This is my first time planning a trip to Kauai. Can you guys tell me what are the "can't miss" things to do/see/eat while I'm there? I prefer a more local experience over anything overtly touristy. Thanks!
- sky dive kauaiPort Allen Airport, Hanapepe, HI 96716recommended sky dive kauaiOk I will be very brutally honest here. I absolutely loved this experience. It was awesome to jump with these guys. They may seem a little bit lackadaisical but they are on their ball game. The ... read moreambiance is one of a kind as well. Some old who knows what kinda prop plane without seats just some random belts in it, a great big tigershark mouth like a WWII fighter, a dilapidated white trailer with a small red awning, well its just the kind of trouble that you want to get into to. The views are beyond stellar IMHO. The different cloud formations that you see as you slowly circle up to the sky... then the move over hooking up and the wonderfully fun freefall for several thousand feet over the southern coast of Kauai. On a clear day you can see a lot of the island and its just a great feeling. When the chute opens and there is a sudden stop to the rush and happiness of floating to being suspended you are like WTF how did that end quite so quickly... Definitely something I will do again. I do have a few issues with their receptionist. She neglected to tell me when I asked to know what all the charges would be, that they tax this... I was a bit shocked to say the least. This added about 10% to the cost!!! There is a $10 off deal if you pay in cash in lieu of a credit card. If you are close to 200 lbs expect to pay for an "extra" pound or two at $2/pound. I had weighed myself in the same clothes the night before and was at 198 and after sleeping when I normally loose 1-2 lbs they said I was over the 200 lb limit... very very surprising as I didnt eat or drink before going. Also be prewarned that they will film you signing the document on video in case something inopportune occurs. So almost everything was as awesome as could have been anticipated. just be careful about that OUCH that is not necessarily stated. They do have a monopoly though, if you want to jump on Kaua'i, these guys are your only option.Schel @schel74
Definitely not for the feint of heart, but one of the most beautiful things that I have ever done to be honest. The view is unparalled.
- Poipu BeachKoloa, Hawaiirecommended Poipu BeachThis beach is rocken rather well for the most part. There are some great tidepools, a lifeguard tower, a great kids zone, and a nice park (picnic tables and playground). Overall this is a great place. ... read moreHowever the concrete round tables next to the playground are chipping badly. In spots all the way to some rebar. Additionally the dangerous thing (WEAR WATER SHOES) is that there are sharp lava rocks under the water. Step on them at your your own risk! Some great views, a lot of chickens, bathrooms and rinse off locations (granted I didnt use either or go into the bathrooms) and some beautiful vistas. You can even see whales just offshore here (I DID!). Overall my daughter and I really enjoyed it here.Schel @schel74
This is a locals beach next to a resort. There is a little lagoon and you can see pods of dolphins and whales sometimes off the coast here. Definitely would fit into the less touristy kind of place, however tourists will be here as well.
- Puka Dog Hawaiian Style Hot Dogs5300 Punahoa Place, Koloa, HI 96756, United Statesrecommended Puka Dog Hawaiian Style Hot Dogswoo hoo this was an awesome time... as seen on the travel channel their sign says... sadly I know it wasnt Man vs Food but alas we will live I pray... at least this time! None the less this is a ... read moreunique polish dog. Like many of the others here I do not want to pay $6 for a polish. Seriously Costco has them for a $1.50 with a drink and they are soooooooooooooo tasty... ok back to the subject at hand Puka Doggies uniqueness! The bun for these dogs and the special relishes make this place a truly unique combo, let alone its close to the beach and there are no bacon wrapped ghetto/danger dog vendors around... So the puka bun is unique in that its a freshly baked light and airy roll which is slightly steemed prior to loading and delivery for consumption. This is where the difference lays though. There is no slice/slot in the bun to place the dog. Instead they are impaled on and steamed then the relish or condiment of your choice is injected into the tunnel. Once loaded with the tasty *nom*nom*nom* stuff, the dog is slid into place and you end up with a unique and very tasty treat! If you are on Kauai, seriously you only live once, and this is something worth trying. So get off your duff and give it a whirl. Now the best part of Puka Dogs IMHO is their freshly squeezed lemonade made by hand. WOW! this alone deserved a 6th star as it was super tasty and was right on the money for tartness, sweetness, drinkability, and all around tastiness. Perhaps the best lemonade I have had. I suggest you get one of these to go with your puka dog. To make it even better, there is a gelato place next store that will give you 25% off for a yelp check in while you are there for desert!Schel @schel74
one of the top 3 dogs I have had. Absolutely awesome to try and they have special local island relishes as well
- Waimea CanyonKoke'e Road, Kekaha, HI 96752recommended Waimea CanyonPicture a shorter length grand canyon in a lush tropical paradise and you get this place. It is awe inspiring and very very beautiful. After flying over it and driving/hiking around in it, if you are ... read morein Kauai you MUST check this place out. Pictures and movies just do not do this place any justice. This is coming from a photographer. Its possible to impart that it is daunting, but you just dont see how awe inspiring the place really is, unless you see it in person. So please do yourself a favor and GO HERE!Schel @schel74
This is another must see place. It is the gran canyon of hawaii... its almost as daunting as the real thing but much shorter in length. It still is awe inspiring and well worth the drive to see it.
