20 Best Things to Do for Your Kauai Bucket List

Are you planning a trip to Kauai? Well, you better start packing now because we’ve put together the top 10 things that should absolutely be added to your Kauai bucket list.

Whether you’re looking for something adventurous or just want to relax and take in some beautiful scenery, this is the place to be!

From visiting famous landmarks to picnicking in magnificent valleys and even exploring Kauai’s own version of the Grand Canyon, our list covers all of the must-see attractions.

Keep scrolling to check out the best bucket list experiences on Kauai and let your vacation begin!

1. Explore Waimea Canyon

Sometimes called the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”, it’s pretty hard to argue with that nickname! After all, why else would it be at the top of every Kauai bucket list?

If you join a guided tour, an experienced guide will lead the way, showing you all the wonders of Waimea Canyon.

From the fascinating geologic history to all the best vista points for taking memorable photos, this tour is an opportunity you don’t want to miss.

And for visitors who want even more than just sightseeing, sign up for a downhill bike ride!

Almost 12 miles long and led by a local guide, this is one bucket list item you may need a nap afterwards to recuperate from.

Rugged landscape in Waimea Canyon Kauai
Rugged landscape in Waimea Canyon Kauai

2. Sunset Dinner Cruise

Nothing captures the majesty of Kauai like a magical, sunset dinner cruise.

As you drift along the Na Pali Coast, feast your eyes on the jaw-dropping beauty of jagged peaks, emerald valleys and an ever-changing rainbow of colors as day turns to night.

And speaking of feasting, indulge in a delicious 3-course dinner on board that includes island-inspired cuisine, plus unlimited beer, wine, tropical mai tais and soft drinks so no one need stay thirsty!

3. Experience a Luau

Eat, dance and be merry at Kauai’s popular Luau Kalamaku! Join the pig roast ceremony and feast on a a buffet of Hawaiian delicacies.

The dreamlike entertainment will keep you on the edge of your seat with hula dancers, flame throwers and a mesmerizing parade of colorful costumes.

No visit to Kauai is complete without experiencing this memorable feast and show – perfect for taking some ‘aloha-life’ home with you!

Make sure you check out our guide to the best luau’s on the island as well.

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4. Go Turtle Watching

Turtle watching in Kauai is unmissable, and the best part? It’s easy on your wallet!

A popular spot among locals and tourists alike is Poipu Beach Park which offers incredible views of both the shoreline and fascinating green sea turtles.

Watch the turtles gliding gracefully through the water or catching some rays on the patches of sand.

Cliff and Ocean Views along Mahaulepu Heritage Trail
Cliff and Ocean Views along Mahaulepu Heritage Trail

5. Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail

Rated moderately difficult, Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail is a fun seaside route that’s sure to have you breaking a sweat at one point or another.

This trial is an ideal way to explore the south coast of Kauai, ticking off all its fantastic landmarks on your very own bucket list, from Shipwreck’s Beach to the remote Mahaulepu Beach.

And bonus points if you happen to be around in winter – prime whale watching awaits! An adventure indeed.

6. Visit Kilauea Lighthouse

Kilauea Lighthouse is a must-add to your Kauai bucket list – and you’ll have Instagram followers drooling over your pics, too!

Built in 1913, this majestic landmark looms over the Pacific Ocean and will leave you in awe of its beauty. Take a step back and admire how the cliffs, beaches and vast ocean come into view.

Even if photography isn’t your cuppa tea, bring your binoculars because birdwatching at Kilauea Lighthouse is a top-notch experience.

7. Na Pali Coast

With its striking cliffs and lush valleys that seem like something out of a postcard, the Na Pali Coast is one sightseeing adventure you won’t forget in a hurry.

The 22-mile stretch offers unparalleled views and plenty of incredible wildlife to spy along the way.

If you really want to up the adventurous stakes, take a tour by helicopter or go rafting – just make sure to keep your eyes peeled for spinner dolphins!

Twin Wailua waterfalls on Kauai
Twin Wailua waterfalls on Kauai

8. Check Out the Waterfalls

During your visit, be sure to witness the island’s powerful and majestic waterfalls that emit their own exceptional beauty.

You’ll find wonderfully colorful pools and vigorous rapids that add an extra spark of enchantment.

Although there are plenty of waterfalls to choose from, witnessing the iconic Wailua Falls should not be missed – it’s made appearances on famous shows like Fantasy Island!

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9. Kalepa Ridge Trail

If you’re visiting Kauai and want to get the very best view of the iconic Na Pali cliffs, then you won’t want to miss out on the Kalepa Ridge Trail.

At two miles long, it’s the perfect short hike and considered to be the best on all of Kauai, only – it doesn’t come free.

For drivers, there is a fee of $10 just to park at the trailhead; an additional fee of $5 per person will also apply if you’re planning on venturing along with friends or family.

What’s more, this trail is quite difficult and not maintained anymore so make sure your adventurous spirit is sufficiently prepared.

