the rest of the island, where lush palm trees and tropical flowers are the norm. However, Kauai’s west side is known for its dry weather, which is apparent as you make the climb along Waimea Canyon Drive from the west side town of Waimea. The road actually leads to both Waimea Canyon State Park and Koke’e State Park, which blend together to create a large wilderness area filled with hiking trails. Numerous lookouts on the way to the mountain’s peak provide opportunities for stopping to take photos and admiring the views!
Na Pali Coast
Often shown in ads for Kauai, the Na Pali Coast is an approximately 20-mile section located along the island’s northwestern coastline where sheer emerald cliffs drop directly into the ocean. Due to the rugged terrain, there is not a road that accesses this area. Hikers can admire views of the coastline from the Kalalau Trail on the North Shore or from a variety of trails and lookouts in Koke’e State Park. Another popular way to view the Na Pali Coast is to book a boat excursion that includes this magnificent stretch of coastline on the itinerary. Captain Andy’s and Holo Holo Charters are two of the highly regarded companies that offer tours along this section of pristine coast!
Soak in the beauty of the island when you linger at these top 5 tourist attractions on Kauai! Contact us!