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).
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.
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?