20 Unique Things to Do in Kauai

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Taro fields with mountains and palm trees around them under a blue sky
Kauai is a must-visit destination with many unique attractions to see

When on vacation in Hawaii in the United States, going to Kauai is a must! Known as the Garden Isle, Kauai is one of the most breathtaking Hawaiian Islands. It features lush green forests, beautiful plants and flowers, and outstanding attractions.

If you're more of an adventurous traveler, you'll be pleased to learn that there are numerous unique things to do in Kauai. These exciting activities include taking a helicopter tour, hiking to waterfalls, and camping under the stars.

Want to plan an incredible Hawaiian vacation? Read on for 20 memorable Kauai activities!

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20 Unusual Things to Do in Kauai

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One of many unique things to do in Kauai is hiking at Waimea Canyon
Hiking at Waimea Canyon is one of the unique things to do in Kauai

Bike and hike in Waimea Canyon State Park

Waimea Canyon State Park is one of the most famous places in Hawaii and is often referred to as the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific."

This attraction is a must-visit for nature lovers and outdoor activity enthusiasts. When visiting, you'll discover numerous scenic hiking and trails to follow, all of which offer breathtaking views. Taking a Waimea Canyon biking tour is also a highly recommended activity to try.

A green river with green trees, a cliff, and a bridge behind it
Kayaking is one of many activities to try in Wailua River State Park

Kayak in Wailua River State Park

Another outstanding outdoor attraction in Kauai is Wailua River State Park. There are many ways to explore the park, with one of the most fun ways being on a Wailua River kayak tour.

Kayaking along the river is one of the best ways to take in the spectacular surroundings. You can then hop back onto land to hike through lush forests and discover beautiful waterfalls.

A rocky river with trees on either side of it
You'll see many amazing sights when hiking the Kalalau Trail

Sleep under the stars on the Kalalau Trail

If you're looking for memorable activities to try, one of the most adventurous things to do in Kauai is hiking the entire Kalalau Trail. As you walk along this breathtaking trail, you'll encounter tropical coastline, magical waterfalls, and amazing forests.

The trail is recommended for experienced hikers only, and to complete the whole trail, you must camp along the way. If you're up for the challenge, you'll have the unique opportunity to camp under the Hawaiian stars surrounded by stunning scenery.

A coastline with ocean, sand, and greenery and a mountain on the horizon
Shipwreck Beach is one of the places to see on the Maha'ulepu Heritage Trail

Follow the scenic Maha'ulepu Heritage Trail

The Maha'ulepu Heritage Trail connects Punahoa Point to pretty Shipwreck Beach. The hiking route is relatively easy and provides some of the best coastal views on Kauai.

As you hike the route, you'll spot sandy beaches, lava formations, and lots of Hawaiian wildlife. Following this trail is an ideal laid-back activity that allows you to appreciate the beauty of Kauai.

🏨 Places to stay near the Mahaulepu Heritage Trail

A sandy shore with blue ocean and palm trees
Poipu Beach Park is a spectacular beach in Kauai

Spend a fun day at Poipu Beach Park

One of the many stunning South Shore beaches that you must visit is Poipu Beach Park. All types of travelers, from couples to families visiting Kauai with kids will enjoy spending the day on this tropical beach.

The beach is especially ideal for those that like water sports. You can swim, snorkel, surf, and much more in the calm, warm water. You can also find lots of great places nearby to grab an ice cream or Hawaiian shaved ice to enjoy under the sun.

☂️ Visit Poipu Beach Park with a tour

🏨 Places to stay near Poipu Beach Park

Ocean waves flowing onto and with a cliff in the background under blue sky
Tourists looking for a quiet and scenic beach will love Polihale State Park

Discover the tranquil Polihale State Park

If you're looking for a quiet attraction, one of the best non-touristy things to do in Kauai is going to Polihale State Park. This pretty location is much less crowded than some other beaches on the island. Despite this, the beach here is still breathtakingly beautiful and is the perfect place to relax.

