If you follow any travel blogs or Instagram accounts, we can almost guarantee they’ve featured the Hawaiian island of Kauai a time or two. And we can’t blame them: Kauai is the ultimate destination in Hawaii.
The Garden Isle checks off every essential on any traveler’s bucket list: beaches, hikes, resorts, and then some. Not to mention it’s one of the most naturally beautiful places on earth.
Below, 11 reasons you should visit the “Garden Island,” at least once. Trust us, it will be one of the most magical trips of your life.
1. Blissful Beaches
This one is 100 percent obvious, but it has to be said. Kauai’s beaches are everything you’ve ever wanted in a stretch of sea and sand. Sunbathe on the powdered shores, wade into the warm, unclouded water and enjoy the abundant coral and wildlife that find Kauai’s surrounding waters home. Tunnels Beach, Polihale State Park and Poipu Beach are all tried and true classics.
Before you head for any particular beach, however, be sure to check the weather forecasts as well as the ocean conditions. Hawaii’s shores can be highly dangerous, and a number of tourists drown in the state every year.
2. The Hike Of A Lifetime
The Kalalau Trail is one of the toughest, albeit most worthwhile hikes in the Aloha State. Be prepared to work hard and sweat up a storm for the entire 22-mile roundtrip.
But rest assured: with all the hard work comes a major reward. Dramatic cliffs, breathtaking vistas and solitary beaches are worth making this grueling two-day hike. If you want to include the Kalalau in your vacation plans, however, you’ll need a permit. Train accordingly and come prepared ― you can’t wing this one.
3. Heavenly Hanalei Bay
Cradled by tall green cliffs, this popular bay is a perfect beach for kids. During the summertime, the gentle waves and incredible scenery make it a dead ringer for paradise. And don’t forget to bring a surfboard. Sunsets from the center of the bay are absolutely serene.
4. Undeniable Charm
One of the best parts of Kauai is its small town charm. With a population of about 70,000, the island has managed to maintain a sleepy town feel while still catering to large numbers of tourists each year.
5. Historic Hawaii
Of the main Hawaiian islands, Kauai is the oldest ― and it has the geology to prove it.
To explore Kauai’s rich natural history, pay a visit to Makauwahi Cave, a large sinkhole that is teeming with fossils and artifacts. Within the cave, excavators have found various animal bones, pollen of extinct plants and geological evidence of past floods, hurricanes and a massive tsunami. It’s little-known, but Makauwahi Cave is one of Kauai’s coolest activities.
6. The Grand Canyon Of The Pacific
Waimea Canyon is a natural marvel that completely lives up to its extravagant nickname, “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” Its colorful dips and peaks are home to lush vegetation and towering waterfalls. But for the very best view, make a trip to the canyon’s lookout point and prepare to be blown away.
7. The Na Pali Coast
This dramatic coastline is perhaps Kauai’s most famous attraction. The vivid colors, sheer cliffs and unmatched views of the ocean make this coastline an absolute must-see on Kauai.
Hike it, kayak along the coast, take a helicopter tour ― you really can’t go wrong whichever way you choose to see the Na Pali Coast.
8. Little-Known Coffee
Kona Coffee from Hawaii’s Big Island might have name recognition going for it, but that doesn’t mean you should skip the coffee on the other islands. Visit Kauai Coffee Company to learn about the coffee-growing process, tour the grounds and, of course, sample some joe.
9. Luxurious Digs
Though Kauai’s natural beauty is a major draw for island visitors, there is something to be said for throwing a bit of manmade luxury into the mix. Resorts like the St. Regis Princeville and the Grand Hyatt Kauai provide incredible pools, upscale restaurants and a level of relaxation and extravagance you just can’t find elsewhere.
10. Wild Waterfalls
The Hawaiian islands are known for raging waterfalls, but Kauai is home to one of the wettest places on earth. Mount Waialeale has dozens of falls that pour into a deep canyon accessible via hike. Similarly, Wailua Falls, famous for its appearance in the opening credits of “Fantasy Island,” is an essential, easy-to-reach Kauai sight, and Waipoo Falls, located in Waimea Canyon, can be seen cascading 800 feet from various lookout points.
11. Contagious Relaxation
Kauai comes with plenty of excitement, but if you’re desperately seeking some peace and quiet, this sleepy island is the perfect place for that as well.
Set up a few beach chairs on an empty stretch of sand, plan to spend a day or two lounging by the pool and unplug from the outside world. There’s no better way to recharge and unwind than spending some quality time on an island in the middle of the Pacific.