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Kauai Activities, Tours and Things To do on the Garden Island.

Top Five Reasons To Visit Kauai

 Visit Kauai this Summer

If tropical breezes, spectacular scenery, world class dining, and crystal clear water aren’t enough reasons to plan a Kauai vacation this year, here are few more to add to your list.
Top Reasons To Visit Kauai

Rest and Relaxation

The results are in! Beautiful scenery and encounters with nature have been proven to reduce mental fatigue and stress, provide a calming effect on the mind, and improve cognitive function. You deserve it! Months of hard work and daily stress can wreak havoc on your nervous system. Just coming to Kauai and sitting on the beach, going for hike, or strolling through one Kauai’s numerous gardens can restore your state of mind and provide you with many other health benefits. All you need to do is start planning your vacation and you will begin to feel the stress melt away.

163If you visit Kauai during the summer months, you will have no doubt why Kauai is nicknamed the Garden Island. Hawaiian Flame trees and Rainbow Shower Trees litter the ground with bright colored petals. You may have walked down the aisle on a bed of roses, but have you ever driven on a path of petals? You can do this only during the summer months on Kauai. The bougainvillea and flowering trees are so stunning that you will see tourists pulled over on the side of the road to photograph the site. Don’t miss the photo op! (But be sure to drive safe.)

Outdoor Adventures Abound



There is really no place that rivals Kauai when it comes to outdoor adventure. In a single day, you can kayak up a lazy river, hike to a cascading waterfall and zip line across lush valleys and still be back to your hotel in time for dip in the ocean, before catching the sunset. There are so many outdoor adventures available on Kauai that it is impossible to do them all during a single vacation. Water adventures are particularly favorable. Taking a Boat Cruise and snorkeling on the Na Pali Coast is an adventure you are certain to treasure. The best adventures can sometimes be the ones that you create yourself, like taking a hike to the top of the Sleeping Giant. Who knows what you may discover?

Family Timekee-view

You’ve worked hard all year and now it is time to spend some quality time with your family. Kauai is the place! Playing in the ocean with the kids is hard to beat when it comes to family time! Of course, Kauai also boasts some of the biggest and most elaborate hotel pools in the state! Hiking, kayaking, and horseback riding are also popular with the kids, or visit one of the festivals listed below.

Kauai Festivals and Events 


Kauai offers up unique family festivals in the summer that give you numerous opportunities to bond with the kids. Koloa Plantation Days is a week-long festival that takes place in July and offers everything from free hikes, to historical and cultural activities, to cooking demonstrations, parades, water slides, jump houses and live entertainment, and most of the events are FREE. Summer time is also Bon Dance season. If you have never been to a Bon Dance, now is your chance to immerse yourself in a little Japanese Culture on Kauai. Other exciting festivals and events this summer include the 4th of July Concert in the Sky, Hiccup Circus, Kauai Music Festival and the Kauai Sand Festival.

Need help planning your Kauai Vacation? We look forward to help planning your trip

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Whale Watching Season on Kauai

whale-watching-kauaiIf you want to see whales, now is the time. On Kauai, sightings have been extremely frequent this year. While Humpback whales visit the islands every year, the peak season is in January and February. This is when most of the calving takes place, so be sure to keep your eye out for juvenile whales that are just learning to play.

There is something rather exhilarating about witnessing a 40-ton animal launching out of the water only to fall back to sea with an explosive splash! If you have never seen this event, there are really no words to describe it. Wildlife enthusiasts do not want to miss this event.

If you are visiting Kauai, this is one of those treats that you can see for free. Whales can viewed just about anywhere along the coast, but you can enhance your experience by choosing one of Kauai’s beautiful beaches. One of my favorite spots to see whales is along the Coastal Path on the East Side. If you are looking for a more up close and personal experience, joining a whale watching boat tour is definitely the way to go.

