Let’s cut to the chase. We’ll start off by giving you the top 3 must-do, which don’t cost anything at all.
1. KALEPA RIDGE TRAIL (AIRPLANE TRAIL)
This trail begins on the left side (fence) of Kalalau Lookout. It is a 1.5 mile ridge trail with 1000 ft drops on either side. Amazing views from the first step and get better with each move forward. Hands down, best hike in all of Kauai, with the least amount of effort.
2. WAILUA FALLS (LIHUE)
We'd recommend hiking down to the basin and checking out the view from behind the waterfall. You can get down by climbing over the first gate, nearest the parking lot. It’s bent, so you know which fence people have been climbing over. The hike down/up can be steep, depending on which entrance you use, but there are ropes to help. Just make sure to check they’re sturdy. Once you get to the bottom, you’ll know it’s worth it.
3. WAIMEA CANYON
The Grand Canyon of the West is a must for your first time. There are a few lookouts on the drive up, so keep an eye out for those picture frame views. Hint: One is near the Boys and Girls club entrance.
One thing to keep in mind, those top 3 are located on the Southeast side of Kauai, so plan your trip accordingly. You can probably check out all 3 in one day, just start the day early. #GetOutStayOut
Best poke we’ve had on the island and really cheap compared to other spots. The location is a market, and if you’ve been to HI, you know that’s where the best is. The location is also perfect (Waimea - Southeast Side), so you’ll hit this spot before you do any of the major hikes/sightseeing.
This place usually sells out fast and is also closed Monday-Wednesday (as of July 2018). Next best spot would be Waimea Shave Ice. Both are located in Kapaa.
This was recommended by numerous tour guides and it didn’t disappoint. Just be prepared to wait awhile if you arrive after 6PM. The parking lot across the street is reserved for the restaurant, so don’t worry if it’s packed.
Aside from the top 3 mentioned above, there are of course a myriad of activities to do around the island.
- Secret Falls: Typically you would pay a tour guide to bring you, but you can avoid paying those fees and just rent a kayak yourself. Just show up at the Wailua River around 8AM and follow one of the many groups venturing out.
- Na Pali Coast Helicopter Tours: There are many helicopter tours offered by various companies, but we would recommend choosing a tour with the doors off. It may get cold, but the views are worth it! For a one hour tour of Kauai, you'll see a hidden paradise inaccessible by roads or trails. Recommendation: Mauna Loa Helicopter Tours
- Car Rentals: Check out Discount Hawaii Car Rental for the cheapest rentals in Kauai or any of the Hawaiian islands! You won't find a better rate.
We would also recommend bringing the following products when hiking or just for travel in general:
- Bug Spray
- Hiking Hat
- Waterproof Dry Bag
- Hydration Pack