Kauai is known as “The Garden Island”, and for good reason. From a bird’s eye view, you see a tropical oasis covered in emerald green, with sharp mountain spires, jagged cliffs, and cascading waterfalls. Down on the ground, the sheer size and height of its natural beauty makes Kauai feel ginormous, despite being the smallest of the four islands. The Island of Hawaii is the largest, followed by Maui and Oahu respectively. Kauai is also the oldest of them all, which makes it even more amazing to explore and discover its heritage and culture. To help you on your way, we’ve researched the best places to explore, eat and sleep in Kauai, so you don’t miss a thing. Happy holidaying!
Kauai definitely doesn’t disappoint when you’re exploring its world. There is so much beauty in its rich green colour landscape, that you can’t help but fall in love. So much to see, do and experience so read on for the best of the best.
Na Pali Coast/Polihale/Waimea Canyon/Kokee State Parks. Being the “Garden Island” we obviously have to point out the best parks on the island! This site lists all four State Parks mentioned (among others), so have a read for yourself and see which one or more you want to explore!
Na’ Aina Kai Botanical Gardens. If these Botanical Gardens look anything like the pictures, you wouldn’t want to miss this. An absolute paradise of luscious flora surrounds you, particularly in the Formal Gardens. There’s even an “Under the Rainbow” children’s garden, where kids can splash in the surrounding shallow waters and enjoy more activities situated close by. Note: you can only see the garden on a guided tour.
Fern Grotto. Only accessible by a small riverboat down the Wailua River, Fern Grotto is a fern-covered cave set, in a tropical garden (so magical). It’s even a popular site for weddings! Something for the lovebirds to think about.
Wailua Falls. If you’re a sucker for waterfalls, then there’s no place you’d rather be that at the double-tiered Wailua Falls. If you wish to get to the bottom of the waterfall, which apparently you can do but the country advised against it haha, there are a couple of ways so be sure to look into that and go the safest route.
Hanalei Bay. Surrounded by mountains, this bay stretches for nearly two miles (3.2 km) of beach. Hanalei Town is the midpoint of the bay so when you reach it, you’ll know your halfway. If you feel like exploring the bay even more, then head out on the Hanalei Bay Kayak and Snorkel Tour.
Poipu Beach Park. One of Kauai’s most popular beaches and rightfully so, with its crystal clear waters and safe environment, this beach is a place for everyone. Snorkelling here, you’ll see a variety of colourful fish and on one side of the beach (it’s divided into two by a narrow strip), you can even see monk seals taking naps in the sun. Very family friendly and there are lifeguards here too. For more beaches around the island of Kauai, click here.
Kilauea Lighthouse. Built just over 100 years ago, the beautiful Kilauea Lighthouse has been recently restored in the last five years to ensure its longevity and history remains. Situated 180 feet above the ocean, you get the perfect panorama shot of the ocean, the lighthouse, and the beautiful peninsula which it stands on. Plus it’s the perfect location to relax and just take it all in. Pure bliss.
Queen’s Bath. Don’t be fooled by its natural beauty and inviting waters. Whilst this rock pool looks dreamy to swim in, you need to be aware of the dangers and risks involved. If you do plan on entering the waters, do so with caution and make sure you check the tides beforehand and be mindful of changing currents. You can only swim if the waves are four ft. high, any higher it’s too dangerous. Of course, you don’t have to swim, you can always just go and look at its natural beauty and gaze from afar. Check out this website for everything you need to know including more safety tips.
There’s plenty to see and explore on this island, so it’s important you’re fueling your body to keep up with all the adventures! See below for our top places to eat! Enjoy…
Kountry Kitchen. Very Kardashian of them, replacing the ‘C’ in Country to a ‘K’, but I like their style. The Kountry Kitchen is your one-stop breakfast shop, serving from 6am-1:30pm with a menu fit for a king. From omelettes to eggs benny, waffles and French toast, this place seems to have it all and it sounds delicious.
Gaylord’s at Kilohana. Relax in the courtyard setting of Gaylord’s Restaurant and enjoy the live music while eyeing the lunch or dinner menu. Oh and if you’re feeling fancy…on Sunday’s they do brunch.
Plantation Gardens Restaurant & Bar. Located on the grounds of Hawaii’s first sugar plantation, the Plantations Gardens Restaurant & Bar has yummy comfort food, a wealth of history and not to mention it’s beautifully kept and well-presented. Take a step back in time and visit this historic site, enjoying delicious local food along the way.
La Spezia. An Italian restaurant and wine bar that also has a breakfast menu from Tuesday-Saturday! Take your pick and enjoy.
Naupaka Terrace Restaurant. This Terrace Restaurant is located above the Aqua Kauai Beach Resort, offering both indoor and outdoor dining with stunning views. It serves both breakfast and dinner and has Hawaiian music every night from 6-8pm except Saturdays. Sounds so dreamyyyyyy.
Sam’s Ocean View Restaurant. A relaxed restaurant with ocean views where dinner’s not the only thing on the menu. Treat yourself with their generous selection of wine, beers, ciders or cocktails!
Tidepools. Looking for a romantic dinner date just for you and bae? Book in at Tidepools located in the Grand Hyatt at Poipu. You’ll dine under their thatch-roof bungalows that float on a lagoon, and in the evening, it looks incredible with the lights reflecting from the water and luscious green gardens that surround it. Oh and it’s at the base of a waterfall and the lagoon is filled with Koi. It’s romantic AF.
Eating House 1849 Koloa. Making a reservation has never been easier than at Eating House 1849. Just go online, select the number of people, date and time, and you’ll get an instant confirmation. Then all you have to do is turn up and enjoy the food.
Verde Restaurant. Love Mexican food? Verde Restaurant has you covered with burritos, enchiladas, tacos and tostadas. They also have gluten-free and vegetarian options too. Winning!
Lava Lava Beach Club. Open-air setting, relaxed island cuisine, right on the beach. Sound like you? Then head to Lava Lava Beach club for a good time, great food and an awesome atmosphere.
There’s no kidding that Kauai is absolutely breathtaking. So we’ve listed accommodation that allows you to enjoy it’s stunning surroundings. We’ve done our best to select places that suit all budgets but like Maui, Kauai is expensive and that’s just the way it is. So check these out and pick what’s right for you and your budget! If you do have some cash to splash, the Grand Hyatt in Poipu or The St.Regis in Princeville are definitely the way to go. P.s BF = Beachfront
- Kauai Marriot Resort – Lihue (BF)
- Garden Island Inn – Lihue (Close proximity to beach)
- Aqua Kauai Beach Resort – Lihue (BF)
- Ashton Islander on the Beach – Kapaa (BF)
- Castle Mokihana – Kapaa (BF)
- Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa – Poipu (Pricey but beauuuuutiful. BF)
- Sheraton Kauai Resort – Poipu (Opposite Beach)
- The Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas
- The St. Regis Princeville Resort (If you’re the type of person who’s money grows on trees…BF)
Words by Jacqui Feros