While a full breach is absolutely the most exciting display that you may see, you might also see a number of other interesting whale behaviors. With extremely elongated pectoral fins that easily measure a third the length of their body, they may wave or slap the water in what is called a pec wave, or pec slap. A thundering tail or peduncle slap is also fairly common. This can be quite entertaining if it is repeated and you might get a show that lasts for several minutes.

Humpback whales are also known as kohola in Hawaii. They migrate each year from the food-rich icy waters of Alaska, traveling nearly 3000 miles to the Hawaiian Islands. This journey can take them nearly two months. They come to Hawaii to mate and birth their young in the warm, tropical waters here. They will stick around and delight us for about 6-8 weeks before returning to their summer home to feed.

Watching whales is just one of the amazing things that you can do while on Kauai. If you like marine life, try snorkeling at one of Kauai’s best snorkeling spots, or you might want to take a stroll along the Kauai’s South Shore to watch the turtles feeding at high tide. If you are lucky, you might even get to see the endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal. They often haul themselves out onto the warm sunny sand to rest. If wildlife is your thing, Kauai is the place to be!

Kilauea Lighthouse celebrates 100th birthday

Kauai's Kilauea Lighthouse celebrates its 100th birthday with the newly-completed $2.5 million restoration.

Kauai’s Kilauea Lighthouse celebrates its 100th birthday with the newly-completed $2.5 million restoration.

The Kilauea Lighthouse, one of the most beautiful spots on Kauai for viewing wildlife including endangered birds, dolphins and whales, celebrates its 100th birthday this month with a $2.5 million facelift and a new name, the Daniel K. Inouye Kilauea Point Lighthouse, in honor of the late United States senator who was integral in securing federal funding for both the renovation work and procurement of additional lands to expand the wildlife refuge.

On the northernmost point of Kauai, 180 feet above sea level, the light of Kilauea lighthouse was long a navigational aid to sailors of all types, letting them know they had found land. The lighthouse was electrified in 1939; a small, automatic and efficient beacon now provides the warning for modern seafarers.

While the renovated lighthouse gleams in the sunlight, fresh coats of paint applied after all rust was removed, long cemented-over windows opened to allow light into the tower, it’s the beautiful original 7,000-pound Fresnel lighthouse lens that remains the most fascinating part of this building.

Installed on May 6, 1913, then the largest clamshell lens in the world, The Garden Island newspaper declared it, “… like the Cyclops of old, which swept the sea with their one fierce eye, (the Kilauea Point Lighthouse) burst forth its shining eye of warning to the mariner …” The light could be seen for 20 miles.

Park Ranger Padraic Gallagher says the original lens, made of 400 hand-ground glass prisms, was floated on a bed of a gallon of mercury and when balanced correctly using compressed air, the lighthouse keeper could rotate it with one finger. The Fresnel lens was decommissioned in 1976 because of mercury exposure.

The Kilauea Lighthouse renovation was the culmination of a four-year project led and funded by volunteers who raised $1.5 million, plus a $1,000,000 donation from the U.S. government, mahalo to Sen. Inouye for that. Tours inside the renovated lighthouse interior are planned to be open to the public in a schedule to be determined.

The Kilauea Lighthouse and wildlife refuge receives 500,000 visitors per year, the fourth highest of all U.S. Wildlife Refuges. For more information, visit www.fws.gov/kilaueapoint.

For more Kauai stories by Pamela Varma Brown, please visit www.kauaistories.net.

Kauai's Kilauea Lighthouse originally lit the ocean for sailors with this 7,000-pound Fresnel lens.

Kauai’s Kilauea Lighthouse originally lit the ocean for sailors with this 7,000-pound Fresnel lens. 

