30 Best Things to do in Kauai, Hawaii | Kauai Travel Guide

KAUAI TRAVEL GUIDE | Best Things to do in Kauai, Hawaii


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Creating videos about places like this are always an internal battle for me. 

On one hand, I want to showcase how beautiful this world is and help you guys travel deeper…

While on the other hand, by doing so, I am inevitably adding to the tourist population of these destinations. 

And I am especially sensitive to this when talking about the Hawaiian Islands. 

A place and people with such incredible history and pride.

The reason I decide to press on and click upload is with hope that you guys are different. 

Out of all the videos you can watch while planning your trip to Kauai or Kaua’i, as it’s properly known, this video can help form the narrative of what it should means to travel here.

So If you take one thing away from watching this, beyond the trail maps and restaurant names, let it be this – respect.

Show respect to the people who call this place home. 

Show respect to the nature by taking out what you bring in.

and show respect to local culture and laws. Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean you’re immune to being a decent human.


To me, the Hawaiian Islands are like the hot girls in school.

You want to get to know them, you want to tell everyone about them, but they would be happy just being left alone. 

But if you’re kind and respectful, they might just give you a glimpse of their beauty.

They’re proud and loyal to their true friends because they’ve been burned before. 

I want this video to be a guide on how to talk to them and make a good impression for us regular guys (white guys).


Alright, with that said, let’s have some fun…

This past December I took my mother to Kauai.

She was freezing in Upstate New York and we were long overdue for an adventure together. 

It was her first time in Hawaii and my first time on the Garden island.

Now one thing to note about my mother, she isn’t normal. Her perfect vacation is a packed schedule of activities and excitement, wonder where I got that from? 

We didn’t stay in a resort, nor did we spend much time laying on the beach. If that’s your thing, this video probably won’t be much help.

I planned a trip to maximize our 10 days of balling on a budget, and it all started on the east side of the island in Ka-pa-a… 

First things first, breakfast. And there’s no better place for that in town than at the Kountry Kitchen.

Everything’s good, but the Macadamia Nut French Toast with Coconut Syrup is on another level.

and from here, it’s straight to one of our most anticipated activities of the entire trip.


Over 10 days, we splurged on three excursions, and this 50-minute helicopter ride over the island was definitely well-worth stretching the budget for.

From the Waimea Canyon and Jurrasic Falls to the unbelievable Na Pali Coast and pristine turquoise-blue waters of Hanalei Bay

The views are just insane.

For a little more low-key sightseeing, we grab bikes back in Ka-pa-a. 

In total, it’s a nice and easy 8 miles on a paved pathway along the coconut coast. 

We pass by plenty of surf spots, safe swimming areas, and even some old pineapple plantation-era landmarks. 

It’s a laidback way to spend a few hours in between hikes. 

When hunger strikes, my favorite lunch spot of the entire trip was this unsuspecting shop right in town called Pono Market. 

It was recommended to us by a local friend, and they serve up some Hawaiian favorites like Lau Lau, Chicken long rice, and of course Poke.

Refueled, afternoon activity options on the east side are virtually endless. 

We check out Wailua Falls from above, but decide not to trek down the closed trail to its base.

Instead we hit the nearby 18-hole Wailua Golf Course with a few locals… 

(cock joke)

The next day we pile into the back of a covered utility truck to get another unique perspective of the island’s history.

Back in the day, sugar farming was a major economic source for the Hawaiian islands.

and In 1870, a series of ditches and tunnels were hand-dug by Chinese laborers to deliver water from the rainforest down into the sugar can fields near Lihue.

Today, most of Hawaii’s sugar production has left for countries with more lucrative labor laws, 

Leaving this private property to become an eco-friendly lazy river.

But before things get too leisurely, it’s about time we climb a mountain.

One important thing to note about hiking here in December is that it’s inevitably muddy.

Rain comes and goes quickly, so usually you can just wait out any rainfall right on the trail.

But mom and I will trade mud for crowds any day.

Sleeping Giant is just under 2 miles one way with an elevation gain of about 1,000 feet, and we cruise up at a quick clip to beat the sunset. 

It is 100% worth it and the views from the top made this my favorite hike on the east side of the island.

Now, for dinner in Ka-pa-a, there’s a handful of budget-friendly options.

You got Bubba’s for a quality burger.

There’s chicken-in-a-barrel for some good bbq.

