Fun, laid-back things to do on Kaua'i?
August 2, 2010 12:38 PM   Subscribe

What are some fun, laid-back things to do on Kaua'i?

My wife and I will be staying with my grandparents on Kaua'i August 9-21. What are some fun things we can do? We're not looking for anything more physically taxing than low-key snorkeling, and cheap-to-free is preferable. We will have a car at our disposal.
posted by sleepinglion to Travel & Transportation around Kauai, HI (15 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I had some of the best snorkeling at Poipu. I think it depends on time of year and the currents/weather, but this was September last year. I also enjoyed some fun snorkeling at Lydgate State Park.

I took the 'catamaran tour' from the Princeville area - it was fun but I was expecting a sailing catamaran with a trampoline, and was disappointed to be on some kind of motorboat. You have to see the Na Pali cliffs somehow so it seems this is the best way. The tour guides recommended that you will see more if you depart from Princeville rather than the ones on the southwest side of the island. It is very expensive but I think it is pretty much a must see.

You also must drive up the Waimea canyon and see the view from the top. spectacular.

I recommend getting a copy of Kaua'i Revealed, the Revealed series seems to be the best guidebooks in Hawai'i.

Also if you are going to hit up restaurants, check out Yelp for reviews before you go drop big bucks on some mediocre place. You MUST get spicy ahi poke from Pono Market as you pass by though. It was one of my favorite things!
posted by treehorn+bunny at 12:45 PM on August 2, 2010

The Kauai Coffee tour was pretty interesting, even if you don't like coffee.

There's a popular tourist drive up to the Waimea Canyon lookouts that only involves a couple sets of stairs.
posted by muddgirl at 12:46 PM on August 2, 2010

We always go on Captain Andy's catamaran. If you like to hike, I reccomend the Hanakapi'ai Trail. You should also check out Waimea Canyon. There's some great hiking around there as well.

Kauai has a Kona Coffee plantation that's nice to visit. They have a nice garden area and gift shop. Spouting Horn is cool if you're in that area. I also went kayaking up a river in the middle of the island. I don't remember the name of the outfitter, but it was a really nice tour that allowed us to get out and trek back into the jungle. We were able to see some areas where they filmed a few movies.
posted by iscavenger at 1:07 PM on August 2, 2010

I learned to SCUBA dive when I was there
posted by kenchie at 1:15 PM on August 2, 2010

Note that Kona Coffee is grown on the Big Island, not Kauai. It seems to be much harder to get Kauai Coffee on the mainland (without special-ordering it from Kauai), so it really is a treat for coffee-lovers.
posted by muddgirl at 1:16 PM on August 2, 2010

go to the ">Kilauea Fish Market and order the ahi tuna wrap -- this place has some of the best food in all of Kauai and is run by an awesome staff too. perfect place for lunch - they let you byob too

continue north and grab a mai tai at cocktail hour at the bar at the new st regis in princeville - great views out over the north coast and into the rain forest

go hiking around the waimea canyon

seconding the recommendation to pick up the Kauai Revealed guidebook
posted by neoist at 1:17 PM on August 2, 2010

Poipu is gorgeous, and Waimea is supergorgeous. We also went out to Hanalei and had a good time.

Do not go to Barking Sands beach. They are not kidding about how those sands bark. (Relatives dragged me there and I cannot figure out why. Long, extremely bumpy drive out there, extremely hot sand, very unpleasant.)
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:21 PM on August 2, 2010

The sailing cat with the trampoline was fun.
The Trike flight was fabulous
The farmer's markets (everyday in a different location) were great
Kee beach (park?) at the north end of the road was great swimming
Tunnels was great snorkeling
Watch for huli-huli chicken on the roadside
Buy white or yellow ginger flowers at the farm market
Walking to and swimming in the Queen's bath was fun
posted by leafwoman at 1:24 PM on August 2, 2010

I've stayed at the St Regis in Princeville and the bar indeed has glorious views especially at sunset. The NE corner of the island has a lighthouse that you can check out. There is a very big tropical botanical garden on the southern side of the island (parts of the original Jurassic Park was filmed there). Also nthing the Kauai Revealed book.
posted by mmascolino at 1:25 PM on August 2, 2010

Best answer: Rent kayaks and float down the Hanalei river to the Hanalei bay. Park the kayaks on the beach and have lunch at the princeville hotel- the view is amazing and the food is pretty good. When you paddle back to the river, you can even catch some waves!

It was the best day we spent there, and that is saying something.
posted by palacewalls at 1:30 PM on August 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

I just re-read your question and missed the part about non-strenuous so nix the hiking trails. The catamaran may be more than you want as well. It's usually pretty rough.

You should still go up to Waimea canyon. The place is amazing. They have lookout areas and all are accessible from your car. On your way over there, if you are into history, there the Russian Fort Elizabeth and a James Cook Monument that are interesting. I think they are before youmake the turn to go up to Waimea.

You might want to go look at Opeaka'a Falls. If I remember correctly, that was one that had an overlook that you could drive to.
posted by iscavenger at 1:40 PM on August 2, 2010

Take your laptop with you and get information on the local farmers' markets to get cheap fruits and vegetables. Days and locations vary in small towns around the island.
posted by JackFlash at 2:00 PM on August 2, 2010

When my family vacationed there, we were able to catch one of the Kauai Polo Club's games. I think the admission is free/cheap, and it was definitely a fun afternoon. Seemed to be mostly locals there, with most people bringing picnic style food, or buying lunch from a local BBQ place that sets up shop for the game.

Apparently, a lot of retired professional polo players live in Kauai, so the quality of play is pretty good.

I can't find a really good link about it, but here's an article from a local newspaper.
posted by Allenthar at 3:22 PM on August 2, 2010

Best answer: Visit Hanalei!!! This is my favorite little Hawaiian town ever! It's very small, but has lots of great little shops you can visit, beautiful views of some of the distant waterfalls, and a great burger place, Bubba's. Visiting here for a day was so incredibly relaxing, and I just had a continuous feeling of "ahhhhh".

Also, definitely snorkel at Tunnels. AMAZING snorkeling when I was there, with many fish and turtles. Waimea is also gorgeous, as stated above, and if you can get in some kayaking, it is well worth it. My husband and I went on a kayaking tour that was not too strenuous and was so, so worth it. It involved a short hike to a beautiful waterfall and lagoon, where we swam and had lunch. So beautiful (I need to note that we got this tour for really, really cheap because we went on a time share tour...I know, I know, sounds horrible, but they gave us free lunch, some nifty brochures, and hey, we got a next-to-nothing kayaking tour...). :-)

Hope you enjoy Kaua'i!! I loved every second I was on that island!
posted by I_love_the_rain at 3:33 PM on August 2, 2010

Just being there is awesome!
posted by jasondigitized at 11:42 AM on August 3, 2010

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