Kauai Sports & Activities

For those of you who love ocean sports but need a little break from all that sun, sand, and salt, there are plenty of options on Kauai to keep you busy on the ground. You can hike the island's many trails, or consider taking your vacation into flight with a treetop zipline. You can have a backcountry adventure in a four-wheel drive, or relax in an inner tube floating down the cane-field irrigation canals.

So, you've decided to vacation on an island. That means you're going to run into a little water at some time. Ancient Hawaiians are notorious water sports fanatics—they invented surfing, after all—and that proclivity hasn't strayed far from today's mind-set. Even if you're not into water sports or sports in general, there's only a slim chance that you'll leave this island without getting out on the ocean, as Kauai's top attraction—Napali Coast—is something not to be missed.

Before booking tours, check with your concierge to find out what the forecast is for water and weather conditions. Don't rely on the Weather Channel for accurate weather reports, as they're often reporting Oahu weather. If you happen to arrive during a North Shore lull in the surf, you'll want to plan to be on the ocean in a kayak or snorkeling on the reef. If it's raining, ATV tours are the activity of choice.

For those who can't pack enough snorkeling, fishing, body boarding, or surfing time into a vacation, Kauai has it all—everything except parasailing, that is, as it's illegal to do it here (though not on Maui, the Big Island, or Oahu). If you need to rent gear for any of these activities, you'll find plenty of places with large selections at reasonable prices. And no matter what part of the island you're staying on, you'll have several options for choice spots to enjoy playing in the water.

For the golfer in the family, Kauai's spectacular courses are rated among the most scenic, as well as the most technical. Princeville Golf Course has garnered accolades from numerous national publications, and Poipu Bay Golf Course hosted the prestigious season-end PGA Grand Slam of Golf for 13 years, although Tiger (he won a record five-straight tournaments) and company, unfortunately, now head to Bermuda for this tourney.

One thing to note, and we can't say this enough—the waters off the coast of Kauai have strong currents and can be unpredictable, so always err on the side of caution and know your limits. Follow the tagline repeated by the island’s lifeguards—"When in doubt, don’t go out."

One of the most popular Kauai experiences is to see the island from the air. In an hour or so, you can see waterfalls, craters, and other places that are inaccessible even by hiking trails (some say that 70% or more of the island is inaccessible). The majority of flights depart from the Lihue airport and follow a clockwise pattern around the island. If you plan to take an aerial tour, it's a good idea to fly when you first arrive, rather than saving it for the end of your trip. It will help you visualize what's where on the island, and it may help you decide what you want to see from a closer vantage point during your stay. Be prepared to relive your flight in dreams for the rest of your life. The most popular flight is 60 minutes long.

ATV Tours

Although all the beaches on the island are public, much of the interior land—once sugar and pineapple plantations—is privately owned. This is...

Aerial Tours

If you only drive around Kauai in your rental car, you will not see all of Kauai. There is truly only one way to see it all, and that's by...

Biking

Kauai is a labyrinth of cane-haul roads, which are fun for exploring on two wheels. The challenge is finding roads where biking is allowed and...

Boat Tours

Deciding to see Napali Coast by boat is an easy decision. Choosing the outfitter to go with is not. There are numerous boat-tour operators to...

Body Boarding and Bodysurfing

The most natural form of wave riding is bodysurfing, a popular sport on Kauai because there are many shore breaks around the island. Wave riders...

Deep-Sea Fishing

Simply step aboard and cast your line for mahimahi, ahi, ono, and marlin. That's about how quickly the fishing—mostly trolling with lures—begins...

Golf

For golfers, the Garden Isle might as well be known as the Robert Trent Jones Jr. Isle. Four of the island's nine courses, including Poipu Bay...

Hiking

The best way to experience the aina —the land—on Kauai is to step off the beach and hike into the remote interior. You'll find waterfalls so...

Horseback Riding

Most of the horseback-riding tours on Kauai are primarily walking tours with little trotting and no cantering or galloping, so no experience...

Kayaking

Kauai is the only Hawaiian island with navigable rivers. As the oldest inhabited island in the chain, Kauai has had more time for wind and water...

Kiteboarding

Several years ago, the latest wave-riding craze to hit the Islands was kiteboarding, and the sport is still going strong. As the name implies...

Mountain Tubing

For the past 40 years, Hawaii's sugarcane plantations have closed one by one. In the fall of 2009, Gay & Robinson announced the closure...

Scuba Diving

The majority of scuba diving on Kauai occurs on the South Shore. Boat and shore dives are available, although boat sites surpass the shore sites...

Skydiving

If you're a full-throttle adrenaline junkie, it doesn't get any better than jumping out of an airplane over an island—oh, the views—and floating...

Snorkeling

Generally speaking, the calmest water and best snorkeling can be found on Kauai's North Shore in summer and South Shore in winter. The East...

Stand-Up Paddling

Unlike kiteboarding, this is a new sport that even a novice can pick up— and have fun doing. Technically, it's not really a new sport but a...

Surfing

Good ol' stand-up surfing is alive and well on Kauai, especially in winter's high-surf season on the North Shore. If you're new to the sport...

Tennis

If you're interested in booking some court time on Kauai, there are public tennis courts in Waimea, Kekaha, Hanapepe, Koloa, Kalaheo, Puhi,...

Whale-Watching

Every winter North Pacific humpback whales swim some 3,000 miles over 30 days, give or take a few, from Alaska to Hawaii. Whales arrive as early...

Zipline Tours

The latest adventure on Kauai is "zipping," or "ziplining." Regardless of what you call it, chances are you'll scream like a rock star while...

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