Kauai Sights

Even a nickname like "The Garden Island" fails to do justice to Kauai's beauty. Verdant trees grow canopies over the few roads, and brooding mountains are framed by long, sandy beaches, coral reefs, and sheer sea cliffs. Pristine trade winds moderate warm daily temperatures while offering comfort for deep, refreshing sleep through gentle nights.

The main road tracing Kauai's perimeter takes

you past much more scenery than would seem possible on one small island. Chiseled mountains, thundering waterfalls, misty hillsides, dreamy beaches, lush vegetation, and small towns make up the physical landscape. Perhaps the most stunning piece of scenery is a place no road will take you—the breathtakingly beautiful Napali Coast, which runs along the northwest side of the island.

For adventure seekers, Kauai offers everything from difficult hikes to helicopter tours. The island has top-notch spas and golf courses, and its beaches are known to be some of the most beautiful in the world. Even after you've spent days lazing around drinking mai tais or kayaking your way down a river, there's still plenty to do, as well as see: plantation villages, a historic lighthouse, wildlife refuges, a fern grotto, a colorful canyon, and deep rivers are all easily explored.

While exploring the island, try to take advantage of the many roadside scenic overlooks and pull over to take in the constantly changing view. Don't try to pack too much into one day. Kauai is small, but travel is slow. The island's sights are divided into four geographic areas, in clockwise order: the North Shore, the East Side, the South Shore, and the West Side.

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Fodor's Choice


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The East Side 26


Kapaa and Wailua 18

Lihue 5

The North Shore 22


Hanalei, Haena, and West 13

Princeville and Kilauea 9

The West Side 16


Hanapepe 6

Waimea and Waimea Canyon 9

The South Shore 12


Koloa 1

Poipu 11

The Napali Coast 2

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Archaeological Site/ Ruins 4

Beach–Sight 34

Body Of Water/ Waterfall 1

Bridge/ Tunnel 1

Building/ Architectural Site 1

Cave 2

Farm/ Ranch 4

Garden/ Arboretum 5

Geological Site 2

Industrial Site/ Mill/ Factory 1

Information Center 1

Marina/ Pier/ Dock 1

Museum/ Gallery 6

Nautical Site/ Lighthouse 2

Park (National/ State/ Provincial) 1

Park/ Playground 2

Religious Building/ Site/ Shrine 2

Tour–Sight 2

Town/ Village 1

Trail/ Path 1

Viewpoint/ Scenic Overlook 9

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Family 13

Gay and Lesbian 1

Kauai Sights

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Steelgrass Chocolate Farm

  • Farm/Ranch

Hawaii is the only state in the country where theobroma cacao grows. As every chocolate connoisseur knows, the tree that grows the...

Waikapalae and Waikanaloa Wet Caves

  • Cave

These wet caves are smaller (and wetter) than Maniniholo but are still visually worth a short jaunt. Said to have been dug by Pele, goddess...

Wailua Beach

  • Beach–Sight

At the mouth of Hawaii's only navigable river, Wailua Beach has considerable cultural significance. At the river's mouth, petroglyphs...

Wailua Falls

  • Body Of Water/Waterfall

You may recognize this impressive cascade from the opening sequences of the Fantasy Island television series. Kauai has plenty of noteworthy...

Waimea Canyon

  • Geological Site

Carved over countless centuries by the Waimea River and the forces of wind and rain, Waimea Canyon is a dramatic gorge nicknamed the...

Waiohai Beach

  • Beach–Sight

The first hotel built in Poipu in 1962 overlooked this beach, adjacent to Poipu Beach Park. Actually, there's little to distinguish where...

Waioli Huiia Church

  • Religious Building/Site/Shrine

Designated a National Historic Landmark, this little church—affiliated with the United Church of Christ—doesn't go unnoticed right...

Waioli Mission House

  • Museum/Gallery

This 1837 home was built by missionaries William and Mary Alexander. Its tidy New England architecture and formal koa-wood furnishings...

West Kauai Technology & Visitor Center

  • Information Center

Cultural information and local exhibits highlight this museum-style resource center in the middle of Waimea town. Weekly events include...

Hawaii Movie Tours

  • Tour–Sight

Hawai‘i Movie Tours' minibuses with in-van TV monitors let you see the actual scenes of films while visiting the real locations used...


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