Known as the garden isle, Kauai is the most lush and green of the Hawaiian islands. At nearly 6 million years old, Kauai is also the oldest island in the Hawaiian archipelago. Kauai is full of eclectic charm. Wild roosters roam the island, an interesting result of Hurricane Iniki which hit the island in 1992. Kauai is so bright and beautiful. It is home to the wettest place on earth, Mt. Waileale. More than a tropical paradise, Kauai is a magical place filled with peace and joy.
Located on the north shore of the island, Hanalei Bay is an oasis of vibrant, blue waters encompassed by dramatic, green mountains. The charming town of Hanalei offers several shops and restaurants, including a crystal shop with a great variety of specimens. Hanalei is also home to arguably the best shave ice on the island. Wishing Well Shave Ice is definitely worth the trip up north to Hanalei. Another notable place in Hanalei to eat is the Hanalei Bread Company. This spot has delicious pastries and breakfast sandwiches, along with espresso. Word on the street is that they sell out quickly, so head over to the Hanalei Bread Company after you enjoy a beautiful sunrise; They open at 7.
Anini Beach has plenty of shallow water leading out to a Hawaii’s largest coral reef. The reef is 2 miles long, and keeps the beach area protected from harsh surf. This beach is great for snorkeling, and other water activities. Anini Beach is also a good beach to search for coveted Kahelelani shells. Plenty of tropical fish in the sea at Anini Beach!
Queen’s Bath is a natural tide pool made by lava rock on the north shore of Kauai. The parking lot at the trailhead is incredibly small, with no street parking options, so I recommend coming before sunrise. Bring a flashlight and wear shoes, as the trail is steep and muddy in places. On your way down the trail at dawn, you’ll spot frogs hopping out of your path, listen to the birds singing, and hear the rooster’s wake-up call. Then you’ll hear a waterfall approaching as the jungle clears, and pink clouds light up the lava rock and tide pools below. Queen’s bath is beautiful, and the sunrise makes this place magical. Take a deep, salty breath, and watch the edge of the world roll around to reveal the sun rising in the sky. Just be careful. The waves can be unpredictable, splashing against the rocks, and have been known to sweep people out to sea.
Kauai Mini Golf and Cultural History Garden
Everyone knows mini golf is fun. But mini golf through a tropical botanical garden with interesting facts along the way? Amazing. This place has something for everyone. The golf course itself is fun, with Koi ponds, waterfalls, and other fun features. The garden is beautiful, and the plants are well-labeled. There are tons of plants, both native, and non-native to Hawaii, which all play a part in the culture here. After working up a sweat mini golfing, sit and enjoy some of the delicious Hawaiian shave ice from Anaina hou community park. They use real fruit juices to make homemade syrups, and there is a cute, shaded area to sit and enjoy the park.
Hanapepe is a small town on the south side of Kauai. Famous for being the hometown of Lilo from Disney’s Lilo and Stitch, Hanapepe is also home to the westernmost bookstore in the United States. Once you arrive in Hanapepe, you will find the Midnight Bear Bakery, which is well worth a visit. The strawberry Nutella cruffin (croissant-muffin) is out of this world!
Lydgate beach is a beautiful spot with plenty of quiet, shady trees to set up for a day at the beach. The beach is lined with driftwood, and the views are breath-taking. There is also a designated swimming area, and good snorkeling at Lydgate Beach.
An absolute must-see in Kauai is Wailua falls. This awe-inspiring waterfall is nestled amongst an emerald jungle canopy. The air here is so pure; It is a great place to take a deep breath, get centered, and connect with the earth.
Princeville Ranch offers a wide variety of activities ranging from kayaking, to horseback riding, to driving off-road vehicles. The views of the mountainous jungles, waterfalls, and green pasteurs with free-range cattle roaming, are unrivaled. The property offers a zipline, and a watering hole, complete with a waterfall to cool off under after some hiking amongst the beautiful jungle flora. The guides are very knowledgeable about the flora and fauna in the area and share interesting facts and Hawaiian folklore along the way. Adventure awaits at Princeville Ranch!
Bega Beach is hidden along the Kilauea Bay. Hike down a fairly steep trail to a beach speckled with lava rocks. The warm lava rocks make the perfect place to sit and meditate. There is also a sandy beach area a bit further down the bay. Make sure to bring everything you may need with you; The hiking portion is not for the faint of heart.
Secret Beach might be my favorite beach on Kauai. After a bit of a hike down a jungle trail, you’ll find plenty of sandy beach to explore. Creeks swimming with tiny tadpoles and frogs trickle out into the ocean. In the distance, Kīlauea Lighthouse overlooks the Pacific Ocean beyond. Secret Beach is a a hidden gem that’s definitely worth finding.
Waimea Canyon was nicknamed “the Grand Canyon of the pacific” by Mark Twain, and for good reason. Waimea Canyon is huge! The word “waimea” means “reddish water” in Hawaiian. Waimea Canyon has beautiful red dirt and rock that erode away into the Waimea river. This creates red run-off into the ocean which can be seen from space! The juxtaposition of the red dirt and the lush, green jungle, sprinkled with waterfalls and rainbows, paints a beautiful landscape down into the sea. Waimea canyon is not to be missed!
McBryde Garden is a beautiful tropical botanical garden. Take a stroll through the plumeria trees and breathe in the pure and humidified air. Lizards sun themselves on the paths, scurrying out of the way and into the tropical foliage. Orchids grow from mossy patches between the coconut trees, creating nature’s own kokedama garden. McBryde garden is a plant-lovers paradise!
The NaPali coast is without question one of the most beautiful places in the world. The views are spectacular. This side of Kauai boasts the second largest sea cliffs in the world, second only to it’s sister island, Molokai. The lush, green mountainsides are speckled with waterfalls that extend all the way into the sea. On the rock, horizontal lines can be seen, signifying separate lava flows in the creation of the island.
The NaPali coast is rich with Hawaiian culture and folklore. What I found to be the most beautiful and spiritual place on the NaPali coast is the Honopu valley and beach. This is the place where warriors would come to bury and hide the chief’s bones. Keeping the location a secret was to protect the kingdom from another king coming and steeling the “mana,” or special powers, from the chief’s sacred bones. Once the bones were hidden, the warrior would plummet to his death, as to keep the location of the bones a true secret. This was considered an honor, and the warrior would be reincarnated into royalty in the next life. The spiritual significance radiating from the NaPali coast is tangible from the seas.
Kauai is a stunning island with incredible culture and history. It has beautiful beaches, lush emerald jungles, awe-inspiring waterfalls, and vibrant red rock and soil. Kauai is my favorite of the Hawaiian islands, and truly offers something for everyone. More than a lovely spot to vacation and explore, Kauai is a spiritual Mecca. Come to Kauai to center your soul.