Kauai Bucket List

Kauai Bucket List

Posted by Hawaiian Isles on 10/11/2019 to Best of Hawaii
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Kauai Bucket List

Where to find everything from adventure to romance on Hawaii’s “Island of Discovery”

As rich with activities as natural beauty, Kauai demands experiencing its diversity from the north shore’s Hanalei Bay to sunny Poipu on the south shore. You’ll find unique adventures rolling out from wallet friendly to splurge worthy, plus everything between.

Here are a few awesome ways to check items off your Kauai Bucket List.

Visit your favorite movie locations

Even the most talented and imaginative movie set creators fail to rival what Mother Nature presents on Kauai. Striking beauty and diverse landscapes have made "The Island of Discovery” a destination of choice among filmmakers who find natural set sites more gorgeous than anything that could be contrived in a Hollywood studio.

Oloke Canyon which is adjacent to the larger Waimea Canyon is mostly off limits except to a few helicopter and other guided tours. You might recognize it from the scene where Dr Grant and the kids need to climb over the electric fence as his friends are simultaneously trying to restore the electrical power to the park.

"Jock! Start the Engine! Start the Engine!"

Remember that adrenalin-rush opening scene where Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) franticly races through a dense Peruvian jungle to escape blowgun-frenzied Amazonians? Kauai’s Huleia River doubled for the Amazon, and the lush Huleia National Wildlife Refuge stood in for the jungle.

Reel News Hawaii posted a picture on Twitter of the set as it was being built at the Kapaia Reservoir on Kauai near Wailua Falls. They report filming took place back in May/June and the set has already been demolished.

On Kauai, the best things in life are definitely free

Surrounded by shimmering white-sand coastline with incredible unspoiled views, the island presents a day ranging from mega action to lazing in the shade.

Tunnels Beach

This is where you’ll find the best snorkeling on Kauai's North Shore

Into sunrises? Imagine the solitude of waking up to sharing a hot cup of coffee just steps from where you fell asleep to a lullaby of crashing waves the night before at Anahola Bay.

Anahola Bay, Kauai

East Kauai’s mellow mood begins at dawn.

Photo Credit: Twelvizm via Flickr

As one of the few overnight camping grounds on Kauai’s east coast, Anahola Bay lets you do just that. This is a primo spot for watching darkness give way to dramatic shades of red, orange, purple and pink.


Adrenaline junkies can rip above a rainforest canopy near Poipu with Koloa Zipline. Even youngsters can buzz through the eight-line thriller by harnessing up tandem. As a finale, the 2,500ft  “Waita” zips above a backcountry reservoir. Skyline Eco Adventures will add to the south shore mix this summer.

For a more grounded feat, Kipu Ranch Adventures revs up with ATV eco-outings to a waterfall-fed swimming hole. This four-hour challenge is geared to those in reasonably good shape since it tosses in hiking from cool forest roads, across lush green pastures to mountainside trails.

Hike the Kalalau Trail - One of the most amazing hikes in the entire country

Fitness fanatics preferring terra firma can opt for the demanding 11-mile round trip Kalalau Trail (kalalautrail.com/kalalau-trail-is-now-open). Pack your grit and guts since both of these adventures are deemed physically demanding and mentally exhausting. Click here for more information on the Kalalau Trail Hike

Explore The Napali Coast By Boat

The 17-mile Napali Coast water route from Haena to Polihale is only for the most adventurous in tip-top physical condition. Please note that water conditions are often unpredictable. But capable tacklers will be rewarded with what’s arguably the most spectacular scenery in the Hawaiian Islands. OR take a cat trip from Port Allen with Captain Andy’s, Holoholo and other operators. 

Explore Kauai By Air

The only way to truly wrap your mind around Kauai’s vast natural beauty is above it all via a helicopter. Departing Lihue Airport five minutes from the harbor, these high-tech babies deliver 60- and 90-minute surreal sojourns gliding into endless nooks and crannies accessible only by air. Island Helicopters Kauai elevates the splurge factor with its exclusive landing at the 400-foot Jurassic Park Waterfall.