Polihale State Park offers visitors a fun place to explore and hang out on the sandy shore. However, swimming and water sports aren't recommended here as the ocean features strong, sometimes dangerous, currents.

☂️ See Polihale State Park on a tour

Taste Hawaiian coffee at the Kauai Coffee Company

Hawaiian coffee is known as some of the best in the world, so trying some when in the state is a must. Luckily, Kauai is home to the Kauai Coffee Company, and you can taste some fresh coffee here for free!

Along with trying some delicious brews, you can explore the arm and learn more about coffee production. At the end of your tour, be sure to pick up some coffee beans and other products to take home.

☂️ Visit the Kauaʻi Coffee Company on a tour

Two brown birds standing on grass with a lighthouse behind them under blue sky
You can see an array of animals at Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge

Spot Hawaiian animals at the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge

The Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge is an important area for animal conservation. This attraction acts as a protection zone for a range of birds, mammals, and sea creatures that call Kauai home.

At the refuge, you can follow nature trails that will allow you to safely spot some of these animals. Creatures to see include Hawaiian monk seals, green sea turtles, albatross, and more!

☂️ Explore the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge on a tour

An aerial view of green land with the ocean to the side
Taking a helicopter tour is one of the most unique ways to see Kauai

Take a memorable Kauai helicopter tour

One of the coolest things to do in Kauai is taking a helicopter tour. Flying over the island allows you to enjoy stunning aerial views and spot most of Kauai's famous landmarks.

There are numerous helicopter tour operators to choose from, with options available during the day as well as at sunrise and sunset. If you're looking for an incredibly memorable activity to try, a helicopter tour has to be on your Kaui itinerary!

Experience the fun Smith Family Garden Luau

You can't visit Hawaii without attending a traditional luau! One of the best luau experiences on Kauai is the Smith Garden Family Luau. At the luau, you'll be treated to delicious Hawaiian food and drinks.

As you enjoy your meal, you can also watch an exciting Polynesian performance. The show includes hula dancing, Tahitian drum dancing, and even Samoan fire knife dancing. Going to the luau is guaranteed to be one of the most fun nights out you've had!

🏨 Stay nearby the Smith Family Garden Luau

Seawater spouting into the air out of volcanic rocks with the sea in the back
Spouting Horn Blowhole is an interesting geological feature

Marvel at the Spouting Horn Blowhole

One of the most fascinating Kauai attractions is the Spouting Horn Blowhole. This landmark is a volcanic geological feature that amazes visitors by spouting seawater up to heights of 50-feet.

If you're looking for a guided tour that takes you to Spouting Horn, the Secret Kauai tour comes highly recommended. On the tour, you'll also be taken to Waimea Canyon and Poipu Beach Park.

Ocean waves gently crashing onto a sandy shore under a blue sky with clouds
If you like snorkeling, doing so at Hanalei Bay is a must!

Snorkel among tropical fish at Hanalei Bay

Hanalei Bay is a beautiful coastal area on the North Shore. One of the cool things to do in Kauai for those that love aquatic activities is snorkeling at Hanalei Bay. The seawater here is extremely clear, making it ideal for spotting sea creatures.

Marine life you may see in the ocean includes colorful exotic fish, dolphins, and sea turtles. You may also see cute monk seals relaxing on the sandy shore.

🏨 Places to stay close to Hanalei Bay

Lush greenery on a hill with the blue ocean below
You can find numerous things to do in Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park

Explore the vast Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park

When on the Garden Isle, a trip to the Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park can't be missed. The famous Kauai landmark features stunning coastline, lush green forests, and pretty waterfalls.

You can discover a multitude of Na Pali Coast activities to enjoy. These things to do range from cruises and sunset sails to rafting adventures and hiking.

