6 Reasons to Visit Kauai over Honolulu

Waimea Canyon
Waimea Canyon | © Jonathan Miske / Flickr
Kalena McElroy

The unspoiled island of Kauai takes visitors back in time to old Hawaii. With unique natural wonders, pristine waterfalls, and some of the best local food options, a visit to the Garden Isle is always a memorable one. Here are six reasons a trip to Kauai will outshine a visit to Hawaii’s more popular capital city—Honolulu.

1. Waimea Canyon State Park

Natural Feature, Park

1. Waimea Canyon State Park
© Miguel Vieira / Flickr
Dubbed the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” Waimea Canyon stands majestic and colorful. Stretching nearly 10 miles (16 kilometers) and 3,000 feet (914.4 meters) deep, sweeping views of the massive gorge are best seen from the rim. There are even views of the elusive Niʻihau Island in the distance.Hike down the Kukui Trail and camp on the canyon floor, or get an up-close look at the 800-foot Waipoʻo waterfall.

2. Hanalei

Natural Feature

© Mariamichelle / Pixabay
Hanalei, a small, peaceful seaside town on the North Shore of Kauai is filled with verdant forests and dense greenery. The pier in Hanalei Bay is one of the most Instagrammed spots on the island, and a great place to take in the scenery. Head mauka (towards the mountains) to the Hanalei Valley Lookout, a popular pitstop offering panoramic views of the mountains and patchwork taro fields. Many people choose an adventurous option and journey into the Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge by kayak or horseback.

3. Hamura Saimin

Restaurant, Asian

Saimin | © John Verive/Flickr
© John Verive / Flickr

This hole-in-the-wall eatery has been serving up Hawaii’s favorite noodle for over 70 years. Locals from around the state never miss an opportunity to stop here when on Kauai. Hamura Saimin’s fresh noodles, low prices, and decadent lilikoi chiffon pie draw long lines during peak mealtimes.


Kauai boasts some of the most impressive waterfalls in all the islands. The easily-accessible Wailua Falls featured on Fantasy Island is most noted, but there are equally beautiful waterfalls that don’t require any hiking like the nearby Opaekaʻa Falls, and Waipoʻo Falls. For a more intimate waterfall experience, visitors should expect to hike or charter a helicopter. Uluwehi Falls, also known as Secret Falls, and Hanakapiai Falls are popular, and many jump in a helicopter for views of Manawaiopuna Falls used in the Jurassic Park films.

4. Nā Pali Coast State Wilderness Park


Na pali | WikiCommons
© ElvindS2 / WikiCommons
This state park covers over 6,000 acres and is only accessible by foot or helicopter. The famous rugged coastline–strikingly scenic–resembles cliffs of the Jurassic age more than that of a tropical destination. The extraordinary natural beauty of the Nā Pali Coast is also viewable from sea with a boat charter, or from above at viewpoints within Kokeʻe State Park. The park includes numerous hiking trails, campgrounds, waterfalls, lush valleys, and untouched beaches.

Mount Waiʻaleʻale


Mount Waiʻaleʻale’s shield volcano is often referred to as the wettest place on earth. The Hawaiian name translates to “rippling water” or “overflowing water”—fitting since the area rains a minimum of 335 days per year. A constant rainfall produces endless waterfalls and rainbows. Visitors can hop into a helicopter to view hundreds of waterfalls stream down the sheer mountain face at the Wall of Tears, and look down into the Blue Hole.

Culture Trip Summer Sale

Save up to $1,395 on our unique small-group trips! Limited spots.

Edit article