Kauai is the northernmost and oldest of the major islands.

Top things we like to do

  • Waimea Canyon. A huge canyon cut by the Waimea River through the center of Kauai. A road drives for many miles along the top of ridges, with overlooks of the canyon. At the end of the road, is a gorgeous overlook of Kalalau Valley.
  • Bali Hai. The west end of the north shore is where the movie South Pacific was filmed. The mountains on the fictional island of Bali Hai stand out for miles along the coast. The area is marked by great beaches, taro fields, and unbeatable scenery.
  • Fern Grotto. Take the ferry up Wailua River (which is also fun to kayak) and listen to the corny old Hawaiian tourist songs. Get out and walk through a lush rain forest to a cool grotto (an old lava tube) that has ferns hanging from the ceiling. It's touristy, but fun for kids and should be done at least once.
  • Helicopter ride. You MUST take a helicopter ride to see the waterfalls and the Pali (cliffs on the ocean). Unless you are really an ace hiker, these are sights you can only see from the sky. A lifetime memory, for sure, and worth the expense.
  • Na Pali boat ride. You can take a small boat ride along the Na Pali coast on the north short of the island. The main drawback is that the trips all leave from the south or southwest side of the island, so it takes a while to get to the north shore, plus the ride can be rough. But the views are amazing.
  • Kayaking. Kauai is unique in Hawaii with several navigable rivers, and kayaking is a fun way to check these out. You can take tours, or rent a kayak and do it on your own.

Notable restaurants

  • The Beach House (Poipu) (call for reservations several days in advance)
  • Green Garden Restaurant (Hanapepe) - kind of a funky old restaurant with good local foods
Recommended guidebook (now in its 7th edition)