Kauai

The Ultimate Kauai Bucket List

Kauai, Hawaii, if the most beautiful place I have ever been, and I have been to a lot of beautiful places! When people ask me where my favorite place in the world is, or where I would go back to over and over again, I always say: Kauai. The colors, the water, the flowers, the rugged cliffs… everything is gorgeous. It’s the only place in the world that brought tears to my eyes when I saw its beauty. I can’t wait to go back, but until now I’ll just share my ultimate Kauai bucket list for you!

1. Take a Flying Tour

If you do nothing else on Kauai, take a scenic flight. We went with Wings Over Kauai, and they were fantastic. There are places on Kauai that you can only see from the air, including movie-famous waterfalls! But the real beauty is the Na Pali Coast. The sea cliffs are majestic. That’s the word that kept coming to mind as I teared up just looking at them. Majestic.

Photos cannot do this justice.
2. Hike the Kalalau Trail

We only hiked part of the Kalalau Trail (it’s 22 miles round-trip), but it quickly became one of the most memorable. It’s considered one of the most beautiful and most dangerous in the world, but even if you just want to do a couple of miles out and back instead of the whole trail, you won’t regret it! We hiked this trail before the heavy rains that shut it down in 2018, but it has reopened. There are some changes about access since we visited in 2016, so check out this website for the most accurate information.

One of the most beautiful hikes we have ever done!
3. Tour Kauai Coffee Plantation

Did you know Kauai is home to the largest coffee plantation in the United States? It is! You can take a FREE tour of this plantation and sample all their coffees, or get a fancy coffee of your own made up for you. Their coffee is the actual best I’ve ever tasted. It’s not bitter, they have fun flavors available (think coconut caramel crunch, chocolate macadamia nut, tasty banana nut cream, and more!), and you can get bagged or eco-friendly k-cups!

Frozen coffee and a plantation tour. Perfect.
4. Hike Waimea Canyon

The Na Pali Coast and Waimea Canyon are the perfect comparison to showcase how incredibly diverse the terrain can be on one island! Waimea Canyon is known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” and it’s certainly stunning in a different way than the coastline. Hike the trail that leads you to Waipoo Falls for unforgettable views like this!

Waipoo Falls
5. Visit Wailua (“Fantasy Island”) Falls

Not up for a hike? Then this must-do is for you! You can drive right up and park at the lookout point for this TV- and movie-famous waterfall. If you’re a fan of Fantasy Island, you’ll recognize it right away!

Between the greenery, the mountains, the mist, and the blue water below, you can see why this is such a great place in person and on camera!
6. Find the Alekoko Menehune Fish Pond

Another drive-able site is the ancient Hawaiian Alekoko Menehune Fish Pond. The Menehune is something like a Hawaiian Leprechaun. Legend has it that they built this entire fish pond in one night! This particular fish pond was used to trap fish to feed to Hawaiian royalty. It’s now a protected refuge for endemic birds.

Alekoko Menehune Fish Pond
7. Go Glass Hunting on Glass Beach

Why is there a beach made of glass on Kauai? Well, it’s junk. Glass bottles, windows, car windshields, etc. were dumped here many years ago, and the ocean has had its way with them. It’s been broken up and smoothed out to pebbles that look like sand from a distance. Wear shoes on this beach just in case, but also feel free to pick up some pieces to take home! It’s illegal to take sand, lava rock, and other natural resources from the Hawaiian islands, but since this was once pollution, it’s fair game! You’ll find brown, white, green, blue, and maybe some other colors of sea glass pieces here.

Glass Sand Beach
8. Visit Queen’s Bath

I have to tell you that Queen’s Bath can be very dangerous at high tide or during or after a heavy rain. Please always use caution and common sense when hiking anywhere in the world. We did not go all the way to Queen’s Bath because there were warnings out that day, but the beauty and views along the way were absolutely stunning.

My Love taking in Queen’s Bath
9. Enjoy the Beaches

Kauai’s beaches are the most beautiful in the world, much like Kauai is the most beautiful place in the world! Many are protected by coral reefs or are in secluded bays, making them ideal for snorkelers and once-a-year swimmers like myself! You can walk right out (but pack your water shoes to protect your feet from rocks and broken coral!) and see right through the clear blue waters.

Looking down on one of the many swimming beaches on Kauai!
10. Visit one of the Wettest Spots on Earth

Kauai is, in fact, home to the wettest spot on earth, with an average of 460 inches of rainfall here each year! You will likely get the same view we did below, but whether or not you like the rain, it’s what makes Kauai so lush, green, and gorgeous all year round!

Want more Hawaiian tips, recommendations, and how-tos? Check out What to Know Before You Visit the Hawaiian Islands and my Pacific Islands Page!

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