Kauai is the ultimate paradise, with lush, rugged landscapes that will blow your mind. Exploring Kauai is a dream! Traveling to Hawaii? Here is your Kauai Bucket List for unique places to visit in Kauai, Hawaii. From the stunning beaches that will take your breath away, to the majestic Na Pali Coast, the “Garden Isle” is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful islands in the world.

Kauai Overview: Know before you go

With a population of more than 60,000 people, this round-shaped island is the oldest of the Hawaiian Islands and one of my favorites.

As soon as you get off the plane the tropical adventure begins.  No trip to Kauai is complete without seeing the iconic Na Pali Coast. With 17 miles of coastline, sheer cliffs, emerald valleys, and sky-high waterfalls, nothing compares to the Napali Coast.

You can experience the Napali Coast by hiking the Kalalau Trail, taking a boat tour or flying in a helicopter.

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How to pack for the Ultimate Kauai Trip: 

  • Bathing suits – In my opinion, you can never have too many swimsuits. I love Vitamin ALSPACE, and dk active. 
  • Flowy Dresses – These are some of my favorite boho brands
  • Shorts and Casual Tees – Opt for comfortable and breathable fabrics. 
  • Comfortable flats – Pack a pair of shoes you can hike in if you plan on going on some adventures. Keep in mind, some of the trails get very muddy. 
  • Hats for sun protection – I love bringing boho style hats and straw hats
  • A lightweight rain jacket – Be prepared! I always carry a jacket in my bag when I’m traveling on the islands. 
  • Travel Bag – I usually travel with a carryon, but I always bring a backpack or small bag for hiking and beach days. 

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Kauai Bucket List

1. Kalalau Trail – Na Pali Coast

The Kalalau Trail is an 11-mile hike from Ke’ e Beach to Kalalau Beach. The first two miles to Hanakāpīʻai Beach are easy, and you don’t need a permit. If you plan to hike the whole trail, you’ll need a permit once you pass Hanakāpīʻai Beach. Plan ahead. If you get caught without a permit, you’ll get fined. 

The hike starts at Hā’ena State Park, where you’ll find Ke’ e Beach. It’s an 8-mile hike to Hanakāpīʻai Falls. 

Permits are $20 per day per person. 

bucket list Kauai

2. Ke’e Beach

The North Shore is lush, it’s striking and it’s exactly what you dream this island will look like before you see it for the first time. At the end of the road, you’ll find Ke’e beach, where the Kalalau trail begins. The backdrop is dramatic.  On the way back, be sure to stop at Tunnels beach, Princeville, and Hanalei.

3. Tunnels Beach

On your way to Ke’e beach, stop by Tunnels Beach on the North Shore of Kauai. This crescent-shaped bay is popular for surfing, swimming in snorkeling. 

Trust us; this place is paradise. 

4. Hanalei

Hanalei is a small town on Kauai’s north shore. Grab a bite to eat in Hanalei town and head to Hanalei Bay to watch the sunset. Hanalei Pier also offers spectacular views. 

5. Kilauea Lighthouse

Stop by the Kilauea Lighthouse and Wildlife refuge and soak in the views of the ocean, cliffs and look for whales cruising by. The Kilauea Lighthouse is open Tuesday to Saturday 10 am to 4 pm, and closed on Sunday and Monday. 

The cost is $10.00 per person. 

Related:

Bucket List Adventures: Unique Things to do in Kauai, Hawaii

6. Polihale State Park

Next head West. The road to Polihale State Park is rough, but the views will be mind-blowing. This is the last beach on the West side.  With the Napali Cliffs as the backdrop, and views of Niihau in the distance, this beach does not disappoint.  Escape here for the sunset.

We set up camp above the sand dunes overlooking the water and watched the sunset over the water, the colors of the sky slowly turned into a vibrant pink/lilac hue.  At night it’s a light show,  you’ll see shooting star after shooting star.

Book the camping permit online and print it before your stay, it’s only $12.

7. South Shore Beaches

If you’re looking for sunny skies head South, to Poipu Beach Park.  This is where you’ll find the fancy resorts, a second Kauai Juice, Co. and Shipwreck beach, where I tried slacklining for the first time in my life.  Head towards the golf course, for a peaceful scenic walk along the coast. Don’t be surprised if you get caught in the occasional downpour, chances are it won’t last too long.

8. Waimea Canyon: The Grand Canyon of the Pacific

It’s a two-lane windy road to Waimea Canyon.  More than 3,000 feet deep, you won’t find a gem like this anywhere else in Hawaii.

There are countless drive-up photo ops throughout Waimea Canyon and plenty of hikes. One of my favorites is located in Kokee State Park and overlooks the secluded Kalalau Beach, the final destination of the 11-mile Kalalau Trail.

9. Sleeping Giant Hike

On the Eastside, you’ll find a Sleeping Giant- This hike is easy and takes you through a stunning green forest at the base, you’ll eventually smell the sweet aroma of strawberry guavas as you get ready to soak in a 360-degree view of the island.  Pause and Enjoy the moment.

Related:

What to eat in Kauai

  1. Bar Acuda– Ordered most of the pupus (appetizers) on this menu. The tapas are priced on the higher end, but you won’t be disappointed.
  2. Kauai Juice Company – a local favorite. Try this!
  3. The Dolphin Restaurant- fresh fish and a great ambiance.
  4. First Saturdays in Old Kapaa Town offers plenty of vendors with a variety of cuisines.
  5. Hanapepe Town Art Walk on First Fridays of every month has a selection of food trucks that hit the spot.
things to do in Kauai Hawaii

Where to stay in Kauai

I use Airbnb and Booking.com to search for the best places to stay. Use this link to book your next Airbnb and get $40 off your first stay.  If you already have an account on Airbnb, the discount won’t apply.

If you have any questions about this Kauai Bucket List Travel Guide, send us a message.

Searching for more adventures in the United States, check out:

Things to do Kauai Hawaii

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