Hanalei Bay Kauai

New National Geographic Winner | Things To Do on Kauai

National Geographic has just published their world-wide list of places you need to visit in 2017 and Kauai goes to the top of the list. This is the only Hawaii pick and comes as all of the Hawaiian Islands continue to appear in top rankings from Travel and Leisure, Islands Magazine and others.

Kauai is the island that Beat of Hawaii chooses to call home. This 550 square mile gem is the oldest and fourth largest of the Hawaiian Islands and arguably the most beautiful. With sixty-some thousand residents, Kauai still manages to retain much of its prior charm and unique albeit quirky character.

Look for some hidden gems of Kauai below.

Our Favorite Things To Do On Kauai

Kauai Hiking Trails.

Great hiking on over 200 square miles of trails is easily accessible at Waimea Canyon. There’s a helpful trail map available from the Kokee Museum. If you’re looking for a 3 hour return hike with incredible canyon views and even a waterfalls, our recommendation is Waipo`o Falls Trail.

On the Eastside of the island you’ll find Sleeping Giant with beautiful views over Kapaa and the ocean. Allow two hours for this hike that takes you to the top of the giant’s profile.

Head to North Shore and enjoy the 2 mile trail to Hanakapiai Beach that starts from Ke`e Beach. Allow a half day for this journey.

For South Shore hiking, try the famous Mahaulepu Trail that starts from Shipwreck Beach at Poipu. This oceanfront walk can be enjoyed in half a day and ends at Mahaulepu.

Golfing at Kukuiolono is still $9.

This 9-hole for nine dollars Kalaheo course has spectacular views. In the old days it operated on the honor system and you would just drop the green fee in a lock box. Located at 854 Puu Road. Phone 808-332-9151 for details.

Swimming at Hanalei, Poipu and Salt Pond Beaches.

Read our popular guide to Hanalei Bay. Hanalei has also been a Dr. Beach number one pick. It’s our pick for quintessential Kauai every summer. During winter months when north shore waves can be large and dangerous, head to the sheltered south shore beaches like Poipu Beach Park and Salt Pond Beach in Hanapepe.

Driving to Polihale.

If you can survive the remaining bumps on this five mile sugar cane road, you’ll be rewarded with miles of uninterrupted sand beach ending at the Na Pali Coast. Allow 30 minutes for the 5 mile drive. If you have a bad back you may want to sit this one out.

The Na Pali Coast.

For viewing, hiking, kayaking and whale watching in season and so much more. The trail is spectacular. It’s still a dream come true to hike the 11 mile trail (22 miles round-trip).

Special Events.

Art Night in Hanapepe, every Friday from 6pm to 9pm. Enjoy the art galleries, food and festive atmosphere. Stop at Talk Story Bookstore which has entertainment outside. Another popular destination is Banana Patch Studio which sells hand painted tiles. Seconds are also offered for half price, tucked in a back room.

For events during your stay on Kauai, visit the Kauai Festivals website sponsored by the visitor bureau. If you’re lucky you may be here for Lei Day in May, Lights on Rice holiday parade or the Waimea Town Celebration to name a few.

Farmer’s Markets.

Check out our farmers market pick, the Community Market at Kauai Community College, from 9:30am to 2:00pm every Saturday morning. Another find is the gourmet Culinary Market each Wednesday afternoon from 4pm to 6pm at Poipu’s The Shops at Kukuiula. Also consider the Sunshine Markets around the island weekly. Tip: there’s also a new and interesting Friday morning cooperative market with dining taking form in Lawai. Be the first of your friends to know about this unique spot.

What’s Not Hot On Kauai?

The only thing that comes to mind is the eyesore Coco Palms Resort. Things are very slow to change here but even that is scheduled to see a rebirth. We previously toured this once grand property and reported on its status at the time. Kauai locals and fans are currently awaiting word on start of the long anticipated reconstruction.

Everyone has their own idea of the best things about the island.  What are your Kauai favorites?



25 thoughts on “New National Geographic Winner | Things To Do on Kauai”

  1. My family of four, two little boys ages 10 and eight, are currently on Kauai until mid February. Upon arriving, we discovered that the pool in the property we rented is under construction. We are looking for another pull my boys can swim in, and we’re willing to pay but have been unable to find a property that will sell us a day pass or a community pool. Are you aware of any properties that will sell a past other property for the day? We, of course, have been at the beach and will continue to go but my boys would also like to swim in a pool.

  2. Hi, we’re going to Kauai for the holidays and going to have Christmas dinner at The St. Regis Princeville. (Fine dining, not the buffet).

    I know it is extremely nice, but does anyone know the holiday dining attire there for both my fiance and I? I don’t want to be under (or over) dressed and am only familiar with normal dining attire at normal Hawaiian restaurants.

    Mahalo in advance for any suggestions 🙂 Brooke

  3. I have been to Kauai before but I don’t remember any snorkelling boat tours? We will be there first 2 weeks of March 2018. Thanks for any info.

  4. aloha!
    My husband and I want to bring our two sons, ages 20 and 18 years at Christmas 2017 or at March 2018. One son is an avid west coast surfer, and the rest of us like paddle boarding and snorkling. So…. which island? I was hoping Kauai for the quiet but don’t see surfing. We have stayed at Wailea in Maui and loved it but it is a drive to surf. My ideal? is a place where we can walk to surf and snorkle!
    Also would like a simple cabin with the option to cook and house 4 of us.
    Wow! tall order – let me know when you can
    Flying out of Vancouver Canada
    Mahalo Tammi

    1. Hi Tammi.

      Oh gosh yes there is great surfing on Kauai. Big waves on north shore in winter, so you’ll need to do your research. Obviously paddle boarding and surfing require rather opposite ocean conditions.


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