Hawaii’s oldest island is also its most alluring.


On Kauai, “off the beaten path” means discovering dramatic beauty—and yourself.

As Hawaii’s oldest island, we can add Kauai to the list of things that just get better with age. Plan to divide your time between relaxing and exploring this island’s nearly endless list of fabulous natural phenomena, from the famed Na Pali Coast to the Spouting Horn, from the “sleeping giant” Nounou Mountain to Opaekaa Falls, and even the locations for filming blockbusters like Jurassic Park and Jurassic World. Off the dramatic shores of the island, snorkel or dive with colorful tropical marine life, and keep your eye on the horizon from December to April to spy behemoth humpback whales.

Na Pali Coast

Perhaps the most famous and most-photographed area of Kauai, the Na Pali Coast will make you work to access the rugged landscapes. These 17 miles of coastline is only accessible by boat or air—or your own two feet on the challenging Kalalau Trail. For easier access, take a boat or kayak tour, or a helicopter tour that will almost literally take your breath away.

The St. Regis Princeville
The St. Regis Princeville

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Waimea Canyon

The nickname of Waimea Canyon just about says it all: The Grand Canyon of the Pacific. Starting from the Waimea Canyon Lookout will give you a glimpse into the scope of this 3,600-foot-deep canyon. Following Waimea Canyon Drive will take you further into the red rock walls of Kauai’s interior, through the mountains to Kokee State Park, where you can get out and hike the trails, which vary in difficult for all experience levels.

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Hike to the Kalalau Lookout, which has views of the Kalalu Valley stretching to the ocean, and a glimpse of the Na Pali Coast’s dramatic cliffs. Bring your camera.

Fern Grotto

Fern Grotto will speak to the adventurer’s soul. Starting with a short boat ride up the Wailua River, you’ll arrive at a natural lava rock grotto covered in hanging ferns and misted by a nearby waterfall. In ages past, this grotto was only accessible to Hawaiian royalty. These days, you may hear serene Hawaiian music within the grotto’s natural acoustics, making this one of the most quintessentially Hawaiian experiences on Kauai.

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Because of its unique natural beauty, the Fern Grotto is one of the most popular sites for destination weddings.

Charming towns

On Kauai, no building stands taller than a coconut palm, which makes for charming and historic towns to explore. Wander through Waimea Town, where Captain James Cook first landed in 1778. Hanapepe Town is Kauai’s art capital, where you can find beautiful works by local artists. On the south shore you’ll find Old Koloa Town, which was where Kauai had its first sugar mill all the way back in 1835.

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Visit the Kauai museum in Lihue, which is home to island’s most important collection of native Hawaiian artifacts.

Beaches of Kauai

Poipu Beach was once named America’s Best Beach by the Travel Channel, and it’s easy to see why with the classic Hawaiian scenery and convenient access to facilities such as restrooms and showers. The waters here are home to green sea turtles and the state fish (can you pronounce “humuhumunukunukuapuaa?”), and endangered monk seals sun on the warm sand. During the winter, you may even see humpback whales just offshore.

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Other not-to-be-missed beaches include Kee Beach, Anini Beach Park, Kalapaki Beach and Salt Pond Beach.


Golfers will be in a literal paradise on Kauai. The island has ten courses designed by such names as Jack Nicklaus and Robert Trent Jones, Jr. The Kauai Lagoons Golf Club features the longest continuous stretch of ocean view holes in all of Hawaii, while the “Mini Prince” Course at Princeville is great for families and those who want an easier course that doesn’t scrimp on gorgeous views.

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Kauai’s golf courses are spread from the northermost Princeville area, along the east coast and to the south, past Poipu to Kalaheo.


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