They don’t call Kaua’i the Garden Island for nothing—the lush landscape of dense jungle, swaying palms and paintbox-bright blooms calls forth images from every childhood novel about a tropical island paradise. The oldest and northernmost of Hawai’i’s major islands, Kaua’i is also the least populated, with a relaxed vibe that makes it almost impossible not to relax and unwind the minute you step off the plane.
Speaking of flights, Kaua’i is easy to get to, with direct flights from most western cities including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Denver, and Vancouver, and numerous daily connections from Honolulu.
There’s only one problem: how to plan an itinerary that takes full advantage of Kaua’i’s natural beauties, from towering cliffs and sheer-sided canyons to white-sand beaches and coves swirling with brilliantly colored fish. Here, a guide to all Kaua’i has to offer, organized for ultimate enjoyment.
10 Things to Do in Kaua’i
Where to Stay
A serene enclave on a sheltered bluff overlooking Hanalei Bay, the Cliffs at Princeville makes the perfect base to experience the north shore’s special gift for inducing restoration and relaxation. Sink into serenity with the help of The Cliffs’ extensive menu of onsite wellness and fitness activities, such as cliff-top yoga flow classes taught by renowned movement and pain specialist Noah Peragine. Or take advantage of The Cliffs’ concierge service to craft a customized regimen from an extensive selection of outdoor activities including surfing and stand-up paddleboarding lessons, snorkeling at Tunnels Beach, kayaking, botanical garden tours, and more.
The Princeville Makai Golf Club, designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr., is renowned among players for its ocean views and challenging 7th hole and popular with runners and dog walkers for the broad paths that circle its serene lakes. Guests gather every evening on the Cliffs’ ocean view lawn to watch the sun sink beneath the waves of the Pacific, sighing together at the end of another spectacular day.
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Everyone has room to breathe in these airy abodes, where floor-to-ceiling windows frame stunning sea views and a one-bedroom suite offers 917 square feet of living space, not to mention a lanai big enough to seat a festive group. Rates start at $375 for a one-bedroom suite, $435 for a two-bedroom and include complimentary parking with no resort fees.
Just south of buzzy Kapa’a and steps from popular Lydgate Beach Park with its sheltered swimming bay, the Hilton Garden Inn Kaua’i Wailua Bay will please families with its friendly, relaxed vibe and impress those seeking a central location with its prime convenience. Don’t miss breakfast, served in the retro lobby with its soaring ceilings and airy, mid-century decor. Rates start at $200. Equally popular with families and couples seeking romance, the expansive Koloa Landing Resort in sun-drenched Poipu boasts three pools, including one of Kaua’i’s most over-the-top complexes featuring swim-under waterfalls, two water slides, an infinity pool, and multiple Jacuzzis. Rooms and suites range from 500 to 3600 square feet and rates start at $587.
Where to Eat
Don’t be daunted by the line at Hanalei Dolphin – dinner here is worth the wait, whether it’s for a table in the torchlit riverside garden or a seat in the lively sushi lounge. Follow the lead of the locals who frequent the restaurant’s fish market and sample the day’s fresh catch, be it delicately flaky Opah (moonfish), sweet Opakapaka (pink snapper) or firm-fleshed Hapu (Hawai’ian black sea bass,) along with traditional favorites like Haole chicken, breaded,…