And no matter how much your four-legged friend might wish to join in on the fun, remember dogs are not allowed here.

10. Helicopter Tour

With its lush valleys, cascading waterfalls and red canyons, Kauai just begs to be seen from the sky.

On this one-of-a-kind helicopter tour you can forget about long hikes and crowded observation points – the captivating views of Mt. Waialeale, Waiapuna and Na Pali Coast await hundreds of feet in the air! Get ready for adventure, Kauai style.

View on Napali Coast on Kauai island on Hawaii
Aerial view of Napali Coast on Kauai island on Hawaii

11. Queen’s Bath

Adding Queen’s Bath to your must-do list is a given, but going there is no walk in the park!

To access this natural pool formed of hardened lava on the North Shore, you’ll have to hike down a muddy cliff before crossing a lava shelf – make sure to leave those fancy sandals at home.

But don’t let that deter you from your mission: if you’re up for it, proceed with caution and be wary of rogue waves, as even posing for a photo can earn you an unexpected dip in the open ocean.

Note, Queen’s Bath may be closed during winter due to dangerous conditions. So follow all the safety rules!

12. Fern Grotto

There’s no better way to experience the natural splendor of this island than at the Fern Grotto, a stunning fern-covered lava cave located near the mouth of the Wailua River.

If you don’t mind a little adventure, then why not hop on a boat cruise down the river and see this incredible landmark in person?

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13. Hanalei Food Tour

Travelers never have to worry about making the wrong choices when exploring, because this guided food tour will take you straight to the best spots in Hanalei.

On top of exploring the charming streets and eateries, you’ll also gain insight into authentic Hawaiian history and local customs.

And best of all, you’ll be able to sample some seriously delicious local delicacies and specialties – so come hungry, because this food adventure will leave you with your stomachs and hearts full.

Tourist hiking on famous Kalalau trail kauai
Tourist hiking on famous Kalalau trail kauai

14. Kalalau Trail

For those who are up for a real adventure, there’s no better way to experience the gorgeous island of Kauai than the Kalalau Trail.

This difficult 22-mile trek will take you right through the breathtaking views of the Na Pali coast; if that sounds like a challenge you’re ready to accept – this hike is definitely for you!

For those with less stamina but still seeking beauty, there’s always the alternative of tackling the Kalepa Ridge Trail.

Whichever option you decide to embark on, just remember that you should prepare in advance – Kauai won’t let you down in terms of fun, but it expects you to be ready!

15. Hanalei Bay

Hanalei Bay is an inviting spot at the heart of Kauai’s North Shore – especially when you consider its status as the largest bay on the island.

A kayaking trip along the Hanalei River is a great way to build up an appetite before lunch on the beach, while those eager to make a splash can swap their paddle for a snorkel to discover what lurks beneath!

Don’t forget your camera – you’ll want plenty of pics to remind you of your amazing adventure.

16. Spouting Horn Blowhole

The Spouting Horn is famous due to its spectacular show; as waves crash into the coastline, seawater is forced up high into the air (up to 50 feet above).

For sure, this is one Kauai sight you have to see with your own eyes – no picture can do justice!

There’s something almost magical about this spot – created naturally over many years, it has been drawing tourists ever since.

Spouting Horn Kauai
Spouting Horn Blowhole Kauai

17. Whale Watching

On this whale watching tour, you won’t just get the chance to witness migrating humpbacks in action, you’ll also be treated to some of the most exquisite scenery the island has to offer.

From the rolling fields of Kauai Coffee Company to Niihau island and the Hanapepe River Valley, you’ll have a front row seat for gazing upon postcard-worthy views.

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18. Go Ziplining

Soar through the Kauai sky like a superhero and get a brand new view of the island’s beauty as you zoom over Waita Reservoir.

With this 8-track course (longest zipline on the island!), riders can go hands-free, testing their bravery by zipping upside down while they take in the sights.

Calm down from the adrenaline rush by taking a break among the eucalyptus trees and refuel with provided snacks.

Tip: check out our ultimate guide on the best ziplines on Kauai!

19. Snorkel Along the Na Pali Coast

With its towering mountains, lush green valleys and serene blue waters, the Na Pali Coast a sight that simply must be seen in person.

Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to take a catamaran cruise along this magical coastline – catch glimpses of dolphins and sea turtles frolicking through the waves!

Na Pali Snorkel Tour
Na Pali Snorkel Tour Photo by Viator

20. Go on a Scenic Drive

Kauai is about capturing Mother Nature’s beauty in all its glory and what better way to do it than on a scenic drive?

Make your Kauai bucket list a reality by mapping out a trip that lets you explore the stunning beaches, sites, and scenery at your own pace.

With 30 hours of audio content guiding you along the way, there’s no need to worry about missing anything!

Let your inner tour guide take control and enjoy the ride – no restrictions, just pure freedom.