Another personal favorite is this under-the-radar spot called Saimin Dojo, which serves up a delicious bowl of Oxtail Saimin – a dish I’ve never had before.

And if you’re lucky enough to be in Old Ka-pa-a town on the first Saturday of the month, there’s a night market with tons of good food stalls.

From Ka-pa-a we head north towards Princeville. This is another popular resort location and home to some amazing sights as well. 

(talking lookout)

One of the most popular spots up here, which is technically closed, is Queen’s Bath.

To be straight forward, Many people have died trying to swim here or have been caught off-guard by incoming waves, so if you do decide to come here, be very careful. 

A much better choice is the beautiful beach Hanalei Bay. 

However, our main mission up on the north shore is all the way at the end of Highway 560.

The Kalalau Trail – in particular, a hike to Hanakopia Falls. 


This is the famous 22-mile round trip Kalalau Trail, which takes you along the edge of the Na Pali Coast. 

You have to make a reservation in advance to park and take the shuttle in, but it’s definitely worth.

And while I would love to come back and do the full trek another time and camp on the beach, 

Today we’re happy with this 8-mile voyage to a very sweet payoff. 

On the complete other side of the island on the south shore is Poipu. 

If you’re here on your honeymoon or a family vacation, this is most likely where you’ll stay. 

After five nights in Ka-pa-a, we relocated here for the second half of our trip.

It’s home to some incredible coastline, good snorkeling, and the best weather on Kauai in the winter. 

We could even spot whales and sea turtles right from our accommodation.

For breakfast, grab a bowl at the Little Fish Coffee, a hot dog at Puka Dogs for lunch, and try something new at one of the farmer’s markets.

(market talking)

On our quest to experience this island by land, air, and sea, from Poipu, we make the short drive to the Port Allen Pier to spend the day on the water.

I really don’t have much to add about this one, it was just beautiful. 

On our final day on Kauai, we’re up early, and stop for a little treat before exploring the Waimea canyon.

Then, it’s straight up the 550 into the Waimea Canyon State Park.

We stop quickly on the side of the road to walk across a landscape that seems more Mars than Hawaii. 

From here, we pull over again to get a view of Waipo Falls from a distance, and we’re hoping we get a closer look later on. 

And then it’s all the way to the end of the road to the Kalalau lookout. 

Racing the sun once again, we push for one last hike…


We finish the day and our trip back in Poipu for sunset.

We’re tired, muddy, and couldn’t be happier. 

That’s it, I hope you guys liked the video and got some value from it if you’re planning a trip to this incredible island.

All the information I talked about is in the Kauai Travel Guide on my website, just click the link in the video description. 

If you liked the video, give the video a like, comment any other information I missed or that you’re excited about. 

Subscribe if you haven’t, hit that notifications bell if you are, and I’ll see you guys on the next one.



Our adventure begins in Kapa’a, a small town on the east coast of the island – 

We got a nice two-bedroom airbnb right on the beach.

We rented a car from the airport – not a 4×4, because I rolled the dice and didn’t think we needed it. Jeep Wranglers are cool, but we were going to do a lot of driving. 

Great decision to save money.


– Car Rental

– Airbnb


– Breakfast

– Helicopter (after a while, summer feelings)

– Bike Riding

– Golfing

– Pono Market

– From here you can go golfing, or check out the ___ Waterfall

– Sleeping Giant

– Bubba’s Burgers*

– Soup spot

– Evening market (missing)


– Princeville

– Beaches

– Queen’s Bath

– Waterfall Hike


– Popular place for many honeymooners 

– Boat Ride

– Tubing

– Launch pad for Wiamea Canyon & West Coast

– Red Dirt Waterfall

– Lookout Spot

– Na’Poli Coast Hike

– Waimea Canyon Hike

– Hot Dog Stand



Roosters – they are sacred 

Talk about Queen’s Bath

Things to do in Kauai - Kauai Travel Guide


Click to see where we stayed, favorite restaurants, hikes, and much more… 

– Add market schedule to post

– I wanted to stay in bounds.

– I didn’t fly the drone much at all, most of the drone shots are royalty free clips I found online. 

Weather in December

I was nervous for rain

It turned out to be tropical rain (cleared up quickly)

Explain North shore, south shore, east and west side

My name is Gareth Leonard, a Marketing Director turned World Traveler with a passion for slow, meaningful travel. I have been traveling the world full-time for the past 9+ years and document it all on Instagram and YouTube. Come join me!

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