Senator Daniel K Inouye and his wife, Irene, at the Kilauea Lighthouse Wildlife Refuge at the renovation kickoff in April 2009. Photo by Pamela Varma Brown
Senator Daniel K Inouye and his wife, Irene, at the Kilauea Lighthouse Wildlife Refuge at the renovation kickoff in April 2009. Photo by Pamela Varma Brown


Free Fun Things to Do on Kauai

Kauai free things to do

The top activities to do on Kauai definitely include the Na Pali Boat Tours, a Kauai Helicopter Tour, ATV Tours, Zip-line Tours, and a traditional Hawaiian luau, but there are a few family fun things to do on Kauai you might find to be a nice way to pass a couple hours of your vacation time.

Hula Shows – Most visitors to Kauai include a luau in their top to do list. If hula dancing and Hawaiian music are on your list, here is a chance to get a little preview. If you just can’t get enough of the melodic beat and swaying of hips check out one of the following free Hula shows around the island.

Grand Hyatt Kauai – Torch Lighting Ceremony on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday from 6:15, Keiki Hula Show on Tuesday 6:30-8:00pm For Information call: 808 742-1234

Poipu Shopping Village – Tahitian and Hula Dancing Mondays at 5:30pm. For Information Call: 808 742-2831

Harbor Mall Lihue – Hawaiian Entertainment and Hula on Wednesdays at 12:15 pmFor Information Call: 808 245-6255

Coconut Marketplace – Wailua Hula Show on Wednesdays at 5:00 pm and Saturdays at 1:00 pm Call: 808 822-3641

Farmers Markets- Weekly farmers markets island wide sell locally grown produce, exotic tropical fruits and flowers as well as locally made products.

Hanapepe Art Night – Enjoy exploring the many galleries demonstration , performances and local cuisine as you stroll the streets of historic Hanapepe Town. Every Friday night Hanapepe Town comes alive with local artist, musicians and ethnic eats. Every Friday Evening from 6:00-9:00 pm.

Historic Walking Tour of Waimea – Free walking tour of Waimea Town every Monday. Lei Making Workshop Every Friday. Reservation required. Contact the West Kauai Technology Center at 808 338-1322.

88 Shrines at Lawai International Center – Short video and story telling by Lynn Murumoto on the second and last Saturday of the month. Tour Times 10:00 am -12:00pm and 2:00pm call 808 639-4300 Donations Accepted.

Old Town Kapaa First Saturday of the month Art Walk

Free live music, artist, tasty food and entertainment every 1st Saturday of the month in downtown Kapaa. 5:30 -8:30

Kauai Museum – Free guided tours with the cost of admission. 10:30 am on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Ohana Saturdays – Free admission the first Saturday of the month.

Lydgate State Park – A favorite or generations of locals and their keiki, this east side park (Leho Rd access in Wailua) fronts two wonderful boulder enclosed swimming areas that allow freshwater and fish in and that are well protected from ocean waves. The water is calm and clear and perfect for beginning swimmers and snorkelers with bathrooms, picnic areas, a playground and lifeguards right there as well. The area is also part of an extensive network of archaeological sites in what was a historically significant part of Kauai for Hawaiians. Be prepared for lots of kids and a fun time at the beach!

Geo-caching What is Geo-caching? Geo-caching is a free real-world outdoor treasure hunt. Players try to locate hidden containers, called Geo-caches, using a smartphone or GPS and can then share their experiences online. There are several hidden treasures all over the island. The best guidelines to follow are Geo caches that are on public property and easy and safe terrain.

And Almost Free…

Kauai Plantation Railway – The Kilohana Plantation Estate is a where you will find an an authentic narrow gauge railway tour that chugs along on a 40 minute ride through almost 100 acres of sugar cane, pineapple, banana, papaya, hardwood trees, tropical flowers and coffee. This fairly new attraction recreates the time of the plantations and is highly informative about Kauai agriculture past, present, and future. Train tours run daily. The train leaves the Depot at 10 & 11 am, 12 Noon, 1 & 2 pm, and 5:30 on Tuesdays and Fridays. Next door, the 16,000 sq ft managers home is open daily with galleries and a courtyard restaurant.