- Sunshine Helicopters KauaiAnchor Cove Shopping Center, 3416 Rice Street, Lihue, HIrecommended Sunshine Helicopters KauaiAwesome Awesome Awesome!!! Seriously what more could you want than a flight around the island to see all the geological wonders of a volcanic island where it rains more than any other place on the ... read moreplanet... Well We got to go on a clear day!!! unbelievable views and vistas. If you can swing it you want to be in positions 4, 5, or 6 to board the helicopter. Five and six are in the front and four has the right side window seat (legroom and viewage!) Regardless this was the best money I think that I spent while on the island. The folks at Sunshine were friendly, informative, and open to share all kinds of great stuff. Beware if you take a child they often fall asleep. Expensive nap time is not the most fun. ***QUICK TIP: Take a camera for your kid to use and get some interesting unplanned shots!*** I got lucky that my 5 yr old wasnt asleep and enjoyed the ride without getting very bored due to taking pictures and seeing lots of interesting things while we searched for boats, deer, hikers, waterfalls, etc. Make a game out of it and your lil one will be much more into it and have memories for a lifetime! I highly recommend this kind of trip. Outstanding times no doubt. ***Extra Quick Tip*** get an early AM flight, as they are cheaper, less windy, and your still on mainland time! what else is there to do before 7:30am in the islands anyways??? Regardless of anything else, DO IT!!! The sights will blow you away!Schel @schel74
You must go for a helicopter ride to see the whole island. By far one of the best things I did when last in Kauai. My then 5 yr old loved it as well!
- Koloa Fish Market5482 Koloa Rd, Koloa, HI 96756recommended Koloa Fish MarketForget about the Fish Express in Lihue, which isn't quite what it used to be and is remarkably unfriendly to island visitors. The Koloa Fish Market, on your way down to Poipu Beach, mixes up poke ... read morethat's truly ono, and one big poke rice bowl or plate lunch is all you'll need for a day at the beach. I don't know what they put that's special in their haupia pudding, but wowser!Sara Benson
Near sunny Popiu Beach, some of the best take-out poke on the island.
- Na Pali Coast State ParkKapaa, Hawaiirecommended Na Pali Coast State ParkBest way to experience this park is by getting your act together for an advance permit and loading up your backpack with overnight camping gear for the 22-mile round-trip trek along the Kalalau Trail. ... read moreIf you've only got time to hike the first mile or two (open to day hikers without a permit), it's still worth it for the views over the steep, eroded sea cliffs ("na pali" in the Hawaiian language).Sara Benson
Great place for a hike or a paddle on the North Shore. Gorgeous!
- Kayak Wailua159 Wailua Road, Kapaa, HI 96746-1456recommended Kayak WailuaThe guided tour with Kayak Wailua is great - they are very accommodating to all fitness levels. However, the hike to the falls was definitely less leisurely than I expected. We did 2 river crossings ... read more(1 waist-deep) and a fair amount of mud trudging. However, it is short (only 3/4 mile each way) and you see some amazing flowers and plant life on the hike. Our tour guide, Brian, was great - full of local knowledge and could answer any question we threw at him, whether it was about what a certain plant was used for, other hikes to do around the island, or where to eat after we were done. I highly recommend booking through Kayak Wailua if you are going to visit the "Secret" Falls!Traci
Outdoor activity that is not strenuous -- you'll get to see lots of the island plant life. The falls that you hike to (short hike) are pretty crowded, but not overly-so.
