Is Kauai the Best Island in Hawaii?

Is Kauai the best island in Hawaii? We think so. Kauai is a laid-back gorgeous island, truly relaxing.

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Visit Kaua’i: The Garden Island of Hawaii

We took a flight from Honolulu, Oahu to Kaua’i and landed in Kaua’i late afternoon in what appears as a field at first glance. Very different from landing in Honolulu.

There were no tall buildings, actually no buildings can be seen while landing. We picked up our luggage and rental car and headed straight to the guest house we rented as we had dinner reservations. We were staying in Kalaheo, so from Lihue we headed west on Kuhio Highway.

Kaua’i Overview

Getting Around Kaua’i

There are very few roads on Kauai, so it is easy to become familiar with them after awhile. The grasses on the side of the highway are very high, so little can be seen on the drive from Lihue to Kalaheo.

In a couple areas there are clearings where you can see mountains, otherwise it is like driving in the country. The main road is shaped like a U from the Na Pali Coast to the canyon.

Why is Kaua’i the Best Island?


Kauai has lots of wildlife. We saw chickens and roosters everywhere. The baby chicks followed me on the beach and a couple chickens followed us in the Wal-mart parking lot.  We were told by locals that the chickens now outnumber the population on the island. While we there we also saw green sea turtles, crabs, tropical fish, Hawaiian Monk Seals and Spinner Dolphins.

spinner dolphin in hawaii

Home to the Na Pali Coast

The Na Pali Coast is absolutely stunning. See it by air or by sea, but if you visit Kauai this is a view you don’t want to miss.

The colors are outstanding as only nature can provide, The greens,the red dirt,the sand, and the various blues in the water-the Na Pali coast is really an awesome sight to see. No wonder it makes the top lists in a lot of travel magazines.

na pali coast

Kauai is also home to Waimea Canyon

Waimea Canyon is considered the Grand Canyon of Hawaii. Interestingly, it is home to the wettest spot in the world. They tried to connect the roads on the island on the north side, however the large equipment sunk into the mud. It is still stuck in the mud today.

We would advise going here as early as possible in the day for the best view and to avoid being stuck behind giant tour buses. The road is very curvy and when it is clear out the view is fantastic! There are several spots to stop off and catch the view. The day we went was very cloudy, so I included some photos we took earlier from the helicopter.

Waimea Canyon

Top Things to  Do in Kauai

Allerton Botanical Gardens – Where Jurassic Park was filmed

One of the best botanical garden tours, at Allerton Botanical Gardens you will learn all about the island and the plants that grow here. It was very educational tour.

You will be able to see stunning views of the ocean, noni plants, ginger, tons of tropical flowers and trees and the huge Ficus trees featured in the first Jurassic Park movie. If you have the time, take the Allerton tour it was an unforgettable experience.

Allerton Botanical Garden

Laid Back Island Towns – Koloa

Visit Koloa, a tiny town that use to be the home of the sugar mill. See the remnants of the old mill, visit some of the shops across the street.

Koloa is a small town on the island of Kauai. We drove through often to get to Poipu Beach from Kalaheo. It is an old sugar town, where you can see remnants of the old sugar mill.

Koloa sugar mill

The shopping center is inside the original town buildings and is connected by a wooden walkway. It is a cool little town to stop in and see. Has nice shops too including Island Soaps, Lapperts Ice cream and several restaurants.


The shopping center is inside the original town buildings and is connected by a wooden walkway. It is a cool little town to stop in and see. Has nice shops too including Island Soaps, Lapperts Ice cream and several restaurants.

Swinging Bridge in Hanapepe

Hanapepe is famous for the swinging bridge, visit on a Friday to see all the art galleries in this town.

The downtown street is lined with very old buildings.  But it is an interesting town to see because of the history of the island and I think the small towns are important to see in any area for this reason.

swinging bridge Hanapepe

We came during the day here to see the Hanapepe Bridge and then came back on Friday night when all the little art galleries are open to view. It isn’t a must see, but a nice diversion. The bridge really does swing, especially when it is windy like it was when we were there.

