Kaua’i, also known as the “The Garden Island” , is the oldest island in Hawaii. In comparison to the other Hawaiian islands, Kaua’i has the most beaches, hiking trails, and the largest coffee plantation. If you love coffee then this is definitely the island you want to visit. Majority of Kaua’i (97%) is undeveloped due to the mountains that surround and protects its rainforest thus making most of the island difficult to access. However, for parts of the island that are accessible, they are definitely worth exploring. Kaua’i is a beautiful lush green island and everyday of your visit should be spent outdoors. In June 2019, I visited Kaua’i for three days and it was amazing! In this guide you will find information on my flight, accommodation, places I visited (things to do), and recommendations. I hope this guide will help you to plan your first or subsequent trip to Kaua’i, Hawaii.
Since I was already on the Big Island, I flew Hawaiian Airlines to Kaua’i Lihue Airport. The flight was approximately 30-40 minutes. The cost of the flight was around $100 USD.
Uber is very limited on Kaua’i and it could take up to 30 minutes or more to get connected to a driver. As such, it is best to rent a car. If you do not desire to rent a car, taxis are widely available outside of popular hotels. Another option is to rely on transportation (pick up and drop off) included in a group tour. If you choose this option, make sure that the places you would like to visit are covered by the tour so you don’t miss out on anything.
I stayed at the Kaua’i Marriott Resort. This hotel is a family friendly resort that is also great for couples and singles. On-site, the hotel has restaurants (e.g. Duke’s Kaua’i, Cafe Portofino), a beach, fitness center, spa, and a golf course. Plus it has a huge pool with a view of the beach so you can get the best of both worlds in one location. Additionally, this hotel serves as a central pickup location for tours. The hotel also hosts a luau on Monday nights (ticket purchase/reservations required).
If you’re a frequent Marriott hotel visitor, apply for their bonvoy card for rewards and other awesome benefits including TSA precheck and global entry, priority pass lounge access, $300 yearly bonus and many more!
Things to Do
Fern Grotto, located on the east side of the Wailua River, is a lava rock with hanging ferns covering over it. The grotto, only accessible by boat, was once only accessible to members of Hawaiian royalty. Now it is a very popular wedding site and can be visited by anyone via a riverboat tour. I decided to take a riverboat cruise to Fern Grotto. The cost of the ticket was $5.00 USD and an additional discount with a AAA card or U.S. military identification. On the riverboat guests are entertained with musicians playing Hawaiian music and the natural beauty of the river. Upon docking guests follow a guide for a short walk to the grotto and admire its beauty before returning back to the starting point. Prior to 2006, guests could enter into the grotto, but due to severe flooding guests can only view it from the outside.
The Sprouting Horn is a blowhole formed from a lava tube that shoots out water every minute from crashing sea waves. Although the Sprouting Horn is the main attraction in this area there are also other sights to see such as sea turtles! You can spot them swimming around in the water to the right of the blowhole. This is a popular tourist spot and as such, you should arrive early for pictures or to watch the sunset in the evening.
Opaekka Falls is a 151 foot waterfall surrounded by lush greenery and can be safely viewed from the Opaekka Falls overlook. It is not possible to hike down to the waterfall so the overlook is as close as you can get to it. Although from the overlook the waterfall is quite far, it is still worth stopping off the road to view. Across the street from Opaekka Falls, you can view the Wailua River Valley.
A secluded beach hidden from the main road. On the day that I visited, the beach was not crowded with tourists and attended by a few locals. Anahola has a lifeguard on duty along with public bathrooms and showers. The beach was quiet and serene and the water was very calm. I recommend this beach if you only want to escape from the crowds and relax.
This is a family friendly beach with calm shallow water due to the coral reef that breaks the waves far out from the shore. Anini Beach is a great place to snorkel, camp, relax, and has plenty of trees for shade when you want to step out of the sun. Washrooms and bathrooms are available at this beach. Anini Beach is also not crowded at all (less touristy) which makes it a must visit in Kaua’i.
Pilaa beach is slightly infamous due to its location which is adjacent to Mark Zuckenburg’s property. I viewed this beach from the top of a hill as it is difficult to reach due to its location. To reach the beach, you would need to hike down a steep hill. If you do decide to visit keep in mind that this beach is not ideal for swimming due to the strong tides.
Another infamous beach in Kaua’i most notably known for filming the pilot and first episode of Gilligan’s Island. I found this beach to be absolutely beautiful and not crowded at all! Although the waves were rough, I felt very relaxed sitting out there staring out into the ocean. Definitely a must visit!
- Kaua’i Coffee Company: Excellent coffee!!! This place has a wide variety of flavors and offers free samples with sugar/sweetner and cream to compliment.
- Princeville Center: One stop place to shop for clothes, souvenirs, and take a break to eat at one (or more) of the center’s many restaurants!
- Na Pali Coast: Must visit! Take a catamaran cruise or helicopter ride for the best views!
- Waimea Canyon: The largest canyon in the pacific and a great place for hikers!
- Mount Waialeale: The wettest spot on earth and can be viewed from a helicopter tour.
- Hanapepe Valley: Jurassic Park fans may remember this valley featured in the first film.