Kaua‘i is known for its natural beauty. With the Na Pali Coast, Waimea Canyon and the only navigable rivers in the state of Hawai’i, the island’s stunning scenery is the first thing visitors notice and the last thing they remember. Even a nickname like ‘The Garden Isle’ fails to do justice to its beauty. Verdant trees grow canopies over the island’s few roads; long, sandy beaches, coral reefs and sheer sea cliffs frame brooding mountains. Life here moves at a slower pace.
Kauai, Hawaii Highlights
Hanapepe Town on Friday nights.
Don’t overlook this...
The National Tropical Botanical Garden is the only tropical botanical garden with a charter from the United States Congress—there are only five of these gardens in the USA and three of them are on the island of Kaua‘i.
Films shot here
Over 100 major motion pictures and TV shows, including Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, The Descendants, Raiders of the Lost Ark and South Pacific.
If you want to fit in…
Smile and remember that Kaua‘i has several one-lane bridges. Be sure to drive with aloha and alternate cars when crossing these bridges, allowing oncoming cars the right of way (the standard is to allow five to seven cars per direction).
- Kaua‘i Museum is a two-storey, lava rock structure that currently houses the history of Kaua‘i and Ni‘ihau from a geological and archaeological standpoint. It also tells the story of pre-contact and post-contact Hawai‘i, Captain Cook’s arrival, life in early Kaua‘i villages and artefacts found on the island (such as poi pounders, fishhooks, receptacles and tapa implements)
- Koke‘e Natural History Museum’s interpretive exhibits give an overview of the natural and cultural history of Waimea Canyon and Koke‘e State Parks.
- The 100-acre Grove Farm, a historic sugar plantation homestead, preserves the earliest surviving set of domestic, agricultural and sugar plantation buildings, furnishings and collections in Hawai’i. This homestead was the centre of operations for the developing sugar plantation and involved the relationship of family life, plantation activity, household work, gardening and farming, which continue today.
Ziplining, river kayaking, mountain tubing, hiking to a waterfall, ATV touring, horse riding and Zodiac rafting.
Put these events on your calendar
- In February, the island holds the Waimea Town Celebration, which offers old-fashioned plantation-style fun
- May Day is Lei Day Celebration, usually held on the first weekend of May
- In late July, Koloa Plantation Days celebrates the island’s plantation heritage
- In late September, the Mokihana Festival celebrates Hawaiian culture with lectures, music, and hula competitions.
Top photo opportunities
The Na Pali Coast.
Where locals go to relax
Spending time on one of the 43 beaches (which make up most of Kaua‘i’s coastline) is a favourite pastime among locals.
You might be surprised by...
Buildings on Kaua‘i may not be taller than a mature coconut palm.