Kilauea Mini Golf – The good folks from Anaina Hou have recently finished up a miniature golf course and botanical garden just a minute or so past Kilauea Town on the north shore. Its 18 holes of fun runs through gardens representing different eras of Hawaiian culture and we can tell you its truly a unique experience for our little island. It’s open every day from 11:00am – 9:00 pm and costs $15 for ages 11 and up, $10 for ages 5-10, and is free for 4 and under. You also have to love the fact that it’s right next to Banana Joe’s fruit and smoothie stand where you can enjoy something tasty after your game!

Activities and Things to Do on Kauai

When you think of Kauai, the first things you think of may be sun, surf, and sand, but there are so many things to do on Kauai that you’ll find that the available activities are seemingly endless. Some of the most popular activities do involve the ocean since Kauai is one of the most remote island locations in the world.

With countless beaches and over 100 miles of coastline, there is ample opportunity for surf and sea adventures. Surfing is of paramount popularity on Kauai, and even if you’ve never seen a surfboard in your life, you can easily find surf shops and board rental locations on the island offering surfboard, boogie boards and surf lessons The various beaches, their size, and the strength of the tides also provides a wide range of experience levels from which you can choose, from never-been-on-a-board-before to professional surfing competitions.

Snorkeling is another very popular activity on Kauai. With the shores and reefs along Kauai being home to colorful tropical fishes such as the Trigger fish, Parrot fish, Butterfly fish, Octopus, Needle fish, and Damsel fish just to name a few, it’s easy to indulge in some fish-watching via fins, mask, and snorkel. And, of course there are dozens and dozens of very affordable snorkel rental shops on Kauai as well as outfitters for those who have the need to own their equipment outright.

A Kauai boat tour is the best way to see the amazing marine life,  Whale watching is also a very popular activity on Kauai, especially between December and April, as the huge North Pacific Humpback Whales are very often seen offshore during their mating and birthing season. Several species of dolphins also call Kauai’s coastal waters home, including the Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins which are indigenous to the Hawaiian Islands. You will also find several species of sea turtle, as well as Hawaiian Monk Seal.

Of course, there are many more water, air, and land adventures to partake in, such as hiking the hundreds of miles of trails, the coastal path for biking, horseback riding, world class golf courses for the golf enthusiast plantation train tours, and Kauai helicopter tours. There are also tropical gardens, museums, coffee plantation tours and tasting and numerous art galleries, and last but not least – partake in a traditional Hawaiian luau.kauai kiahuna golf

For personalized service with Aloha book your Kauai Activities and Tours with  Kauai.com. The team at Kauai.com provides a full service activity desk and are available 7 days a week to answer questions, book restaurant reservations, golf tee times and more. Tours and activities take place in various locations island-wide. They help to streamline your trip and make the most of your vacation time.

For up to date Kauai Events  and Things to do including music concerts, arts, hula, fundraisers and more check out the Kauai Events Calendar.

Waimea Historic Walking Tour

Waimea Hawaiian ChurchWhat a treat to learn more about the historic town of Waimea from a woman who grew up in the area. This tour is available Mondays at 9:30am, and is about 3 hours long.  The first hour of the tour takes place inside the West Kauai Technology and Visitor’s Center, which is easy to find along the highway, at the corner of Waimea Canyon Road.  This is where you sign in and meet your guide.  The hour is spent going through artifacts and old photos.  There are chairs around the museum area, in case you need to sit for a bit.  The information would be fairly standard, except for Puna, the charming guide with a great sense of humor!

There is so much information in the fairly short session.  Who are the pioneers of the Waimea area?  What are the attitudes of the modern descendants of the ancient Hawaiian people? How did they regard the land, the aina? What happened when the native people encountered Western civilization through the sailing ships and missionaries who arrived Hawaii?

West side Waimea Pier KauaiThere were no mosquitoes on Kauai before the European sailors emptied their brackish water containing mosquitoes and larvae into the local rivers!

