Welcome to Fifty Grande’s Best of the U.S. Bucket List series. This is your one-stop travel guide to the best, most unique and quintessential experiences of a city, state or event. Want to know how to “do” Kauai? We’ve got you covered. Curated by experts, vetted by in-the-know locals, this is all you need to have the best trip ever. If we’ve written a Bucket List, we recommend you go. If it’s on this list, it’s the best the city has to offer right now. Consider this your one-stop answer to “What are the best things to do in Kauai?”
I take roughly five trips a week to Kauai. Well, mentally, at least. Whenever I feel the cold grasp of my nine to five, I close my eyes, take a deep, yogic breath and am instantly transported to its golden shores. The hum of the copier is gone, and the fluorescent tube lights are replaced by the sun’s warmth on my skin. I can hear the sounds of waves and imagine tropical birds peacefully perched on the palm trees above. If I concentrate hard enough, I can smell the sunscreen coating my skin and feel the sand beneath my toes. It’s my favorite mid-week vacation. Yet, even though I’ve spent months listening to Louis Armstrong and The Polynesians’ “On a Coconut Island” on repeat and fantasizing about stumbling upon hidden lagoons, the Kauai in my mind only accounts for a fraction of the island’s bona fide charm.
Nicknamed “The Garden Isle” for its forest-rich valleys, Kauai is the movie “FernGully” come to life. It’s the least developed of the inhabited islands, but there are still massive and opulent resorts peppered throughout. The true appeal of Kauai lies in its ability to offer a more tranquil vacation experience, one that promises golden sand beaches, verdant rainforests and some of Hawaii’s most dramatic waterfalls. If you need help visualizing what I’m talking about, much of Kauai’s untouched natural beauty is captured in epics like “Jurassic Park,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and the 1958 classic “South Pacific.” In these films and in real life, the landscape is stunning.
If the bustling shores of Oahu’s Waikiki don’t sound appealing, take your next Hawaiian sojourn to Kauai. You may love lounging on beaches, but even if you don’t, Kauai’s pristine and mountainous shore is begging to be explored by land, air or sea. Before you embark on your journey, take the Aloha Pledge and commit to preserving Kauai’s beautiful and sacred land and learning about Hawaiian culture and people.