Kauaʻi is called \"the Garden Isle\" for good reason: Rainforests cloak much of the interior. Waterfalls tumble from lava cliffs, and the intoxicating fragrance of tropical blooms hangs heavy on the sultry air. Kauai is Hawaii\’s fourth largest island and is sometimes called the \"Garden Island,\" which is an entirely accurate description.
The island\’s beauty lies not just in its luxuriant flora and abundant rain; its spectacular coastline will take your breath away. Lava sculpted this stunning island, thrusting up from the ocean floor to form velvety ridges and vertiginous cliffs rimmed by gorgeous beaches. Beneath its cobalt-blue seas, turtles and tropical fish swim along coral reefs, delighting divers and snorkelers from around the globe.
Compared to its popular sister islands, Maui and Oahu, Kauaʻi exudes a low-key vibe and tends to move at a more relaxed pace. Don\’t miss the breathtaking Na Pali Coast, 10-mile-long Waimea Canyon and the cloud-capped vistas from the cliffs above Hanalei Bay. The oldest and northernmost island in the Hawaiian chain is draped in emerald valleys, sharp mountain spires and jagged cliffs aged by time and the elements. Centuries of growth have formed tropical rainforests, forking rivers and cascading waterfalls. Some parts of Kauai are only accessible by sea or air, revealing views beyond your imagination.
When To Visit Kauai
Given Kauai’s always moderate, warm weather, there really is no off-season and airfare and hotel rates remain relatively unchanged year round. If you avoid holidays and peak summer months and travel during low-tourism months - April, May, September, and October - you may find more likeliness of getting discounts.
Eat Cheaply In Kauai
If you don’t want to cook or if you are traveling solo, you can find meals for $10 or less at one of the many food trucks scattered along the rim of the island. If you’re like me, you’ll have leftovers for a second meal or a snack. For the health conscious travelers, Living Foods market in Poipu or Koloa will be your go-to spot for snacks and to grab a quick bite to eat. Their hot food is just as good, if not better, than any of the other restaurants on the island.
With an astonishing list of outdoor adventures, Kauaʻi will puncture your resort bubble. Here you can soar over and settle into tropical valleys in a helicopter, zip through treetops on a cable, navigate narrow single tracks to the shoulders of a sleeping giant or down deep into a grand canyon. You can paddle a sacred river or motor into sea caves, wander isolated beaches, drop in and get barrelled on a point break, or drift with sea turtles in coves saturated in that perfect blue.
Where To Stay
Typically, more expensive accommodation is found on Kauai’s south side (the Po‘ipu area) and on the north shore in Princeville and Hanalei, but if you search online, you may find exceptions. In addition to large corporate hotels and luxury vacation rentals, Kauai is blessed with countless wonderful and reasonably priced B&Bs that offer lodging for as little as US$ 75 a night for two.
The following east-side favorites are examples of inexpensive but comfortable lodging: K.K. Bed and Bath and Hibiscus Hollow (all in Kapaa). There are a few cheap hotels in the county seat of Lihue, such as the Motel Lani and the Tip Top Motel for those who just need a place to lay their heads.
Things To Do
The Garden Island offers an endless amount of outdoor activity, whether you\’re looking to hike, kayak, swim or relax on the beach. By and far the most popular attraction on the island is the one-of-a-kind Napali Coast, which is best seen on foot hiking the infamous Kalalau Trail or trekking the edges of Koke’e State Park.
If you\’re looking for a little less adventure, consider visiting the lower-impact Wailua River State Park or taking a dip in the calm waters of Po’ipu or Kalapaki Beach. Those more interested in the underwater scenery will be in awe of the views from Hanalei Bay, Ke’e Beach or Tunnels Beach, the latter of which is considered one of the top spots for snorkeling on the island.
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