PRETTIEST BEACH: KE'E BEACH - STAY UNTIL SUNSET
Local favorite, untouched, beautiful scenery, not crowded.
Drive north ALL THE WAY to the end of the road and you will reach Ke'e Beach. It is a beautiful drive. You will drive past 3 or 4 one-way bridges so be aware and drive slow. You will pass neighborhoods, caves, and beaches. You will think you are lost... but keep going. At the end of the road is the trailhead for the Kalalau Trail and the beach will be behind the trees. There is limited parking so you may have to park in the street on the way into the trailhead.
> Bring a hammock and tie it to the trees for the ultimate island oasis.
> Walk along the beach, it goes on for a while and the further your go the more beautiful it gets and the less people there are
> No Cell Service
Runner Up: Hanalei Bay
Hanalei Bay is a busier beach than Ke'e Beach. It is humongous, there are shops and restaurants close, and there is plenty of parking. Go to Hanalei Bay to see the beautiful view of the mountains and waterfalls. The waterfalls seen from Hanalei Bay run year around and are massive. The bay has larger waves in the summer and is calm in the winter months.
*BEST WAY TO SEE THE ISLAND: HELICOPTER RIDE
<Cost: $250/PP for front row; $200/PP for back row)>
This is the one tourist attraction you MUST do. It is the only way to see the entire Napali coast and it is incredible. The trip lasts an hour and they will take you through the volcano, to all of the most beautiful waterfalls, through Waimea canyon, and into/along the Napali Coast. The water is clear from above, so watch for dolphins and whales. Seriously, splurge and do this helicopter ride. It will change your life.
RIDE BIKES ALONG THE COAST IN KAPA'A
<Cost: $7.50/hour per bike>
5 Mile bike ride along the western coast of the island. The path is flat and right next to the water the entire time and it is BEAUTIFUL.
best shopping: hanalei town or Kapa'a
Busy and touristy, but has a lot of good local shops and places to eat.
8 Mile Round Trip Hike into Napali Coast - aka the first 4 miles of the Kalalau trail. The first two miles will take you to a beach and the second 2 will take you to a waterfall - Hanakapi'ai Falls.
Tip: Do not hike the full Kalalau Trail
The Kalalau trail is a challenging 11 mile hike into the Napali Coast. This is the only way to get into the Napali Coast since the terrain is too rugged for cars. The 11 mile hike would take 2 days, and if you are serious, you can do it, but I wouldn't recommend it. There are colonies of meth addicts who live off the land and steal from hikers. Plus, the hike is really dangerous at parts, and I the beach is just like any other beach I have heard. So I would recommend just the first 4 miles to the waterfall.
1. The hikes in Kauai are MUDDY. The Napali Coast is the wettest area on Earth and you will understand why. The mud adds to the fun and you have to embrace it! Wear Sturdy Shoes: Hiking boots, tennis shoes, or water shoes will all work, but the sturdier the better.
2. The mud in Hawaii has iron in it from the volcanic rock. Therefore, it will stain EVERYTHING that touches it. So wear dark clothes and shoes. If you do get a stain, do not let it dry and rinse it out with Blue Dawn soap as soon as you can and it might come out.
3. Find a sturdy walking stick before you start. A lot of the hikes will have them laying around for people to use. This is SO helpful when going through the mud and to help you keep your footing when it is slippery.
4. You will get eaten alive by mosquitos. To prevent this, you can rub mud on yourself, rub coconut oil on yourself, or tough it out. Mosquito repellant isn't very useful, I have found.
5. Muddy hikes are a lot more taxing on your body than a normal hike, so be prepared and bring plenty of water and food.
scuba dive nii'hau (summer)
<Cost: $200/per person>
<Time: 1 day>
Nii'hau is "the forbidden island" located 2 hours on boat from Kauai. You can only scuba dive in the summer because the waves are choppy in the winter and weather is unpredictable, so getting to the island is difficult in the winter. Nii'hau is untouched by civilization and many experienced divers say it is the best scuba diving they have ever done.
Bucket List --> Open Water Diver Certification:
Cost: $300/per person
Time: 2-3 half days <7am-1pm>
Obviously to scuba dive, you have to be certified. If you do not have your open water diver certification, Hawaii is a great place to get it. Certification only takes 2-3 half days and most of your diving will be in the ocean instead of a pool, giving you more bang for your buck. This gives you better experience and many instructors will take you on a dive for 15-20 minutes after you have passed all of your skills. Prior to your trip, be sure to complete the online course part of your certification- your instructor will tell you how to complete online portion. It takes about 12 hours to complete and allows you to bypass the classroom portion of the certification. After you are certified, you are certified for life!
Get 2 or more people in your group to become certified and your open water certification portion will be private, which means you will have less time to sit around watching others perform their skills and more time to dive with your instructor and the people you love!
boat ride along the napali coast (summer only)
In the winter, the waves are too rough to comfortably boat along the napali coast, so most companies will only do summer tours. Plus, there are many caves that they take you through that are only accessible in the summer. The Napali coast is the best part of Kauai, so this is a must.
snorkel off lawai rd. in koloa
<Cost: Free + cost of Renting Snorkels (from dive shop/hotel)>
Right off Lawai road in Kauai is this unlikely snorkel spot. There is a small beach for your belongings and those that do not want to snorkel. It is beautiful underneath. You will be amazed at how many creatures fit into such a small area.
With any snorkeling, the best time to go is the morning, when the currents and people haven't kicked up the sand. This is when the fish feed and when the water is clear. Parking is free along the road.
drive to the very top of waimea canyon
Many people make the mistake of stopping before getting to the top of the canyon. The drive up the canyon offers many stops, some of which are worthwhile. There is a hike to the waterfall that is popular, but honestly everyone I talked to said it wasn't worth it. You cannot even see the waterfall when you get there because you end up above the waterfall and it is directly below you. I would recommend just driving, but drive to the VERY top, until you reach the very end of the road. This will give you the best view.
Take motion sickness medicine with you. The road is long and windy. Also, there is no cell service so be aware.
Iconic: Lappert's (multiple locations throughout the island)
Personal Favorite: Tropical Dreams, Kapa'a
Made with all local ingredients and whoa the most amazing ice cream I have ever eaten. Plus the owners are so friendly.
Fish Tacos & Best View:
Beachhouse Restaurant in Koloa (South Side of Island). The restaurant is right over the water and has amazing views. The fish tacos are the BEST I have ever had. This is a great place to go at sunset, since the sun sets right over the water in front of you. However, make a reservation because it tends to get busy at this time. This is a higher end restaurant with each meal costing about $20/person. It's a good place for a nice dinner with your sweetheart.
Chicken in a Barrel in Kapa'a. Amazing BBQ, plus its an old shack so it adds to the island ambiance. They BBQ their meat in a barrel, hence the name. It smells amazing too. Big portions, about $16 per plate but you get a ton of food. The ribs are bomb and so is the 1/2 chicken. So, get the #4, best of both worlds.