Travel To Kauai, Explore Hawaii’s Garden Isle

When Hawaiians, who experience paradise daily, think a place is special, you know it’s got something. Kauai—the oldest, northernmost and most pristine gem in Hawaii’s emerald necklace—enjoys a legendary reputation for spectacular mountain scenery and peaceful, unspoiled beaches. Gracious resorts and small, friendly, historic towns extend a warm welcome to visitors, but on the “Garden Isle,” the unmatched natural setting and effortless laid-back vibe are the true attractions.

Go deep into the real Hawaii
Kauai, also known as the "Island of Discovery," boasts more waterfalls and beaches per square mile than any other Hawaiian island. Large sections of the island, like the remote Napali coast, can be reached only by foot, water or air. Kauai’s rich guava, coffee, sugar and pineapple plantations offer a chance to combine tropical flavor with unique sightseeing. Hiking trails for all ability levels thread through some of Hawaii’s most dramatic landscapes. As the legendary home of the hula dance, Kauai provides a prime opportunity to delve into the islands’ traditional cultures.

Build the perfect Kauai expedition

The mile-wide, 10-mile-long Waimea Canyon is best seen by car—but automobiles can’t reach the Napali coast, where helicopters provide unforgettable tours of the 3,000-foot cliffs. Kauai also features Hawaii’s only navigable rivers, with guided canoe, kayak and boat tours to places like the Fern Grotto, a natural cave surrounded by lush hanging ferns. In Kauai’s diverse landscapes, visitors need more than one exploration option. A customized vacation package will let you experience all this island has to offer.


Here are five ways to experience Kauai—just off the beaten path.

1. Check out Hawaiian Culture at the Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Festival

The annual event showcases Hawaii's foremost slack key guitar artists in a six-hour long concert. The festivities also feature island cuisine, local crafters, artists' merchandise and free artists' CD giveaways.

2. Ride the Rails
The Kauai Plantation Railway—the first rail line built on the island in 100 years—departs near Lihue and heads out into rich farm country, where riders can sample the best of Kauai’s homegrown flavors.

3. Brave the Kalalau
The full 11-mile hike into the Kalalau Valley on the Napali Coast is only for the intrepid and experienced. If you want to keep it simple, the trail’s first two miles lead to Hanakapiai Beach, a glimpse of Hawaii in all its sandy glory.

4. Saddle Up
Walking Kauai’s vast backcountry is one thing—seeing it from horseback is quite another. Numerous riding operations offer opportunities to gallop (or, more likely, trot) through gorgeous farms, ranches and wildlands.

5. Chill Out in Hanalei Town
Wild Kauai is unbeatable, but you can also get a feel for the relaxed pace of human life on the islands in this quaint and—above all—laid back little village of art galleries, yoga studios, taro farms and historic architecture.

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