- Hamura Saimin Stand2956 Kress St, Lihue, HI 96766recommended Hamura Saimin StandI had never heard of "saimin" until I went to Hawaii - it's basically the Chinese version of ramen - thinner noodles in broth with all sorts of combos of toppings. You wouldn't expect a hot, ... read morebroth-based dish to be at all pleasant to eat in the hot humidity of Kauai, but it was! This place is packed with locals and absolutely no frills. Definitely save room for the lilkoi chiffon pie - very different from any pie I've had before - very light and fluffy!Traci
Another local favorite -- even closer to the airport than Mark's Place. Must try the lilikoi chiffon pie (we bought a whole one to take back to our condo it was so good!)
- Mark's Place1610 Haleukana Street, Lihue, HIrecommended Mark's PlaceOur guidebook (recommended to me on Gogobot) told us that this was the best place for local food on the island. It did not disappoint. The portions are MASSIVE - if you're a smaller eater, definitely ... read moretake advantage of the "mini" option on each of their menu items. It's in the most random of places - in the middle of a very industrial, warehouse-y area not far from the LIH airport. While we were eating - we saw 3 locals park quickly, run in and leave only with a small box with a slice of chocolate cake in it, so we decided we had to try it. It was VERY decadent - their chocolate mousse cake - 4 of us were completely unable to finish a single slice together.Traci
If you want local, this place is a super local favorite. It's close to the airport, so you can make it a trip right after you land or before you leave!
- Bar-Acuda5-5161 Kuhio Hwy, Hanalei, HI 96714recommended Bar-AcudaHanalei's Bar Acuda is arguably Kauai's crowned culinary jewel and if you took a poll on any given night in the casual, but chic, open-aired dining room, the indulgent patrons would probably say it's ... read moretheir favorite restaurant in the archipelago. It's hard not to have a good time here, sampling the North Shore's finest Mediterranean inspired dishes infused with local Kauai produce. Tapas are the specialty here and it can take awhile to work through the extensive menu (with creative selections like local North Shore honeycomb with Humboldt Fog goat cheese and crisp apple) and wine list-- half of which are available by the glass. It's the perfect recipe for an epicurean night out in the Garden Island.
- Mermaids4-1384 Kuhio Hwy, #B1, Kapaa, HI 96746recommended MermaidsThis modest, street cafe in Kapaa might seem unassuming at first glance, but the organic, home-cooked meals that come out the front doors every day (11am-9pm) are anything but modest. Whether, it's an ... read moreAhi Cilantro, Foccacia Sandwich made with organic herbs, chicken coconut curry plate or homemade lemonade, everything at Mermaids is made fresh, with love, for the perfect take-out picnic lunch on the beach or post-surf meal on the patio.
- Hanalei Dolphin5-5016 Kuhio Hwy, Hanalei, HI 96714
- Jack Harter Helicopters4231 Ahukini Road, Lihue, HI 96766-1262
- Tunnels Beach Tunnels Beach, Hawaii 96746, USA
- Outfitters Kauai2827A Poipu Road, Koloa, HI 96756-8524
- Tree TunnelHighway 520, Koloa, HI 96756
- Smith Family Garden Luau5971 Kuhio Hwy. Kapaa, 96746
- Kauai Coffee Company870 Hawaii 540, Kalaheo, HI, United States
- Kealia BeachKuhio Highway, 10 Mile Marke, Kealia, HI 96751
- Na Pali CoastKilauea, Hawaii
- Kipu FallsKipu, Kauai Hawaii
- Anini Beach ParkAnini Road, Hanalei, HI 96714
- Wailua River4-788 Kuhio Highway, Kapaa, HI, United States
- Opaekaa FallsLihue, Hawaii
- Poipu Kauai hawaiiPoipu, Hawaii