Kauai Travel Guide

Aloha and welcome to the beautiful island of Kauai. Nicknamed “The Garden Isle,” Kauai is considered by many to have the lushest greenery and most distinctive natural beauty. Ideal ingredients for a perfect Kauai vacation. The outdoor activities here are incomparable. Kayak the Na Pali Coast below majestic volcanic cliffs, travel through state parks on horseback, or view Kauai’s stunning landscape by helicopter. Whichever way you choose to tour Kauai, you’re in for exhilarating views and unique native plant and bird sightings.

Kauai is a curious mix of ranchlands, sugarcane fields, rainforests, pristine beaches and sea cliffs. The oldest of the main Hawaiian Islands, Kauai’s 553 square miles exude a distinct timelessness not present on the neighboring islands.

Geography and Climate

As the fourth largest Hawaiian island, Kauai’s climate is semitropical. Kauai is home to several different micro-climates thanks to the varying landscape and elevation differences. From sand dunes to bare desert plateaus, fertile river valleys, foothills, tropical rainforests and awe-inspiring mountain tops, Kauai is an exceptional geographical subject.

Temperatures range from the lower 60s to the upper 80s (15.5-26.6 C) depending on elevation and season. Adventurers can explore any one of eight state parks, or picnic in one of the 67 county parks. Mountain lovers can hike up to the island’s highest spot, Kawaikini Peak at an elevation of 5,243 feet (1,598 m), or the slightly shorter Mt. Waialeale at 5,052 feet (1,540 m).

A resident population of just over 58,000 leaves plenty of room to lose yourself in this uncrowded paradise.


Visitors can play on Kauai’s 69 spectacular sandy beaches scattered along the island’s 113 miles of shoreline. That’s more beach per coastline mile than any other Hawaiian Island! The majority of beaches here are pristine white-sand beaches, and each offers unique views and activities. If you love to swim, visit one of the many south shore beaches. For scuba and snorkeling, visitors will find breathtaking spots on Kauai’s east side. Tunnels Beach, Lumahai Beach, Poipu Beach and Hanalei Bay Beach are some of the most popular and most scenic spots.


Golfers rejoice! Kauai is a prized golfing destination, home to five top-rated golf courses. Challenging obstacles and uniquely shaped terrain are enhanced by magnificent backdrops that surround each hole. Reserve your spot at one of these popular golfing destinations: Kiahuna Golf Club, Poipu Bay Golf Course, Princeville Golf Club, Puakea Golf Course or Kauai Lagoons Golf Club.

Spouting Horn

This natural delight on Kauai’s south shore consists of a lava formation that spouts out a towering geyser of water every time the water swells in during high tide. Water spout heights can reach up to 60 feet (18 m)!

Waimea Canyon

At the famous Na Pali Coast of West Kauai, visitors will find Waimea Canyon, also known as “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” a definite must-see for Kauai visitors. Waimea Canyon is 10 miles (16 km) long, 2 miles (3.2 km) wide and a whopping 3,600 feet (1,097 m) deep.

Waialeale Crater (West Kauai)

Although rainfall is minimal at about 34 inches (86 cm) per year in Poipu, Mt. Waialeale Crater is the wettest spot in the world with an average of 460 inches (1,168 cm) of rain per year. Hike around the crater or take a helicopter tour for a breathtaking aerial perspective of the resulting waterfalls.

Alakai Wilderness Preserve

Kauai’s Alakai Wilderness Preserve is 939 acres of pure country, including the 10-mile (16 km) Alakai Swamp and many rare plant and animal species. 

Botanical Gardens

Kauai is home to the picturesque Lawai Garden, the only tropical botanical garden chartered by the U.S. Congress. Here you can view a unique and extensive collection of tropical plant life from Hawaii and around the world.

Allerton Garden, adjacent to Lawai Garden, offers 100 acres of brilliant flowers and diverse trees. Stop by Kauai’s north shore prize, the 17-acre Limahuli Garden, a garden noted for its incorporated historical and archaeological sites.

What makes Kauai unique?

Vacationers who choose Hawaii don’t take long to settle on Kauai, the “must-see” island in the chain. Remember the gorgeous scenery in the movies South Pacific, Fantasy Island and Blue Hawaii? There is a reason Kauai is the location of choice for Hollywood directors, honeymooners and visitors of all ages. Kauai is small enough to get that quaint island feel, yet so diverse in activities, landscape and geography that one would need to return several times to see and do everything here.