The film’s helipad was constructed at Manawaiopuna Falls, which is only visible from the air. For a rush that rivals a T-Rex chase, Island Helicopters lands for a guided walk along a jungle path to the base of the 400-foot “Jurassic Falls.” The pilot typically flies the same Hanapepe Valley route that the chopper takes in the movie.

Foodie Adventures

If you’ve ever been to a luau, you’ve seen or possibly tasted poi, the smooth, purple and somewhat soupy food made with kalo (taro). Among the two dozen “canoe plants” brought to the Hawaiian Islands by migrating Polynesians, this staple was cultivated in valleys that included Hanalei on Kauai’s north shore.

The sixth generation of the Haraguchi family continues to harvest the vegetable root by hand in the same loi (kalo fields) as it has for more than a century. Known as Hanalei Taro Farm to many, especially within the community and on social media. The 33-acre spread was renamed W.T. Haraguchi Farm during its third generation of operation. Check out the family’s Hanalei Taro & Juice Co.’s lunch wagon specialties that include recipes passed down through the family for generations. Click here to learn more about the Haraguchi family farm.


While love is always in the air in the Hawaiian Islands, it’s especially robust on the island of Kauai. The iconic sunset plays out best at Hanalei Bay. In a “Bali Hai” setting that is nothing short of stunning, the north shore’s showcase spot offers its best viewing during the summer and fall months. Imagine that postcard perfect image of paradise that defines Hawaiian Island romance.

Hanalei Bay, Sunrise

This “Bali Hai” setting is nothing short of stunning

Kauai’s south shore Poipu Beach overwhelms with sunsets that cap a perfect day of snorkeling amid abundant marine life in the gentle offshore waters. As a bonus, you’ll often spot sunbathing honu (Hawaiian green sea turtles), rare Hawaiian monk seals swimming or lounging in the sand, and seasonal humpback whales frolicking offshore.

Poipu Beach Sunset

Kauai’s south shore opens to stunning sunset vistas

Relax with Green Sea Turtles

Patience delivers beautiful bounty courtesy of Mother Nature. If you're lucky enough to spot a one or Hawaii’s majestic sea turtles (honu), remember that they are an endangered species and protected by law. You must keep your distance. It’s illegal to come too close to the sea turtles, touch, or harass them in any way. The law says you can’t do anything that even has just the potential to disturb their natural behavioral patterns. Click here for more information about how to spot them and what to look for.

The recommended safe distance is about 20 feet, which really isn’t that bad. You can get some GREAT pictures from 20 feet. Fines are somewhat stiff, and violators risk becoming blasted on the Internet.

Most of the rocky shoreline on the South Shore provides feeding habitat for turtles.
Here are the easiest places to spot them.

Brennecke’s Beach

Address: 1935 Hoone Rd, Koloa, HI 96756
is a mostly rocky area located near the eastern end of Poipu Beach Park. There is a small sandy section flanked by rocky areas that have shallow patches of coral on both sides, where turtles can often be found. It’s also a great place to go body surfing.   

Whaler’s Cove
Address: 2641 Poipu Rd, Koloa, HI 96756
This is a rocky overlook near the Koloa Landing Resort. It’s a dangerous place for people to swim, but the turtles love it. You can safely view the turtles from the rocks overlooking the water.

Lawai Beach

Address: 5017 Lawai Rd, Koloa, HI 96756
Lawai Beach is a small strip of rocky beach fronting the Lawai Beach Resort. It’s a great spot for snorkeling with lots of fish, easy access to the beach, and a reef where the turtles like to graze.

Whale Watching From Shore

While Kauai offers a wide range of whale viewing opportunities, your best shot is along the southwest shore running from Waimea to Polihale State Park and along the North Shore to Hanalei and Kilauea.

Volunteers armed with binoculars and clipboards will help Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary staff count and record whale behaviors from the shore. Photo Credit: Bruce Parsil/NOAA

Whales are also often spotted off Poipu on the south shore and Kapaa on the east shore. Between December and May (January and February are considered prime months), these gentle giants can be spotted frolicking offshore during rituals of mating, giving birth and nurturing calves. Click here for more information on where to spot the whales and what to look for.

Kauai Whale Watching, Surface Sightings Map

We hope you enjoyed our little taste of Aloha! If you ever have any questions or story ideas, please e-mail us at [email protected]!


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