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Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge

Explore These Natural Kauai, Hawaii Attractions

Kauai is renowned for breathtaking scenery, secluded beaches, and a hang loose vibe. Kauai vacations offer an immense variety of exotic scenery, and numerous activities – gifts of nature

March 30, 2017 — Kauai is nature’s playground, where myths and legends attempt to explain this stunning splendor. There are so many Kauai, Hawaii attractions and things for you to do that are totally free. You can decide on something different every day. Visit a waterfall, hike a jungle trail, snorkel a tranquil reef, float on your back and stare at the open sky, or sit on a beach and watch the sunset until the milky way appears. Build a fire and eat on the beach. Experience what aloha means. On Kauai, aloha is life and love. It is a laid back way of life shared by Kauai’s islanders.

To understand the lay of the land, Kauai has four regions – the north, east, south, and west shores.You will fly into the Lihue Airport which is located on the east shore.

The north shore is the most verdant area and for many defines what a tropical paradise should be. Start your day driving north to Kilauea Town. Kilauea was a plantation town and maintains it’s quaint demeanor. Visit the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge and Lighthouse. Then drive the short distance to Princeville and take the short hike to Queen’s Bath. Queen’s Bath is a large, deep, tidal pool. People call it the “Queen’s Bath,” named for Queen Emma, who did visit Princeville in the 1800s. However, there is no evidence that she ever visited this tidepool. Only visit Queen’s Bath when surf is calm in summer. It can be deceptively calm!

Next hike the short path is to Hideaways Beach between Puu Poa and the St. Regis Hotel. Another spectacular short jungle hike is to the Sealodge Beach. Then head on over to the Princeville Foodland grocery. You’ll hear island music just outside the door. Wild island chckens roam the parking lot and every other open space on Kauai. Upon entering you’ll be greeted by the yummy aroma of Huli Huli Chicken and musubi. Musubi is a fried slice of spam on rice pressed together to form a small block, then wrapped with a strip of seaweed. The Spam musubi is eaten as a sandwich, and it is perhaps the Island’s favorite “to go” or snack food. Next door you’ll find huge specialty Hawaiian Shave Ice. You’ll also smell the toasting of the cones in the famous Lapperts ice cream shop. Scrumptious!

Leaving Princeville, stop at the Hanalei Valley Overlook to photograph the taro fields and Na Pali mountains. Drive the 2.5 miles to Hanalei Town and step back into Kauai’s history. Be sure to go to Hanalei Bay, named one of the top ten beaches in the world. You can boogie board, surf, stand up paddle board, or take a long beach stroll. Hanalei Bay is the largest bay on the north shore of Kauaʻi island. Hanalei Bay consists of nearly two miles of beach, surrounded by mountains. The wetlands of Hanalei Bay were used to grow taro by ancient Hawaiians and taro is still grown near Hanalei.

Back on the Kuhio Hwy. continue as the road twists through jungle dotted with secluded white sand beaches and sky blue water to Tunnels Beach, or Makua. Makua is known for its incredible mountain scenery featured in the movie, “South Pacific.” A great snorkeling beach, Tunnels has something for everyone. The shallow inner reef is great for the novice and children, while the outer reefs are exhilarating for the more advanced divers and snorkelers. Tunnels gets its name from the surfers who have seen the tube and divers who have found the caverns. Drive the 1.4 miles on to Ke’e Beach and the trail head to the Na Pali trail. You’ll find public parking, bathrooms and showers at Haena Beach Park located west of Ke’e Beach. Ke’e is also a wonderful snorkeling spot. Many varieties of tropical fish swim around the shallow reef. If you are staying in a Kauai vacation rental , you probably have access to boogie boards and snorkel gear.