In case you were wondering about the strenuousness of the walking portion of the tour, our group included a spunky 91 year old lady from Chicago. She led the pack most of the way.

The walk took us past rebuilt churches and businesses damaged in hurricane Iniki.  The tour will take you through a garden of beautiful orchids and hibiscus in all the colors of a rainbow.

Old Waimea TheaterWe heard humorous stories to entertain us along the walk. The uncomplicated way of life Puna described made everyone wish they had grown up in the Waimea Valley of Kauai.

If you wish to take this Monday morning tour, it is free, but you have to call

808 338-1332 to make a reservation.

Don’t forget the  Waimea Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremonyand the  Waimea Town Christmas Parade

Kilohana Train Ride! Fun for the whole family.

Kilohana Train RideThere are so many things to do on Kauai, like exploring sea caves on the Na Pali Coast, zip-lining over lush valleys, kayaking up the Wailua river, or riding a four-wheeler into the island’s interior. However, if you are traveling with small children,  these kinds of activities could be challenging for your family. The Train Ride at Kilohana offers a fun alternative.

While the train ride is the perfect activity for families with children, it’s not just for kids. Kauai is rich with railway history, starting in the 1800’s when the sugar cane plantations began using trains to haul cane. The train depot displays historical photos and factual accounts in a series of posters where you can learn all about it. Additionally, all types of plantation era artifacts can be found on the property at Kilohana.

I have been lucky to be able to take my son on the train every year on his school field trip. It’s heartwarming to see the children’s excitement as they wait for the train. Toddler boys seem to be especially fascinated with trains. The tour is paced on Hawaiian time which gives the little ones time to look, touch and get their pictures taken before hearing, “All aboard!”

Once aboard, the train blows its whistle and off you go. Your guide will tell you about the history of the plantation as the train snakes along its three-mile track. For the children, the animals are the highlight of the trip. Horses, donkeys, cows, chickens, goats, ducks and pigs are all visible from the train. After passing the plantation house and the donkeys, the train makes its way through an orchard abundant with every kind of exotic fruit imaginable, and some that you can’t even imagine! All the fruit and vegetables grown here are used in the restaurant 22 North, located in the Kilohana Plantation Estate.

After passing by the orchard, the train makes a brief stop to let off the passengers that are going on a more extensive hiking tour before stopping one more time to feed the pigs. As the train slows to a stop, pigs come running from every direction because they know it is feeding time. Every passenger is given a piece of bread to throw over the fence. Little baby pigs scurry around trying to get a piece of the action. Snorts and squeals can be heard as they compete for the crumbs.Kauai Train Ride Farm Animals

While there seemed to be over a hundred pigs here, the guide once told me that they started with something like four pigs. Pigs can multiply at an astounding rate and in fact, outnumber the human population on Kauai. Unlike the fruits and vegetables that are grown for the restaurant, these pigs are pets and won’t end up on the menu.

It’s hard to get the children back on the train after all the excitement, but eventually, everyone is boarded and the train moves on, now passing taro patches, hen houses, and finally going through a small stretch of natural forest. While I say natural, it is what you will see today but the forest is not Hawaiian at all. Java Plum, Eucalyptus, Pothos vines and Macaranga, all native elsewhere, have taken over the native forest here, so it has a different look today than it did just a few hundred years ago. Your guide will tell you all about it. When the train emerges from the forest it brings you right back to the depot.

Kauai Estate Kilohana and GalleriesAs you disembark the train you wont have to go far to explore the rest of Kilohana Plantation Estate. Numerous shops and boutiques are located on the property, including the Koloa Rum Company. For the visitors 21 years and older sample the Kauai made rum in their elegant tasting room. You can also take a peek inside the Luau pavilion where the Luau Kalamaku, which is held every Tuesday and Friday evening, and restaurant 22 North is open for lunch. We always enjoy our trip to Kilohana and I’m sure you will too.