Some of the best beaches are public ones and instead of sitting in the shadow of a major resort, they’re surrounded by green hills and tropical trees. If you’re looking for a fun family beach, try Lydgate Park in Kapa’a, which has a shallow area partitioned off for the youngest swimmers. Hanalei Bay, located on the north shore of the island, is another gorgeous beach which is surrounded by giant volcanic cliffs and almost never crowded.
With endless breathtaking views and a large variety of hiking trails, this park is a must-see for any visitor to Kauai. If you’re not the hiking type, there are several lookout points that are easily accessible. Waipoo Falls is another highly-rated hike; at three hours round trip it is not overly strenuous and you’re rewarded by a stunning 800-foot waterfall at the end.
Any snorkeler, no matter the experience level, will have much to explore in the vast layout of reefs, which are teeming with fish and other unique sea creatures. The sea here is often quite calm, as well, so if you’d like to give snorkeling a try for the first time, Tunnels is a great place to start.
Ke’e beach is also great for snorkeling. In addition to being overlooked by towering green hills and surrounded by lush foliage, this beach is a good spot for sighting giant sea turtles and colorful fish. Both beaches are located on the north shore of Kauai and are at their calmest during the summer months.
Na ‘Aina Kai is one of the most extensive gardens on the island with 240 acres and 13 different gardens. Admission is charged, but it is well worth it to experience the International Desert Garden, Ka’ula Lagoon and waterfall, or Rainbow Children’s Garden, to name a few.
The McBryde Garden, located on the south shore of Kauai, was originally a sugar cane plantation in the late 1800’s. This garden is home to the largest collection of replanted Hawaiian flora in the world, and is used today for research and conservation. Enjoy this garden year-round for a small admission fee.
Browse the coconuts, guava, and sweet-smelling pineapple while savoring some shave ice from a nearby vendor. Just remember to bring your dollar bills; locals usually don’t run credit cards.
An exhaustive list of farmer’s markets in Kauai is available at realkauai.com/FarmersMarkets. It may not be the most glamorous or trendy Hawaiian vacation ideas, but the island of Kauai is sure to delight all lovers of nature and the true laid-back Hawaiian way. With its glowing beaches, friendly farmers, and amazing gardens, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t give Kauai a try