A path with a white fence on the side leading to green mountains
Climbing Sleeping Giant offers amazing views

Climb the magnificent Sleeping Giant

Also known as Nounou Mountain, Sleeping Giant is one of Kauai's most amazing landmarks. The mountain is found in the Nounou forest reserve and stands at over 1,240 feet.

A fun free thing to do in Kauai is climbing to Sleeping Giant's peak. At the top of the mountain, you'll get rewarded with amazing panoramic views.

🏨 Accommodation in close proximity to the Sleeping Giant

Wander around the pretty Na'Aina Kai Botanical Gardens

A great laid-back attraction to visit is the Na'Aina Kai Botanical Gardens. The beautiful gardens comprise pretty flower displays, stunning water features, and magical forests.

You can also try a range of tours when visiting, including a coastal walk and Formal Gardens and Wild Gardens tour. Exploring these stunning botanical gardens is one of the Unique Kauai activities that all travelers will enjoy!

Seawater washing onto a sandy shore with greenery-covered mountains in the background
Ha'ena State Park is one of Kauai's most beautiful places

Enjoy scenic views at Ha'ena State Park

Kauai is home to multiple state parks, with one of the most spectacular being Ha'ena State Park. Outdoor adventurers will appreciate the array of hiking, biking, and running trails located in this coastal park.

Those looking for stunning views won't be disappointed either. The park boasts panoramic views of the coast and surrounding lush forests. Having tackled some trails, you can head down to the beach to relax, swim, and catch some rays!

A white and red lighthouse sitting on a cliff with the ocean below
You can appreciate amazing views from the top of Kilauea Lighthouse

Go to the top of the Kilauea Lighthouse

Located in the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge is the Kilauea Lighthouse. The lighthouse was constructed in 1913 and is a much-loved landmark on the island.

When in the area, head to the lighthouse and climb to the top to appreciate incredible views. There are only around 50 steps to climb to reach the top to enjoy the vistas of the Kilauea Peninsula.

☂️ Experience the Kilauea Lighthouse with a tour

A twin waterfall flowing into a pool below with rock cliffs surrounding it
Hiking to Wailua Falls is a must when on the Garden Isle!

Trek to the magical Wailua Falls

One of the most stunning Kauai landmarks is Wailua Falls. The 173-foot tall waterfall can be accessed by a short trek through lush jungle.

Once at the falls, you can appreciate the attraction's beauty and take some stunning photographs. If you're after a unique way to see the falls, one of the cool things to do in Kauai is taking a secret waterfalls tour.

A small green church with white windows surrounded by grass and green trees
The Waioli Huiia Church is a charming religious landmark in Hanalei

Visit Waioli Huiia Church

Waioli Huiia Church is a charming historic church in Hanalei. The church has sat in Kauai for over 100 years and is an important religious landmark.

Today, you can explore the church and appreciate its beautiful gothic-style interior and exterior. You can also attend a service if you're religious and can even host your wedding in this quaint church with breathtaking surroundings.

Clear ocean water with a sandy shore and a greenery-covered cliff on the shore
Tunnels Beach is an ideal place to relax and spot some marine wildlife

Share a picnic at Tunnels Beach

Tunnels Beach is another of the incredible coastal locations in Kauai. This beach features white sand beaches and turquoise water. One of the unique ways to enjoy the spectacular surroundings is by sharing a picnic on the shore.

After eating, you can also swim, sunbathe, or play games. You may also discover monk seals sleeping on the sandy shore and see whales and dolphins frolicking in the ocean.

☂️ Experience Tunnels Beach with a tour

In Summary

Thanks to these Kauai off the beaten path travel tips, you should have lots of ideas for unusual things to do when on this spectacular Hawaiian island. From a vast selection of outdoor activities to wildlife encounters and relaxing by the sea, there's a unique activity for everyone to enjoy in Kauai!

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Written by Alli Sewell

allisewell FORMER WRITER Currently based in Canada, Alli has also lived and worked in the UK and Brazil and traveled in North and South America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. She loves finding the best photo-ops and food and drink locations wherever she goes.

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