The good thing about Kauai and all Hawaiian Islands is all the good activities (in my opinion) are free: amazing beaches, surf, canyons and some of the best hiking in the world. Speaking of hiking, #1 is by far one of the most amazing hikes I have ever been on. To do these things on Kauai you will need to hire a car.
Kalalau trail – Na Pali Coast
By far one of the most scenic hiking trails I have ever been on. The Kalalau Trail follows the Na Pali Coast for 11 miles going up and down through the valleys. I would recommend taking a tent and some supplies and camping at Kalalau Beach, at the end of the trail.
There are also options for the less experienced hikers. The first 2 miles of the trail leads to Hanakapiai Beach and gives hikers a taste of what is to come.
From Hanakapiai Beach hikers can choose to go inland for 2 more miles, which leads to Hanakapiai Falls or can continue along the Kalalau trail. Hanakapiai Falls is well worth the extra 4 miles (round trip) if you have the time and energy.
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Often called the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”. Along the road into Waimea Canyon, there are several lookouts and places to stop to view the canyon. Waimea Canyon lookout is the most popular. Experienced hikers can hike into the valley or down to the waterfall.
Kalalua Valley Lookout
The Kalalua Valley Lookout is the islands most iconic postcard view and for good reason. The Kalalua Valley is completely undeveloped, and accessible only by foot. The valley gives visitors a glimpse of the famed ridges of the Na Pali cliffs against the Pacific Ocean. The lookout is at the very end of the road, past Waimea Canyon.
About 10 minutes north of Lihue, you will find the 173ft waterfall. There is a lookout from the top, but the more adventurous travellers can venture to the bottom for a swim under the falls. From the lookout, jump the fence and when you reach the end of it, head down the trail. The path is steep and slippery, but ropes are set up to help you get down. If you’re a hiker, it won’t be a challenge.
Poipu Beach – Ranked Kauai’s number 1 beach and for good reason. If you’re going to have a relaxing beach day, head to Poipu. You could check out Poipu’s Spouting Horn, an active blowhole or if you’re looking for an adventure packed day at Poipu beach, you can book snorkelling, scuba diving and zip lining tours.
See my Backpackers Guide to Kauai
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*This post on free things to do on Kauai contains affiliate links which means that – at zero cost to you – I might earn a commission if you buy something through that affiliate link.