7 Things You Can't Miss on Kauai
As one of the oldest islands in Hawaii's chain, this lush destination has much to offer.
1. Waimea Canyon
It's called the Grand Canyon of the Pacific for a reason. Waimea is 10 miles long and up to 3,600 feet deep. Follow Waimea Canyon Drive, up a windy road with beautiful lookout spots until you reach the Waimea Canyon overloook. You'll get your picture-perfect moments from this vantage point or you can continue into Kokee State Park. For a challenge, opt for one of the many hiking trails that wind throughout and offer even more breathtaking views of the valley.
2. Allerton Garden and Lawai Bay
No matter which direction you approach this secret beach from, either from a canoe on the water or from the gardens above, it's worth a visit. If you're staying at the nearby Lodge at Kuku'iula, ask the on staff guides to make a detour on your outing so you can swim with the turtles and have the beach to yourself. Or, book a sunset tour at Allerton Garden and you'll get to meander through the massive fig trees and past climbing bougainvillea before reaching the Allerton residence for a light meal and water views.
3. Na Pali Coast
This fifteen-mile stretch of coast is one of the most iconic in Hawaii, translating directly to "the Cliffs." Though much of the rugged landscape is inaccessible, there are ways to get a good vantage point from the land, air or water. For the experienced hiker, an 11 mile trail from Ke`e Beach to Kalalau Valley will give you access to the coast line. For those who prefer something less strenuous, calm surf in the summer months welcomes a variety of boat tours and snorkeling excursions. And, year-round, a pricier but even more epic vantage point is from above in a helicopter. Try the "doors-off" tour from Jack Harter Helicopters and you might even be lucky enough to spot a few whales off the coast while you hover in between the cliffs.
4. Hanalei Bay
With majestic mountains in the background and deep blue waters below, no beach trip to Kauai is complete without a visit to the northern coast for a day in Hanalei. The town, west of Princeville, is set in between mountains and fields of taro, making it the perfect spot to stop for a snack before heading to the largest bay on the island. At nearly three miles long, there's plenty of room for day trippers, snorkers and— when the waves are just right—surfers.
5. Farmers' Markets
No matter where you're staying on the island, there's likely a farmers' market nearby. The most popular might be on the North Shore in Hanalei on Sundays where you'll be hard pressed to find a parking spot. It's worth the walk from town though if you're looking for towering displays of fresh fruit like local pineapple. On the South Shore, the Kauai Culinary Market showcases not only local farmers, but also live music, beer and wine, along with additional vendors for a completely food-filled experience.
6. Acai Bowls
There's no better way to embrace the tropical life than with a fruit-filled bowl that's picture-perfect. Check out Anake's Juice Bar on the South Shore and order the Funky Monkey, which features acai, strawberries, bananas, peanut butter, almond milk and chocolate chips. On the North Shore, visit Kalalea Juice Hale for the O.G., a bowl filled with acai, banana, fresh coconut, homemade granola and local honey.
Though you can now get poke on the mainland, this dish is quintessentially Hawaiian and Kauai does it oh-so-well. While the best poke bowl can depend on who you ask, you can't go wrong at Koloa Fish Market on the South Shore. There are over half a dozen types of poke to choose from so the only choice will be how you like your ahi. It's served by the pound over rice but be sure to get here before the lunch rush when they often sell out.