Unlike Maui and Oahu, Kauai isn’t one of the most popular Hawaiian islands. That doesn’t make this tropical paradise any less appealing for travelers looking to experience a different side of Hawaii. Kauai is the oldest of the main islands, and it’s also one of the biggest. It’s known as the “Garden Isle” for its large, stunning state park with picturesque cliffside views.
Kauai is home to tropical rivers, waterfalls, and even rainforests which makes it one of the top destinations in Hawaii for outdoor enthusiasts. In recent years, more and more luxury resorts have made Kauai their home, and that’s increasing the islands appeal for all types of travelers. Whether you’re the type of traveler who likes to relax by the ocean or hike through the forest, here are some things to keep in mind when planning a trip to Kauai.
How Do I Get to the Island?
It’s pretty impossible to find direct flights from big continental US cities directly to Kauai. Most Hawaiian flights land in larger cities, particularly on the main island in the bigger airports. You’ll need to take a second flight once you’ve arrived in Hawaii to Kauai, which is the northernmost island.
There are a lot of flights from Oahu to Kauai, but that would require you to switch planes which isn’t always ideal. The best way to travel to Kauai is to look for a direct flight between the main island and Kauai through Kauai’s main airport, Lihue (LIH).
Learn the Different Parts of the Island
There are three main geographic areas in Kauai. The first and most popular is North Shore which is home to most of the luxurious resorts. This area is characterized by stunning sights of the green cliffs. This area also has a lot of great restaurants which makes it perfect for those wanting to stay close to the hotel. The North Shore beach is beautiful, but during the winter it gets hit by some big waves so it’s not ideal for swimming.
Next is the East Shore which has more budget accommodations. It’s also the most central location so it’s the perfect homebase for those looking to explore the entire island during their visit. Other than one beach known as Kalapaki, the currents and waves make East Shore unfit for swimming.
Finally, the South Shore is a beach-friendly option for travelers who don’t mind a bit of crowds. Because the beaches are perfect for swimming and there’s a lot of sunshine year-round, the South Shore tends to be the most popular. This popularity also means there’s a great selection of restaurants and accommodations, so there are a lot of perks to choosing this side of Kauai.
Do Visit the Top Sights
Kauai is home to some of the best sights in Hawaii. Whether you’re staying at a budget inn or the best resort on Kauai, you should travel outside of your hotel to see all the island really has to offer. Being the oldest island in Hawaii means there are a lot of archaeological sites and ruins on the island. One of the most popular is Alekoko Fishpond, which was built along the Huleia River. Nobody knows who built this legendary pond, only that it’s made of volcanic rock and it has survived centuries.
If you want to bask in the best view on the island, you’ll need to visit Kalalau, a remote beach inside the Napali Coast State Wilderness Park. If you want to reach this breathtaking spot, you’ll have to work for it. It’s an 11-mile hike along the cliff face and through valleys to reach Kalalau. Those who’ve made it have said it’s worth it, especially to catch the sunrise.
Finally, no trip to Kauai would be complete without seeing the famous Waimea Canyon State Park. You might think you’re in the Grand Canyon when you see these impressive gorges overlooking the massive island. The largest canyon in Waimea is over 3,000 ft deep!
Enjoy Your Trip to Kauai
It’s hard not to fall in love with this spectacular island. With picture perfect sights, waterfalls, and breathtaking canyons, there’s a lot of things about Kauai that might surprise you. The best way to experience the island isn’t from the pages of a guidebook, but by exploring Kauai for yourself! Aloha!
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