Directions: Take Highway 50 west. Hanapepe is at Mile Marker #17

Hikinaakala Heiau – Sacred Grounds

Hikinaakala Heiau (Rising of the Sun temple), is one of 7 Heiau’s on the island.  You can view this Heiau (temple) at Lyndgate park. This was a place of refuge for those who had done something against the kapu system. Kapu meaning something “taboo”.

Hikinaakala Heiau

The Heiau was constructed in the 1300’s it used to be 6 feet tall. The Heiau’s while not much too look at our interesting since they have deep Hawaiian spiritual and religious significance.

Spouting Horn

spouting horn hawaii

Beaches & Snorkeling

Kauai has many beautiful beaches. We visited five different beaches, and each offered a unique underwater experience.

kauai beach

Take a Helicopter Ride

Much of Kauai is remote, so one of the best ways to see the island is to take a helicopter ride. We decided to take a helicopter ride on our first full day on the island. This way we could get a layout of the land.

We went with Inter Island Helicopter and had no doors! On top of that it was unusually windy- while I thoroughly enjoyed no doors-it really is not for the faint of heart because when the helicopter turns, well just imagine the view down.

helicopter ride

The pilot was very informative. We flew over the Na Pali coastline, Waimea Canyon, the sugar fields, coffee and taro fields, all the various caverns. We had a bird’s eye view of the entire island of Kauai.

The island has so many beautiful waterfalls that would have not seen if we had not taken the helicopter tour. It is also a great way to orientate yourself with the layout of the island. Loads of fun-an experience we will never forget!

kauai waterfall

Where to See Wildlife in Kaua’i

The island of Kauai has an abundance of wildlife. In this post I have added photos of some of the wildlife we were lucky to see while visiting and where we saw them.

Sea Turtles

We enjoyed watching the Green Sea Turtles, called “Honu” in Hawaii.  They are an endangered species. These guys were nearly impossible for me to photograph, as they only peek their heads up once in a while. We loved watching them ride the waves in Kauai.

sea turtle

You can however, easily view there green bodies beneath the water as they ride the waves! We had the most luck seeing them by Poipu beach area, actually a little bit east of there near the condos there is a great spot to watch them ride the waves.

We also saw one (very close to shore) on Shipwreck Beach and swam with them when we went snorkeling along the Na Pali coast.

There are so many beaches in Kauai to choose from. Poipu is a a nice sandy beach good snorkeling, a playground, bathrooms.

Poipu beach was a great spot to see turtles too. This beach is located on the south side of Kauai. I took a photo of this little crab there.

Hawaiian Monk Seals

The Hawaiian Monk Seals are endangered and you are not allowed to get to close to them. We saw this one at Salt Pond Beach. Usually volunteers rope off the area when a seal comes out of the water to rest.

We were here before they roped the area off and I had a 300-foot zoom lens on my camera at the time. He didn’t seem to mind that anyone was around. Opened his eyes once and then went back to sleep.

monk seal

Spinner Dolphins

We saw a pod of spinner dolphins on our boat ride around Na Pali Coast. They followed us for awhile showing off and doing flips.

Roosters & Chickens

Roosters and chickens are residents of Kauai. Chickens are everywhere in Kauai. They followed me on the beach and in store parking lots.


We saw lizards on our visit to the Island’s botanical garden and on several of our hikes in Kauai.

Hawaiian Goose

Hawaii’s official state bird is the Hawaiian Goose, or Nene. We saw these guys when visiting the Kilauea lighthouse.

Hawaiian Goose, or Nene

Hike in Kaua’i

Hike to the Pools of Mokolea and to Queen’s Bath.

queen's bath kauai

Kaua’i Lighthouses

See Lighthouses. the Kilauea Point Lighthouse & Wildlife Refuge  and Nawiliwili Lighthouse

Best spot for Sunset

There really isn’t any “nightlife” on the island of Kaua’i. Nature is what it is all about here. The best nightlife? Walk along the beach, go see a Luau, or better yet watch the sunset with someone you love.

On our last night in Kaua’i we drove to Salt Pond Beach to watch the sunset. BEAUTIFUL! Don’t turn at the sign that says “Salt Pond Beach” rather go straight to the end of the road for the best view!