Definitely save a day to explore the east and south shores. Take the hike to Ho’opi’i Falls in the morning before driving up for a look at Opaeka’a Falls. Cascading down into a hidden pool, this waterfall is easily one of the island’s most accessible major waterfalls. It is located bout 2 miles up Kuamoo Road (Route 580) from Highway 56. Signs clearly point to the roadside lookout on the right. This convenient stop makes for a memorable photo opportunity. “Opaekaa” means “rolling shrimp,” which were once abundant in the stream. Walk uphill from the Opaekaa lookout and across the road for another great view of the Wailua River valley. Then take a swim or snorkel at Lydgate Beach Park . Rock enclosed ponds create a safe haven from the open ocean waves, while still allowing the small reef fish to move into the pond through the crevices. This spot will almost guarantee that you will see a variety of tropical fish. The protected calm waters, posted lifeguard, and a variety of fish make this the perfect beginner beach for snorkeling. The next amazing site is Wailua Falls. Located at the south end of the Wailua River, it cascades into two streams, dropping 80-feet below. Like other spectacular spots on Kaua, Wailua Falls was used as film locations, Wailua Falls is most recognized in the opening credits of the long-running television show “Fantasy Island.” Easily accessible, Wailua Falls can be seen from the roadside, so you can visit in your flip flops. To get there, head north from Lihue and follow Maalo Road in Hanamaulu. Travel uphill for about three miles. If you visit in the mornings, you may be treated to a rainbow, making for an amazing photo of Wailua Falls.

Now explore the south shore. The south shore is more arid and has lots of sunshine, beautiful beaches, and restaurants. The gateway to the Koloa/Poipu area is called the Tree Tunnel, a stretch of Maluhia Road lined with eucalyptus trees first planted a century ago. Visit historic Old Koloa Town which has retained it’s historic charm with shops now occupying the plantation buildings along Koloa Road. Stroll by old-fashioned storefronts and discover special local gifts. Stop by the Koloa History Center to learn about the town’s sugar heritage. Drive to the resort area of Poipu.  Poipu Beach State Park is great for families. Nearby Spouting Horn features a blowhole that releases a spout of water 20 feet high. Visit McBryde Garden and see the largest collection of Hawaiian plants and Allerton Garden. Allerton Garden lies between the Pacific Ocean and the McBryde Garden in the Lāwa`i Valley. It is a garden paradise. The endless possibilities found in this dramatic topography led to the creation of this masterpiece of garden art. A series of garden rooms unfold between the Lāwa`i Stream and the cliffs of the Valley. The sound of water is in abundance in pools, miniature waterfalls, and fountains. Statues grace this former estate and resonate with a European influence. The contrasts of the sculpted gardens and the natural surroundings is awesome.

The West Side is home to a few of Kauai’s most historic places and scenic wonders, the most famous of which is the breathtaking Waimea Canyon, the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” Head north beyond the gorges and cliffs of Waimea Canyon and visit Kokee State Park. Waimae Canyon Stretches 14 miles long, one mile wide and more than 3,600 feet deep. The lookout provides panoramic views of crested buttes, rugged crags and deep valley gorges. The grand inland vistas go on for miles. The main road, Waimea Canyon Drive, leads you to the main Waimea Canyon Overlook, offering views of Kauai’s dramatic interior. The road continues into the mountains and ends at Kokee State Park. There are numerous trails to traverse for beginners and avid hikers.

Stop and walk through the two quaint small towns of Waimea and Hanapepe.

If you are staying in a Kauai vacation rental, you will want to visit a local Farmers Market or Sunshine Market. You’ll find locals offering tastings.

Kauai Farmers Markets Schedule
  • Monday. 12:00 p.m. Koloa. Koloa Knudsen Ball Park on Maluhia Road. …
  • Tuesday. 10:00 a.m. Lihue. …
  • Wednesday. 3:00 p.m. Kapaa. …
  • Thursday. 3:00 p.m. Hanapepe Town Park. …
  • Friday. 3:00 p.m. Lihue. …
  • Saturday. 9:00 a.m. Kekaha Neighborhood Center. …
  • Sunday. 10:00 a.m. Kalalea Anahola Farmers Market.